Despite countless cancellations of major sporting events around the globe due to the coronavirus pandemic, including the suspension of the NBA, NHL and MLS seasons in the US, the NFL is moving ahead with its annual player draft on schedule, with the first round starting at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, April 23. The league scrapped plans to host the draft in Las Vegas this year and will instead hold a “fully virtual draft” with team executives making picks remotely.
That means it will look kind of like a fantasy football draft in a league where your buddies are scattered across the country. General managers and other NFL team officials are usually huddled together in a war room at the team’s facility for the draft, but this year they’ll be drafting remotely from their kitchen tables or basements. Hopefully they won’t miss making a pick because they’re putting their kids to bed or grabbing another beer from the fridge.
Most draft experts predict the Cincinnati Bengals will select quarterback Joe Burrow from LSU with the first overall pick, and Ohio State’s dominating edge rusher Chase Young is expected to be the next player taken. Three other quarterbacks could be picked in the first round: Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Oregon’s Justin Herbert and Utah State’s Jordan Love.
Without players walking across the stage to shake hands with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the NFL Draft will look drastically different this year. But it’ll be broadcast on the same channels over three days as in past years. Here’s everything you need to know to watch the NFL Draft without cable.
When is the draft?
The NFL Draft will be broadcast simultaneously on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network. Here’s the TV schedule:
- Round 1: Thursday, April 23, 8-11:30 p.m ET (5-8:30 p.m. PT)
- Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 24, 7-11:30 p.m. ET (4-8:30 p.m. PT)
- Rounds 4-7: Saturday, April 25, 12-7 p.m. ET (9 a.m.-4 p.m. PT)
ESPN and NFL Network will team up for the first two nights of the draft for a single broadcast on both channels featuring Trey Wingo, Mel Kiper Jr., Louis Riddick, Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter from ESPN and Rich Eisen, Daniel Jeremiah, Michael Irvin and Kurt Warner from NFL Network. ESPN’s College GameDay crew including Rece Davis, Jesse Palmer, Maria Taylor, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and Todd McShay will head up coverage on ABC on Thursday and Friday. For Saturday’s coverage of the final four rounds of the draft, all three networks will share coverage.
ESPN Deportes will have Spanish-language coverage of the 2020 NFL Draft featuring Eduardo Varela and Pablo Viruega from Monday Night Football.
What’s the order of the draft picks?
The Cincinnati Bengals hold the first pick, followed by the Washington Redskins, Detroit Lions, New York Giants and Miami Dolphins. You can track all of the picks with CBS Sports’ NFL Draft Tracker.
How can I watch the draft live?
Watch live for free: ABC will air all three days of the draft, If you have an over-the-air antenna hooked up to your TV and get your local ABC station, you can watch for free.
Live updates and analysis for free: If you want to stay on top of the draft as it unfolds, tune into CBS Sports HQ for ongoing coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET Thursday. (Disclosure: ViacomCBS is the parent company of CNET).
Subscription options: The NFL Draft will be broadcast on ABC ESPN, ESPN Deportes and the NFL Network. There’s also a livestream on WatchESPN app or the NFL Mobile app (or ESPN.com or NFL.com). One caveat: You will need to prove you have a TV subscription (typically from a cable or satellite provider) that includes ESPN or the NFL Network in order to watch live on either app.
Cable TV cord cutters have a number of options to watch the draft via a live TV streaming service, detailed below.
Sling TV does not feature ABC, but its $30-a-month Orange plan includes ESPN, and the $30-a-month Blue plan includes NFL Network. You can bundle the Orange and Blue plans together for $45 to increase your draft viewing options. ESPN Deportes is included in the $10-a-month Best of Spanish add-on package for the Orange package. Sling’s packages are discounted by $10 for the first month. Enter your address here to see which local channels are available where you live.
Read our Sling TV review.
YouTube TV costs $50 a month and includes ABC and ESPN but not NFL Network or ESPN Deportes. Plug in your ZIP code on its welcome page to see which local networks are available in your area.
Read our YouTube TV review.
Hulu with Live TV costs $55 a month and includes ABC and ESPN but not NFL Network. ESPN Deportes is part of the $5-a-month Español Add-on. Click the “View channels in your area” link on its welcome page to see which local channels are offered in your ZIP code.
Read our Hulu with Live TV review.
FuboTV costs $55 per month and includes NFL Network but not ABC, ESPN or ESPN Deportes.
Read our FuboTV review.
AT&T TV Now’s basic $55-a-month Plus package includes ABC and ESPN. Neither the Plus nor Max plan includes NFL Network or ESPN Deportes. You can use its channel lookup tool to see which local channels are available where you live.
Read our AT&T TV Now review.
All of the live TV streaming services above offer free trials, allow you to cancel anytime, and require a solid Internet connection. Looking for more information? Check out our massive streaming services guide.
How can I get these services on my TV?
These services are widely available on game consoles and smart TVs, but if you need to add them to an older TV, add-on options like Roku and Fire TV start for as little as $30.