The Identity of the Team with the Sharpest Rookie Class Shouldn't Surprise You

Sigmund Bloom@SigmundBloomNFL Draft Lead WriterJuly 2, 2012

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05:  Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots looks on against the New York Giants during Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

Sports Illustrated's titan of the football media world, Peter King, is on vacation, so his must-read "Monday Morning Quarterback" column is being written by a parade of guests. This week, Indianapolis Colts second-round pick Coby Fleener took the reins to give us a look inside the rookie symposium.

The most important take-away from Fleener's column is that, under the new CBA, rookies are getting more reps in practices before camp than any class before. This is the first class to get the benefit of that extra time. We'll be watching closely to see if that results in a trend of even more rookies making significant contributions early in their careers.

Fleener also dished about the "Ultimate Rookie Challenge"—a competition in which the rookies for each team get a set of eight questions four times over the course of the symposium and have 10 seconds to answer each question. The best teams win prizes ranging from iPads to Xbox Kinects.

The winners? Of course, it's the team that seems to have winning down to a science these days: the New England Patriots. The Chargers, Browns, Steelers, and Jaguars rounded out the top five in order.

According to ESPNBoston writer Mike Reiss, the Patriots also won the rookie challenge in 2008 and 2009, so that's three out of the last four titles (there was no rookie symposium in 2011). Reiss also said that winning the challenge is a source of pride for the player development staff.

Winning the "Ultimate Rookie Challenge" might seem as trivial as winning the fourth preseason game, but creating a culture of attention to detail, competitiveness and commitment to preparation is a never-ending job. Look for next year's challenge to be eagerly awaited now that the teams know the football public is aware of the contest.