The National Football League’s opening night of the annual draft event attracted an average of 12.6 million viewers across three networks, including ESPN and ABC.
It didn’t surpass last year’s all-time high of 15.5 million viewers, but it was 11 percent more than 2019 (11.4 million). Prior to last year, the all-time high was 12.4 million viewers in 2014. The 2020 NFL Draft was an all-virtual event due to Covid-19.
The Jacksonville Jaguars fielded ex-Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence with the first overall pick for 2021, followed by the New York Jets who took over Zach Wilson from BYU. In all, five quarterbacks were selected in the first round and 18 offensive players. It is the highest number since teams drafted 19 offensive players in 2009.
This year’s design returned to a live event format on Cleveland public lands. A vaccinated Roger Gooddell hugged players who had been drafted, and the NFL commissioner was also joined by one fan on stage for each pick.
Las Vegas has been selected to host the NFL Draft in 2022. The draft event was initially scheduled to take place in April in the city but was canceled due to the pandemic.
The 2021 draft continues on Friday with rounds two and three. The remaining rounds (four through seven) are scheduled for Saturday. The draft will air on Disney-owned ABC and ESPN and the league-owned NFL Network.