Cole Madison's game, and hair, both grew in college


GREEN BAY – In a technological age where likes, favorites and retweets often are used as a litmus test of one’s social status, Cole Madison is a bit of a renaissance man.

“I do not have a Twitter account,” said Madison, a 6-foot-5, 308-pound guard out of Washington State whom the Packers selected in the fifth round of last weekend’s NFL Draft.

“I've not really dabbled in social media. I don't need to look at people's food they post and all that stuff.”

A 3½-year starter at Washington State, Madison does things his own way. He arrived on campus as a tight end before switching to the offensive line during his redshirt freshman year. Madison went on to start 47 games at right tackle for the Cougars, including 39 consecutive to end his college career.

At no time during his five years in Pullman, Wash., did Madison cut his hair. In fact, his last haircut – prior to a trim last week – came in preparation for his high-school prom in 2012.

Madison’s game grew in lockstep with his hair. A former shooting guard in basketball, Madison impressed Green Bay’s West regional scout Sam Seale with his athleticism and footwork.

Take a look at Packers fifth round draft pick OL Cole Madison at Washington State. Photos by AP.

Both served him well in the Cougars’ pass-driven offense, where Madison was charged with protecting All-Pac-12 quarterback Luke Falk. Like most teams in the pre-draft process, the Packers project Madison as an interior lineman in the NFL, but Seale believes his experience anchoring Washington State’s line should hasten his transition to the next level.

“If you have feet and you have the ability to recover, you’re in the ballgame,” Seale said. “He's played basketball and in basketball you play defense, you've got to get low, you've got to stay in your stance and he can do all of that. For a big man, he can bend. To be a guard, you've got to be able to bend and he can do it all.”

Madison tacked on more than 50 pounds during his five-year college career, but it didn’t zap him of his agility due to a workable 6-5 frame more than capable of adding weight.

Although his extensive pass-blocking experience is universally viewed as a huge asset for teams, Madison felt it equally important to show to potential NFL suitors he could be relied upon as a run-blocker.

His proving ground began in January at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala.

“If we run the ball eight times a game, that's a lot for us,” Madison said. “It's one of those things that, people didn't really have a lot of tape on me in the run game. It was always thought it was one of the big question marks for me, but I try to showcase that I could play with my hand in the dirt, that whole thing.”

The Packers have had a long and storied history of unearthing diamonds on the offensive line during the NFL Draft’s middle rounds, a list that includes left tackle David Bakhtiari (fourth round, 2013), centers Corey Linsley (fifth, 2014) and JC Tretter (fourth, 2013), and Pro Bowl guards T.J. Lang (fourth, 2009) and Josh Sitton (fourth, 2008).

Green Bay also has been proficient in finding talented undrafted free agents, with starting left guard Lane Taylor (2013), Justin McCray (2017) and Evan Smith (2009) rising from the reserve ranks to contributing as starters.

So what’s the secret ingredient the Packers look for?

“Their toughness, they want to compete,” Seale said. “Again, hopefully (Madison) comes in and he’s tough. I know he’s tough. Hopefully he’s willing to compete, and we get another gem to help this football team.”

Madison understands the situation he’s stepping into. While he hoped to be drafted earlier, Madison couldn’t have been happier when his phone rang on Saturday.

“I can’t explain it. My whole body went numb,” Madison said. “It was the greatest experience of my life.”

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