For the first two nights of the draft, Philadelphia provided the perfect location. By Saturday, the buzz had largely evaporated. Which means that, as the NFL tries to continue to increase the sizzle factor of the selection process, the draft should disappear from its initial location by Saturday, too.
With so many cities interested in hosting the draft, and with plenty of them unable to match the memorable scene in Philadelphia from Thursday and Friday, the league’s best move moving forward would be to take the proceedings to a new city for the final four rounds, with a new venue, a new sense of excitement, and no way for viewers to say, “Wow, it doesn’t feel nearly the same today.”
Whether a city qualifies for the first two nights or the third day of the draft depends in large part on whether it can replicate the initial rounds, where thousands showed up in Philadelphia and made an event that doesn’t really need a stage and a crowd feel like a huge deal. Saturday can feel like a huge deal, too, if the league can find a spot where the fans will be excited to have a piece of the pie — and where the pie will more than fill up a plate deliberately engineered to be smaller than the one that holds the first two nights of the process.
The league has the option to return to Philadelphia in 2018, and if the league chooses to stay there it could make sense to test out the dual-city approach if the league chooses to keep the draft there for Thursday and Friday. A new city for Saturday would allow the league to compare and contrast the images with those from the third day in Philly, which didn’t carry the same kind of energy that emanated from the screen in rounds one, two, and three.