The 2018 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday night, and as usual, there is no shortage of story lines. The top half of the draft could be top-heavy with quarterbacks. Signal callers have dominated the discussion in the months since the conclusion of the college football season.
The Cleveland Browns have the first pick. (Doesn't every draft begin with the Browns making the first pick?) The question this year seems to be not if the Browns will take a quarterback, but rather which one.
The Patriots enter the draft with eight picks. There has been plenty of speculation that they will be looking to draft a quarterback to be the eventual replacement for Tom Brady. The question is, when and how? Will they look to package a few picks to move up in the draft? Will they stand pat and see if one of the top prospects falls to them in the first round? Or could they wait until the second day of the draft and select a quarterback in the second or third round, as they did in 2014 with Jimmy Garoppolo?
While football fans everywhere remain in wait-and-see mode, here's a primer on this weekend's festivities.
Round 1: Thursday, 8 p.m.
Rounds 2-3: Friday, 7 p.m.
Rounds 4-7: Saturday, noon
■ Teams have 10 minutes to make a pick in the first round, seven minutes in the second and third, five minutes in rounds three through six, and four minutes for the seventh round.
■ This year, the draft heads south to the home of the Dallas Cowboys, AT&T Stadium, in Arlington, Texas.
How to watch
■ ESPN and NFL Network will broadcast all three days. FOX will televise Thursday and Friday, while ABC has Saturday. It can also be streamed on NFL.com and ESPN.com.
When do the Patriots pick?
The Patriots have a total of eight picks, beginning with a pair in the first round. They start with the 23rd pick, courtesy of their trade with the Rams that sent wide receiver Brandin Cooks to Los Angeles. They also have the 31st pick.
On day two of the draft, they have three selections, including two (43 and 63) in the second round, as well as one (95) in the third round. On the final day of the draft, they have picks 198 and 210 in the sixth round, and 219 in the seventh.
Full selection order
■ Here's the complete order of the 2018 NFL Draft. This page will be updated throughout the draft with the actual selections.
Who are the top prospects?
Quarterbacks Sam Darnold of USC, Baker Mayfield Of Oklahoma, and Josh Rosen of UCLA could go in the top five, as could Josh Allen of Wyoming, while Lamar Jackson of Louisville and Mason Rudolph of Oklahoma State will likely go in the first round.
Running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State could be the most talented player in the draft, while North Carolina State defensive end Bradley Chubb appears to be the top defensive player in the draft. Both could go in the top five as well.
Scouting the draft
■ Jim McBride and Nora Princiotti combined to offer a comprehensive scouting report, position by position. It also include profiles of some of the top players at each position.
■ Ben Volin has submitted his mock draft, complete with projected trades, and expects the Browns to take Darnold at No. 1. He also has the Patriots staying put and adding help for both the linebacking corps and the offensive line.
■ McBride takes a stab at who the Patriots will take should they choose to keep all eight of their picks. McBride also has the Patriots addressing needs at the offensive line and linebacker in the first round, while suggesting they wait until the third round to add a quarterback.
■ Princiotti offers a nice overview of the draft, complete with a look at the quarterback scramble at the top, as well as the options the Patriots have in making their picks.
■ Cleveland general manager John Dorsey appears content to keep the player the Browns select with the No. 1 pick shrouded in mystery until Thursday night. Volin writes that the Browns cannot afford to botch this pick.
■ Volin researched the history of the NFL Draft and created the All-Time First Round, selecting the best picks at each slot. The result is a really fun read with plenty to debate.
■ Should the Patriots decide to move up in the draft, there should be plenty of teams willing to move down, at the right price.
■ You can follow the NFL draft here.
Follow Andrew Mahoney on Twitter @GlobeMahoney