GREEN BAY – When the Packers drafted offensive lineman Cole Madison from Washington State, West regional scout Sam Seale talked about the benefit of his basketball background.
How the ability to bend and get into a defensive stance translates well to offensive line play. How the quick footwork needed on the basketball court helps, too.
But here’s the part that wasn’t revealed about the 6-foot-5, 308-pounder.
“I was a shooting guard, played the 2 (or) 3 in high school,” Madison said.
“I was a shooter. Get me in the corner, oh yeah. I played varsity my freshman and sophomore year. I was like the little shooter coming into high school, a little skinny guy.”
That’s hard to imagine given Madison’s build now, but it does explain something about his athleticism, which the Pacific Northwesterner also has put to use on snowboards, wakeboards and the like.
To be fair, he did move to center in basketball as a senior at Kennedy High in Burien, Wash., which was soon followed by his football transition from tight end to offensive line.
The Packers might put him through another change, from tackle to guard, after Madison started at right tackle for Washington State the last 3½ years.
Green Bay has enjoyed plenty of success converting college tackles to interior linemen – Josh Sitton, T.J. Lang and JC Tretter all come to mind – and Madison’s overall athletic ability certainly plays into the team’s confidence in him making another move.
That said, the fifth-round pick was lining up all over during the rookie orientation practice open to the media, taking snaps at right guard, right tackle and left guard.
He has no objections to multiple trials. He’s willing to take whatever comes his way in order to make the right impression.
“I plan on being that universal soldier for the line, being able to bump around wherever they tell me,” he said. “Just toss me in there, I’ll make it work.”
The majority of his work as a rookie is likely to come on the right side. With Jahri Evans currently not re-signed, the Packers have an open starting spot at right guard, for which Justin McCray and Lucas Patrick, among others, are sure to compete.
Take a look at Packers fifth round draft pick OL Cole Madison at Washington State. Photos by AP.
Whether right tackle is an open competition as well will depend on the status of Bryan Bulaga’s ACL recovery at the start of training camp. Health permitting, Jason Spriggs and Kyle Murphy will be in the mix there, plus possibly McCray, too.
Madison believes his biggest adjustment to the pro game will be improving his kick-slide technique in pass protection, and simply executing more run blocking, which he didn’t have to do much in Mike Leach’s pass-happy Washington State offense.
He’s actually looking forward to proving himself in that aspect of the game, because he knows it’s been questioned based on his college career. He believes he showed “flashes of it” at the Senior Bowl.
“I like getting physical, getting down and dirty in there,” he said. “In the run game, that’s where you can show it.”
With his scraggly beard and long hair, Madison looks like he belongs in the winters of the upper Midwest and nothing like the supposed spot-up three-point shooter from several years ago. But different personas are sort of his M.O.
Listening to him off the field, he sounds pretty laid back, likening Green Bay to a college town and fitting into its friendly atmosphere.
But another of Seale’s initial comments on draft day was about Madison’s mean streak, a switch he can flip once the helmet and pads go on.
“You can’t be a pushover,” he said, speaking of the NFL game. “It’s a different animal. Different breed.”
So is he.