The NFL pushed the 2014 NFL Draft back two weeks, in order to create something of high importance in a normally quiet month of May. Although the draft may have received “Record Ratings” for views, the people it matters to the most are highly affected by it: the Rookie Class.
The added time led to massive over analysis of prospects and nit picking by scouts and the media. It’s the reason some players may have slipped down the board so low. A guy like Kony Ealy, who is a first round talent, fell all the way to the middle of the second round because scouts over analyzed his film and his ability to be able to get to the quarterback using a variety of moves. Trevor Reilly of the New York Jets had a 2nd round grade from the San Diego Chargers, but fell to the 7th round because of concerns about his knee (which he proved was healthy in workouts) and because of his age (26, did a Mormon Mission in Sweden so he’s a late bloomer into the draft). Guys like A.J. McCarron, Aaron Murray, Lache Seastrunk and David Yankey were all affected by the extra time teams had to judge them.
Very little time
The above statement happens every year, whether the draft is earlier or later of course. However the biggest concern about moving this draft back was that these players had exactly one week to prepare for Rookie Mini-Camp. The schemes a lot of these players came from in college is night and day compared to what they’ll be seeing in the NFL. The spread offense, as well as, the run-and-shoot offense are not your typical NFL offense. Offensive playbooks are difficult, defensive schemes are difficult, and it takes time for these guys to hit the books and gain the necessary knowledge before ever stepping on the field in camp. In one week, the stress of picking up the plays, or figuring out defensive checks will impact the performance on the field this upcoming weekend.
Ripple effects already
Lovie Smith, new TB Buccaneers’ coach has already cancelled some team workouts because it would be too close to the draft and the players wouldn’t have enough time to develop and understand new philosophies and schemes. Now the NFL is talking about possibly moving the draft even further back. This will only hinder the progress of the rookie class. Fans shouldn’t be surprised if it takes time for rookies to start or see playing time this year. If they are lucky enough to get that opportunity the learning curve will be radical and overwhelming. It’s going to take a few weeks into the regular season before these players truly feel comfortable in the system. As a result, Roger Goodell has caused regression for the rookies as opposed to progression which the league is starving for.
It’s hard enough
The rookies who are in camp right now will have a long uphill battle ahead of them. Not only are they cramming to get the playbook in, but they are also trying to find places to live, moving their families, and getting used to NFL life. There will no doubt be some frustration among coaches as the progress of rookie camp in years’ past will far surpass what they can accomplish this year as a result of the draft being pushed back. If Roger Goodell ultimately decides to move the draft even further back the rookie learning curve will be larger than it ever has been, and there’s a strong likelihood that rookies struggle to make an impact in the first NFL season.