Teams and players and agents and fans have many reasons to not like this year’s two-week delay in the draft. Here’s another.
Rookies will have two fewer weeks to make the transition from college football to professional football. Two fewer weeks to have the playbook. Two fewer weeks to get to know teammates. Two fewer weeks to make the adjustment to the new city of residence, which could be on the other side of the country.
On one hand, it’s only two weeks. On the other hand, it’s two weeks. Fourteen days. Precious time to not be getting ready while the clock ticks toward the inevitable start of the 2014 regular season.
And while the transition traditionally has been more of a challenge for players coming from schools with June graduations, since an outdated but stubbornly unadjusted NFL rule blocks them from coming to offseason workouts until circumstances have permitted the playing of Pomp and Circumstance to which few or any of them will march, those players nevertheless get their playbooks promptly and come to town for a rookie minicamp, which gives the new teams a chance to see where they are from a fitness standpoint and, if necessary, to make specific recommendations about diet and workout plans for the next month or so until they can return.
The reduced time with rookies impacts all teams equally, although those with the best plan for dealing with the situation could turn it into a positive. The delay also could hurt the product by making it harder for rookies to make an immediate impact. At a time when plenty of concerns exist regarding the incoming class of quarterbacks, that’s another one.
Ultimately, fewer rookies could capture the imagination of fans in September and October. It’s one of the most intriguing aspects of a new football season — watching new players come in and make their mark. This year, it’s going to be harder than usual for that to happen.
That should be reason enough for the NFL to move the draft back to April in 2015, and beyond.