So why was Rams 2012 second-round running back Isaiah Pead “miserable” as a rookie?
He was miserable because he didn’t play much. He didn’t play much because he slid behind seventh-round running back Daryl Richardson on the depth chart.
And Pead slid behind Richardson in part because, as Rams G.M. Les Snead explained it during Thursday’s PFT Live, Pead wasn’t available for OTAs due to the rule that prevents rookies from joining their teams until after final exams have ended at their respective colleges.
Richardson’s presence, coupled with Pead’s absence, gave Richardson a head start he never relinquished. This year, with both guys present for all of the offseason program and Steven Jackson gone, Pead could close the gap considerably.
To his credit, Snead didn’t complain about the rule. But we will. It’s outdated and unrealistic. Pead, for example, wasn’t even in school for the semester that culminated in final exams that kept him away from his new job, to his obvious detriment. Most draft-eligible players leave school for the spring semester prior to the draft, because getting ready for the draft becomes their full-time occupation.
The NFL should realize that the rule does nothing to help the colleges, and that it will do nothing to undermine the relationship between the league and its free farm system. The NFL’s apparent reluctance to change the rule, however, demonstrates the extent to which pro football tiptoes on eggshells when it comes to college football.
While in some contexts it makes sense not to piss off the Sabans of the college-football word, the rule could in a roundabout way hurt the schools whose players are frozen out of offseason workouts in their rookie years.
Indeed, if I’m the recruiting coordinator at a school that competes with Cincinnati for players, I’m printing this story off, laminating it, and making sure it gets incorporated into every in-home visit.