The week after the NFL draft is traditionally occupied by coaches bringing their new players, both those drafted and the undrafted free agents, for an intense three day cram session known as the rookie minicamp. With the draft pushed back two weeks, the Giants, are one of two teams that have decided to forgo this step in their off season work schedule and have instead infused the rookies directly into on field practices with veteran players. The Cincinnati Bengals are the other team to cancel their rookie minicamp.
The shortened period of time has reduced the amount of time the new NFL talent has to assimilate into their new positions. Learning NFL playbooks, adjusting to the speed of the game, and the nuances from the college version they are accustomed to is not a simple process. The one on one time with coaches at the rookie minicamp provided valuable training in teaching them the Giants systems and will surely slow their learning process. Given Tom Coughlin’s attention to detail, he has a plan to get this information to them another way.
Given that ratings for the NFL draft grew 40% with the two week delay, it will likely be held in May going forward, and teams will have to make adjustments to their training programs. The party line is that with the restrictions to off season training in the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the rookies will have the same number of days of training as they would have if the draft were held in April, but the truth is, they were deprived of two weeks to study the playbook, and in the case of the Giants and Bengals, of the opportunity to work one on one with the position coaches for three days of intensified job training.
Rookie minicamp is also used to give tryouts to undrafted free agents who weren’t offered contracts but have enough talent to warrant a look and consideration for a spot on the Giants 90 man off season roster. Out of work veteran players are also brought in for tryouts during the three day camp. While contacts are extended as a result of these tryouts, the Giants have decided to roll with the players they have and conduct work outs for free agents, if necessary, using another method. In the shortened window, something had to give.
There has been a rumor floated that the league is considering pushing future drafts as far as Memorial Day weekend. This decision will further shorten the time that teams have to prepare their rookies to play in the season opening game. But we all know what truly drives the NFL’s decisions in these matters. Ratings.