Skip to main content
Powered by

It's no small jump from college to the NFL

It's a two-step process with building the roster


Willie from Hayward, WI

The season of optimism is here again. The new draft picks are all world and last year's draft picks were disappointing. In fact it is just the opposite. Do you think the fans will ever understand the jump from college to pro football is wide and the average rookie is not prepared to compete on every play in the NFL without experience?

At my first newspaper job, I went to a summer football camp conducted by Cory Raymer, Wisconsin native, All-America center for the Badgers, and a second-round draft pick who had just finished either his first or second year in the league. I asked him the difference between the transition from high school to college, and from the Big Ten to the NFL. He said, "The jump to college was a big one. For the jump to the NFL, next time I'd take an elevator."

Josh from Canmore, Canada

I don't think Sean from Milwaukee was asking how to BECOME a better route-runner, but what in a player's performance indicates they are a better route-runner? Maybe I'm the one that misinterpreted his question. If that is the case, can you answer mine Spoff?

The best route-runners not only are exact with their steps and measurements, but they're capable of making every route look the same off the line of scrimmage, thereby disguising when the break is coming (if it's coming), at what angle, etc. It's about running each route with such precision your quarterback knows exactly where you're going to be, but with such consistency the defender doesn't.

Juan from New York, NY

Speaking about route-running with young receivers, if anyone wants an example they should look at Greg Jennings' time in Green Bay. Say what you want about the guy (I love him) but his routes were so clean you could eat off them.

Jennings was the best I've seen in my time here, and he looked like a natural at it from Day 1. Nelson is close and would admit he learned a ton from Jennings.

Dean from Leavenworth, IN

Mike, what did you think of the Patriots' strategy to take some of the guesswork out of the draft process and trade picks from a very good draft for young players with proven qualities and one or two years left on their contracts? Seems like a gamble for short-term benefits. I didn't make much of it at first, but this was obviously a plan.

I can't pretend to be an expert on the Patriots and their strategies, but I can't help wondering if Brady turning 40 in training camp this year is a factor in what appears to be an effort to maximize where they are right now.

Ken from Djibouti City, Djibouti

What do you think of this whole punter situation (Hey, it's the offseason, we have to talk about something.) I still have a soft spot for Mortell so it miffs me to see them bring in an UDFA to compete with Schum. Gonna be a fun competition to watch, no?

They always are.

Matt from Waunakee, WI

I have writer's block.

*…       *

Derek from South Point, OH

In a situation like Clinton-Dix having his fifth-year option exercised, is this totally a team decision? What options does a player have in that situation, if any?

It's strictly a team option, so the player has no choice. The union agreed to the provision for first-round picks in the 2011 CBA.

Scott from Greensburg, IN

When teams do not pick up the option for the fifth year of a rookie contract, does the player immediately become a free agent? If so, is anyone besides me intrigued by what Sammy Watkins might accomplish with a legitimate Pro Bowl-level quarterback?

The option is exercised as the player is going into his fourth year, so he's not a free agent until the following March, after completing four years of service and the new league year begins. His current team still has exclusive negotiating rights until then and can re-sign him. Also, not picking up the option doesn't preclude the player coming back. The Packers didn't pick up Perry's option but re-signed him for one year in 2016 at a lower salary than the option would have paid him. As for Watkins, the list of those intrigued could have Mr. Watkins at the top of it.

Taylor from Amarillo, TX

Agree with a lot of the measurables on King and what his potential could be. What's the "other side of the coin" on him and why he was available in Round 2?

Some scouts didn't like his tackling, but nobody's report is perfect. He was the sixth cornerback chosen in a deep draft at a premier position. In another year, if he's the third- or fourth-rated guy, he's maybe not there at 33.

Dave from Graham, WA

Even the so-called experts don't think Montgomery can survive as a running back. He's built like a tank and is bigger than two of the draft picks. These experts are already anointing Williams as the starter. I think the Bears would disagree, don't you?

Yes, I do, but I also take to heart what Ted Thompson said after the draft about running backs. "The more the merrier. This is an awful tough position to play." That's no knock against Montgomery, that's just reality. Lacy, Starks, Benson, Grant, Green – feature backs are going to get hurt. It's only a question of when.

Jeff from San Diego, CA

Without revealing too much, what goes on at halftime? With a limited amount of time, do the players have time to use the bathroom, talk to coaches, grab a banana, etc.? I never hear about what halftime for the players is like.

You've pretty much summed it up. One reason players' lockers are grouped by position is to allow the halftime communication to be as swift and efficient as possible.

Greg from Cuenca, Ecuador

Insiders, it seems you answer at least one question from a guy named Greg every day. Is that by design?

No. I choose questions by following a strict BAQ philosophy.

Christopher from Kansas City, MO

Could Josh Jones be the type of S/LB hybrid that we see from teams like Arizona?

Could be. Burnett started playing that role, and playing it well, last year. I've heard McCarthy say many times when it comes to game-planning, "Never be one injury away from being out of a primary personnel group." Maybe that will apply to the hybrid role in 2017.

Kevin from Tucson, AZ

Spoff, it was great seeing so many fantastic retired players announcing draft picks last weekend. Is there a prohibition for active players to do the same? That would certainly raise some eyebrows.

Sounds too awkward to me. I'm sure Mike Glennon wishes he'd declined the Bears' invitation to the team's draft party. This is a tough line of work.

Jesus from El Paso, TX

Aaron Jones wasn't mentioned in the question or answer regarding running backs. I'll bet you a cold drink he's the sleeper of this draft class.

I'm all for it – your prediction, not the bet – but I'll bet you back that opinion coming from El Paso isn't entirely unbiased.

