Panthers first-round draft pick Christian McCaffrey and 49ers first-round pick Solomon Thomas would love to be working with their new teams, but the NFL won’t let them.
NFL rules don’t allow rookies to begin participating in offseason work until their schools’ semesters come to an end. For Stanford players like McCaffrey and Thomas, that’s a disadvantage because Stanford stays in session until June. So they’re stuck.
McCaffrey said today on the Dan Patrick Show that he has been talking to the Panthers’ coaches on Skype to try to keep up as best he can. That’s better than nothing, but it’s obviously not the same as actually being at the team facility.
Former Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck faced the same situation in his rookie year, and he said he spent more time studying the Colts’ playbook than his Stanford textbooks, even though he remained enrolled at Stanford.
The NFL put the rule in place because it doesn’t want to look like it’s encouraging college students to drop out in their last semesters, but this rule seems silly. NFL players are grown men who can decide for themselves whether they’d rather prioritize college classes or pro practices. If McCaffrey and Thomas want to get pro coaching now, they should be allowed to do so in person, not just on Skype.