Insider Blog: On-Time Arrival?

Posted Jul 17, 2010

A look at how training camp arrival impacted 2009's first-round rookie class

On a national scale, the topics of NFL conversation these next two weeks is a foregone conclusion. Until footballs start flying, it seems that there are really only three things talked about.

1)      Unsigned draft picks

2)      Who’s holding out

3)      Brett Favre

Since item number three is irrelevant to the Chiefs and S Jarrad Page’s unsigned tender an old topic of news, let’s focus on item number one this weekend.

Who hasn’t signed?

Well, in the Chiefs case, the number of unsigned draft picks sits at six players. Yes, six players.

Thus far, only fifth-rounder Kendrick Lewis has put his ink on a contract. There have been plenty of reports in the last 24 hours that fellow fifth-rounder, Cameron Sheffield, has signed his contract as well. Thus far, the Chiefs front office has not confirmed that Sheffield has signed his contract.

Even if agreements are in place and Sheffield is on the verge of signing his deal, Kansas City still has five players to sign from the first three rounds of the draft. Still, there is no reason to sound the alarm just yet. If batches of signings from previous seasons are any indication, first-round draftees are usually the only rookies who walk the line of reporting late to training camp.

Right now, there is nothing to report on the Chiefs first-round pick, Eric Berry, here in Kansas City. In fact, there isn’t much to report across the league in regards to first-round picks. None of the 32 first-round picks have agreed to contracts and only one second-rounder has inked a deal as of Saturday morning (NYJ tackle Vladimir Ducasse).

Yes, things are moving slowly across the league and it’s logical to think that first-rounders will remain at a standstill until significant progress is made with second-round picks. Some media outlets are already predicting an increase in training camp holdouts due to uncertainty surrounding the future labor situation of the league. Whether or not that line of thinking becomes a reality remains to be seen.

Inside Arrowhead, nothing appears much different compared to the feel of any other season at this time of year. In regards to contract talks, progress is always being made in behind the scenes, out of the public eye. Often times, one contract agreement helps to trigger another, leading to a flash flood of signings across the league.

The thought of first-round picks reporting late to camp almost always sends chills down the spine of a team’s respective fans. We’ve all been conditioned by football culture to believe that a late arrival to training camp correlates directly to an increased likelihood of rookie failure.

And why not?

Rookie learning curves, the correlation between injury rates and proper conditioning, and overall team chemistry are just a few of the many agenda items attacked at training camp. When a rookie reports to camp late and happens to struggle out of the gate, there's little hesitation in the blame being placed, at least from outside onlookers, on a lack of preparation severely impacted by camp tardiness.

While Chiefs GM Scott Pioli has been quiet regarding the signing status of the 2010 rookie class, quotes from top team executives are typically carbon copies of one another when discussing contract negotiations. A quick Google search for “important to be in training camp on time” turned in this recent quote from Lions GM Martin Mayhew regarding second overall pick Ndamukong Suh.

“The big thing is that Ndamukong knows it's his decision and he's expressed that to us and he's expressed his desire to be in camp on time. I think things are going in the right direction.''

Mayhew would go on to say, "It's critically important -- for every rookie to start, from day one, to be here. We expect him to be here and I think he expects to be here. It's early in the process but, right now, I feel good about it.''

Copy and paste. That sounds about right for all 32 teams.

But at the end of the year, when each of the 32 first-round picks have posted their rookie totals, how much did an on-time training camp arrival correlate to first-year success? I’ll let you be the judge of that.

Here are key statistics for each of the 32 first-round picks from the 2009 season, divided into three categories based on time of camp arrival:

1) On-time

2) Two-to-five days late

3) More than five days late

A one-day grace period was given to each player based off of the official veteran report date provided by each team in 2009. This way, players who may have missed the bus to camp, but signed on the first day of practices aren’t excluded from on-time reports.

*indicates selection to the NFL All-Rookie Team

On Time (19)

QB Matt Stafford (1st, DET) – April 29th

10 starts: 201-377-2,267, 13 TDs, 20 INTs


 T Jason Smith (2nd, STL) – July 30th

8 games (5 starts)


*QB Mark Sanchez (5th, NYJ) – June 10th

15 starts: 196-364-2,444, 12 TDs, 20 INTs


WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (7th, OAK) – July 30th

11 starts: 9-124, 1 TD


*LB Brian Orakpo (13th, WAS) – July 30th

16 starts: 50 tackles, 11.0 sacks, 1 FF


*LB Brian Cushing (15th, HOU) – August 1st

16 starts: 133 tackles, 4.0 sacks, 4 INTs, 2 FF

NFL Rookie of the Year


LB Larry English (16th, SD) – July 31st

16 games (2 starts): 32 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 1 FF, 1 FR


QB Josh Freeman (17th, TB) – July 30th

10 games (9 starts): 158-290-1,855, 10 TDs, 18 INTs


LB Robert Ayers (18th, DEN) – August 3rd

15 games (1 start): 18 tackles, 2 FR


*TE Brandon Pettigrew (20th, DET) – July 31st

11 starts: 30-346, 2 TDs


*C Alex Mack (21st, CLV) – July 25th

16 starts


*T Michael Oher (23rd, BAL) – July 30th

16 starts


DT Peria Jerry (24th, ATL) – July 30th

2 starts: 1 tackle


*DB Vontae Davis (25th, MIA) – July 31st

16 games (9 starts): 48 tackles, 4 INTs


*LB Clay Matthews (26th, GB) – July 30th

16 games (13 starts): 49 tackles, 10.0 sacks, 1 FF, 3 FR


RB Donald Brown (27th, IND) – August 2nd

11 games (1 start): 78-281, 3 TDs


C Eric Wood (28th, BUF) – July 29th

10 starts


WR Hakeem Nicks (29th, NYG) – August 1st

14 games (6 starts): 47-790, 6 TDs


DT Ziggy Hood (32nd, PIT) – July 25th

16 games: 8 tackles, 1.0 sack, 1 FR


2-5 Days Late (4)


WR Jeremy Maclin (19th, PHI) – August 3rd

15 games (13 starts): 56-773, 4 TDs


*WR Percy Harvin (22nd, MIN) – August 2nd

15 games (8 starts): 60-790, 6 TDs

KOR: 42-1,156, 2 TDs


WR Kenny Britt (30th, TEN) – August 1st

16 games (6 starts): 42-701, 3 TDs


*RB Beanie Wells (31st, ARZ) –August 1st

16 games: 176-793, 7 TDs


More Than 5 Days Late (9)

*DE Tyson Jackson (3rd, KC) – August 7th

16 games (14 starts): 31 tackles


LB Aaron Curry (4th, SEA) – August 8th

14 games (12 starts): 60 tackles, 2.0 sacks, 2 FF


T Andre Smith (6th, CIN) – August 30th

6 games (1 start)


T Eugene Monroe (8th, JAX) – August 14th

15 games (13 starts)


*NT B.J. Raji (9th, GB) – August 14th

14 games (1 start): 25 tackles, 1.0 sack


WR Michael Crabtree (10th, SF) – October 7th

11 starts: 48-625, 2 TDs


DE Aaron Maybin (11th, BUF) – August 21st

16 games: 16 tackles, 1 FF


*RB Knowshon Moreno (12th, DEN) – August 7th

16 games (9 starts): 247-947, 7 TDs

Rec: 28-213, 2 TDs


DB Malcolm Jenkins (14th, NO) – August 10th

14 games (6 starts): 47 tackles, 1 INT, 2 FF, 1 FR

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