Minnesota Vikings star Adam Thielen is among the best wide receivers in the league. But he entered the NFL without any fanfare as an undrafted rookie back in 2013 after playing his college ball at Minnesota State.
Thielen opened up about the unique challenges facing undrafted rookies this season, and he knows they have it rough. He also knows if he had been a rookie in 2020, he wouldn’t have made it in the NFL.
“I know that if I was going through this offseason as a rookie, I wouldn’t be in the NFL,” Thielen said, per Chris Tomasson of the Pioneer Press. “There’s no chance. So, that part is difficult (for undrafted free agents), but at the same time it’s a unique situation that nobody could have anticipated.”
As alluded to by Thielen, this year truly is unprecedented. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NFL teams couldn’t have offseason workouts. Everything was done remotely via video chats, which means players on the bottom of the roster — like undrafted free agents — haven’t had a chance to make any kind of impression on their coaches.
Now, things are even harder for them to succeed as the coronavirus continues to ravage America in July.
NFL cancels preseason games, cuts training camp rosters to 80 players
Due to the unique challenges every team faces right now to keep players, coaches and other personnel safe, the NFL and NFLPA has agreed on some huge changes for training camp and preseason.
This year, there will be zero preseason games, and players won’t have as much time in pads during training camp. Furthermore, rosters have been cut from 90 players to 80 players, meaning guys like Thielen who had a shot to show off their game during camp probably will not even be on the team this summer.
With that in mind, it’s going to be a rough year for players who weren’t drafted, and for guys who were picked later in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Thielen summed all this up, saying, “You have to try to make the most of your situation, and you can’t control a lot of it. So, I know there’s going to be a lot of guys that maybe have to try again next year or maybe get some workouts throughout the season. I don’t know. But it’s definitely going to be a different year.”