The NFL draft returns to some normality this year following last year’s virtual event.
The 2021 event will be held in Cleveland with some of the top prospects getting their draft moments on stage, whereas last year they had to do it all from home.
On Thursday over in the US, the first round will kick off the draft festivities as we gear up for the 2021 season later this year.
Whether this will be the first draft you’ve ever watch or the 30th, talkSPORT.com have you covered with all you need to know.
What is the draft?
The NFL draft is where the 32 teams select the best college prospects over seven rounds.
Each team has one draft pick in each round but these can be traded and swapped.
For example, the San Francisco 49er will have the third pick this year. They acquired it from the Miami Dolphins, who themselves got it from the Houston Texans in a trade, as they swapped first round positions in return 2022 third-round pick and first-round picks in 2022 and 2023.
The Dolphins then moved back up to No.6 in a trade with the Philadelphia Eagles.
In addition to those picks, the NFL can assign up to 32 compensatory picks at the end of the third through seventh rounds.
How is the order decided?
The order of each round is determined by a team’s record from the previous season with the worst team picking first and the Super Bowl winner going last.
In situations where teams finish with identical records the position is determined by the strength of their schedule.
This year, the Jacksonville Jaguars have the first pick while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 32nd.
When is it happening?
The first round starts on Thursday, April 29, with the first pick expected to be made in the early hours of Friday morning at around 1am BST.
Rounds two and three will then take place on April 30 with the remaining rounds on May 1.
How will the draft be done during the coronavirus pandemic?
Last year’s draft was done a little different. It was all be done from home with the various settings the NFL head coaches and general managers made their picks from causing quite a stir.
This year’s event will return to somewhat of a normality and will be held in Cleveland. A select number of prospects will be in attendance.
The NFL protocols have been quite strict over the last year, but club personnel involved in the draft process will be allowed to gather in a Draft Room of their choosing.
Trevor Lawrence is widely expected to be the No.1 overall pick[/caption]
What is the criteria for players to enter the draft?
A player must be at least three years removed from High School to be eligible to enter the NFL draft, this is after their Junior season or redshirt Sophomore season.
These underclassmen must then apply to enter and get approval from he NFL’s player personnel staff.
They have until seven days after the National Championship game to do so.
Seniors who want to enter the draft are only eligible to enter in the year after the end of their college eligibility.
The NFL says: “Once players have become draft-eligible or have declared their intention to enter the draft early, the (NFL) player personnel staff works with teams, agents and schools to clarify the players’ status. They also work with agents, schools, scouts and teams to enforce league rules for pro days and private workouts.
“During the draft, (NFL) player personnel staff confirms that all players who are drafted are draft-eligible.”
How do teams assess players?
Usually, 330 of the top prospects are invited to the NFL Combine held at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
That was cancelled this year with teams instead assessing players at pro days at their respective colleges.
It will be a shock if Trevor Lawrence is not taken by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the No.1 pick.
The Clemson quarterback has been described as a generational talent and touted as a future No.1 pick before he ever went to college.
We are likely to see quarterbacks taken with the top three picks with the New York Jets and 49ers at two and three respectively.
BYU’s Zach Wilson is expected to be a high draft pick with the Jets showing serious interest[/caption]
Zach Wilson is the draft analysts’ wide consensus to go at No.2, but there is some debate over who San Francisco should pick.
Alabama quarterback Mac Jones divides opinion while Trey Lance and Justin Fields are also in the conversation.
2021 First Round Draft Order
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Jets
- San Francisco 49ers (via Houston via Miami)
- Atlanta Falcons
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Miami Dolphins (via Philadelphia)
- Detroit Lions
- Carolina Panthers
- Denver Broncos
- Dallas Cowboys
- New York Giants
- Philadelphia Eagles (via San Francisco via Miami)
- LA Chargers
- Minnesota Vikings
- New England Patriots
- Arizona Cardinals
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Miami Dolphins
- Chicago Bears
- Indianapolis Colts
- Tennessee Titans
- New York Jets (via Seattle)
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Jacksonville Jaguars (via LA Rams)
- Cleveland Browns
- Baltimore Ravens
- New Orleans Saints
- Green Bay Packers
- Buffalo Bills
- Baltimore Ravens (via Kansas)
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Teams without a first round pick: LA Rams, Kansas City Chiefs, Seattle Seahawks