Q&A with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken
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OK, so thereís probably a better chance the Redskins trade up in the draft and select Robert Griffin III. But thereís also a chance that another team makes the Rams a better offer. Then what? Two possibilities are Oklahoma State players: quarterback Brandon Weeden, if they trade back, and receiver Justin Blackmon, if they stay at No. 6.
Monken not only knows these two players well ó he also coaches quarterbacks at Oklahoma State ó he also spent four years as a receivers coach with Jacksonville. And he once coached at LSU when Matt Flynn played for the Tigers.
Q: What are some things that jumped out about Brandon for you?
A: First and foremost because of his age heís mature, maybe because of the ups and downs of minor league baseball, and he doesnít get rattled easy. That might have been his personality before baseball, but heís a real even-keeled guy. The other thing is that heís extremely accurate. He has the most arm talent from an accuracy standpoint that Iíve ever been around. Iíve been around guys in the NFL. I was around Matt Flynn in college, JaMarcus Russell, Luke McCown and David Garrard. Iím not comparing them to him, but he makes every throw like itís a five-yard throw ó whether itís a quick screen or an intermediate throw down the field. And beyond the arm strength is how accurate he is at getting the ball at different arm angles. Thatís part of being a baseball player. You learn how to throw accurately when youíre not balanced and thatís him.
Q: How do you think heíll fare in the transition from a college spread to an NFL offense?
A: Heís worked awfully hard to be under center, but I canít speak for that because he didnít line up one time under center. I canít speak to how heíll take a drop and keep his feet in rhythm and navigate defenders around him. About reading the defense, I would hope some things we did at Jacksonville with how we decipher where weíre going with the ball and where we determined where to go expanded him some. Were we, from a protection standpoint, having him dissect all that like an NFL team? No. But from a football awareness, he really improved. Heís going to keep improving because the guy hasnít played a lot of football. He played high school then he was gone for four or five years and now heís played two years. When that all comes together from an arm talent/mature kid that matches his ability to change his protections and stand in there when guys are flying around you when youíre protected but you donít think you are and to have the [guts] to make the throws, I donít know that.
Q: How does he compare to Matt Flynn?
A: I wasnít there for Mattís last year [at LSU]. Matt played some my first year and he started one game. Matt has the same kind of personality. Theyíre even-keeled guys who donít show a lot of emotion. Sometimes you question them with their leadership. Guys that are quiet that way and donít get rattled a lot they donít show that, ďHey, guys, get your ass out of the ground and letís go!Ē Theyíre not built that way. Matt didnít have a stronger arm than Brandon, but he was equally as accurate. When I was there Mattís arm strength was solid, but he was very accurate and very poised and very under control. Very smart. You could see that the year they won the national championship with Matt. They did a lot of spread stuff. He got a lot of things right, the protection and throwing it and understanding how to manage the offense and getting them in the right plays at the right time. Brandon is pretty good at that, but we do more tempo so thereís less time for him to deal with that.
Q: With Brandon, one thing people talk about are the interceptions. Is that a legit knock?
A: Like any quarterback, the time they become susceptible to interceptions is when you put them in a situation where theyíre uncomfortable, whether by scheme or protection. One or two were on busted routes, one or two we didnít protect it enough and he panicked. You get a guy in someoneís face and youíll have issues. Thatís where Brandonís issues came. Would I look at it and say he has a penchant for throwing interceptions? No. Itís those other things like any quarterback that he is learning that to throw the ball away is a good thing. Did he get better? Yes. Does he have to understand that checkdowns are good? Yes. Did he get better at it? Yes. Were there times I put him in a poor position and he almost threw a pick? Yes. Were there a couple times he panicked? Yes. Guys who are pocket passers, they have to learn to throw it away or check it down because theyíre gonna get rid of it. They canít go anywhere.
Q: How do you think heíd fit in a system like the Redskins where they run a lot of bootlegs and rollouts?
A: I think he throws really well on the run. Heís just not going to run with it. Do I think heíll be good at coming out and selling it and coming out and seeing it? Without question. That wonít be an issue. None of those things they do will be hard for him. I know [Redskins quarterbacks coach] Matt LaFleur well and I have great respect for the Shanahans and what they do. They just have to decide who is their guy.
Q: Justin Blackmonís speed has been questioned, what can you say about that part of his game and why was he so good for you?
A: The reality is if you look at guys that have success in the NFL, probably one of the least things is flat-out speed. Itís playing strong to the ball, itís run after the catch, itís staying healthy, itís being able to bend and separate and itís being able to judge the ball down the field and run after the catch. I coached Dwayne Bowe at LSU, and he ran a 4.55 at the combine and the guy was a Pro Bowler. Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin. Calvin Johnson isnít the receiver he is because heís that fast, itís because heís explosive and can go get the ball. Justin plays strong, and he plays fast.
Do I think heís a track guy? No, heís not. When I was in Jacksonville we drafted a receiver there when you watched his film he looked slow and methodical, was a good route runner but didnít look explosive. He goes to the combine and runs a 4.4 and looks fast, and when we got him he was a good route runner, slow and methodical. Thatís what you get. When you see Justin and you watch him on the field, heís going to look fast against whomever he plays, and heíll look hard to tackle. How that translates I have no idea, but you can only go by the fact that he was one of the most dominant players on the field against everybody we played, without question. The things that are very hard to do, he does them. If you can fine-tune him with his route-running, he does all those things that are hard to build into a guy.
Q: Like what?
A: Itís hard to teach someone natural run instincts after the catch. Guys catch it and think theyíll score or theyíll fall down and run into the wall on the sideline. Guys who play strong through the ball, they get their hands away from their body and even though defenders are around them they make the catch. Some guys canít do that and they play small. He doesnít do that. Some guys canít bend their ankles stiff. So they canít stick their foot in the ground and shape and separate. Itís harder for them to separate out of breaks or win at the line. Some guys canít judge the ball down the field and either fade to it or turn their hands over to go get it. Those are the difficult things to get when youíre a kid at 18. And he has an edge about him thatís impossible to teach. You either have it or you donít. Hereís all these things he has that are difficult to teach, especially the edge part. That doesnít mean heíll make it. I just know that guys that donít have it, itís much harder to make it. Thatís why I say when you have that itís easier to mold around those other things. Can you teach someone if they have body control to drop their weight to counter and route run? No question. Can you teach someone a little bit of what coverages are and understanding and teaching your system and spacing? Those are still tough but itís easier.
Re: Q&A with Oklahoma State offensive coordinator Todd Monken
Good stuff Mattyk, I wouldn't mind Weeden only in the late 2nd-4th rds.
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