It might only be October but it is never too early to talk about the NFL Draft. For years any UCLA Football player who was drafted was behind the eight ball because of certain AFCA and NFL rules. That’s all about to change.
There’s a saying that accompanies sports. “The best ability is availability” gets thrown around whenever the NFL Draft rolls around. Just because a guy might flash on film if he can’t stay healthy then he can’t help your team. The same can be said about guys who can’t attend certain offseason workouts because his collegiate institution happens to hold finals later in June. The UCLA Football prospects were such players given Westwood’s academic quarter system.
I say “were” because the American Football Coaches Association or AFCA, and the NFL have agreed to revise the rule that used to prohibit players from attending and participating in off season workouts if they had yet to complete finals or if the university had not concluded instruction for the term. Check out the full breakdown of the new rule here.
Bear in mind even though this rule didn’t prohibit UCLA Football players from drafted nor were they knocked down in the draft because of it. What it did do to them was force them to play catch up through camp and lessen the chance that they contribute early. When you’re a late round pick or an undrafted free agent those missed workouts with your team can really hurt your odds of making the team.
The new rule goes into effect just in time for the 2018 NFL Draft where a few UCLA Football players are expected to be selected but the big name is QB Josh Rosen. Getting as many reps as you can is paramount at the QB position. You need to learn a new playbook, develop chemistry with your receivers and, even though it is often overlooked, develop a strong relationship with your offensive line. They need to learn your cadence, your play style and your audibles. With Rosen expected to go in the top five you know a team is going to look for him to make an impact early.
A few potential mid to late round guys like Scott Quessenberry or Jacob Tuioti-Mariner will benefit heavily from the new rule but the biggest impact will come to guys that won’t be selected but sign after the draft concludes. Last year Eli Ankou was such a player. He signed with the Houston Texans as an UDFA and is now currently with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Guys like that need every snap to show what they can do.