After months of speculation, the NFL officially revealed Thursday when and where it will hold the 2015 NFL draft. The Chicago Bears announced Chicago will host the draft next year:
ESPN's Adam Schefter initially reported the draft's dates. Schefter also said the league had narrowed the location down to two possibilities:
Arash Markazi of ESPN expressed his surprise at Los Angeles missing out on a chance to host the draft:
Matt Miller of Bleacher Report also was shocked at the announcement:
Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk wrote about what the change in venue could mean for the short- and long-term future of the draft:
The draft has grown in recent years to become not just the biggest event of the NFL's offseason but one of the biggest American sports events of the year, and the NFL has talked about moving it around the country to give more fans an opportunity to experience it in person. Chicago will be the first stop on what may become an annual tour, moving the draft from city to city.
This change in venue and locale marks the end of a 49-year run that saw the draft held in New York City every year since 1965. With the league and Radio City Music Hall unable to come to a mutual agreement on dates for 2015, the NFL had little choice other than to move on.
While moving the draft away from New York does mark the end of an era to some degree, there was fair warning that it was going to happen. Per ESPN.com, commissioner Roger Goodell identified Los Angeles and Chicago as the finalists to hold the draft back in July:
We had 12 cities that were interested. We felt the best thing to do was focus on the three cities, because they had such a tremendous interest. There are very attractive aspects to each of those cities. Because we don't have the appropriate dates in May, our focus is completely on Los Angeles and Chicago. They both have tremendous bids.
Both L.A. and Chicago have held the NFL draft in the past, and they also happen to be two of the largest and most populous cities in the United States. With that in mind, it is certainly understandable why those particular locations piqued the league's interest.
The date adjustment is probably welcomed by fans, players, agents and talent evaluators alike. The 2014 draft took place from May 8 through May 10 due to scheduling conflicts. The 2015 draft has been moved up, which will lessen the gap between the evaluation process and the draft itself.
According to Mark Maske of The Washington Post, agent Blake Baratz is among those who didn't see the value or logic in holding the draft so much later than usual:
I think it's pretty annoying. They rush into the [East-West] Shrine Game. They rush into the Senior Bowl. They rush into the pro days. They rush into everything else. Why is this different? The kids that play in a BCS bowl game and then turn around five days later [to begin practices] for the Shrine Game. It's not fair.
Moving away from New York has given the NFL some flexibility as it relates to the draft dates, and that will result in a more familiar experience for viewers. Perhaps the longer wait created more anticipation, but the fact of the matter is that diehard NFL fans would watch the draft if it was held tomorrow, so dragging out the process was essentially unnecessary.
It remains to be seen if holding the draft away from New York will be the new norm moving forward. The NFL obviously has plenty of options, including moving it around on a rotating basis much like the NHL does with its entry draft.
There will be no shortage of suitors if the NFL does that, especially since it can be argued that the draft has become the league's No. 2 event behind the Super Bowl.
The draft captivates fans of each and every team, and there is no question that this announcement already has many looking months ahead.
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