Right about now, NFL teams would usually be participating in Organized Team Activities (OTAs). This is the only official team sanctioned event of the offseason, before training camp. During this time, rookies and veterans alike participate. OTAs give top draft picks a chance to mingle with their new teammates and begin to learn the offense and defense of their new team. Obviously with the pandemic going on this year, rookie mini camps and OTAs have been suspended. This means that rookies, especially skill position rookies, may fall behind on development. There are some rookies that a delayed start to training camp and missed OTAs may hurt more than others.
Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins, Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals owned the first overall pick in the most recent draft and made Joe Burrow their new franchise quarterback. With the first pick in the second round, they snatched up Clemson wide out Tee Higgins. With the missed practice time Burrow has missed out on a golden opportunity to start to mesh with his targets. Burrow and Higgins have the rookie connection, but what about guys like Tyler Boyd, John Ross, and AJ Green. The first time Burrow will be throwing the ball to his wideouts will be in training camp, and that’s if it starts on time. If you are counting on Burrow to make an immediate impact, he will need time to get acclimated with the Bengals starters.
Henry Ruggs III, Las Vegas Raiders
The Raiders made Ruggs the top drafted wide receiver when they took him with the 12th overall pick. He was selected before Alabama teammate Jerry Jeudy and arguably top WR in the class, CeeDee Lamb. Ruggs has been missing out on an opportunity to gain chemistry with his new quarterback, Derek Carr. The two will definitely need some time to bond on the field if that is going to be a connection in Vegas for many years to come.
Justin Herbert, Los Angeles Chargers
Tyrod Taylor is also on the quarterback depth chart. Herbert will be the one to get the least playing time of the quarterbacks picked in the top 10. Taylor will add a dimension to the Chargers offense that has been lacking in the last couple years of Philip Rivers. The Chargers have some of the best weapons in the AFC with Hunter Henry, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Eckler. Taylor will be able to actually throw the ball down field.
Herbert will certainly not start week 1 and theres a chance he does not see the field at all in his rookie season. With delayed practices, Herbert is missing out on a chance to show the coaches what he can do. This is unlike Burrow and Tua, who both will be starting early in the season if not week 1. The only chance Herbert has to start week 1 is if he completely balls out in training camp and Taylor really struggles or gets hurt. He is missing out on a chance to show the coaches his abilities with his new weapons.
These rookies will all need time to get used to the NFL and playing with their new teammates. The offseason usually provides the perfect opportunity for players to get to know each other and build some on field chemistry. All of these guys will make an impact in the NFL, but with the delayed workouts, their impact may take some more time to come out.
-Pete Chatterton (@Pchat12)