Last summer, the Ravens’ April draftees had to sit around and wait as the NFL lockout got resolved.
Some of the players selected didn’t have a full playbook to go over, and the ones that did had to try and figure out complex NFL schemes without coaches or veteran teammates around to walk them through it on a daily basis.
That certainly set those players back and hindered their development early in their rookie seasons.
But it wasn’t just the rookies who suffered because of the lockout.
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh has said he believes that a player makes his biggest leap between his first and second NFL seasons. It’s during this time that the player can full embrace coaching, having settled into the team and gotten a basic understanding of the formations and plays that the team runs and what his responsibilities are in those sets.
That’s why the offseason between a player’s first and second years as a pro can often be huge in his development. With that in mind, you have to believe that the Ravens’ crop of 2010 draft picks will benefit greatly from the minicamps and OTAs that they’ll participate in this offseason.
“This (will be) really my first normal offseason,” tight end Dennis Pitta said. “My first one was as a rookie, and it’s always a little bit different. Last year, obviously, with the lockout, we weren’t able to come at all. This year will be my first full offseason to go through the routine. It should be fun.”
The OTAs will allow the players that are current contributors - guys like Pitta, fellow tight end Ed Dickson, nose tackle Terrence Cody and defensive tackle Arthur Jones - to spend more time with their position coaches and improve their technique.
It will also allow the 2010 draft picks that have yet to emerge - like top pick Sergio Kindle (assuming he returns) and sixth-round offensive tackle Ramon Harewood - to get a chance to show their stuff.
(2010 fifth-round pick David Reed will miss offseason workouts after tearing his ACL late in the 2011 season.)
We know this time will also be huge for the 2011 draft picks, who will be going through their first NFL offseason and will get an opportunity to grow. But the months to come could be equally as important for the guys who will be entering their third professional season.