With veteran participation often kept to a minimum during the off season in the NFL, it's only natural for attention to turn to the rookies.
There were eight teams without a first-round pick in the draft. It was a chance for the 24 that did to get a closer look at the players that personnel think can have a big impact. In a lot of cases, sooner than later.
In order to keep an eye on the first-round picks, we asked our reporters to keep an eye on the team activities and mini camp.
Is it possible that the Jaguars got it right by selecting the first player? Will the Texans be able to shut down half the field? Is Drake London the top wide receiver for the Falcons? Is Kenny Pickett the quarterback of the future? Which of the pass-rushers and wide receiver do you see? The answers are in chronological order.
Walker is a LB.
It's hard not to be impressed with Walker physically, but he's still learning what to do as an outside linebacker, which is where theJaguars are playing him. He is working with both Bill Shuey and Josh Allen.
"You think about the size, his height, his weight, his speed, it's like a mythical creature," Mike Caldwell said. Michael DiRocco said that he is unique.
There is a person in the state of DE.
The Lions' coaching staff heaped praise on Hutchinson throughout the mandatory mini camp. Hutchinson excelled in drills as he continued to prepare for his debut. Dan Campbell is impressed with his strength, but he wants to improve his technique and learn the system.
He listens. He is a sponge in there. Campbell said that he absorbs information and watches how things are done.
Stingley Jr. is a CB
The team is focused on him getting better each day because he is coming off a major injury. Smith said in May that the 3rd pick is getting a limited amount of reps. Steven Nelson thinks Stingley will do some great things here.
The CB is AhmadGardner.
He has gotten quality work with the starters, but he is not a starter yet. He is going to be by the first week. His willingness to learn is what makes him stand out from the crowd. Jeff Ulbrich said that he has a good football brain and a desire to play.
Kayvon Thibodeaux lives in DE.
He spent most of the spring working with a trainer on the side of the practice field because of an injury. He twisted up on a rep late in practice. He was out of the spring for a while. In the limited time he was on the field, it was obvious that the Giants were going to use him a lot. It's the first step. On the first day of Organized Team Activities, the first-team defense worked with Thibodeaux.
It's not clear how well he will perform until they put on the pads, but it's hard to imagine he won't be the starting left tackle. Ekwonu has been praised by the coaching staff and teammates while he was the starter. The position he was selected to be a long-term solution at has been a problem for a long time. It's so far, so good.
Evan Neal was in overtime.
Neal was the starting right tackle for the first day of the Giants' Organized Team Activities. Throughout the spring, it was clear. It was obvious that Neal fits in. Veteran right guard Mark Glowinski said he was just dominant. Neal's readiness to contribute immediately was on full display in the spring.
Drake London is a football player.
It's hard to say, but London seems to fit in well in the Atlanta offense. The most important thing was that he and Troy Andersen were both working with the veterans during 11-on-11 install periods. It is expected that London will be part of Atlanta's offense.
Charles Cross had an overtime period.
Cross is competing to start at left tackle, but the rookies has consistently worked with the top offense. Unlike some of Seattle's other draft picks, he has stayed injury free. The Seahawks didn't make Cross their highest draft pick since 2010 so they didn't put him on the bench to start his career. It will probably take an injury to keep Cross out of the starting lineup.
Wilson is a wide receiver.
Wilson has a long way to go in terms of mastering the route tree, but there's no doubt about his physical qualities. He has the ability to adjust to off-target throws. He is expected to contribute to the wide receiver rotation.
Chrisolave is a receiver.
He has flashed his big-play ability and fluid route-running skills during the workouts. The quarterback said to smooth it as the other side of the pillow. It's smooth. He is very good at getting in and out of breaks. There is an electric device. The man is smart.
One of the highlights of the spring was when Olave caught a deep pass in a 7-on-7 drill. He has a chance to make a name for himself as a downfield target as he finds his role alongside veterans like Michael Thomas.
Williams is a wide receiver.
Although there's a lot of excitement within the team, Lions coach Dan Campbell doesn't think he'll be ready for training camp. The Lions are taking their time with Williams' recovery, even though he has been embraced by the quarterback.
Campbell said they want to get him out there quickly. It is important, but not until he is strong. He needs a lot of strength in his lower limbs.
Jordan Davis is a defensive player.
Davis, who weighed in at around 340 pounds at the combine, said he has slimmed down a bit this spring due to putting in the work at the practice facility and paying more attention to what he eats. Veteran Brandon Graham said that Davis is pushing big weight like it's nothing in the weight room. Davis is expected to play a part in the rotation.
He has what it takes to be a three-down linemen, according to the coaching staff. He can win one-on-one and will definitely have a role in the passing game.
Kyle Hamilton is a member of the Notre Dame football team.
