Rules put one West rookie at disadvantage

May, 6, 2013
5/06/13
5:00
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College graduation dates can affect whether a rookie draft choice participates in his team's offseason program, and to what extent.

Beanie Wells (2009) and Isaiah Pead (2012) are two higher-profile examples from the NFC West. Rules prevented both from reporting to their teams until mid-June simply because their colleges held graduations later than is typical.

Every NFC West team has a rookie minicamp scheduled for May 10-12. Rookies are eligible to attend those initial camps no matter when their colleges hold final exams or graduations.

But the June 16 graduation date for Stanford will prevent Stepfan Taylor, the running back Arizona selected in the fifth round, from participating in other aspects of the offseason program until after that date. The team's final minicamp ends June 13.

That puts Taylor at a disadvantage initially.

Graduation-related guidelines to consider, courtesy of the NFL:
  • Players who participated in college football in the 2012 season as graduate students, or who have already graduated or who will graduate prior to May 13, may not participate in any activities other than the three-day minicamp until May 13;
  • If final examinations at a player's school conclude prior to May 13, the player may not participate in any activities other than the three-day minicamp until May 13, even if the player has left or leaves school;
  • If final examinations at a player's school conclude after May 13, the player may not participate in any activities other than the three-day minicamp until after the player's final day of examinations. If the player has left or leaves school, he may not participate in any activities until after the final day of examinations at his school. These restrictions do not apply to a graduate student, who is permitted to report to his club and participate fully in a Rookie Football Development Program beginning on May 13.

The San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams do not hold organized team activities (OTAs) before May 20. An unofficial check of graduation dates suggests the players those teams drafted should be in the clear by then.

The Arizona Cardinals hold their first OTAs from May 14-16.

An unofficial check of graduation dates suggests Cardinals draft choices Jonathan Cooper, Earl Watford, Ryan Swope and Andre Ellington attended universities with graduations scheduled before May 14. Cooper has already graduated from North Carolina.

Cardinals draft picks Kevin Minter and Tyrann Mathieu attended LSU, which lists May 16 as its graduation date. Minter has already graduated. Alex Okafor (May 17-18), Taylor (June 16) and D.C. Jefferson (May 19) attended universities with later graduation dates.

Update: Stanford has final exams scheduled for June 7-12, according to this schedule. The language from the league refers specifically to final exams, not commencement ceremonies, so in some cases the timetables could shift slightly.

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