Increasing in extravagance over the years – 2020’s edition was set for a floating stage in the Fountains of the Bellagio in Las Vegas – the coronavirus pandemic forced a drastic scaling back of proceedings last time out with players and club officials operating remotely, in an entirely virtual event.
This year Cleveland plays host to the drama, as team personnel huddle, and players hug, during the transition from college football to the professional league.
The NFL Draft will again host Draft-a-Thon, a fundraiser supporting four charities helping communities recover from the pandemic, providing funds for the divide in education, health disparities, food insecurity and mental health.
Here’s all you need to know.
Who is likely to be picked first?
A lot of attention is on 2018 National Champion Trevor Lawrence, the six-foot-six quarterback for Clemson, and with the Jacksonville Jaguars up first, it’s highly likely they’ll take him.
With three years’ experience as a college starter, Lawrence clocked up 758 of 1,138 passing (66.6%) for 10,098 yards, alongside 90 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, 231 carries for 943 rushing yards and 18 scores on his way to being the presumed top draft pick.
After Lawrence, other quarterbacks that could go early include Trey Lance of North Dakota State, Justin Fields of Ohio State, Zach Wilson of BYU and Mac Jones of Alabama.
The general consensus has the New York Jets using their No. 2 position pick to draft Wilson, but in third place, reports suggest the San Francisco 49ers are undecided between Lance and Jones.
The other team reportedly interested in a quarterback is the New England Patriots, searching to fill the void left by Tom Brady in 2019.
Head coach Bill Belichick rarely trades up in the Draft, but with Brady’s possible successor available, the long-time Patriots coach might have to attempt a move up in the order.
Beyond that, a strong set of wide receivers has LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase, and Alabama’s DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle as the standout names teams will have their eye on to furnish their skill position slots.
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts might be the most sought-after pick following the quarterbacks with his rare blend of size, speed, and athleticism setting him apart from his competitors.
Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley, another NFL draft prospect, has tested positive for Covid-19 and will not attend Thursday’s draft in Cleveland, his agent Drew Rosenhaus told CNN Sport on Wednesday.
“He feels fine, just disappointed,” said Rosenhaus of Farley, who was to be one of 13 prospects on-site in Cleveland.
The cornerback made the All-ACC first team in 2019 but opted out of the 2020 season due to Covid-19 concerns.
When is it and how can I watch it?
Round 1 starts Thursday, April 29, at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Rounds 2-3 will take place Friday, April 30, at 7:00 p.m. ET.
Rounds 4-7 will follow on Saturday, May 1, at 12:00 p.m. ET.
The draft will be televised live on the NFL Network, ABC, ESPN and ESPN Deportes.
What’s the first round order?
1. Jacksonville Jaguars
2. New York Jets
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Atlanta Falcons
5. Cincinnati Bengals
6. Miami Dolphins
7. Detroit Lions
8. Carolina Panthers
9. Denver Broncos
10. Dallas Cowboys
11. New York Giants
12. Philadelphia Eagles