Wake-Up Call: Philly Wants In On Draft

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The NFL is flirting with the idea of having other cities besides New York  host the draft, and Philadelphia wants in.

“We have let them know of our interest, which is a continued interest,” said Larry Needle, executive director of the Philadelphia Sports Congress. “I think we would certainly be remiss if we weren’t at least taking  a close look at it. It’s obviously a huge event with phenomenal media coverage and I’d expect would bring a good number of people into the city.”

Just how big is it getting? According to the league offices, the draft drew a record 45.7 million television viewers this year. First-round coverage on ESPN and NFL Network drew a combined total viewership of 32 million — up 28 percent from the year prior. The average viewership in Round 1 was higher than the most recent MLB and NBA All-Star Games. 

The draft has been held in New York since 1965 but commissioner Roger Goodell recently suggested that they could be taking the show on the road. New Orleans, Boston,  Orlando, Los Angeles, Chicago, Canton and Green Bay are said to be among the 12 or so interested cities along with Philly.

Back in 2005, the league was talking with reps from Philadelphia-area venues as it transitioned the draft out of the Theater at Madison Square Garden. The Convention Center, Kimmel Center and Susquehanna Bank Center (then known as the Tweeter Center) were all discussed. Those would all be potential options again this time around assuming the NFL’s needs for the event are somewhat similar, Needle says. The Wells Fargo Center is also a possibility, though there could be some logistical issues because of the Sixers and Flyers. The city would work with the NFL to identify the best fit.

“Certainly we would be very interested in learning more about it,” said Needle. “If there is an RFP — a Request for Proposal — and a formal process, we certainly would be very interested in seeing it and learning more about what they are looking for from a city.”

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said via email, though, that “there is not a formal application or a formal process,” adding, “We anticipate making decisions on when and where the Draft will be held and also its format later this summer/early fall.”

(Regarding the “format” part of that statement: the league is considering extending the draft from three to four days.)

Some have theorized that the NFL fully plans on keeping the draft at Radio City Music Hall, and is opening  it up to other cities in the name of leverage. Philly is hoping Goodell and company plan on spreading the wealth, but they haven’t received any assurances.

“We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and spin any wheels,” said Needle.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The latest Twitter Mailbag on Trent Cole, Jeremy Maclin and “Murderleg.”

Sheil offers some thoughts on the Howie Roseman/Chip Kelly dynamic.

 “[I]t looks like we have the old Earl because he’s flying around right now.” Kelly on Earl Wolff. 

The Eagles came to terms with seventh-round selection Beau Allen Thursday.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski on the decision not to move up for Brandin Cooks or Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

[T]he Eagles were probably better off not trading up. In order to beat the Saints’ offer, the Eagles probably would have had to have given up their 3rd round pick to move up from 22 to 20, which would have been awful value. It would have also meant no Josh Huff in the 3rd round.

Here is what the Eagles would have gotten if they had traded up vs. what they ended up with by staying put and trading out.

Which side would you rather have?

The Eagles have been busy trying to bolster their special teams units, writes Reuben Frank. 

They didn’t land any big names during free agency — Malcolm Jenkins was the biggest — but the Eagles did add safety Chris Maragos, linebacker Bryan Braman and nickel corner Nolan Carroll, who are all being counted on to be special teams stalwarts. They added Darren Sproles to punch up the offense, but he also has a strong track record in the return game. They added some fast, physical players in the draft who should be contributors right away on special teams — Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Jaylen Watkins and Ed Reynolds and probably even Marcus Smith. They even brought in an undrafted free-agent placekicker to challenge one-time fourth-round pick Alex Henery.

And the Eagles hope it all adds up to a much improved special teams group.

COMING UP

Rookie camp begins today. We’ll speak with the Eagles’ draft picks this afternoon.

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