July 29, 2010 may someday be recognized in pro football annals as the day that Tim Tebow officially entered the NFL by signing his first-round contract with the Denver Broncos, but several other rookies who signed today will almost certainly make a bigger impact as a rookie -- though few, nationally, will recognize the importance of their deals.
Fellow first round picks Rolando McClain (Oakland) and Sean Weatherspoon (Atlanta) each signed their contracts today. Despite the fact that McClain (No. 8 overall) and Weatherspoon (No. 19 overall) were each selected higher than Tebow and will almost certainly see the field in a more substantive role sooner than the former Florida superstar, only fans of the Raiders and Falcons, respectively, are likely to be giving the signings much thought.
And that is a mistake.
McClain's signing continues a surprisingly effective off-season for the Raiders. His selection with the No. 8 overall pick was lauded on draft day as a coup for the shabby run-defending team. Now, by signing McClain on the day the team's training camp workouts officially begin, they are giving the reigning Butkus Award winner a chance to help immediately.
Weatherspoon's deal is just as important given that the Falcons, like the Raiders, enjoyed a strong off-season and appear to be on the verge of breaking into the upper echelon of the NFL. The addition of free agent cornerback Dunta Robinson gives the team the shut-down cornerback they've been missing to pair with pass rusher John Abraham and young star linebacker Curtis Lofton. With Weatherspoon's speed and playmaking ability, the combination of he and Lofton should give the Falcons as athletic a duo of young linebackers as there is in the league -- a critical advantage considering the team has to contend with Drew Brees and the explosive New Orleans' offense in the NFC South division.
One could even make the argument that Miami signing outside linebacker Koa Misi, Houston signing running back Ben Tate or even the Kansas City Chiefs signing offensive guard Jon Asamoah will end up being at least equally as important to their club's 2010 success as Tebow.
But then again, Tebow is the headline. Everyone else makes up just the details.
So, what else is new?