The 2021 NFL Draft is in the rearview mirror, but newly drafted players still have work to do with rookie minicamp dates looming. Let’s look at when the 2021 rookie minicamps will occur, the latest news, and where all 32 NFL franchises will hold them.
Editor note: This article is accurate as of May 6 at 1:00 PM. As new information is known, this article will be updated.
When are the 2021 NFL rookie minicamps?
The 2021 NFL rookie minicamps dates are either between May 7-10 or May 14-17. Teams choose one of those weeks with which to hold their rookie minicamps.
May 7-10: Indianapolis Colts, Las Vegas Raiders, New York Jets
May 14-17: Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Buffalo Bills, Baltimore Ravens, Carolina Panthers, Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers, Los Angeles Rams, Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Pittsburgh Steelers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Tennessee Titans, Washington Football Team
Who will be attending NFL rookie minicamps?
As the name indicates, NFL rookie minicamps usually see a team’s group of rookies getting ingrained with their new system during the designated dates. However, teams usually invite several unsigned players to “try out.” These players serve a dual role. They provide opposing players for the rookies to go up against, and they are auditioning for a place on the team’s roster.
As Tom Pelissero reported at the end of April, things will be a little different this offseason. While NFL franchises will have their draftees and undrafted free agents at rookie minicamp, they will be limited in the number of “try-out players” they can have present.
Where are the 2021 rookie minicamps being held?
NFL teams usually hold their rookie minicamps at their facilities. Some will be at their training facilities, while others will host the minicamp at their stadium. This is different from training camps, where teams often take their team out of the facilities for a period to train at an external site.
What should be expected from minicamps?
Rookie minicamps are valuable for NFL teams as it allows them to put rookies through their paces between the designated dates. This gives the rookies an early opportunity to get reps in their new team’s system. When rookie minicamps were canceled last offseason, Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians estimated that rookies lost around 400 reps. That is valuable time for any player to learn and grow.
Rookie minicamps bring a mix of classroom and on-field work
What makes rookie minicamps so valuable is that players can get meaningful insight into the team they were drafted by. This often starts in the classroom, where rookies can watch film and learn crucial elements from the team’s coaching staff. The classroom element can be replicated in virtual sessions. Still, as anyone who has experienced home working/learning in the last 12 months can attest, it is hard to replace the experience of in-person education.
Once rookies complete film sessions, they head out onto the field. Outside, the coaching staff puts them through their paces. On-field practices are an opportunity for a player to demonstrate in person what those coaches have seen on film.
It is also a chance to begin dispelling any negatives that surrounded them entering the draft. For example, an excellent way to prove you do not have issues with drops is to catch every pass thrown your way in front of your coaches.
Rookie minicamps are voluntary. Players can choose not to attend but it is rare to see a young player choosing not to attend. Even injured players will often report to their minicamp for at least the classroom sessions.
Rookie minicamps can see NFL prospects dreams be over before they begin
Rookie minicamps immediately put the newly drafted players under pressure. A week or two after being selected, a subpar performance can see a player released before he even meets the rest of his teammates. That is even more so the case for undrafted free agents and late-round selections.
Usually, a Day 1 or 2 selection can afford a bad day or two and it not affect their place on the roster. For those guys at the back end of the draft, one lousy hour can be the end. That does not mean the pressure is not on for more highly-regarded players. A few poor outings might sow a seed of doubt in the back of their coaches’ minds heading into training camp.
The counter to all of that is the potential rewards. UDFAs and tryout players can earn themselves a place on the 90-man roster. Once they have that, they then have a shot at making the 53-man roster. Meanwhile, the highly-drafted players have the chance to make strides towards starting in their first season. In a short space of time, a lot may happen.
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