At its fundamental level, the NFL draft is a gateway toward achieving a dream.

Starting with Selection No. 1 on Thursday and ending with Selection No. 256 on Saturday, football players from across the country will take a step closer toward playing their chosen sport at the highest level.

It can be an exciting, anxious time for both the athletes and their agents.

“It’s exciting but it’s frustrating because I think it’s an imperfect process,” said Justin Schulman of Athletes First, the agent representing former BYU linebacker Fred Warner. “You’ll see some guys drafted ahead of your player when you know they shouldn’t be. But at the end of the day when the call comes, you are just really happy for the guy because it’s a dream come true.”

Of all the ex-Cougars waiting to see what will happen this weekend, Warner is presumably the only lock to be drafted. He is projected to go anywhere from Round 2 to Round 5.

Schulman said Warner has generated a lot of buzz with his play on the field at BYU as well as what he did after the season.

“I think he has opened some eyes for sure,” Schulman said. “With him, as they are watching the tape they are seeing more about what he can do. One thing that happened was the Senior Bowl where they moved him to a different position, playing inside a little more. I think he opened some eyes with his ability to do that, which was a good thing.”

The agent said Warner has managed the pre-draft process effectively leading up to this point.

“He’s done a bunch of interviews with teams coming out to BYU and working him out,” Schulman said. “He’s also had some visits with various teams. I think he had five trips to different teams. They can only bring in 30 different players and he was invited five times.”

Even with all that excitement and interest, Schulman said he doesn’t think guys like Warner should spend the weekend agonizing over every selection.

“I recommend that they don’t watch every minute of the draft,” Schulman said. “He’s not going to go on that first day, so that’s only if he wants to watch. The good news is that on Saturday it’s over. I tell the players to surround themselves with family and keep it small and enjoy it. It’s a frustrating process but once that phone call comes, everything else kind of goes away.”

With all the moving parts involving needs, trades and other factors, the draft is filled with uncertainty.

“It’s an exciting time for him,” Schulman said. “I think he’s got some nice buzz about him, so we will see how it goes.”

Many other former BYU players are hoping to go in the later rounds or — if their names aren’t called — sign contracts as undrafted free agents.

“It’s an exciting time,” said Evan Brennan of 360 Sports LLC, agent for ex-BYU players Jonah Trinnaman and Tejan Koroma. “For Jonah, we will see what happens on Day No. 3. He’s got a shot to get drafted, but if not, he will get a lot of teams interested in him. Tejan has had a lot of calls as a high-priority free agent. For both of these guys, it looks really strong to have the opportunity to have an NFL career.”

Trinnaman certainly helped himself by putting up impressive numbers at BYU’s Pro Day at the end of March.

“There have been questions regarding his production, but teams are looking to get players who have upside,” Brennan said. “NFL teams are looking for traits, particularly on Day 3 or after the draft. They are willing to forgive lack of production if there is freak athleticism, and Jonah has that in spades.”

Koroma tested well in the measurables, but the knock on him is that he’s just 6 feet tall. Brennan said the feedback for the longtime Cougar center has still be very positive.

“He may not have every team in the league interested in him, but he has enough that he will have offers after the draft,” Brennan said.

With all of the college football players Brennan represents, the time immediately following the final official draft pick gets pretty hectic.

“I will be insanely busy,” Brennan said. “Most of the priority free agent spots are gone within 30 minutes of the draft. I might not even have time to call and tell the players where they are going until after that time.”

He said he tries to be straightforward with his guys as he goes over the possibilities before the draft.

“I’m telling them to be prepared for a lot of different things, particularly Jonah,” Brennan said. “He could be drafted; he could not be. I tell guys to keep their phones on but to not do the whole draft party. I like to keep it low-key, low-stress. We go over all the depth charts, so we know the teams where they would have the best chance to make it. That way when a team calls, there is no hesitation.”

Other former Cougars hoping to take the next step toward their NFL dreams this weekend include Micah Hannemann, Tomasi Laulile, Handsome Tanielu, Kesni Tausinga, Tuni Kanuch, Tanner Balderee, Travis Tuiloma and Logan Taele.

Daily Herald sports editor Jared Lloyd can be reached at 801-344-2555 or jlloyd@heraldextra.com. Twitter: @JaredrLloyd. Instagram: @JaredrLloyd.

Jared is the Sports Editor and BYU football reporter for the Daily Herald.