Does The NFL Lockout Make This A Bad Year To Rely On Rookies?

When you see a mock draft, the reasoning for each pick always centers on a teams' need. That's why you see so many offensive lineman and corners being projected to the Eagles. But, if there was ever a year where drafting for need might be foolish... would it be this year? If everything happens like we all expect and the owners lock out the players, teams will be able to draft guys but not sign them. They also won't be able to bring them into OTAs, minicamps, give them playbooks, or even talk to them.

With some projecting the lockout to last into the summer, you can see how the development curve of a rookie this year can be seriously hampered. In any other year, if the Eagles took a corner in the first round this year we'd expect that guy to play a major role in the defense right away. This past year the teams first and second round pick both got starting jobs out of camp. That's probably not a realistic expectation this season.

So how does this affect the way a team approaches the draft? For a team in the top 10-15 I don't think it matters much. You're picking for talent there... but for a team in the middle/later part of the first round it could change their approach. For instance, what if the Eagles had similar grades on a corner and an offensive lineman that dropped to them. You'd have to wonder whether they might feel like it would be easier to get a guy ready to quickly contribute at right guard than it would be a right corner?

More than anything though, and I think this is of particular concern for Eagles fans, does lockout mean that the free agent market is the only play you're going to find impact contributors next season?

For teams taking QBs this year, the lockout could be a blessing in disguise. There's a pretty good chance that none of those guys get thrown to the wolves by starting right away this year. They should all get a chance to sit and learn for at least the majority of their first season.

One group of players that could really be hurt by the lockout are the undrafted free agents. We saw guys like LeGarrette Blount star in the NFL this year after going undrafted. Is there any way a guy like that could have the same success in a year where he doesn't even know what team he's on until potentially late in the summer? Remember that teams can draft guys but not sign them, so undrafted free agents are just going to left twisting in the wind until a new CBA is done.

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