The NFLPA Rookie Premiere is taking place this weekend, and in attendance will be two of the Raiders seven drafted rookies. Though not the two you might think.
The Rookie Premiere boasts that the "Forty-one top rookies from the 2016 NFL Draft class" will be in attendance at the event which takes place in Los Angeles from May 19-21. The roster ends up taking the term "top rookie" pretty loosely.
The past couple of years, the Raiders' top rookies were there. Amari Cooper was there last year and Khalil Mack the year before. But this year not only will the team's 14th overall pick Karl Joseph not be in attendance, but none of their top three picks will be. Why? Because they don't play an offensive skill position, apparently.
To find the two Raiders rookies who will be attending, you have to scroll into day three of the draft. Those rookies are Connor Cook and DeAndre Washington - the team's fourth and fifth round picks respectively. Not coincidentally, they are also the only two offensive skill position players the Raiders drafted. In fact, the only defensive player participating at the Rookie Premiere this year is third overall pick defensive end Joey Bosa. All others are either a QB, WR, TE, or RB.
This isn't a new thing, either. Last year there was also just ONE defensive player in attendance - 6th overall pick, Leonard Williams, who played his college games in LA Memorial Coliseum where the event is held. The year before that, the only other defender besides Mack was number one overall pick, Jadeveon Clowney. Basically, defenders are the token inclusion so no one can say there aren't any of them there. And who cares about linemen, right?
The NFLPA claims the purpose of the event is for rookies to "learn the business of football." So, do only offensive skill position players need to learn the business of football?
Direct from the press release:
More than 20 NFLPA business partners will be on site to engage with the newest group of promising NFL stars to secure endorsement deals, create unique brand content and promote product lines through the utilization of NFL group player rights.
The roster of partners activating at the Rookie Premiere this year includes Panini America, Fanatics, Nike, EA SPORTS, The Brandr Group, Topps NFL Huddle, Delta Private Jets, FedEx, New Era, Samsung, élevée, Staramba, Gatorade, Proctor & Gamble brands and Frito-Lay.
"NFLPA Rookie Premiere presents an unparalleled opportunity for our partners to interact with the promising young marketing stars entering the league," said Ahmad Nassar, president of NFL Players Inc.
So, basically they're telling us defensive players and linemen just aren't marketable. That's quite a message to send an NFL player less than a month after joining the league.
The Raiders have made it their focus to build the offensive line and defense this offseason because that's how you win football games. It's just not how you win endorsement deals.