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AFCA looking at rule requiring NFL draft picks wait until exams end before joining team

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The rule is garbage and helps nobody.

The San Francisco 49ers are working their way through OTAs, and continue to not have defensive lineman Solomon Thomas present. Due to a rule regarding draft picks, Thomas and other players who attend schools operating on the quarter system are left to wait for final exams to end during minicam before they can join their new team.

The NFL and college football came to an agreement in the early 1990s implementing this rule. The thought was it would prevent players from leaving school immediately after the draft. More and more players are all but dropping out of school in the spring semester in order to begin draft preparations. It makes the wait for final exams a waste of time for players like Solomon Thomas and Christian McCaffrey.

The American Football Coaches’ Association has had some preliminary discussions about changing the rule, according to Charlotte Observer reporter Joseph Person. For now, it does not seem like change is close. And apparently the limited number of players impacted has the NFL not overly concerned about it.

Given the small percentage of schools on the quarter system, tweaking the rule is not a high priority for the NFL. But AFCA director Todd Berry says he plans to continue the conversations with the league.

The 49ers have Thomas, WR Trent Taylor, and UDFA WR Kendrick Bourne dealing with the quarter system. Taylor’s finals already ended, while Thomas’ don’t end until June 14, and Bourne’s end the 15th. The 49ers lucked out last year because DeForest Buckner and Joshua Garnett both had graduated the previous December, which means they were free to join the team immediately.

The system in place is a joke in an age when so many players are leaving school to begin draft preparations as early as the beginning of the spring semester/winter quarter. Players lose out and their new teams lose out as they are limited in what they can accomplish before the end of the spring quarter. Thomas has been working out with DeMarcus Ware, and likely has plenty of practice film and playbook studying to keep him busy, but it’s just not the same getting those physical reps in throughout the offseason program.