Rookies lining up for draft appearance

Roger Goodell (Getty)

The NFL is expecting more than a dozen rookies to attend the NFL draft in New York, showing that it still has some pull over players entering the league who want their moment in the sun.

It would appear the NFL is doing a hard-press on the rookie Class of 2011 to attend the draft. While the players association not too long ago hoped the rookies wouldn't attend the draft later this month, as many as 18 have been sent offers to attend the draft in person, which may be a list so exhaustive that some of the players aren't guaranteed to be drafted in the first round.

The 17 players that have acknowledged being invited and that they plan to attend include quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton, running back Mark Ingram, wide receivers A.J. Green and Julio Jones, offensive tackle Tyron Smith, defensive linemen Da'Quan Bowers, Nick Fairley, Marcell Dareus, Cameron Jordan, Adrian Clayborn, J.J. Watt, Aldon Smith and Corey Liuget, linebackers Von Miller and Akeem Ayers and cornerback Prince Amukamara.

For years, the NFL invited about a dozen or so players, but changed the process after some embarrassing moments with players remaining in the Green Room forever, highlighted by Brady Quinn's 2007 odyssey – which included a very miffed fiancée who may have witnessed her wedding rock getting downsized with each pick. After the Quinn debacle, the number of players invited dropped to those who were all but locks to go in the top 10-15 picks.

That would appear to have changed. While most (if not all) of the players are expected to go in the first round, the sheer dearth of the players is a sign that the NFL wants to make a big splash with its newest players, who, until they sign contracts, won't be members of the group formerly known as the players union.

Whether an attempt to steal the thunder from the players or not, it would appear to be working. With so many players expected to attend the draft, the league would appear to have a momentary upper hand over the players in their current standoff – at least in part of getting rookies to reject the plans of the players association to boycott the draft and show up for a grip-and-grin photo with Roger Goodell.


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    John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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