Heading into training camp, I had mentioned how it was highly doubtful we would be able to learn much from rookie minicamp. The practices do not include full pads, and it is only rookies facing off against each other with limited knowledge of the playbook.
It turns out, there is probably one exception, and he is an exception that will be applicable in a variety of areas. Lawrence Okoye got in his first NFL practices last weekend, and is now engaged in the "football school" portion of the offseason workout program. Of course, for Okoye, the entire summer is going to be "football school" since this is his first go around with American football. Considering Okoye had never played football before this weekend, anything he does on the football field is noteworthy.
John Clayton put together a mailbag about rookie minicamp first impressions, and he had a chance to comment on Okoye:
The early word out of San Francisco, though, is that Okoye might have enough pure talent for the 49ers to consider him for the active roster. There is such a good buzz about him that another team might claim him off waivers if the 49ers try to get him to the practice squad.
The 49ers 53-man roster is what we'll discuss quite a bit over the next few months, but the 46-man active game day roster also has to be considered. Clayotn is referencing the 53-man roster when he says active roster. However, with seven players inactive on game days, the 49ers are in a position to use some of those spots like they did last year, as quasi-red shirt years for some rookies.
Really much of this will depend on what Okoye shows in the preseason. If he looks even remotely competent as a defensive lineman, that could be enough for teams to roll the dice on him off waivers. For most undrafted free agents, they need to show a little something extra. For Okoye, showing anything is arguably showing something extra. Teams know about his athleticism, so if he can show that he has picked up something in a few short months, and continues to be ready to put in the work to become something special, they may decide to add him.
If you want to check out some video of Lawrence Okoye at minicamp, BBC Sport has a video compilation of Okoye doing some drills and talking to the media, along with other players and Jim Harbaugh talking to the media about Okoye.