2021 NFL Draft is two years in the making

Hundreds of workers are putting the finishing touches on the stage in Cleveland, between FirstEnergy Stadium and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

NFL draft logo.jpg
An NFL Draft logo covers a fence outside the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, near where the league will conduct its annual draft Thursday-Saturday. Mike McFeely / The Forum
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CLEVELAND, OH -- The last time an NFL Draft was held in person was April 25th-27th, 2019, 733 days ago.

"There’s a lot of experience put into this, and lessons learned, so I think we’re ready," said Liz McCollum, NFL Draft Experience coordinator.

When Trey Lance and 31 other NFL prospects hear their names called on Thursday night in the first round, a draft that's been in planning longer than anyone could have imagined will finally see the light of day.


"The planning started almost two years ago," McCollum said.

"I honestly thought it would be canceled," said Grant Coburn, a Cleveland native who is attending the draft.

PHOTO: Draft crew work
Workers continue finishing work on Wednesday ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Through a pandemic, it might also be the most complicated draft to plan.

"I think there were lots of contingency plans, and as you get closer you start to figure out which one will work," McCollum said. "You had six ideas, and now we’re here, you know what the levels are."

Crews from across the country have spent the last month building the stage where NFL prospects will have their dreams turned into reality.

"It’s safe to say hundreds of people have been here to build this," McCollum said.


Whether they are vaccinated or not, fans at the draft will be required to wear masks at all times, take daily screenings before entering, and will have to social distance the entire time.

A year after drafting virtually, however, being back together in person is a welcome sight.

"It’s amazing the way these guys put things together," Coburn said. "It’s awesome. The talk of the town, everybody’s talking about it."

"When I heard the draft was coming I made sure that I was going to be a part of it," said Artemus Blanding, another Cleveland native who is working this year's draft. "It was something I didn’t want to miss."

"It’s really good to see everybody come together like this."

Zach Staton joined WDAY as a sports reporter in 2018. He grew up in Salem, Virginia loving any sport he could play or watch. Staton graduated from Bridgewater College with a degree in Communication Studies before getting his Master's in Broadcast and Digital Journalism with a Sports Communication Emphasis from Syracuse University.
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