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The idiot's guide to the NFL draft

How to get up to speed on the whole shebang in just a few minutes

The 2012 NFL Draft begins tonight. Who will the Niners and Raiders pick? We have no idea! But for the casual football fan who has not been following every Mel Kiper mock draft and Mike Mayock big board, we have assembled a cornucopia of relevant hyperlinks:

You can find Mike Tanier of Yahoo’s two-part breakdown of the first round here and here. Tanier opines that the 49ers will take Stanford offensive tackle Jonathan Martin with the 30th pick and doesn’t have an opinion about the Raiders’ first-round pick because they traded it to Cincinatti for Carson Palmer.

Of the publicly available lists of top players, we recommend NFL.com analyst Bucky Brooks’ roundup of the top 50 prospects. His colleague, former NFL general manager Charley Casserly, lists six players he thinks would be second-round steals; such players could also likely go toward the end of the first round, which is relevant to fans of the 49ers (who have the third-to-last pick of the first round).

For 49er-specific coverage, we recommend Eric Branch of SFGate’s look at positional needs the team could choose to address in this year’s draft, including right guard, the only position on offense or defense without a clear starter.

But really, who will the 49ers take first? You can take a gander at this pick-by-pick mock draft by a gaggle of NFL experts to get some ideas, but even among the gurus, there’s no consensus.