Mayock Analyzes Jackson, Draft Picks

NFL Network's Mike Mayock spent some time at Vikings training camp preparing for his role as a color commentator on Vikings preseason games. See what Mayock had to say about Tarvaris Jackson's progress when we questioned him extensively on that, along with rookies John David Booty and John Sullivan.

VU: Are you trying to get a feel for the just the young guys or have been looking at the team overall?

MM: Because I (commentate for) the Vikings preseason, it's a great three or four days for me. I get the overview of all the Vikings, plus I really enjoy watching the young guys because obviously I've watched tape of them. For me, the practices are great but the scrimmages are even better because I get to see two teams and I get to see all the guys at one time.

VU: You get a little more access, get taken behind the scenes. Did you get any extra input from that?

MM: All it really is for me is continuing education. It keeps me on the cutting edge of what teams are trying to do offensively, defensively. More Xs and Os, and the one thing I take away from it every year – and I do this with some other teams with coaches that let me sit in and watching – I'm blown away with what NFL teams are asking their quarterbacks to process and assimilate within 1.2 seconds on every snap. It's unbelievable, which is why it's so hard for the young quarterbacks to unlock their potential.

VU: Do you think people have unfair expectations for a guy like Tarvaris Jackson, third year in the league and really second year starting?

MM:
If you look at Eli Manning a year ago, he was a guy nationally and in the New York media that (were asking), ‘Is the light ever going to go on?' and he going into his fourth year as a starter. The reality is that the light didn't even really come on until the second half of his fourth year and then they win a Super Bowl. You take that and then you look at Tarvaris and you go, ‘OK, second-round pick going into his third year, second as a starter.' Yeah, the expectations are high because it's a pretty good football team and all roads kind of lead back to that quarterback position. If they get good play out of the quarterback position, they can compete with anybody in the league, I believe. So there's a lot of pressure there, and the reality is that the kid just needs to slow down a little bit and make all the right decisions because he's surrounded by some pretty good talent.

VU: Have you had a chance to sit down and talk to him one-on-one and see how he's doing with all of it?

MM:
I haven't had a chance to sit down and talk to him, but I've watched him pretty closely on tape and I've watched him in practice and he's made a quantum leap from a year ago. And I thought he did that last year from his rookie year. That's what you see. I think you see a big jump between one and two, and you see another jump between two and three. It needs to slow down at that point. I think it's happening for him. What I see with him is that he's got to be a more consistent player from practice to practice and from snap to snap, and that's part of being a young quarterback.

VU: In what part of his game did you see that leap you say he's made?

MM:
I think he's processing information more quickly this year. I think he's seeing it and recognizing it and making the right decisions more quickly this year. When you become a veteran quarterback, it's almost second nature and that's when you unlock that potential. Any athlete in any sport will tell you that the more you think, the less you react. Right now, young quarterbacks think too much and react too little. I think once you invert that formula, that's when you get to be a veteran quarterback and it's just all about natural athletic ability, and that's what Tarvaris has.

VU: What about his mechanics? I've talked to people who study film and they're a little skeptical about his planting and throwing. What do you see there?

MM:
When I say consistency, I mean on all sides. I mean on technique. I mean not having two or three really good periods in practice followed by a bad period. I mean making sure the hip opens all the way up, the foot opens all the way up when he's coming back to his left side 100 percent of the time, not 90 percent of the time. When I'm talking about a young quarterback and consistency, I'm talking about technique, I'm talking about processing information.

VU: I know you were working Sidney Rice after one practice. Can you talk about what you were working on there?

MM:
I wasn't working with him. We were just doing a special with three or four of the different players and to let them talk about what they do with their craft. That was more about talking to him about press coverage and what he likes to do to beat a physical corner. I did the same thing with Jared Allen for use of hands with defensive linemen and I did the same thing with (Matt) Birk and (Steve) Hutchinson showing people what a combination block in a zone scheme is. We're just going to roll those things in for the preseason games. It's not my job to coach them.

VU: On the young guys, do you think John David Booty has the arm strength to be an NFL quarterback and then – the second step – an NFL starter eventually?

MM:
I think he has the most important thing and that is that he understands the game. He knows when and where to throw the football. As a former defensive back, they're the guys that scared me more than the guys with the big arms. The guys with the big arms make a lot of mistakes because they try to force the ball. His arm is adequate. It's not huge, but it's adequate to be an NFL player. I think you're going to see him progress very quickly because he's a smart kid coming out of an offense that, from the college level, is pretty sophisticated and he'll make the right decisions. I don't expect that you'll see him this year, but I think he's the kind of kid that can be a real good backup quarterback and then down the road in the right offense he could be a starter.

VU: Where did you have him rated? Obviously he went in the fifth round.

