Ranking NFL's four likeliest 'Hard Knocks' participants by watchability

The NFL and HBO should soon reveal which team NFL Films will document for this summer’s installment of the training camp series “Hard Knocks,” though you might be surprised at how shallow the pool of options appears to be.

Often loathe to incur additional media obligations or — gasp — potentially provide a competitive advantage while the cameras roll sunrise to sunset, the league’s 32 clubs seem to avoid a “Hard Knocks” hitch like a running back who runs a 4.7 40-yard dash.

As the struggle increased to find willing participants for the series, which debuted in 2001, the NFL implemented measures in 2013 that provided ready-made “Hard Knocks” exemptions. Teams would not have to take part if they had a first-year head coach, had reached the playoffs in either of the previous two seasons or had been on the show in the past decade. Since then, Atlanta (in 2014) is the only team to be featured despite meeting one of those conditions.

Giants QB Eli Manning (10) and Raiders QB Derek Carr appear to be among 2019’s “Hard Knocks” finalists. (Photo: Cary Edmondson, USA TODAY Sports)

According to NBC Sports Bay Area, one of this year’s “eligible” franchises, the 49ers, will not be on…

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