Drafting the 35 best college football stadiums ahead of the 2020 NFL Draft


We know you miss college football. We do, too. And no one is quite sure when it’s going to come back. Specifically, it’s not totally clear once it does come back how it will be played. Concerns about the coronavirus mean there’s safety to think about for players, coaches and staff, as well as fans. Even games are played in stadiums, will they be empty? If fans are allowed, how many people would actually feel comfortable attending? We’re a long way off from college football games returning to “normal.” 

Still, one of the great things about college football is the in-person experience. Yes, watching games from home has never been better, but there’s just something about the pageantry and nostalgia of a college football stadium that we’ll be missing for the time being. And rarely are any two stadiums alike. Some are massive, seating more than 100,000 fans. Others are tiny. Some have unique settings, like Tennessee or Washington being located right on the water. Whatever the setup, each stadium has something distinguishing about it. 

With uncertainty surrounding the upcoming season and whether college football stadiums will be full or not — plus our team feeling left out with the 2020 NFL Draft approaching — we decided to go back to better days and draft their favorite stadiums from around the country. Pretty much everything was on the table, including bowl sites and lower-level stadiums. I can confirm that tensions were high among at least a few people when picks were being made, but such is life in the high-stakes world of stadium mock drafts. 

Let’s take a look at the draft results. This was a snake draft, so Ohio Stadium is No. 7 overall, and so on.

Stadium draft order, results

1

Rose Bowl

Tiger Stadium 

Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

Beaver Stadium

Yale Bowl

Bryant-Denny Stadium

Michigan Stadium

2

Neyland Stadium

Camp Randall Stadium

Michie Stadium

Notre Dame Stadium

Memorial Stadium (Clemson)

Jordan-Hare Stadium

Ohio Stadium

3

Kyle Field

Cotton Bowl

Kinnick Stadium

Sanford Stadium

Kidd Brewer Stadium

Autzen Stadium

Oklahoma Memorial Stadium

4

Lane Stadium

Folsom Field

The Coliseum

LaVell Edwards Stadium

Husky Stadium

Darrell K. Royal Stadium

Memorial Stadium (Nebraska)

5

FargoDome

Harvard Stadium

Sun Devil Stadium

Nippert Stadium

Sun Bowl

Davis-Wade Stadium

Doak Campbell Stadium

Stadium draft grades, analysis

Now that the draft is complete, let’s take a look at how each of our team members did. 

Best value pick: Nebraska’s Memorial Stadium (Brandon Wise, No. 22 overall)

Worst value pick: Yale Bowl (Chip Patterson, No. 5 overall)

Tom Fornelli: The No. 1 overall pick was a gimme, but there’s a lot of value elsewhere in Tom’s draft choices. Neyland Stadium gives you a massive, raucous home environment in a neat setting on the water. Kyle Field is soaked in tradition and seats 100,000+. Lane Stadium is a sneaky good fourth-round pick as one of the ACC’s top venues, and the FargoDome is one of the top FCS venues. Grade: A+

Ben Kercheval: Despite the rest of these grades being questionable (oh, this is Ben’s editor here, by the way), he did have a good draft. Tiger Stadium was the right choice at No. 2 overall, and Camp Randall was a great get in the second round. The Cotton Bowl certainly has history behind it, but without a full-time tennant, it loses some juice. Folsom Field was a perfect fourth-round pick, but Harvard Stadium may not have deserved a draft choice. Perfectly good, not great. Grade: B 

Adam Silverstein: I like Adam’s picks, I just don’t love the order of them. Kinnick was a reach even in Round 3, though grabbing the Coliseum in Round 4 was a legit steal. And while Sun Devil Stadium is a harmless Round 5 selection, that would have been available as an undrafted free agent. Still, Army’s Michie Stadium in Round 2 is a sweet aesthetics choice. I’ve been to Army West Point to see it for myself, and it’s as magical as they say. Grade: C+

Jack Crosby: Jack went with a lot of safe choices for his draft. That’s not a knock, per se, just the overall nature of the thing. There’s nothing that stands out as a steal, but there are no truly bad picks. BYU’s LaVell Edwards Stadium gives him a beautiful setting for a Round 4 pick, and Cincy’s Nippert Stadium is a gem in the Group of Five ranks. Grade: B-

Chip Patterson: One thing I’ve always loved about Chip is that his draft picks have a distinct voice. You can look at the selections without seeing his name and go, “Yep, that’s a Chip draft.” So kudos there. That said, I’m not in love with the order in which he made his choices. For example: the Yale Bowl is great … but in Round 1? Very Tim Tebow-esque. And while Appalachian State’s Kidd Brewer Stadium (a.k.a. “The Rock”) is a great under-the-radar pick nestled among the mountains, that was easily a late-round pick. Still, Chip gets credit for Clemson’s Memorial Stadium — running down the hill is one of college football’s best traditions — and Husky Stadium has a distinct Pacific Northwest flair. Grade: C

Barrett Sallee: As someone who has worked with Barrett for the better part of a decade, I can confirm he is a real-life troll. He lives to incite online riots. Why else would he pick Alabama and Auburn in the first two rounds, giving the edge to the Crimson Tide’s Bryant-Denny Stadium? However, Autzen Stadium in Round 3 is a slick grab. And I think he picked Darrell K. Royal Stadium in the fourth round because he likes Austin more than anything. Grade: D

Brandon Wise: The theme of Brandon’s draft was go big or go home. Like Barrett, he went with rival programs for his first two picks. A bold move, but give Michigan credit for finally beating Ohio State at something. To draft five powerhouse stadiums in a row is impressive, and snagging Nebraska and Florida State in the fourth and fifth rounds, respectively, is robbery. Not much variation in the picks, but Brandon knows what he likes. Props. Grade: A 





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