Hudson from Wallingford, CT

I understand that the Packers have arguably the best QB in football. Although I am believer that a running game will go a long way to benefit Aaron Rodgers and the entire offense/team. I was hoping to see the Packers draft Dalvin Cook with the 33rd pick. Ultimately I trust TT when it comes to his construction of the team and do like and believe Williams, Jones and Mays will combine to be productive. What type of running back do you see Dalvin Cook becoming in the NFL? Do you think the Packers may ever second-guess passing on him now that he is with a division rival?

Cook has loads of ability, and I'm sure they gave him due consideration, but they won't second-guess themselves for one second if King turns out to be the player they believe. You can't draft everybody.

Tom from San Juan Capistrano, CA

Insiders, I just saw that Bob McGinn is retiring. I have really enjoyed his reporting and analysis over the years. Any stories on him you would like to share? He seemed like a class act.

I'm not sure Bob is retiring, but moving on. Be that as it may, I always admired his dedication and attention to detail. Others will have better stories than me about his work, but I'll share this – about 20 years ago, in the old, crowded Lambeau press box for one of the first games I ever covered here, I was in the row in front of Bob and accidentally knocked over a sitting cup of coffee as I walked by. It spilled all over McGinn's papers, right before kickoff. I knew who he was; he had no way of knowing me. I didn't give the best apology because I was a newbie who just wanted to hide. As I got to know him better over the last 11 years in this job, I never told him that was me, though I have no doubt with his memory he'd recall the incident, and I'd bet the coffee stained papers are in one of his folders somewhere. If you're reading this, Bob, please accept a more heartfelt apology all these years later, and best to you in whatever the future holds.

Jan from Hannover, Germany

I know everybody is talking about all the young guys right now. But my question goes in another direction. Which veteran could surprise us this year? I would say Clay on defense and Cobb on offense. Their numbers were down, but they can be elite once again. What guys do you have in mind here?

Those are two good choices. I'll add Burnett. He didn't have a down year by any means, but I see opportunities for him to make a lot more big plays the way McCarthy wants to play defense this year.

Chris from De Pere, WI

Insiders, Jumal Rolle was a great example of the Packers losing a prospect because they had no room on the 53-man roster and he was too good to sneak to the practice squad. With that, do you think Ted seeks out unpolished prospects with his late picks? Raw players with high upside who are not pro-ready seem much easier to sneak onto the practice squad. It's hard to imagine all 10 picks making the 53-man roster. Ted has to know that, right?

You're getting ahead of yourself, as many fans do at this stage. It's best to think of it as a two-step process. In the offseason, you build the best 90-man roster possible. Through training camp and the preseason, you build the best 53-man roster possible. You let the rest fall as it will. That's really as simple as I can put it. To think about all the other potential permutations and consequences is a waste of time and energy.

Matt from East Lansing, MI

It's 2017, and fans at Fenway Park must be told not to shout racial slurs at athletes. As much as I loved the fact they gave Jones a standing ovation at his next at bat the next day, it would crush me if I ever heard something like that at Lambeau Field.

I'm sure it's happened, unfortunately, but whether in Green Bay or Boston, I wouldn't let outliers color my judgment of an entire population of fans.

Brandon from Tulsa, OK

Should we be concerned that of the four RBs on our roster, there is less than 90 snaps in the NFL for the whole group? Has there ever been a group this inexperienced on the Packers before?

Your number is way off, but I'm not concerned, not at that position. The Packers won a Super Bowl in 2010 with a rookie at running back who didn't take his first NFL snap until December. There's time to figure this out.

Pete from Mt. Horeb, WI

Mike Daniels could wrestle a horse.

Better than another horse could, probably.

Brian from Superior, WI

Now that the draft dust has settled and rookie camp is upon us, are all the coaches like little kids in a candy store waiting to play with their new "toys"?

Usually they're just thrilled to get back on the practice field after so much offseason time at their desks. Can't blame them.

Daniel from Copenhagen, Denmark

I imagine the drafting of three running backs and addition of two tight ends must signal some kind of a change in offensive philosophy for the Packers?

I addressed this**in my chat yesterday**.

Matt from Bloomington, IN

DeAngelo Yancey is a talented receiver from an unimpressive college offense. How tough is it to grade players coming from unsuccessful college teams?

That's why you grind the tape, play after play. I'm sure he had plenty of snaps against top-flight corners. You watch those the closest. Did he get open and the ball just didn't come his way? Did he block effectively when required? Did he read the defense correctly? You don't just study the plays that made the stat sheet.

Chris from Minneapolis, MN

In Todd McShay's 2017 "Way Too Early Mock Draft" he projected Malachi Dupre going 10th to the Titans, among other interesting projections. Obviously he was extrapolating out an entire year, but how did Malachi fall all the way from pick 10 to pick 247?

Who knows? LSU's season, QB play, Fournette I'm sure were all factors, but none of it matters now. Others pointed out way-too-early mocks that had more than a dozen first-round picks pegged or no mention of Trubisky or Mr. Irrelevant going No. 2 overall. Thanks for the entertainment.

Jim from South Bend, IN

Which draftees do you expect to be core special-teams players? Will our shortage of linebackers make punt and kickoff coverage more difficult?

The rookies will have to find their way on special teams, and we'll see in the preseason who can do what. But for now I see the core coverage guys as veterans like Elliott, Fackrell, Brice, Martinez, Janis, etc.

Tabb from St. Louis, MO

Daniels, Matthews, Perry, House, Clinton-Dix, etc. Rodgers, Nelson, Cobb, Montgomery, Bennett, Kendricks, Crosby, etc. We have playmakers and ballers at every level, but if you're not on the field, you can't make a play. I think the No. 1 priority needs to be health and preventative care for our players. I realize injury is unavoidable, but is there anything else more important?

It's the great equalizer, and the most unpredictable aspect of this game.

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.