The 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us, with the first round taking place tonight.
There is no shortage of intrigue and drama bubbling up around this year’s edition, with even the most knowledgeable draft analysts uncertain as to exactly how things will unfold beyond the first couple of picks.
Once again quarterback storylines are dominating the pre-draft agenda.
While Clemson superstar Trevor Lawrence is considered an absolute certainty to be selected by the Jacksonville Jaguars with the first overall pick and the New York Jets seemingly have their eyes firmly fixed on BYU’s Zach Wilson next up as a replacement for Sam Darnold, the question of which signal-caller the San Francisco 49ers will select after moving up to pick no3 in a blockbuster trade with the Miami Dolphins has everyone talking.
Trey Lance, Mac Jones and Justin Fields are the other QB names to watch early in round one, while Kyle Pitts is tipped to be the NFL’s next star tight end and another talented and deep wide receiver class is headlined by LSU’s Ja’Marr Chase and Alabama team-mates Jaylen Waddle and Devonta Smith.
As ever, speculation over trades has gone intro overdrive, with the Atlanta Falcons rumoured to be shopping seven-time Pro Bowl wideout Julio Jones and interest also building in Niners QB Jimmy Garoppolo.
Here’s everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL Draft...
NFL Draft time UK
The latest NFL Draft - which takes place across three days as usual - begins tonight on Thursday, April 29, 2021.
In the UK, the first round is set to begin at 1am BST in the early hours of Friday morning (April 30).
Rounds 2-3 then take place from midnight on Saturday, with rounds 4-7 beginning at 5pm later that day.
How does the NFL Draft work
Owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, last year’s Draft was an entirely virtual affair for the first time ever, with players, coaches and executives confined to their homes and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing the picks from his basement.
This year, the Draft is taking place with fans in attendance in Cleveland, Ohio, at three different venues in FirstEnergy Stadium, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the Great Lakes Science Center.
12 of the top prospects - Christian Barmore, Gregory Rousseau, Ja’Marr Chase, Rashawn Slater, Devonta Smith, Mac Jones, Patrick Surtain II, Trey Lance, Micah Parsons, Jaylen Waddle, Zach Wilson and Kyle Pitts - and Goodell will be present on-site, with 45 further hopefuls taking part in the Draft process virtually and up to 10 fully vaccinated team personnel permitted to gather at Draft “war rooms” across the country.
Virginia Tech cornerback Caleb Farley was also due to attend tonight, but will stay away after testing positive for Covid-19.
The Draft consists of seven rounds, with each of the NFL’s 32 franchises handed a pick in each round, though that fact and indeed the overall order of picks inevitably varies due to trades.
The team with the worst overall record from the previous season - in this case the 1-15 Jaguars - picks first, with the teams that did not reach the playoffs filling out the rest of the top 20 in the first round.
That order then filters down through the playoff teams to the beaten Super Bowl outfit and then the reigning champions, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers owning the 32nd pick this year after their 31-9 win over Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Super Bowl LV on home soil at Raymond James Stadium in February.
Each team has a certain amount of time to confirm their pick - 10 minutes in the first round, seven minutes in the second round, five minutes during rounds 3-6 and finally four minutes in round seven.
50,000 fans are expected to attend the Draft across all three days, with musical performances from the likes of Kings Of Leon, Machine Gun Kelly and Black Pumas.
NFL Draft 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
13. Los Angeles Chargers
14. Minnesota Vikings
15. New England Patriots
16. Arizona Cardinals
17. Las Vegas Raiders
18. Miami Dolphins
19. Washington Football Team
20. Chicago Bears
21. Indianapolis Colts
22. Tennessee Titans
23. New York Jets
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
25. Jacksonville Jaguars
26. Cleveland Browns
27. Baltimore Ravens
28. New Orleans Saints
29. Green Bay Packers
30. Buffalo Bills
31. Kansas City Chiefs
32. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
How to watch the NFL Draft in the UK and start time
TV channel: In the UK, all three days of the Draft can be watched live on Sky Sports’ dedicated NFL channel, with first-round build-up beginning at 8pm BST tonight.
Live stream: Sky Sports subscribers can also watch the draft unfold online via the Sky Go app.
Coverage of the draft is also available on NFL Game Pass, for those that have a subscription to that service.
NFL Draft odds
No1 overall pick to be Trevor Lawrence - 1/200
No2 overall pick to be Zach Wilson - 1/50
No3 overall pick to be Mac Jones - 4/11
No4 overall pick to be Kyle Pitts - 4/9
Justin Fields to be a top-10 pick - 2/9
Odds via Betfair (subject to change). Click here to find out more.