At one point during the NFL Draft build-up that has consumed Tajh Boyd's public life since leaving Miami Gardens, Fla., the site of the Clemson Tigers' Orange Bowl victory over Ohio State in January, he stood at a standard dry-erase board and asked for advice. He felt he needed a better understanding of NFL coverages. His quarterbacks coach, Ken Mastrole, a former college quarterback at Maryland and Rhode Island, sketched out a coverage scheme on the board. Boyd looked confused. Mastrole, who worked with the first quarterback taken in the 2013 draft, Florida State's E.J. Manuel, may have thought he'd stumped his 6-foot-1 pupil who broke every major Clemson passing record in his five years on campus. But Boyd's confusion did not stem from a lack of comprehension on how to attack the devised coverage but rather because he didn't understand why the supposed complexity of the NFL defense was not, in his eyes, all that complex. "What are you talking about?" Boyd asked Mastrole. "It's right there." He still says he gets it, that he's ready. It's all right there for Boyd. He's just a month away from hearing his name called in the NFL Draft, the football dream come to life. He's almost finished with the event's build-up -- referred to endlessly as "the process" -- and there are parts he's enjoyed, others he'd prefer to tune out. His detractors consistently return to his days at Clemson, regularly ignoring statistics and accolades and focusing in on the age-old checklist items: size, physical tools and how will offensive coordinator Chad Morris' offensive schemes and reads translate on the next level. A few years ago, the Tigers' high-scoring attack, which relies on pace (81.5 plays per game in 2013), quick reads and putting its best players in space, might have been considered "gimmick", but even with the evolution of the read-option and the blurring lines between NFL and college playbooks, there's still the matter of translation. How will Boyd adjust? How does he project? Can he go through his progressions, finding the third and fourth options, at an acceptable rate? Did Morris' system prepare him for the quick decision-making that is absolutely vital at the sports' highest level? Boyd has heard every question -- at the NFL Combine, in media interviews, reading newspaper clippings -- and that line of thinking led him to ask Mastrole to draw something up on that board. But he understood it; he believes that he eventually will grasp everything thrown his way.
Clemson's Boyd preps for scheme, leadership challenges at NFL level
Fox Sports South | Apr 22