As NFL teams took the field in Week 1, we were curious to see if no preseason games and fewer practices affected how teams built their rosters. In particular, were rookies — with less opportunity to impress coaches than in previous years — more likely to be cut?
The following chart shows how many 2020 rookies made Week 1 rosters compared to each of the previous ten years. Each rookie is shown as a dot that corresponds with the year and round in which he was drafted, or if he went undrafted.
The biggest drop is seen with undrafted free agents (UDFAs), as 30.8 fewer UDFAs made 2020 rosters when compared to the average over the previous ten seasons.
Did roster spots usually taken by UDFAs then go to veteran players?
It turns out that some of those roster spots went to other rookies. Overall, 246 rookies in 2020 were named to Week 1 rosters — about 17 less than average. This was partially led by spikes in the number of players drafted in Round 3 (+5.2) and Round 4 (+5.2) that were on season-opening rosters this season.
More on the 2020 rookie class: