The 2021 NFL Draft is set to take place whether the COVID-19 pandemic is still a factor or not. This year’s class is shaping up to be a controversial one. Yes, the 2020 NFL Draft
in Roger Goodell’s basement was a little taboo. I’m referring more to the talent themselves. Most college athletes either got a shortened season with several postponements or their season was canceled altogether.
The top-tier players such as Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields played in shortened seasons, but it barely affected their draft stock. The same can’t be said about most of the eligible players. Some needed that extra year to improve their skill set for a higher stock or avoid going undrafted. Others need this year to rehab from an injury and get to full strength and peak form.
The draft is always going to have “busts”
but the 2021 draft will likely see an uptick in both categories. With the NFL postseason officially over and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the reigning champs, it is time to turn your full attention to the NFL Draft.
When is the 2021 NFL Draft?
The 2021 NFL Draft will be conducted over a three-day period, starting Thursday and concluding Saturday. This year, it will be held on April 29th, 30th, and May 1st. The league spends three days on the draft due to the massive amount of coverage. It would be hard for most people to sit and view over 12 straight hours of feed. Spreading over multiple days maximizes viewership and ratings while adding some suspense to the event.
As for the start times of the draft each day, nothing is confirmed yet. The pandemic is still a lingering issue that needs to be accounted for and times won’t be solidified until closer to April. We can look at the times in recent years though to get a good estimate of when we should tune in.
Round 1 will be held on Thursday, April 29th. It should begin around 8 pm eastern standard time. Friday, April 30th, will be Rounds 2 and 3 starting around 7 pm eastern standard time. Round 4-7 are held through most of the day on Saturday, May 1st. The usual start time is noon eastern standard time since 4 rounds are selected on the final day.
The runtime each day is based on the maximum amount of time each team must select their player in each round. Teams are given 10 minutes in the first round. There are 7 minutes allowed in Rounds 2 and 3. Round 4 through 6 have 5-minute limits and there are just 4 minutes per pick on the final round.
Where is the 2021 NFL Draft being held?
This is quite the conundrum for the NFL at this moment. Last year, the draft was virtual, and the main feed was at Commissioner Roger Goodell’s own home. There was no attendance by players nor fans. Las Vegas
was the initial home for the 2020 NFL Draft, but they will be compensated with hosting in 2022. For now, Cleveland, Ohio is set to host this year’s event, their first time doing so.
After an impressive season in 2020, Cleveland could have a very successful stint as host. It still depends on the pandemic though. We may not know until closer to early April where exactly the draft will occur and what the attendance situation will be.
As the season progressed last year, some teams and stadiums were slowly allowing fans in the stands. It was still at a rather small capacity limit but still a start. During Super Bowl 55, there were 25,000 people in the stands with an additional 30,000 cutouts. If the draft remains in Cleveland, there will most likely be a restriction on how many can attend.
A good bet would be just players and families allowed inside. Expect restrictions on fans outside the draft venue as well for safety measures. If by chance the pandemic spikes again, the draft could be aired at Goodell’s home once more or in a secondary location that players could still attend.
The NFL Draft was held in New York, in some capacity, from 1965 to 2014. It moved to Chicago for two years, but the league now takes bids for it like the Super Bowl.
Where can you watch the 2021 NFL Draft?
No matter where the draft will be held, there will be several ways to watch or stream it. ESPN, ABC, NFL Network, and ESPN Deportes will all be airing coverage live on television. You can listen to the live feed on ESPN Radio. There is also a streaming option on the NFL App, NFL.com, ESPN.com, and the NFL Network website.
2021 NFL Draft QB Preview
We all know who Trevor Lawrence
is and where he is going in the draft: Jacksonville barring a ground-breaking trade. We don’t truly know exactly where any of the remaining QB prospects will land in the draft, but this scout has a decent take on the first 10 to be selected.
Sam Darnold is bound to be traded, it is just a matter of when and who. Zach Wilson has climbed the rankings over the last few months and has a similar skillset to Darnold. The real difference is that he’s a better pocket-passer with a better arm.
This is a similar situation to where Matt Ryan could be gone, or at least he should be if I was in charge. Fields is borderline the second-best prospect in the class and helps Atlanta as they go younger and faster on offense.
Trey Lance- North Dakota State- Detroit Lions- 1st Round
Lance could easily fall down the board due to only having one game last season. Due to team need, the Lions are going to take a chance on him and help groom him into a quality starting QB. The Lions are able to be in a rebuild mode while Lance fits the mold of the NFL.
Mac Jones- Alabama- Washington Football Team- 1st Round
I can see the Patriots and Washington trading here as WFT may think New England could snag Jones. Alex Smith says he doesn’t want to retire but he’s on the last leg of his career. While Smith won Comeback Player of the Year, Jones would be an upgrade. He’s got a strong arm and athleticism.
Kyle Trask- Florida- Pittsburgh Steelers- 2nd Round
Pittsburgh will trade up, likely anywhere before Carolina or New England picks. Trask is like Roethlisberger as a true pocket passer who can run when needed. With the speed on the surrounding offense, Trask could be successful in this system.
After a disappointing Senior Bowl, Newman will slide to New England without a fight. He looks and plays like a pro and can be a productive dual-threat. Returning for his senior year as a transfer to Georgia would have helped him but he opted out. At the very least, Newman can help push Jarrett Stidham to the next level or take the job for himself.
Mond possesses a nice arm on a solid frame. His accuracy is a sizable issue but a team in need of a QB could take a chance on him. Carolina can’t rely on Jacoby Brissett as they hoped.
Ramsey can be a flashy passer at times but is more of a field general. He was limited in college with the offense around him. Carolina has a nice young offense that gives Ramsey a decent shot at the starting job against a struggling Teddy Bridgewater. It’s a long shot though.
Ian Book- Notre Dame- Denver Broncos- 6th Round
Drew Lock just doesn’t look feel like a starting QB in Denver. The team still seems high on him though but are going to need better backups for him when he does fail. Ian is a bit under the radar as well. He can be an efficient passer and a solid overall QB. Book isn’t the best NFL prospect but he’s an interesting one who could have a Ryan Fitzpatrick-like career. Now that’s a hot take.
The Saints are all-in on Taysom Hill and Jameis Winston has their QBs. There is a chance one or both don’t pan out and the Saints don’t have a decent QB3. Ehlinger is talented but limited to be a career backup likely. He can still provide depth and maybe fight for the number two spot.