One month from the NFL draft

For those of you depressed about the lockout, here’s a bit of hope and something to look forward to. The NFL Draft starts exactly one month from today.

The first round will be held April 28 (a Thursday night). The second and third rounds will be April 29, and the remainder of the draft will be April 30.

I’ve consulted with the bosses in Bristol and am in the process of making travel plans to be in Charlotte throughout the draft. That’s really the only logical place to be. New York was discussed, but we’ll have plenty of other people there and we’re not even sure at this point if the players will be attending the draft.

That’s why it makes more sense to be at Bank of America Stadium. We’ll have access to coach Ron Rivera and general manager Marty Hurney soon after they make the first pick and at various times throughout the draft. It also is likely that the player the Panthers take at No. 1 will come to Charlotte at some point April 29 and meet with the media. Owner Jerry Richardson also might be speaking to the media during the draft.

In the coming week’s our pre-draft coverage will intensify. I can already tell you former USC and Cincinnati receiver Vidal Hazelton is working out at Cincinnati’s pro day later today and we’ll have his results as well as a list of what teams showed up. I already know the Falcons were planning on sending at least one representative. Hazelton's an interesting case because he didn't attend the combine. He was recovering from a major knee injury and this will be his first real test in front of scouts.

Our Thursday Draft Watch series will continue this week and feature a team-by-team look at who makes the draft decisions around the NFC South.