NFL draft offers hope but threatens despair
While that can be an enviable position to be in - particularly when the draft class is as strong as it is this season - it can also be a risky one. Despite having scouted prospective players for literally hundreds of hours, NFL teams never quite know what they're getting until their new signings step onto the field and play for the first time at the highest level.
For a perfect example let's travel back to 1998. Media speculation ahead of that selection process was dominated by two quarterbacks - Peyton Manning of the University of Tennessee and Ryan Leaf, who enjoyed a stellar college career at Washington State.
Experts were divided over who should be the first overall selection of the Indianapolis Colts. Both young men appeared to have all the physical tools needed to be successful in the NFL and, at first glance, there seemed to be little between the pair.
The Colts eventually opted for Manning with the first pick, leaving the San Diego Chargers to grab Leaf with the second selection. The pair met as rookies and I was at the game in Indianapolis. Neither was outstanding during a contest in which the Colts ran out 17-12 winners but Manning did appear to be the more poised and composed of the two.
Fast forward 12 years and the results offer up a startling contrast.
Manning has thrown for 50,128 yards and 366 touchdowns, he has one Super Bowl win under his belt, winning Most Valuable Player honours during that victory in 2007, and he has been voted the league's MVP a record four times. In short, he is well on his way to becoming one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history.
Leaf played in just 25 games during a miserable four-year career with the Chargers and Dallas Cowboys. He threw more than twice as many interceptions as touchdowns before being kicked out of the NFL.
He briefly coached American football and golf on the college level at West Texas A&M and was recently arrested for fraudulently obtaining prescription painkillers, to which he had become addicted. He now lives in Canada, where he is serving 10 years of probation while selling package holidays.
When the clock starts ticking in round one, the Rams are expected to make an instant millionaire of Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford. The young passer is extremely accurate and has seen his stock rise in recent weeks after some strong off-season workouts.
While Bradford is undoubtedly talented - he won the Heisman Trophy as college football's best player in 2008 - his selection will be based more on the fact that the Rams desperately need a top-notch passer, and quarterback is the most important position in the game.
Take a look at the last 10 Super Bowl winners, eight were led by outstanding, in-form quarterbacks.
After Bradford is taken with the top pick, the opening round could, as usual, turn into a case of big being beautiful.
While fans clamour for headline-making selections from the skill positions such as quarterback, running back and wide receiver, NFL general managers and coaches cannot resist offensive and defensive linemen, who can help them win the battle in the trenches.
Two who could disappear off the board very quickly are defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh, of Nebraska, and Oklahoma's Gerald McCoy. They are being eyed closely by the Detroit Lions and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who pick second and third respectively.
Suh is a physical beast who has shown he can sprint faster than Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, despite weighing in at close to 22 stone. He is quick, athletic and has proven he can deliver bone-crunching hits on opposing quarterbacks.
With the NFL becoming more of a passing league, big, talented offensive tackles who can help quarterbacks remain upright are worth their weight in gold. As many as nine offensive linemen could feature in the 32 picks that make up round one.
There will still be a smattering of skill position players in the opening round. Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen is bound to interest a few, including the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and even the Minnesota Vikings; C.J. Spiller, of Clemson, is the top running back available and teams will look long and hard at Oklahoma State wide receiver Dez Bryant.
Bryant is a classic example of clubs wanting to find out as much about a player's maturity and drive as they do his hands and foot speed.
Ryan Leaf is considered to be the biggest draft bust of all time, with Peyton Manning one of the great successes
He was suspended for much of the 2009 season for lying to the NCAA over his relationship with mentor and former NFL player Deion Sanders. Bryant was also rumoured to have skipped team meetings and classes during his college career and was even reported to have been late to several games.
The talented but mercurial receiver had the chance to shine on the field during his own personal workout in front of NFL head coaches and scouts in March. But things didn't quite go to plan as he forgot his boots.
Needless to say the incident prompted some rather negative press - and rightly so.
If Bryant can forget his shoes on the day he knows he is running for every team in the league, can a coach confidently expect him to absorb a 300-page playbook? I would have my serious doubts.
Having lost Brandon Marshall to the Miami Dolphins last week, the Denver Broncos are likely to show serious interest in Bryant.
But as Leaf proved, there are no sure things in an NFL draft. A team could be disappointed with their first round selection but then might find themselves a Tom Brady type in round six. The three-time Super Bowl winner was the 199th player taken in the 2000 draft.
This much I do know - the NFL draft always signals a ramping up of preparations for the new season. And it will be no different in 2010.
All 32 teams will compete in mini-camps in May and June and will gather again at the end of July for intense preparations and preseason game action ahead of the new campaign, which kicks off on Thursday 9 September, with the defending Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints playing host to the Minnesota Vikings in a rematch of last season's NFC Championship game.
The first full slate of games takes place the following Sunday, with the pick of the bunch being the opening of the new Meadowlands Stadium in New York, where the Giants will play host to the Carolina Panthers.
Following three rounds of playoff action, two teams will compete for all the marbles when Super Bowl XLV is played at Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Texas on 6 February 2011.
We still have a little way to go, but I can hardly wait for the new season to begin. And hopefully by the time the 2010 campaign does kick off, my team will have some solid draft picks ready to compete from day one.