One thing we definitely can assume about this year's NFL draft is that hype will be at an all-time low. That's because there are fewer potential impact prospects in this class than any in recent memory. Sure, some might become Pro Bowl players later in their careers. But it's more likely that we'll remember the 2009 crop as a collection of mostly good, not great performers.
That isn't a bad thing, by the way. It simply means we have to be more realistic about the expectations we place on draft picks. But that doesn't mean the event Saturday and Sunday will be boring. In fact, here are 10 of the most interesting questions that could arise:
1. Is Matthew Stafford the right choice for the Detroit Lions with the first overall selection? No. The Lions' interest in Stafford is the perfect example of a team overrating a player based on the position he plays. Stafford is a good prospect. Still, he's hardly the kind of quarterback who is worth more than $41 million in guaranteed money and the honor of being the draft's first overall selection. That's exactly why there were so many reports about the Detroit front office not having a consensus opinion on him before they agreed to a six-year deal with Stafford.
The bottom line is that Baylor left tackle Jason Smith makes the most sense for the Lions. He could solidify that spot for years to come and Detroit could find a more cost-effective quarterback down the line. Stafford now faces unrealistic expectations on a team that has watched too many first-round picks at that position -- most notably Chuck Long, Andre Ware and Joey Harrington -- flounder in the past. So much for last year's dismissal of inept general manager Matt Millen being the start of a new era in Detroit.
2. How big a deal is it that Michael Crabtree's foot injury prevented him from working out for scouts prior to the draft? Huge. As incredibly productive as Crabtree was as an All-American wide receiver at Texas Tech, there are still some obvious questions about his potential. First, you don't know how much playing in a pass-happy college offense inflated his gaudy numbers. You also don't know how much he benefited from competing in the Big 12, a conference where strong defensive play suddenly has become about as common as snowfall in South Florida.
Besides, most big receivers in the NFL are freakishly athletic in some way. Randy Moss has breathtaking speed. Larry Fitzgerald has body control and leaping ability. Andre Johnson has all three of those qualities. If Crabtree turns out to be just another big receiver who can't separate from NFL defensive backs -- and there have been plenty of those drafted high in recent years -- he could be the biggest bust of this draft.
3. Could Aaron Curry fall out of the top five? That very well could happen. Look, I love the Wake Forest star's potential and everybody who's seen him says the same thing: He's the safest pick in the draft. Of course, the problem is that Curry is a linebacker and you rarely see players at that position -- specifically those who don't excel at pass rushing -- going top five.
The Lions obviously prefer the idea of drafting Stafford instead of Curry. The St. Louis Rams also aren't a player here; they're likely to take an offensive tackle with the second overall pick. Now many analysts do suspect the Kansas City Chiefs will take Curry at the third spot but I'm not sold on that. Even though Curry can play inside or outside, he might not be a great fit for the price tag he'll carry on a team clearly transitioning to a 3-4 defense.
4. Could Mark Sanchez become a top-five pick? Yes. Sanchez has carried the most buzz of any player over the past few weeks and it's starting to look as though a riot will ensue to acquire the USC quarterback's services. The Washington Redskins are rumored to be looking to trade up. The New York Jets and Denver Broncos reportedly love him as well and Seattle might view Sanchez as the heir apparent to Matt Hasselbeck. You also have to assume there will be other players in this bidding process. Nearly a third of the league has an unsettled situation at quarterback.
In other words, the pre-draft process couldn't be playing out any better for Sanchez. When he announced his decision to leave USC after his junior season, Trojans head coach Pete Carroll responded with so much disdain that you would've thought Sanchez was about to chop off Carroll's right arm. Now the kid has elevated his draft stock with strong workouts and even better interviews. Looks as if Sanchez knew what he was doing after all.
5. Is there any chance the New York Giants and Browns resume trade talks for Braylon Edwards? All reports say that Cleveland wants too much -- supposedly a first- and third-round pick -- and the Giants simply don't covet Edwards to that extent. The bigger issue now is what the Giants will do to address their issues at receiver. Even if they select one in the first round, it's not likely they'll get a player who can make an immediate impact on an offense that sorely needs a number one target for quarterback Eli Manning. And as good as Giants general manager Jerry Reese has been at picking players over the past two years, he's going to need some serious luck to improve his passing game for next season.
