“There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

The NFL draft approacheth, so you know what that means: the whining about the spread will continue until the morale improves.

So, you have a quarterback who played in the spread and never took a snap at the line of scrimmage. And receivers who don’t understand route trees.

Not to mention linebackers who rarely played in tight quarters. And blockers who have not gotten into a three-point stance since high school. Or junior high.

Now turn them loose in the NFL? Good luck.

The way the spread offense has taken over college football has made the NFL draft even more of a crapshoot. In the past, pro scouts had seen college prospects perform in something similar to the NFL. Nowadays, other than rarities such as Stanford’s offense or Alabama’s defense, few schools are using formations or styles similar to what the players will face in the NFL…

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman notes how difficult it is “to teach them how to get into a three-point stance, how to run block’ because of the restrictions on practice time under the labor agreement.

Giants OL coach Mike Solari adds there is “a tremendous learning curve as far as technique and fundamentals for young offensive linemen coming into the NFL. There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

I guess you guys will just have to work harder.  Cry me a river.

Some of this is interesting.

As more college coaches have gone with the spread, certain positions have morphed. Tight ends either are blockers or quasi-wideouts; rarely handling both duties as they may have to in the NFL. Fullbacks are almost nonexistent. Linemen just backpedal and pass block.

Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry is seen as a high pick because he blocked and ran routes in a pro system. Michigan State tackle Jack Conklin also showed he can run block and pass block, moving him ahead of some spread players.

Patriots player personnel director Nick Caserio notes that some teams “throw the ball 75 times a game, and they’ve never run blocked in their entire life.”

But defensive backs have prospered from the proliferation of wide-open offenses.

“The ball is in the air more, they are learning to tackle out more in the open grass,” Savage says. “It is a tough job for those college DBs, playing against three and four receivers every snap. Colleges run two receivers deep on one side, they exit the field and two fresh receivers are basically doing the same thing on the next play. The DB is the same guy. He’s learning from that.”

In the end, though, it always seems to come back to Nick Saban.


“I would say overall, you can’t grade schools, you have to grade individual prospects,” Savage says. “But when you go to Iowa or Alabama or Stanford, when scouts are watching the tapes, they are at least seeing what the players will be asked to do at the NFL level.”

“… I have always theorized the prospects that come out of some of these ‘NFL-like programs’ are probably getting half a round of elevation of grade in the draft. Because when that scout walks out of that school, he can better project what this player can do than for some other players who don’t have that background.”

If you don’t think Alabama’s selling that quote on the recruiting trail, you’re crazy.


Filed under Strategery And Mechanics, The NFL Is Your Friend.

16 responses to ““There is always a sense of urgency to get them up to speed.”

  1. Reggie

    If we could just get a few of those coaches from say Alabama and Arkansas, we could sell that quote also! Oh, wait…

  2. Derek

    If, as I believe, these complaints are designed to influence high school prospects to go to schools with pro systems, either directly or through a college coaches recruiting pitch, what is so horrible about repeatedly denigrating the spread? Especially when we’ve always been among those who benefit from prospects being leery of that offense, we should want more of these complaints not less. In short, I don’t get our host’s apparent annoyance with these sorts of statements. If it works it hurts auburn and UT right? Why complain?

  3. DawgPhan

    The NFL is getting exactly what they are asking for. If you dont like spread players, dont draft spread players. The players would notice pretty quickly and stop going to those schools.

    • Or if the spread bothers you so much, pony up and start your own developmental league… yeah, that’s what I thought.

      • stick jackson

        Two of the main lines of discourse coming out of the NFL are lust for the European market (and a recognition of the importance of having players with some sort of connection to those markets playing in the NFL) and (to keep it Euro-style) whingeing about the evils of the spread. A revival of NFL Europe would seem to square the circle nicely, but I guess the Frankfurt Dragons cost Jerry Jones any number of ivory-handled backscratchers in their time.

      • @gatriguy

        Don’t hold your breath. The NFL and its “at no expense to the league” ginger clown of a commissioner are at bigger collection of greedy whores than the college and conference presidents. And that’s saying a lot b

      • Macallanlover

        Now that developmental league is something I can get behind and support.

        Notice Savage made sure to not mention LSU, UGA, or Arkansas who run similar/same offenses as Bama, and put a few players in the NFL as well. Of course, Bama does recruit against each regularly. Think Little Nicky has time to write Savage’s material?

  4. stick jackson

    IIRC, Savage works for the Bama radio network, among various other gigs, so nice days work for him there.

    • alamosa

      savage has his head so far up the Bama staffs butts, he would not even know other schools exist.

  5. Argondawg

    The real question to me is “why can’t the spread work in the NFL?” If you have a huge set of players schooled in the spread and everyone else is running a west coast based offense, why not implement it and draft for it? I await your public flogging of me.

    • Sanford222view

      QB’s get hurt to easily unless it is a pass based spread. Problem is even then one of the base running plays is the option which if the QB is seen as a running threat is much easier to defend.

    • alamosa

      @/argondawg: Cause that is the way we have done it for years and we don’t need any of them new crazy ideas. Plus they all say the QB will get hurt. i love the idea of a spread or any type developmental league. I will wait and wait.

  6. SouthGaDawg

    Football like life is cyclical. – SunTzu

  7. Red Cup

    Learning how to get in a three point stance is not hard

    • ASEF

      Learning how to execute it against NFL defensive linemen with the ball and QB 3 to 9 feet behind you doesn’t leave much margin for error or extended learning curves.