The story of the NFL draft, from extravaganza to unadorned

In this April 18, 1943, file photo, Fred Mandel, foreground, president of the Detroit Lions, and Charles "Chile" Walsh, assistant coach of the Cleveland Rams, look over prospects at the player draft of the NFL in Chicago. The number of rounds fluctuated through the years, in part because of competition from the All-America Football Conference in the 1940s, but also because college football grew and more players were available. (AP Photo/Harry L. Hall, File)

An NFL draft handled remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic is the latest twist to an event that has become as popular as any pro football happening short of the Super Bowl.