Just days after the conclusion of the first virtual NFL Draft, April 29-May 1 were announced as the dates for the 2021 draft in Cleveland.
The 86th draft will host fans a year from now at locations around FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, according to the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission, Destination Cleveland and the Browns.
“We’re excited for Cleveland to ‘Rock The Clock’ as the host of next year’s NFL Draft and NFL Draft Experience — assuming large gatherings can take place without compromising the well-being of participants,” David Gilbert, president and CEO of Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland, said in the news release. “We, along with our partners at the NFL, the Cleveland Browns and the City of Cleveland, are steadfast in our commitment to ensuring the health and safety of all spectators and participants. We’re working tirelessly to make this the best Draft event yet — for the NFL and its fans as well as for the Cleveland community.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced the NFL to cancel the 2020 draft event in Las Vegas and hold it remotely, with teams, league officials and draft prospects spread across the country in their homes.
The three-day draft had more than 55 million viewers, a 35 increase over 2019. Columbus, Cleveland and Cincinnati led the country in television ratings for the first round Thursday.
“We successfully brought to life the first virtual NFL Draft last week, and we are now very excited to work with Cleveland to incorporate some of the innovations and special access from 2020 into our planning for 2021,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL executive vice president of club business and league events. “We look forward to partnering with the Browns, the City of Cleveland, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission and Destination Cleveland to create a memorable celebration of football for such a passionate fan base and community.”
Cleveland was awarded the 2021 draft last May. The event will include a free football festival and will commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Browns’ first season in 1946.
“The NFL Draft is an international celebration for our entire league and all sports fans, and we look forward to hosting the event, highlighting our city and continuing to share Northeast Ohio’s passion for football in 2021,” said Dave Jenkins, Browns executive vice president and chief operating officer. “Throughout the process, our local partnership and the NFL have focused on providing an exceptional experience for everyone in Cleveland, and prioritizing everyone’s safety and well-being is always a core component to achieving that goal, no matter the event or circumstance.”