Who will be impacted most by the NFL lockout?

The unfortunate reality is that we could be looking at a lengthy NFL lockout. Yes, we will have the draft, but any talk of a time frame for a return to normal football activities is just pure speculation.

Previously, I wrote about the impact a lockout could have on players, in general, when it comes to offseason training. However, let’s take it a step further and discuss some key names that the lockout will affect the most—on the field.

Sam BradfordICONBradford needs time with new Rams' offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

Sam Bradford: Great rookie season at the quarterback position. I thought Bradford played like a veteran when we talk about decision-making, route progressions and accuracy with the football. Plus, with Josh McDaniels coming in to run the Rams’ offense in 2011, we should expect the St. Louis QB to develop at an even faster rate. Does a lockout impact this? Of course it does, because Bradford needs coaching, one-on-one film sessions with McDaniels and on the field work that is essential to the offseason programs around the league. The last thing you want is to see the 2010 Rookie of the Year take a step backwards. He is too good for that.

New coaching staffs: Think of Ron Rivera in Carolina, John Fox in Denver, Jim Harbaugh in San Francisco, etc. Scheme is one thing, and I agree that it can be near the top of the list when it comes to a new head coach. But from my own experience of going through a coaching change with the Redskins, leadership is key when it comes to the perspective of the players. New coaches need the offseason to sell their style, their new rules and transform the entire culture of the locker room.

Tim Tebow: Kyle Orton is expected to take the first snaps when we get back to football for the Broncos, but the offseason is still a crucial time for Tebow to work with the coaching staff—and prove his value. I will agree that a QB competition doesn’t take place in the spring (you need game situations of the preseason to grade the position), but it is still an opportunity for the former first-round pick to start the process, win over the huddle and begin to work with his receivers. This is a big season in terms of Tebow’s career in Denver and in the eyes of the entire NFL.

(All) Rookies: On Sunday, the NFP’s Greg Gabriel broke down the tape from Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert and discussed how the lockout could impact his rookie season. A spread system QB that would benefit from the time spent working with coaches in the offseason. I also think we can apply that to any drafted player. I remember my first offseason in 2000 with the Rams, and on top of adjusting to the speed of a simple mini-camp; those meetings (countless meetings) after conditioning sessions carried a lot of weight. Imagine a lockout that lasts into the summer. Hard for a late round rookie to make the team when he doesn’t know where to line up or how to play the techniques of the offense or defense called in the huddle.

The Bears' O-Line: There are multiple questions surrounding the Chicago offensive line, starting with veteran center Olin Kreutz. Do the Bears bring him back for the 2011 season, and if not, who is the replacement? In addition, upgrades through the draft (that need time learning Mike Martz’s offense) and the possibility of a new left tackle. You want to talk about a crucial offseason for O-Line coach Mike Tice? This is it. A unit that gave up 50-plus sacks in 2010. You start correcting that in late March—when the offseason programs around the league are supposed to kick off. Someone has to block the Packers’ Clay Matthews next season.

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