The college football season might be well behind us, and the NFL is still months away, but Thursday night is a holiday of sorts for football fanatics.
Tonight is the first round of the NFL draft (8 ET on ESPN). Dreams will come true and teams will get better. For a few hours, we will all be glued to our TV sets as a man reads to us.
It truly is captivating stuff. And the SEC is well-versed in the art of the first round, watching at least seven players from the league get drafted in the first round in eight straight drafts. Since 2005, the SEC has hit double digits in first-round draft picks six times.
During the past 10 years, almost 500 SEC players have been drafted. So what will the damage be this year for the SEC? Let's take a quick look at the names you need to know for the next three days.
Myles Garrett, DE, Texas A&M: He should be the consensus No. 1 pick, but there's word that the Cleveland Browns could target North Carolina QB Mitchell Trubisky with the first pick. Garrett is the best player in the draft and was a punishing force off the edge for most of his career. His combine numbers were incredible, and he'll be better than his 32 1/2 college sacks.
Leonard Fournette, RB, LSU: At one time, he was thought to be the consensus No. 1 pick, and Fournette's measurables, combine numbers and freakish in-game ability has solidified his top-10 status. He could go as early as No. 4 to Jacksonville or team up with Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers at No. 8.
Jamal Adams, S, LSU: Some scouts have said they think he might be the most pro-ready player in the draft. He's an incredibly physical and athletic safety who's great in coverage and against the run. Adams' vision and instincts are tremendous; you could consider him a steal if he drops past the fifth pick.
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama: The man can fly, and he was the most exciting defender to watch in the SEC last year. Winner of the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Chuck Bednarik Award and Ted Hendricks Award last year, Allen can play both inside and out on the defensive line. He totaled 22 1/2 sacks in his past two years.
Derek Barnett, DE, Tennessee: The Vols' all-time leader in sacks (32) is one of the draft's best pass-rushers. He's moved up and down the draft, and Barnett could sneak into the top 10 because of his natural pass-rushing ability.
Reuben Foster, LB, Alabama: Once considered a potential top-10 pick, Foster's stock has fallen since he was sent home from the combine after getting into an argument with a hospital worker during medical checks and after testing positive at the combine for a diluted urine sample. His talent could push him back into the top 15, however.
O.J. Howard, TE, Alabama: He might not have had the most productive statistical career at Alabama, but he's the best, most athletic tight end in the draft. He's such a mismatch over the middle and has the wheels to be a true deep threat. He won't make it to pick No. 11.
Charles Harris, DE, Missouri: He's jumped up draft boards since the combine, and there are some out there who believe he could slide into the top 10. The guy can hunt down quarterbacks and drop back in coverage with ease.
Joshua Dobbs, QB, Tennessee: Another guy who dominated the post-combine circuit, the former aerospace engineering major has absolutely wowed teams, and there's talk that Dobbs could go as high as the second round. Dak Prescott 2.0?
Jarrad Davis, LB, Florida: There were times last season when it seemed as though Davis would be a first-round pick. But a nagging ankle injury cut into his season. He's a solid tackler and incredibly smart on the field. Looks like he's back in the first round.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin, LB, Tennessee: A shoulder injury ended his 2016 season after just four games, but a healthy Reeves-Maybin will be a steal for a team late in the draft with his range and athleticism. He had 105 tackles, 6 sacks and 14 tackles for loss in 2015.
Teez Tabor, CB, Florida: At one point, Tabor was projected to be the first corner taken in the draft. Now, he's seen as a second-day talent and could fall to the weekend. His slow 40-yard dash times and hamstring issue has teams concerned, but when healthy, he's elite, and his on-field speed wasn't a problem in his three years at Florida.
Isaiah McKenzie, WR, Georgia: Plenty of people were surprised when he declared for the draft, but McKenzie earned high marks this spring. He's an explosive player who will have a chance to immediately help an NFL team in the return game, where he had five punt returns for touchdowns and kickoff return for a touchdown in three years at Georgia.