NFL Draft

The makings of an expanded NFL Draft Town are under way at Grant Park

By Adam Rossow

The NFL Draft is coming to Chicago for the second straight year. Along with the seven rounds of selections, Draft Town in Grant Park is back with a bigger footprint, new layout, and more amenities, to better accommodate football fans attending the three-day event.

The behind-the-scenes preparation — even more extensive than in 2015 — is already underway.

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Former Northwestern standout talks NFL Draft, working hard and giving back

By Adam Rossow

It’s been a hectic few months for Dan Vitale. After finishing his final season at Northwestern, the 240-pounder played in the Senior Bowl in January, impressed NFL scouts with his physical attributes at the NFL Scouting Combine in February and illustrated his versatility during the Wildcats’ pro day in March. His on-field talent is expected to get Vitale chosen in this month’s NFL Draft, but it’s the way he carries himself off the field that makes his journey to the league even more meaningful.

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Illinois State’s Marshaun Coprich looking to excel in the NFL

By Chris Hayre

Former Illinois State running back Marshaun Coprich is just weeks away from fulfilling his NFL dream. Medill Reports’ Chris Hayre sat down with the two-time FCS All-American to learn more about how past experiences have shaped his life as he prepares for the 2016 NFL draft.

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Chicago Bears offseason plans ramp up at NFL Combine

By Adam Rossow

Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox met with the media and discussed free-agent plans, along with potential targets at number 11 in April’s NFL Draft at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Wednesday.

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Medill Reports does the NFL Combine — sort of

By Chris Hayre and Adam Rossow

Beginning Wednesday, Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis takes its annual turn as the center of the football world when the NFL Scouting Combine commences. Chris Hayre and Adam Rossow shockingly didn’t get the invite to compete, but in preparation for the event, they explain the six drills performed by NFL prospects that test their physical attributes.

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NFL’s Play 60 sparks youth interest

By Sam Fiske

The glow of the 2015 NFL Draft has come and gone, but the lasting imprint may ultimately reside with Chicago youth through the league’s Play 60 marketing campaign.

Play 60, which promotes an active and healthy lifestyle in the fight against childhood obesity, leveraged the popularity of the draft to draw kids, including those from Willa Cather Elementary School, to participate in football clinics in Grant Park last week.

“This is an amazing experience for the kids,” said Cather’s Dean Arick Lockheart, who campaigned to get 100 of his students invited to the Play 60 events. “It’s more about health and wellness.”

With raised awareness of concussions due to the violent nature of the sport, Play 60, which conducts clinics and football-related games and activities for kids nationwide, attempts a positive re-branding of the sport.

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Two steps forward, three steps back: NFL teams choose talent over troubled pasts

By Hannah Beery

Despite the NFL’s efforts to clean up its image, the 2015 draft revealed a troubling trend as teams continued to select players with allegedly violent pasts.

More troubling, however, said domestic violence experts and observers, was that the extensive vetting process employed by prospective teams failed to include the alleged victims of three high-profile draft picks.

“There are ramifications when you take on this kind of risk and they darn well should have been aware of everything that would go with it,” said columnist Gary Shelton about the Buccaneers ‘ selection of Jameis Winston. “I was deeply disturbed that [the team] did not talk to Erica Kinsman at any point in their process because ‘We knew what she would say from the reports.’ I think you cover all bases.”

Kinsman accused Winston, former Florida State quarterback and the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick, of rape in 2013. No criminal charges were filed and Winston was cleared again at a university conduct policy hearing late last year. She has since filed a civil suit, which Winston countered. Continue reading

Sprawling NFL Draft Town consumes park

By Tim Penman
Video by Julie Woon

A carnival-like atmosphere marked the first-ever NFL Draft Town held in Chicago’s Grant Park on Thursday. Fans in jerseys emblazoned with every imaginable team logo strolled the 319 acre expanse known as the city’s front lawn, thrilled to be taking part in the first draft held here in more than 50 years.

“This is like Graceland for me here,” Rams fan Brian Catanzaro said. “I live and breathe the draft.”

As part of hosting the draft, Chicago’s iconic park was transformed into a sprawling theme park with multiple stages, team tents, a draft tavern, a 40-yard field goal kicking area and other amenities all designed to provide a great fan experience for the 100,000 people expected to participate in the festivities over the three days.
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Handling of NFL Draft sparks student outrage, protest

By Taylor Hall
Video by Beth Werge

As the world watched the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft on Thursday live from inside Roosevelt University’s historic Auditorium Theatre, students outside protested the university’s facilitation of resources for the draft.

“People are putting corporate greed before student need,” said Lupita Carrasquillo, organizer for Roosevelt University’s RISE organization focusing on social justice issues. “The NFL is a $9 billion corporation. They have a lot of money, and they asked for free access of our facility, of our venue. They’ve taken a floor in each of our university buildings–the fourth floor of the Wabash building, and the second floor of the auditorium building. They’ve blocked off an entire entrance.”
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Chicago braces for NFL Draft and its impact on the city

By Scott Guthrie and Connor Morgan
Additional Reporting by Nick Kariuki

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel pushed hard to land the 2015 NFL Draft. And now, just weeks after winning a second term in office, he can try to show why.

There will be no shortage of attention on Chicago and the league April 30 through May 2 for their joint experiment.

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