MM:
There were five or six quarterbacks that everybody had in separate groups. I had Matt Ryan as the top quarterback and the kid from Delaware, Joe Flacco, they were my two first-round kids. I had (Brian) Brohm in the second round and somebody else in the second round, the kid that New England took in the third round (Kevin O'Connell), and then I had Booty. So I had Booty as kind of a late three or early four, so I thought that the Vikings got great value.

VU: One of the other draft picks, John Sullivan. What do you think of him?

MM:
He's a good player. He a good, solid player. He's got a low center of gravity. He's a pretty strong kid. He's smart and he understands the game. He's a leverage and position player. I think he's the kind of guy that it will be a great year for him to learn behind Matt Birk.



Viking Update Top Stories

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Because I (commentate for) the Vikings preseason, it's a great three or four days for me. I get the overview of all the Vikings, plus I really enjoy watching the young guys because obviously I've watched tape of them. For me, the practices are great but the scrimmages are even better because I get to see two teams and I get to see all the guys at one time.



All it really is for me is continuing education. It keeps me on the cutting edge of what teams are trying to do offensively, defensively. More Xs and Os, and the one thing I take away from it every year – and I do this with some other teams with coaches that let me sit in and watching – I'm blown away with what NFL teams are asking their quarterbacks to process and assimilate within 1.2 seconds on every snap. It's unbelievable, which is why it's so hard for the young quarterbacks to unlock their potential.

If you look at Eli Manning a year ago, he was a guy nationally and in the New York media that (were asking), ‘Is the light ever going to go on?' and he going into his fourth year as a starter. The reality is that the light didn't even really come on until the second half of his fourth year and then they win a Super Bowl. You take that and then you look at Tarvaris and you go, ‘OK, second-round pick going into his third year, second as a starter.' Yeah, the expectations are high because it's a pretty good football team and all roads kind of lead back to that quarterback position. If they get good play out of the quarterback position, they can compete with anybody in the league, I believe. So there's a lot of pressure there, and the reality is that the kid just needs to slow down a little bit and make all the right decisions because he's surrounded by some pretty good talent.

I haven't had a chance to sit down and talk to him, but I've watched him pretty closely on tape and I've watched him in practice and he's made a quantum leap from a year ago. And I thought he did that last year from his rookie year. That's what you see. I think you see a big jump between one and two, and you see another jump between two and three. It needs to slow down at that point. I think it's happening for him. What I see with him is that he's got to be a more consistent player from practice to practice and from snap to snap, and that's part of being a young quarterback.

I think he's processing information more quickly this year. I think he's seeing it and recognizing it and making the right decisions more quickly this year. When you become a veteran quarterback, it's almost second nature and that's when you unlock that potential. Any athlete in any sport will tell you that the more you think, the less you react. Right now, young quarterbacks think too much and react too little. I think once you invert that formula, that's when you get to be a veteran quarterback and it's just all about natural athletic ability, and that's what Tarvaris has.

When I say consistency, I mean on all sides. I mean on technique. I mean not having two or three really good periods in practice followed by a bad period. I mean making sure the hip opens all the way up, the foot opens all the way up when he's coming back to his left side 100 percent of the time, not 90 percent of the time. When I'm talking about a young quarterback and consistency, I'm talking about technique, I'm talking about processing information.

I wasn't working with him. We were just doing a special with three or four of the different players and to let them talk about what they do with their craft. That was more about talking to him about press coverage and what he likes to do to beat a physical corner. I did the same thing with Jared Allen for use of hands with defensive linemen and I did the same thing with (Matt) Birk and (Steve) Hutchinson showing people what a combination block in a zone scheme is. We're just going to roll those things in for the preseason games. It's not my job to coach them.

I think he has the most important thing and that is that he understands the game. He knows when and where to throw the football. As a former defensive back, they're the guys that scared me more than the guys with the big arms. The guys with the big arms make a lot of mistakes because they try to force the ball. His arm is adequate. It's not huge, but it's adequate to be an NFL player. I think you're going to see him progress very quickly because he's a smart kid coming out of an offense that, from the college level, is pretty sophisticated and he'll make the right decisions. I don't expect that you'll see him this year, but I think he's the kind of kid that can be a real good backup quarterback and then down the road in the right offense he could be a starter.

There were five or six quarterbacks that everybody had in separate groups. I had Matt Ryan as the top quarterback and the kid from Delaware, Joe Flacco, they were my two first-round kids. I had (Brian) Brohm in the second round and somebody else in the second round, the kid that New England took in the third round (Kevin O'Connell), and then I had Booty. So I had Booty as kind of a late three or early four, so I thought that the Vikings got great value.

He's a good player. He a good, solid player. He's got a low center of gravity. He's a pretty strong kid. He's smart and he understands the game. He's a leverage and position player. I think he's the kind of guy that it will be a great year for him to learn behind Matt Birk.


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