The NFL Players Association hosted its annual Rookie Premiere over the weekend, giving a select group of first-year players an opportunity to build some first business relationships since entering the league earlier this offseason. A total of 42 players were invited to this year’s edition, including three members of the New England Patriots.
Wide receiver Tyquan Thornton, running back Pierre Strong, and quarterback Bailey Zappe were among those participating in the event. Thornton was selected in the second round of this year’s draft, while Strong and Zappe came off the board in the fourth.
Whereas other teams such as the Cincinnati Bengals or Minnesota Vikings did not have any players present, the Patriots were tied for the league lead with three rookie participants. The entire group looked as follows:
Per the NFLPA, the Rookie Premiere “provides partners with unmatched access to 40 of the NFL’s newest stars at their first major business and marketing event following the NFL Draft.” Additionally it is the first time to “connect directly with professional football’s most promising and marketable young players — all in one place — and build content and relationships that extend into the season and beyond.”
Of course, the definition of “promising and marketable” is rather subjective. For example, New England’s first-round draft pick, offensive lineman Cole Strange, was not invited to participate in the event.
From a fan perspective, the most exciting part of the rookie premiere is the photoshoot in cooperation with Panini America that took place at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The resulting pictures give fans a first look at players in their new teams’ uniforms.
Some players already wore the jersey numbers issued by their respective teams, while New England’s donned the round they were drafted in.
The Patriots’ rookies had to face a quick turnaround following the Rookie Premiere. They needed to travel back to New England right away to be able to participate in the first organized team activity practice on Monday.