After last year's virtual draft, which portended a year of Zoom meetings for all of us, the NFL is returning to its prepandemic model of hosting a live, on-location event for the NFL draft. The 2021 NFL draft will take place in Cleveland from locations including FirstEnergy Stadium -- home of the Cleveland Browns -- the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center. Up to 50,000 fans will be in attendance, and a limited number of draft prospects will be waiting to walk across the stage to shake hands with (or hug?) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when their name is called. The first round of the draft starts Thursday, April 29 at 5 p.m. PT (8 p.m. ET).
Presumptive top pick Trevor Lawrence won't be in Cleveland, but 13 other top prospects have accepted invitations to attend the draft.
Five quarterbacks are expected to be picked early. Most draft experts predict the Jacksonville Jaguars will select Lawrence from Clemson with the first overall pick and the New York Jets will take Zach Wilson from BYU with the second pick. Justin Fields from Ohio State, Trey Lance from North Dakota State and Mac Jones from Alabama are the other three quarterbacks expected to come off the board in the first round.
The NFL draft is a three-day event. Here's everything you need to know to watch all the action without cable.
Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is expected to be the first pick of the 2021 NFL Draft.Alika Jenner/Getty Images
When is the NFL draft?
The NFL draft will be broadcast on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network. Here's the TV schedule:Round 1: Thursday, April 29, 8-11:30 p.m ET (5-8:30 p.m. PT)Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 30, 7-11:30 p.m. ET (4-8:30 p.m. PT)Rounds 4-7: Saturday, May 1, 12-7 p.m. ET (9 a.m.-4 p.m. PT)
On ESPN, Mike Greenberg will serve as host for the first two nights of the draft alongside Mel Kiper Jr., Louis Riddick, Booger McFarland, Chris Mortensen, Adam Schefter and Suzy Kolber. On ABC, Rece Davis will host with Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Todd McShay from one set, and Maria Taylor will host from another set with Jesse Palmer and David Pollack. For the third day of the draft on Saturday, ABC and ESPN will combine forces with Davis, Kiper, McShay, Riddick, Mortensen and Schefter covering rounds four through seven.
On the NFL Network, Rich Eisen will lead coverage featuring Daniel Jeremiah, Charles Davis, David Shaw, Kurt Warner, Joel Klatt and Ian Rapoport. Peter Schrager and Chris Rose will join for the NFL Network's coverage for Friday and Saturday.
ESPN Deportes will have Spanish-language coverage of the 2021 NFL draft, featuring Eduardo Varela and Pablo Viruega from Monday Night Football.
What's the order of the draft picks?
The Jacksonville Jaguars hold the first pick, followed by the New York Jets, San Francisco 49ers, Atlanta Falcons and Cincinnati Bengals. You can track all of the picks with ESPN's Draftcast.
How can I watch the draft live?
Watch live for free: ABC will air all three days of the draft. If you have an over-the-air antenna hooked up to your TV and get your local ABC station, you can watch for free.
Subscription options: The NFL draft will be broadcast on ABC ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the NFL Network. There will also be a livestream on the WatchESPN app or the NFL Mobile app (or ESPN.com or NFL.com). One caveat: You will need to prove you have a TV subscription (from a cable or satellite provider or live TV streaming service) that includes ESPN or the NFL Network in order to watch live on either app.
Cable TV cord-cutters have a number of options for watching the draft via a live TV streaming service, detailed below.
Sling TV does not feature ABC, but its $35-a-month Orange plan includes ESPN, and the $35-a-month Blue plan includes NFL Network. You can bundle the Orange and Blue plans together for $50 to increase your draft viewing options.
All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime and require a solid internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our live-TV streaming services guide.