Kickoff of the NFL Season
After closing an unpredictable 2020 season, the 2021 season is already here as fans are just weeks away from the season’s first games. After the draft comes and goes, the next step in the early stages of the season is the annual rookie minicamps. These camps allow teams to bring in all their rookies and have them work together to become aware and immersed with the team’s scheme and figure out how they will fit best. On the other hand, teams also call in unsigned players so that these rookies have people to play against and so these unsigned players get a chance to try out for the team. All in all, it is the last step in desensitization for rookies to their new organizations and to get them ready to fit right in with their new team.
This year’s draft class was said to be one of the greatest of all time with its strong suit being the quarterback position. Within the first 15 picks of the NFL Draft, five quarterbacks were selected which accounts for exactly half of all the quarterbacks drafted throughout this entire draft. In other words, fans and analysts paid close attention to these fresh quarterbacks as they’re supposed to be the ones running the league years from now. NFL Analyst John Blair explains Chicago Bears’ rookie quarterback Justin Fields by showing his standout traits saying “Several things stood out with Fields starting with the leadership ability he is already showing.
Another trait that has stood out with him is how athletic he looked and how easily threw while on the run.” Another quarterback you can take note of is Tampa Bay’s second-round pick, Kyle Trask who looked phenomenal in his debut in Florida. Fans are excited to see how well he gets to learn behind Tom Brady and Bruce Arians considering he already was one of the draft’s most talented quarterbacks. Furthermore, you can look over at the first three picks of this year’s NFL Draft. Trevor Lawerence, Sam Wilson, and Trey Lance also made their debuts with their respective teams and were said to look flawless throughout their minicamps. Many analysts believe it is safe to say the league is in good hands, knowing these quarterbacks are the next generation.
While moving away from the quarterback position, fans can’t completely take their eyes off the other offensive stars drafted. This draft presented some of the best offensive tackles that scouts have seen in years. However, this year’s seventh overall draft pick, Penei Sewell, had to sit out of the Detriot Lion’s minicamp after a positive COVID-19 test. His strength and quickness make it impossible for edge rushers to avoid him and he is a guy you gameplan around to open up blitz schemes and other things within your defense. Despite missing out on his appearance, fans and analysts got to see this speedy wide receiver class in action. 20th overall pick Kadarius Toney told reporters that New York Giants practices are run “hard” and that “any player that's willing to do what it takes to win, they are going to respect whatever coach they have available." Although, he performed well in the big apple. They said he looked flawless running various routes and are excited to see him in action. Overall, things looked great for all teams on the offensive end of things and scouts are very excited to see how these guys fair come September.
This year’s NFL Draft went deep on the defensive end of things as well. One position to highlight is defensive back as five cornerbacks were selected in the first round alone. The biggest shock of the draft was Jaycee Horn getting selected seventh overall by the Carolina Panthers instead of Partick Surtain II who was considered by many as the best corner in the draft. However, Carolina Panthers’ News Reporter Dean Jones was in attendance for Jaycee Horn’s first time suiting up in the light blue uniforms. He said Horn is the “real deal” and went on to explain how well his footwork is when shadowing opposing receivers. Meanwhile, you have guys like Caleb Farley and Greg Newsome II who fell late into the first round due to injuries consuming their college careers. While Caleb Farley didn’t suit up for rookie minicamps, Greg Newsome II made his mark on and off the field. He became a Crocs enthusiast as he used his photoshoot as an opportunity to share why he loves Crocs. On the field, he was among many defensive backs as the Cleveland Browns drafted many guys to help their secondary. Scouts say this fresh secondary shows much upside and understands their coverage scheme extremely well. Many assume this will be one of the best defensive back draft classes of all time.
Last but not least, fans can look at the surrounding defensive players. From the story of Micah Parsons to the questioning of Jaelen Phillips’s health, there is a lot to talk about. The Dallas Cowboys have big shoes to fill considering Sean Lee’s retirement and what he did for that linebacker core. They felt Micah Parsons was their guy despite some off-field issues he had in college amongst his teammates. They felt he had changed and he showed out in rookie minicamp. Jon Machota over at “The Athletic” explains how well Parsons was in coverage as he kept up with all receivers in coverage and did his job in every single coverage they threw at him. His ability to cover and tackle as a linebacker is unheard of and what he does this season could be monumental. Fellow linebacker Zaven Collins made his impact felt for his respective team differently. Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said “Collins was one of a select few draft prospects whom scouts had attached the ‘Alpha’ tag. He explained that ‘Alpha’ players are those who demonstrate rare leadership and motivational qualities, as well as exceptional ability on the field.” Not only that, but he makes his presence felt in the pass-rushing game as he was known for his ability to get to quarterbacks and displayed that well in his time at camp. A draft class full of defensive talent that will be playing inside the box is scary for opposing offensive lines who will have to block these strong, quick-blitzing inside linebackers.
Overall, this year’s rookie minicamp allowed everyone to firmly lock in opinions on the players they paid the most attention to. Before everyone saw them in action with their team, fans couldn’t have a respected opinion because you never saw them on an NFL level. Now with OTA’s and offseason practices starting, fans will see everything they need from these young guys and hopefully see these guys live up to their hype.