The coronavirus pandemic has wiped out most of the offseason workouts. Teams have held some zoom meetings and players have done some individual workouts, but there haven’t been any official team practices. Will that reduce the effectiveness of the key rookie players?
There are a number of intriguing first-year players, with Joe Burrow, Jonathan Taylor, Clyde Edwards-Hellaire, Cam Akers, CeeDee Lamb and Jerry Jeudy leading the way. But is it possible for those guys to show up, learn the offense, and have meaningful productive roles on short notice?
There is, believe it or not, some precedent for this kind of offseason. Back in 2011, the owners imposed a lockout, lasting from March until July 25. So in that season, rookies were in the same kind of situation, coming in cold while trying to catch up to get ready for the season.
Some of them did just fine, with Cam Newton leading the way. Helped by 14 rushing touchdowns, Newton that year put up the league’s 3rd-best quarterbacking numbers. Another quarterback, Andy Dalton, put up middle-of-the-pack stats.
Two wide receivers went over 1,000 yards (including rushing and receiving production), with a combined 15 TDs (finishing 17th and 21st at the position in PPR scoring) – A.J. Green and Julio Jones.
Two running backs went over 1,000 total yards (that’s including receiving), Roy Helu and DeMarco Murray.
Not that this offseason is ideal, but I don’t think it will necessarily hurt the rookies in a significant way. The problem is not the pandemic (I think) but that rookies in general don’t tend to take the league by storm.
Below see the rundown of all rookies finishing with top-60 numbers in 2011. In the chart, yards and TD include passing, rushing and receiving. “Points” is the PPR total, and the “Rk” shows where the player finished statistically at his position.
|TOP ROOKIES IN 2011 SEASON|
|QB||Cam Newton, Car.||4,784||35||448.9||3|
|QB||Andy Dalton, Cin.||3,550||21||271.1||16|
|WR||A.J. Green, Cin.||1,110||7||218.0||17|
|WR||Julio Jones, Atl.||1,015||8||203.5||21|
|RB||Roy Helu, Was.||1,019||3||168.9||25|
|QB||Blaine Gabbert, Jac.||2,312||12||168.5||27|
|QB||Christian Ponder, Min.||2,072||13||166.6||28|
|RB||DeMarco Murray, Dall.||1,080||2||146.0||30|
|WR||Torrey Smith, Balt.||880||7||180.0||30|
|TE||Kyle Rudolph, Min.||249||3||68.9||34|
|TE||Lance Kendricks, St.L.||344||0||62.4||37|
|TE||Charles Clay, Mia.||233||3||57.3||39|
|QB||T.J. Yates, Hou.||1,006||3||65.2||41|
|WR||Doug Baldwin, Sea.||786||4||153.6||42|
|QB||Jake Locker, Ten.||598||5||54.7||44|
|RB||Kendall Hunter, S.F.||668||2||94.8||45|
|WR||Titus Young, Det.||622||6||148.2||45|
|RB||Mark Ingram, N.O.||520||5||93.0||46|
|WR||Greg Little, Cle.||724||2||145.4||47|
|RB||Daniel Thomas, Mia.||653||1||83.3||51|
|WR||Denarius Moore, Oak.||679||6||136.9||51|
|TE||Rob Housler, Ariz.||133||0||25.3||54|
|TE||Luke Stocker, T.B.||92||0||21.2||59|
|RB||Jacquizz Rodgers, Atl.||393||2||72.3||60|