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Everything you need to know to watch the 2021 NFL draft

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NFL draft signs decorate the fan experience area near First Energy Stadium, Tuesday, April 27, 2021, in Cleveland. The 2021 NFL draft will be held April 29-May 1.

Steve Luciano, Associated Press

Months of speculation and projections concerning young NFL prospects will turn into reality as the 2021 NFL draft plays out Thursday, Friday and Saturday in Cleveland.

How to watch the 2021 NFL draft

  • Thursday, Round 1
    6 p.m. MDT, on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network
  • Friday, Rounds 2-3
    5 p.m., on ABC, ESPN and NFL Network
  • Saturday, Rounds 4-7
    10 a.m., ABC, ESPN and NFL Network

Major storylines

  • QB-heavy top of the draft: It’s expected the first few picks of the first round will all be quarterbacks, including the Jacksonville Jaguars at No. 1, the New York Jets at No. 2 and the San Francisco 49ers at No. 3. While Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence and BYU’s Zach Wilson are expected to go 1-2 to Jacksonville and New York, respectively, it gets more interesting after that. There’s also the belief more quarterbacks — among a group that includes Ohio State’s Justin Fields, North Dakota State’s Trey Lance and Alabama’s Mac Jones — could be taken in the top 10.

  • Watch out for trades: There are some QB-needy teams that may move into those early picks to try to get their guy, which would add to the intrigue at the top. That could force some of the draft’s other top talents — such as Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, Oregon’s Penei Sewell and Penn State’s Micah Parsons — to slide a bit and be available to teams later than expected.  
  • Will COVID-19 have an impact?: Some prospects — including a handful of first-round talents — chose to opt out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic, leaving team personnel to dig deeper into their archives for game tape for evaluation. Will that, plus a greater difficulty about gaining accurate medical information, cause some teams to pass on a player because of the unique circumstances? NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah doesn’t believe so. “(Teams) understand it. They get it. I don’t think it has any impact,” he said on a recent conference call. “I think the majority of (players) showed up at their pro days and worked out extremely well, so yeah, teams that I’ve talked to have been very comfortable with the opt-out situation.”

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