The NFL draft 2021 is swiftly approaching, and as Pro Days are completed, NFL teams while be whittling down their prospective targets.  On a weekend where 253 players will have their dreams come true and fans across the globe plan their NFL mock draft, we guide you through the key points on just how the NFL draft works.

Check out all the latest NFL betting odds at William Hill

How does the NFL draft work? 

The NFL draft is an opportunity for standout collegiate football players to realise their dreams and be selected by NFL teams, and with it enjoy the highs and lows of professional football. While there are other routes to the NFL, such as being unsigned as an undrafted free agent, the lion’s share of professional players will be picked over a three-day event in a host city.

So how does the NFL draft work? Well, in theory, the best players are the first NFL draft picks, but that’s not to say great players don’t slip through the cracks. Current Super Bowl champion, and arguable best player ever, Tom Brady, was drafted 199th overall. The current number one overall pick is Joe Burrow, who represented Louisiana State University, before starting for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2020.

How is the draft order determined?

The NFL draft order is determined based on each side’s record from the previous year, with each team assigned a pick in each of the seven draft rounds from one to 32. As the NFL is a league based off the notion of parity, the worst performing team gets the first NFL draft ranking, while the Super Bowl winners gets 32. There are possible changes, such as pre-traded picks, while from round three onwards, teams can also be given compensatory picks, for numerous reasons. This means that this year’s first pick goes to the Jacksonville Jaguars, who won just one game in 2020. This does, however, give them huge flexibility, and the chance to draft a franchise-changing player.

Date and time of the NFL Draft 2021 rounds

Hosted over three days in Cleveland, Ohio, the NFL draft’s first round takes place on opening night, the April 29. Starting at 8pm ET (12am BST), the round will see 32 men become first round draft picks. The second day sees rounds two and three take place, with the excitement of the first round spilling over into the primetime TV slot, with a 7pm ET (11pm BST) start time. Finally, the final four rounds take place on Saturday, May 1, starting at noon ET (4pm BST). However, while plans are in place for physical event, this may be shifted to a repeat of last year’s virtual draft.​

Latest NFL Draft odds

While the selection of Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence at number one overall looks a formality, there’s plenty of draft intrigue within the top three positions. Quarterbacks that can be the face of the franchise are gold dust, and Lawrence is joined by Justin Fields and Zach Wilson as the premier signal-callers in the draft. Those three to go in that order is 7/1, while Alabama’s Heisman-winning wide receiver, DeVonta Smith, is 27/20 to be the first wideout off the board. With so much action and drama to unfold on draft night, there will be shocks and surprises aplenty.

We’ve also put together a handy NFL betting guide if you would like to know even more.