NFL’s lockout could affect rookies, from top to bottom

LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson could be one of the first players selected in the NFL Draft.

Louisville quarterback Adam Froman could be one of the last.

The disparate duo, however, does have this in common: They can already see how the lockout could alter their NFL dream.

For Peterson, and 16 other upper-crust rookies, the impact could be largely cosmetic.

For Froman, and his potential late-round brethren, it could be crushing.

No doubt you’ve heard about the potential predicament faced by Peterson and others due to the proposed draft boycott by the now-dissolved players’ union. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the union is devising a plan to prevent the 17 draft invitees from experiencing the traditional welcome-to-the-NFL moment:  Stepping on stage at Radio City Music Hall, shaking the commissioner’s hand and smiling big for ESPN cameras (the union is reportedly planning to host a separate draft event in New York).

Roger Goodell has called the union’s plan a “shame” and Peterson, the potential No. 1 overall pick, doesn’t sound eager to play the role of pawn in the labor skirmish.

“No one has contacted me to go to New York or not go to New York,” Peterson told “I would like to go if possible. That’s what you play football for. That’s a big moment to go up there and shake the commissioner’s hand and get that jersey and hat. It means a lot. I definitely want to go, and no one has told me not to go. So, we’ll see what happens.”

For Froman, a Santa Rosa native who is projected as a possible sixth- or seventh-round pick, the future could be far more muddled.

It’s hard enough to latch on to an NFL roster as a late-round pick in a normal year. If the lockout drags on deep into the summer or beyond, though, players such as Froman will try to beat the odds without having minicamps or, possibly, much of a training camp to prove their worth.

The degree of difficulty is heightened further for quarterbacks who will face this impossible task: Learn an NFL offense without a playbook.

Of course, Froman isn’t even guaranteed to receive a phone call in late April. And if he’s not drafted, he and other would-be free agents will languish in limbo. NFL teams won’t be able to sign undrafted free agents if the current labor impasse remains unchanged.

“It’s definitely not an optimal situation,” Froman said. “As a quarterback especially you want to have that playbook as long as possible — have time to learn it and go over it. And really master it to give yourself a shot when you do get into camp and the preseason. In this situation, camp might be really short or it could be nonexistent, so that puts guys like me in a real tough situation. A real tough spot.”

Two players. Two ends of the draft spectrum.

And one reminder:  The NFL’s owners and current players might emerge as the only winners when their multi-billion-dollar battle finally ends.

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