Matt Bowen: Bears, Pace addressed defensive needs in 2016 NFL Draft

By Tolly Taylor and Shane Monaghan

Ryan Pace and the Chicago Bears front office were not apprehensive during the 2016 NFL Draft. The team made multiple trades en route to drafting nine players, seven of which were defenders.

ESPN NFL staff writer Matt Bowen spoke with Medill Reports about why he felt the Bears addressed numerous needs and became faster and more physical on defense. Continue reading

Chicago says goodbye to NFL Draft until (insert best guess here)

By Julia Cardi

Lisa Nelson loves Chicago, and she loves football. So when the NFL Draft came to the city starting in 2015, the La Grange resident and lifelong Green Bay Packers fan was thrilled. Nelson and her family have enjoyed attending Draft Town with her family to meet former and current players, spend time around other football fans, and watch the final rounds these last two years.

She can’t understand why the NFL will probably move the event in 2017, saying Chicago has done so well as host.

“I was hoping this was going to be its home,” she said as she waited to watch her children run the 40-yard dash. “It’s a good, central location, and people are passionate about sports here.” Continue reading

To play or not to play? NFL & USA Football advise parents

By EmmaKate Austin and Lena Blietz

ESPN’s Mike Golic, co-host of Mike and Mike, and his wife, Chris Golic, led a panel discussion for parents about the safety of youth football and other sports. The NFL’s Play 60 teamed up with USA Football for the event, where kids participated in an hour of football drills while their parents attended the panel. Panelists included Bears tight end Zach Miller and former offensive tackle James “Big Cat” Williams.

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NFL Draft Day 3: Northwestern’s Danny Vitale to the Bucs

By Chris Hayre and Adam Rossow

With the 197th pick of the NFL Draft, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Northwestern’s Danny Vitale. The All-Big Ten second team fullback helped the Wildcats reach the Outback Bowl. He was ranked as one of the top three fullback prospects in the draft.

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Reality check: Fans get closer than ever to athletes with virtual technology

By Erin Barney

Sean Smith watched Paxton Lynch’s perfect spiral fly over his head and hit a receiver in stride. There was grass under his feet and Lynch’s trainers to his left and right. When he looked up, he swore he could feel the Memphis sun.

But then the STRIVR goggles came off, and it was back to reality. A much colder, rainier Chicago reality.

Smith, 44, was one of thousands of fans in the NFL’s Draft Town Saturday to enter a virtual world. A Palo Alto, California-based virtual reality company, STRIVR, lets fans get an up-close and personal encounter with the players. The goggles offered a 360-degree view of Jaylon Smith’s workout or a look at the defensive line from Shaq Lawson’s vantage point. Continue reading

NFL Draft Round 4: First Northwestern player off the board

By Chris Hayre and Adam Rossow

The first Northwestern player of the 2016 NFL Draft has been selected. With pick No. 137, the Green Bay Packers picked up Northwestern defensive end Dean Lowry. Lowry was a standout for Pat Fitzgerald and his Wildcats in Evanston for the past four years.

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NFL greats reunite in style on the red carpet

By Caley Chelios and Nicole Sedivy

The red carpet at the NFL Draft turned into a Walk of Fame on Friday night. Hall of Famers and NFL legends strolled down the red carpet on their way into Auditorium Theatre to announce the picks of the third round of the draft. Many of these former players took the opportunity to reminisce about their own draft.

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NFL Draft: Tide turns for Alabama trio on Day 2

By Jordan Ray

Defensive standouts Reggie Ragland, A’Shawn Robinson and Jarran Reed were on the field when Alabama won its 16th national title in January.

All three were in the Green Room on Thursday night at Roosevelt University’s Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

All three were waiting to be drafted by the NFL in the first round.

None of them were selected.

Until Friday, that is.

In the second round. Continue reading