The 2021 NFL Draft is drawing nearer by the day, and with it comes a sense of normalcy is coming with it. Last year’s draft weekend festivities were canceled as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak and instead, teams conducted remote scouting while the draft was held remotely and hosted in the basement of the M&M-devouring NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
But in ’21, the NFL Draft will be hosted in Cleveland. There will be some events with limited capacity to ensure safety amid the ongoing pandemic, and some prospects will be invited to attend. Not all will go, including presumptive No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, but again, this represents a bit of a return to normalcy for the league after a trying year.
As usual, the draft will be held over a three-day span. It will start on a Thursday (April 29) and run through Saturday (May 1). There are multiple ways to watch the draft, as ESPN, NFL Network, and ABC will all be broadcasting the event. Round 1 will begin at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 29. Rounds 2-3 of the 2021 NFL Draft are scheduled to occur on Friday, April 30 and will start at 7 p.m. ET. Finally, Day 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft, which includes Round 4-7, will start at 12 p.m. ET.
The 2021 NFL Draft also can be streamed live on the ESPN app or the NFL app (among other streaming options) across multiple devices. In Canada, the entire 2021 NFL Draft can be streamed on DAZN.
Below is all you need to know about the 2021 NFL Draft, including TV channels and start times for all three days, plus the order of all 259 picks, SN’s latest mock draft, a big board of the top 100 prospects and more.
When is the NFL Draft in 2021?
The 2021 NFL Draft is scheduled to begin on Thursday, April 29 with the first of seven rounds kickstarting the event. Friday will see the second and third rounds occur while Saturday, May 1, will feature the final four rounds.
The three days will feature 259 picks in total. The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first selection while the final selection, known as Mr. Irrelevant, currently belongs to the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
What time does the NFL Draft start?
The start time for the 2021 NFL Draft will be 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 29. All 32 first-round selections will be made during that time frame with teams having 10 minutes to make their selections. Few teams use the fully allotted 10 minutes early in the draft, as they generally have a vague idea of what they’re going to do in the first round.
On Friday, the action begins at 7 p.m. Teams will have seven minutes to make a pick for Rounds 2 and 3. And finally, on Saturday, the action begins at 12 p.m. ET and each team will have four minutes to make their selection. The fourth day will feature the most picks, as more than half of the selections (153 of 259) will take place in the final four rounds.
Here’s a look at the start times for the 2021 NFL Draft.
Additional note: If a team doesn’t pass in their card before the time on the clock expires, they can still make a selection. It just means that the team behind them has a chance to leapfrog them in the draft order and scoop the player that they were looking at.
NFL Draft TV schedule
The 2021 NFL Draft will be broadcast across multiple TV networks for another year. ABC, ESPN and NFL Network will be hosting their own draft day shows after running one combined show across the three networks last year due to the pandemic. ESPN Deportes will present a Spanish version of the ESPN broadcast.
WIth or without cable, you will be able to watch the NFL Draft on ABC. The major cable networks carry both ESPN and NFL Network, and they are channels 49 (ESPN) and 265 (NFL Network) on Xfinity, or 849 and 853 for HD coverage of the event. Channels for other cable networks including Spectrum, Cox and Optimim depend based on the viewing area.
In Canada, TSN will air the NFL Draft on Thursday, and TSN4 will air Rounds 2-3 on Friday.
How to live stream the NFL Draft
There are countless ways to stream the NFL Draft. First and foremost, the NFL App, the ABC App, and the ESPN App will all carry the broadcast within them. You’ll need to authenticate your TV provider in order to access them, but the option will be there to watch on mobile and via other smart devices (like Amazon Fire TV, Android TV, Apple TV, and Roku) as well as gaming consoles (like Xbox and PS4s and a PS5s).
Of course, watching it on the computer is also an option, but you’ll need to authenticate your TV provider there as well.
There are also plenty of live TV streaming services that will be carrying the draft, for those cord-cutters that don’t want to pay for cable. Notably, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, Sling TV, and AT&T TV Now will be carrying the draft
In Canada, the NFL Draft can be streamed live on DAZN, which includes NFL Network coverage and offers a free trial period for new subscribers.
