Sporty Stuff

NFL ramps up draft picks with a larger-than-life event in Arlington

NFL ramps up draft picks with a larger-than-life event in Arlington

Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
A music stage will feature performances by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Photo courtesy of Dallas Cowboys

Like some mash-up of football and The Bachelor, the 2018 NFL Draft is coming to AT&T Stadium in Arlington on April 26-28.

This is the first time the draft will take place at an NFL stadium — and also the first time it will air on broadcast television, with Fox and NFL Network carrying a simulcast featuring personnel from both the NFL Network and Fox Sports.

Watching games is not enough; you can now see who gets the rose. This will enable football fans to view team selections in-person and attend what a release calls the league's largest free football festival.

Admission is free with registration, at NFL.com/FanMobilePass. The opportunity to win free seated tickets inside the NFL Draft Theater closed on March 14, but registration remains open for NFL Draft Experience, giving fans a chance to win standby theater tickets.

NFL senior VP Peter O'Reilly says in a release that they're taking the event to another level.

"By collaborating closely with the Dallas Cowboys and the Dallas Sports Commission, we are creating a record number of free experiences and enabling the largest live audience ever to view the NFL Draft," O'Reilly says.

"We are thrilled to host the 2018 NFL Draft and bring together football fans from not only Texas, but also the entire country," says Charlotte Jones Anderson, VP/brand officer of the Dallas Cowboys.

"For those who believed last year's NFL Draft created an amazing atmosphere, just wait until this year's event," said former Dallas Cowboys player Drew Pearson, calling it the "largest free football festival in league history."

For those who have no idea what happened at last year's NFL Draft, it took place held in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which ugh, a museum? Seems totally off-brand. Player selections were announced from an outdoor theater; it was the first time an entire NFL draft was held outdoors.

For the 2018 version, the NFL is creating a larger-than-life atmosphere by transforming the areas inside and outside of AT&T Stadium, with a Draft Theater that will be built on the field, creating opportunities for more fans than ever to watch the event live and in-person.

New this year, all 32 teams will send some of their most passionate fans to sit in the "Inner Circle," an exclusive area for select fans to watch from seats on the field. This special area will feature team rivalry zones; chances to celebrate the picks with NFL players and Legends; and opportunities to showcase team spirit on national television. You might get to be on TV.

A "selection square" will be located inside the theater and feature team tables where representatives from each club will make their selections throughout the three days.

There will also be an exhibit space spanning the size of nearly 26 football fields, with immersive games, virtual reality experiences, free player autograph sessions, and more.

If you register for a "Fan Mobile Pass," you get to enjoy an enhanced experience, with a personal scan code that gives you exclusive access to NFL Draft Experience attractions, and have the chance to receive standby tickets to the NFL Draft Theater.

The games area includes competitions where you can come to terms with the fact that you are completely unfit to be a football player yourself. They include:

  • Vertical Jump, where you jump as high as you can and hit the corresponding flag to discover your vertical reach just like at the NFL Scouting Combine
  • 40-yard dash, where you race down the field against your opponents and digital NFL players on a giant 40-yard long LED wall
  • Hail Mary, where you test your long-distance accuracy by throwing a deep pass over defenders into a drop-in net
  • NFL Training Camp, where you race through a series of obstacles and train like a pro.
  • Touch Pass, where you master one of the most difficult throws for an NFL quarterback by throwing the ball on an arc over a defensive player and into a net
  • FedEx Air Challenge, where you test your passing accuracy on specially designed targets.

The NFL PLAY 60 Zone is only slightly less demanding, but it's for kids. It includes:

  • Gear Up & Go: Try on NFL equipment and feel what it’s like to get dressed for gameday
  • Kids’ Extra Point Kick: Test your ability to kick a field goal through scaled down NFL uprights
  • Kids’ Long Snap: Test your ability to snap the ball like a pro
  • Kids’ Quarterback Challenge: Test your passing skills

There's also an app station, obstacle course, videogame area, and on-field clinics, open to kids from 6-17 years old.

Other attractions include autograph sessions; photo ops with Super Bowl trophies and with oversized helmets; and a replica locker room you can visit. Will it smell sweaty?

A music stage will feature appearances by NFL team mascots, cheerleaders, drumlines and local musical talent, and you can buy beer from the Bud Light Ice House. You can also visit the NFL Museum with all of the features that entails.