The 2021 NFL Draft will not be held from Roger Goodell’s basement.
Despite the logistical obstacles of ESPN and NFL Network dispatching cameras to remote setups for coaches and executives for all 32 teams, in addition to more than 50 draft prospects, last year’s virtual NFL Draft was a nearly mistake-free success.
Related: 2020 NFL Draft first round viewership is 15.6 million, far and away a new record
But the league plans to return to a more conventional setup for this year’s player selection meeting. As had been announced previously, the NFL Draft will be held in Cleveland from Thursday, April 29 to Saturday, May 1. And proceedings will be held in three locations throughout the city: FirstEnergy Stadium, the home of the Cleveland Browns; the Great Lakes Science Center; and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
See you soon, Cleveland.
2021 #NFLDraft | April 29 – May 1 pic.twitter.com/YylRI1TE6t
— NFL (@NFL) March 22, 2021
The NFL announced on Monday that a number of draft prospects will be invited to participate in the event (though some will take part remotely, as has always been the case), while ESPN, ABC, and NFL Network will be permitted to broadcast on-site, and fans will be allowed to attend the festivities as well.
Unlike last year, when ESPN and NFL Network combined their draft telecasts, each network (along with ABC) will once again have separate broadcasts. That includes both Thursday and Friday night’s coverage televised in prime time.
Select fans will be chosen by each of the 32 NFL teams to be “Draft Ambassadors” with a front-row seat in the “Inner Circle” near the draft’s main stage. (All fans chosen for the “Inner Circle” must be fully vaccinated.) Additionally, interactive theme park events will be held around FirstEnergy Stadium, following the same protocols used for the Super Bowl LV fan experience in Tampa, Florida. (To control crowd capacity, reservations will be required to attend.)
The 2022 NFL Draft will be held in Las Vegas after the 2020 in-person version of the event was canceled due to COVID-19. Kansas City will host the 2023 proceedings. Prior to 2020, the past five NFL Drafts were held in Chicago (for 2015 and 2016), Philadelphia, Dallas, and Nashville.