Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio delivers an NFL Lens segment with Marvin Jones and Desmond Trufant to illustrate what “open” looks like at the professional level.
When I first began evaluating NFL prospects, didn’t know anyone with NFL connections or experience. However, it only made sense that I use the players “who got there” as the template for the players I was studying who “wanted to get there.”
I’m often asked about the differences between college football and the NFL. One of the best ways to illustrate that difference is a simple example from the passing game. When you’re having a conversation with someone about football who asks, you can use this, too.
Ask them what “open” looks like for a receiver in the college game. Generally, that player has at least 1-2 steps on the defender in coverage. If they are “wide open,” that receiver has at least 3-4 steps if not an entire swath of land that they seemingly could build a house on before the defender gets within the same camera shot as them.
In the NFL, “wide-open,” is having 1-2 steps on the defender. “Open” is being even with the defender but in a superior position. Big difference, isn’t it.
Here’s Marvin Jones open against Desmond Trufant. You’ll notice how fast Trufant closes on the ball and by the time the ball arrives, Jones is making the play with Trufant facing him with arm around his waist and a hand on the ball.
What made Jone open was the position at the top of the stem, this is when the quarterback must decide when to release the ball. The rest is trust in the receiver winning it. This standard of “open” in the NFL requires anticipation. The college game often allows a successful quarterback to get away with seeing the receiver coming open on the break before releasing it.
It’s a different world on Sundays.
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