NFL Draft 2021 order of picks
The Jacksonville Jaguars have the first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and beyond that, the draft has been shaken up quite a bit by trades. Most recently, the San Francisco 49ers moved up to the No. 3 spot with the Miami Dolphins moving down to No. 6 and the Philadelphia Eagles dropping to 12.
Speaking of the Eagles, they have an NFL-high 11 picks in this year’s draft. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Seattle Seahawks have just three picks thanks in part to trades for Jamal Adams and Gabe Jackson.
There are 259 picks in the 2021 NFL Draft now that compensatory picks (and some special compensatory picks) have been added to Rounds 3-7.
(You can find the full, updated order for Rounds 2-7 here.)
2021 NFL mock draft
With NFL free agency largely in the rearview mirror, our expectations for the 2021 NFL Draft have changed. That’s especially true since the San Francisco 49ers moved up from the No. 12 overall pick to the No. 3 spot and appear to be targeting their quarterback of the future with that selection.
SN’s Vinnie Iyer recently released a 2021 NFL mock draft, and here’s a look at his projections for the first five picks.
“Lawrence lived up to expectations of being a generational talent at the position, the second in a row after Joe Burrow. He’s a great leader and winner on top of being a strong-armed passer and capable tough runner. Lawrence will clean up the Jaguars QB mess, attached to a new coach, big college winner Urban Meyer. Lawrence can have success right away with the Jaguars having a decent line and solid skill players such as James Robinson, Marvin Jones, D.J. Chark and Laviska Shenault. Forget that talk about Meyer taking someone else, especially another QB.”
“Wilson had an exceptional season with his accuracy and downfield passing to emerge as the draft class’ second-best QB prospect after Lawrence. Wilson would be a strong, cerebral fit for Mike LaFleur’s offense replacing Sam Darnold as the face of the franchise. Darnold should still be considered firmly on the trading block and it’s looking less likely the Jets will be aggressive enough to make a trade for Deshaun Watson. Why would they, when they can get a high-upside passer without sacrificing any extra first-rounders?”
“The 49ers have talked up that they’re still rolling with Jimmy Garoppolo but it’s hard to see them trading up nine spots for a position other than quarterback, especially when tackle, wide receiver and tight end aren’t key needs. They’re likely going high upside with a younger option who could sit a year to develop if needed, making Lance the best bet. Lance has climbed back up boards with his his massive upside. As more teams look back on his fine pro day and see tapes of his statistically brilliant lone season as a starter (2,786 yards passing, 28 TDs, no INTs, 1,100 yards rushing, 14 TDs) it’s harder to ignore the impressive physical and athletic skills, including his blazing speed. Lance is raw and inexperienced and needs some polish in many areas, but the dual-threat tools can be blended together nicely for Kyle Shanahan.”
“The Falcons are good candidates to trade down for some defensive help at cornerback or edge rusher, and they could still think about stashing a QB behind Matt Ryan, but that chance would be lesser with Lance gone. Staying put, going for the best player available would be awesome for Ryan, as they can slot in Chase in between Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley in Arthur Smith’s offense. Chase posted 84 catches for 1,780 yards and 20 TDs during the national championship season and can join former teammate Justin Jefferson in lighting up the NFL as a versatile playmaker.”
“The Bengals went after Joe Thuney for offensive line help in free agency but weren’t competitive enough to sign the new Chief. Getting Joe Burrow another big-time playmaker at wide receiver or tight end will be tempting but upgrading the pass protection is vital and the run blocking for Joe Mixon could use a big boost, too, as it’s hard to trust the combination of Jonah Williams and newcomer Riley Reiff. Sewell still is the best all-around tackle in this class with his smooth agility for pass protection and rock-like stature for the running game.”
(SN’s mock draft for the entire first round can be found here.)
2021 NFL Draft prospects
The best overall players are rarely selected in order during the NFL Draft. Teams have specific needs that they need to fill, so often, they opt for top-tier prospects but look to fill the biggest needs they have. That said, the No. 1 player in this year’s draft class, Trevor Lawrence, will go No. 1 overall to the Jacksonville Jaguars barring a massive surprise. And this is a good year for quarterbacks, as there are four among the top 10 prospects this year.
According to SN NFL writer Vinnie Iyer, here are the top 10 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
For a complete ranking of the top 100 prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft, here is SN’s big board.
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