Hamilton has picked off a few passes this spring and has impressed the Ravens. It's only a matter of time before the playmaking Hamilton is working with the starters all the time.
Mike MacDonald said that Kyle is as advertised. He's doing what we expect him to do. We don't tell him that he's on schedule because we want to give him some sense of urgency. I'm happy with Kyle.
Green and G are related.
Green has done a lot of good things since he was drafted by the Texans, according to Smith. Green is expected to start at guard for Houston with Laremy Tunsil at left tackle and Tytus Howard at right tackle A.J. Cann said that Green has been working hard for the past two weeks and that he is going to be a great player.
The receiver is Jahan Dotson.
Dotson has looked sharp throughout the spring, showing why Washington thought he was one of the most pro- ready receiver in the draft. He has the ability to attack defenders' leverage and use it against them. Dotson is able to run routes as well as wide catches. Dotson has worked a lot inside and has moved outside occasionally. Dotson has been able to develop a relationship with the quarterback because Terry McLaurin wasn't in the picture.
More people play on the sports network. There is a fantasy football game. If you sign up, you'll get free.
Zion Johnson is a man.
Johnson was selected by the Bolts to fill a need on the right side of the line and early returns show he will be able to do the job. He has a lot of confidence." He has all the skills that you look for in an interior player, but his mindset has been impressive to his teammates, according to his coach. He is a train driver. In meetings, he's prepared. He practices hard and doesn't make the same mistake twice.
He is excited to see him in pads in training camp. "That's where it's for a football player, but particularly a linemen," said Staley.
Burks is a wide receiver.
When he couldn't make it through the first practice, he had an inauspicious start to the rookies mini camp. He was limited to conditioning work on a stationary bike during the mini camp. Rob Moore said it was unfortunate. Some of the things he is dealing with are outside of his control. A child has asthma.
In order to get some heat that these guys can train in and lift and run, and get them caught up a little bit, the team will have them stay in Nashville for a short period of time.
Penning was in overtime.
The Saints are very high on Penning's long-term potential, but unless he develops quickly, they won't rush him into the starting lineup, just because they drafted him in the first round. He would be raw coming out of Northern Iowa, but they loved his combination of size, speed and agility and felt good about his eagerness to learn.
Doug Marrone, the offensive line coach, said it was difficult to tell because they weren't playing football. He has done a good job picking things up. You can see that he wants to learn.
Kenny is a quarterback.
He worked with the third-team offense throughout the spring and summer, but he's still in the quarterback competition. "We've been very clear that this is a laid-out plan of how we're going to evolve and find who our quarterback is going to be," Canada said at mini camp. Mitch Trubisky was the most consistent of the three quarterbacks and he has an uphill battle to replace him.
Claypool said that he was impressed with the mastery of the playbook. Sometimes I'll ask what I have here. He will tell me about the new plays immediately. Pickett is going to training with Trubisky.
Trent McDuffie is aCB.
McDuffie has been working with the starters since his first practice, and he is likely to stay there for the regular-season opener. McDuffie isn't as big as the Chiefs prefer their corners, but they think he has the skills to cover it.
He's smart and smooth, according to his coach. Being smart when you play that position is something I enjoy. The use of leverage becomes important. Adam Teicher said that they have some big receiver that they go against.
QuayWalker is a LB.
Walker lined up next to inside linebacker De'Vondre Campbell from the beginning of the season, which is unusual for the Packers. Joe Barry wants to play more with two ILBs on the field as much as possible, and it's because of Walker. He's shown more sub packages with both Walker and Campbell than he usually does.
The CB is named Kaiir Elam.
Elam worked with the first- and second-team defense through the off-season and has looked good, including an impressive sideline pick-six in the final mini camp practice. "You can already tell that Elam is listening," said Hyde. He is paying attention. Being consistent and learning from his mistakes are two of the biggest areas for Elam to grow.
He has been through the normal growing pains of a new person. How do you follow up on a great play? How do you recover from a bad play and have a good one? There's a lot of mental stuff as well.
Tyler Smith is a man.
It's difficult to judge linemen without pads on, but Smith has shown he could be ready to start at left guard and give Tyron Smith some rest.
He's done a nice job, because of the different things that happen at guard and then you kick out to tackle and it's 'Oh, there's a lot of space out there,' but he's done a good job. He works hard and wants to learn. We can do that all day.
Tyler Linder is from Cbaum.
He hasn't flinched as the Ravens have thrown him in with the first team offense. When the pads come on in training camp, it will become more physical.
"My goal is to have Tyler sleeping in bed shaking every night, worried about the next thing, so hopefully by training camp, he's not, and then by the season, he's feeling good," Roman said. You can see that he's doing a great job. You can see it every day, and he is one of those guys.
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