Baylor football’s former coaching staff found plenty of diamonds in the rough. However, most of the program’s notable alumni — including Robert Griffin III, Danny Watkins and Jason Smith — struggled when they reached the NFL.
Don’t expect that to continue with the new administration in town.
Matt Rhule views it as a priority to prepare his players for the NFL draft. In fact, he says it is one of his main responsibilities.
“I think there’s an onus on me to make sure the kids are pro ready,” Rhule said. “When you walk into this place, you’re going to be prepared and have a leg up on everyone else. That’s verified.”
The results speak for themselves. Under Rhule, Temple produced six NFL draft picks in two seasons. That’s as many as the decade before combined. Keep in mind, the Owls reeled in just one top-65 class in that stretch.
A few months ago, former walk-on linebacker Haason Reddick (No. 13 pick) and guard Dion Dawkins (No. 63) became the first Owls to be selected in the first two rounds since Muhammad Wilkerson and Jaiquawn Jarrett in 2011. Before that, it was Lance Johnson in 1996.
However, plenty of programs produce draft picks. Temple players produce at a high level in the NFL. Of the Owls’ three draft picks in 2016, every one played double-digit games. Two out of the three played all 16 games that season. Undrafted wide receiver Robby Anderson also played 16 games for the New York Jets.
Since 2014, Baylor has produced 13 NFL draft picks, which is impressive. However, only two players have participated in 16 games in a season — Spencer Drango and Bryce Hager.
Granted, wide receiver Corey Coleman and defensive lineman Andrew Billings both missed much of their rookie seasons with injuries. But Baylor’s results at the next level have been underwhelming.
Art Briles’ system produced video game numbers at a college level. However, simplistic schemes that broke college defenses oftentimes left players underprepared for the NFL. Rhule wants to ensure that this will no longer be a problem for the program.
“These guys talk about NFL, they come from the NFL,” linebacker Taylor Young said. “They always talk about, ‘This is what you need to do, these are the steps you need now.’ They have the print of it. If you want to play at the next level, they know how you go about doing that.”
Young isn’t kidding. Rhule spent a year as an assistant offensive line coach under Tom Coughlin in 2012. Five of Rhule’s nine assistants have a combined 37 years of NFL experience.
Of the others, tight ends coach Joey McGuire won three state titles at Cedar Hill and FootballScoop named Mike Siravo the national linebacker coach of the year. This is as qualified a staff as there is in college football.
Baylor coaches introduced an NFL-style playbook on both sides of the ball, with much of the defense relying on complex zone coverages. Wide receivers will use a full route tree.
“They’ve heard the scouts come through and talk to them,” Rhule said. “They know that what we do prepares them at a high level.”
Baylor coaching staff
|Coach||Position||NFL experience (years)|
|Matt Rhule||Head coach||1|
|Phil Snow||Defensive coordinator||4|
|Bob Bicknell||Wide receivers||10|
|George DeLeone||Offensive line||6|
|Joey McGuire||Tight ends||0|
|Elijah Robinson||Defensive line||0|
|Francis Brown||Defensive backs||0|