6. Will Anquan Boldin get traded over the weekend? It's 50/50. The Tennessee Titans recently contacted the Arizona Cardinals about the Pro Bowl wide receiver -- according to the Nashville Tennessean -- but it didn't sound as if Tennessee was in a hurry to make anything happen. The Cardinals also recently said that no teams have made formal offers for Boldin's services but the Cardinals have sweetened the pot by lowering their demands, according to a report from ESPN's Sal Paolantonio Friday afternoon. That might change come draft day but the Cardinals have made it clear that they're not looking to give Boldin away.
The fact is the team would much rather keep Boldin in the fold. He has two years remaining on his current deal and Arizona has been willing to talk about an extension. Even if the Cardinals don't view him in the same league as fellow Pro Bowl receiver Larry Fitzgerald, they know their offense functions much better with Boldin as an integral weapon. In other words, the safest bet has Boldin staying in Arizona.
7. What will Scott Pioli do in his first draft without Bill Belichick? The Chiefs have so many issues that it wouldn't be surprising to see new GM Pioli trade down from No. 3 overall. That was the New England Patriots' preferred way of approaching the draft when Pioli spent nine years working with Belichick in that franchise. So it surely will be his strongest play if he can find a dance partner on Saturday afternoon. After all, the Chiefs gave up their second-round pick when they acquired quarterback Matt Cassel and outside linebacker Mike Vrabel from the Patriots earlier this offseason.
Since we've already discussed Curry, he could be a likelier possibility for the Chiefs if they do trade down. Pioli's decision to trade Pro Bowl tight end Tony Gonzalez to the Atlanta Falcons also means the Chiefs have to find another reliable target for Cassel, especially because Gonzalez has been the Chiefs' best receiver for nearly a decade. Offensive tackle might not be out of the picture as well and we all know the defense needs an infusion of talent. The likeliest scenario when the Chiefs' pick arrives in the first round: Pioli cuts a deal with a team sweet on Mark Sanchez and increases his number of picks in the process, one of which gets used on Curry.
8. Is Percy Harvin worth the risk in the first round? Nope. The news that Harvin, the standout wide receiver from Florida, tested positive for marijuana at the combine already has had a pronounced effect on his draft stock. Once considered a mid-to-late first-round prospect, now he appears almost certain to land in the second. And it's not just the drug issue dogging Harvin. Questions about his durability haven't helped his cause, either.
However, the team that gets Harvin in the second round might very well be getting a player with far more motivation to prove himself in the league. There's no question he's got the explosiveness and the versatility that offensive coordinators love for creating mismatches. Now it's a matter of whether he has the maturity. If he does grow from this setback, he could turn a negative into a positive somewhere down the road.
9. Which of the nine players invited to the draft in New York City could have the longest wait? Kansas State quarterback Josh Freeman. He certainly looks the part -- he has the big arm, the big body (6 feet, 6 inches, 248 pounds) and deceptive mobility. But Freeman also is raw enough that there are legitimate questions about his feel for the game and his losing record (14-18) as a starter in college. That being said, he's the third-best quarterback in a weak class at that position. That means he'll be a first-round selection.
The Jets obviously have to be a possibility at No. 17 (unless they trade up) but the Tampa Bay Buccaneers also appear quite realistic at two spots later. New Bucs head coach Raheem Morris was Kansas State's defensive coordinator during Freeman's freshman year in 2006. Morris surely knows a few things about how best to help Freeman develop and he's far more likely to have the patience that Freeman will require.
10. Which draft pick will have the biggest impact on the league this fall? Missouri wide receiver Jeremy Maclin. The odds are pretty slim that we'll see a quarterback in this year's class have the kind of rookie seasons that Atlanta's Matt Ryan and Baltimore's Joe Flacco produced in 2008.
Maclin, however, should have an opportunity to help an offense in the same ways Denver's Eddie Royal and Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson helped theirs last year. Jackson, in particular, thrived on his quickness and explosiveness. Maclin has the potential to be equally dangerous as a slot receiver and return man.
Senior writer Jeffri Chadiha covers the NFL for ESPN.com.