Future NFL draft locations: 2025, 2026, and beyond

Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers
Texas Rangers v Detroit Tigers / Mark Cunningham/GettyImages

You should be proud of the NFL Draft. It's all grown up these days and it's become quite the spectacle.

At this point, the National Football League could offer up a masterclass to other major sports leagues about how to properly market their wares around the full calendar year. The annual first-year player draft has gone from a yearly business-y endeavor meant for hardcore fans to a family-friendly traveling circus of football-related festivities intended to draw hundreds of thousands to a specific region.

In its nascent days, the NFL Draft was held in various hotels, typically on the east coast, from Philadelphia to New York City to Washington D.C. with occasional stops in the Midwest in Chicago and Milwaukee. In the mid-sixties, the draft finally settled comfortably into hotels and venues around NYC—from the Marriott Marquis to Radio City Music Hall—for the next 50 years.

In 2015, the NFL made a major shift and it catapulted the draft's popularity by altering its identity. No longer a televised event meant to promote the game's newest young players, the NFL Draft is now a pageant of all things football. Starting with two straight years in Chicago, the draft suddenly included live concerts, food trucks, kid-friendly games, interactive exhibits, photo opps, and more.

Oh yeah, college players also realize their long-held dreams of turning pro.

Last spring, Kansas City was fortunate enough to play host and more than 300,000 people attended the NFL Draft in some form over its three-day running time. This year, Detroit will have the opportunity to host the draft and enjoy the economic spoils of having so many NFL fans in town. Officials have stated expectations of "hundreds of millions of dollars" for the event.

If you think that sounds like a lot, check out this quote from Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan: "The NFL Draft is going to do more for our city in terms of economic activity and its national image than any single event in Detroit’s history,” It should be clear why cities fall over themselves trying to convince the league to come to them.

Which city will host the NFL Draft in 2025?

Green Bay, Wisconsin is the site to book one year from now. Many NFL fans dream of one day going to Lambeau Field, and this will cross that off their lists if they want to make it happen in the spring.

What about the 2026 NFL Draft?

The Steel City was awarded the 2026 NFL Draft on May 23, 2024, giving Pittsburgh a chance to showcase what another strong, passionate showing in a post-industrial Midwestern town can do. Detroit blew everyone away with their level of fervor and fan participation, so the bar has been established at a high level.

Which cities are competing for the NFL Draft in 2026 and beyond?

Denver stated its hopes to host one between 2025 and 2027, and they officially submitted a bid to host in 2027 after Pittsburgh hands off the baton. Charlotte is another NFL city hoping to host the draft somewhere in the near future.

If we're making predictions, it makes sense for the league to reward Pittsburgh for having its act together earlier than other cities and chasing it so obviously for one of the next two years. That said, it's not ideal to have the draft in another industrial MIdwestern city just after Detroit and Green Bay.

Let's project a geographic switch and make it the following:

  • 2025 - Green Bay
  • 2026 - Pittsburgh
  • 2027 - Denver
  • 2028 - Charlotte