SCHOOLED with "The Professor" John Clayton

Can't get enough of the NFL? Get Schooled with “The Professor” John Clayton. Each week, 710 ESPN Seattle’s human database dives deep into a particular subject in and around the National Football League. In-depth analysis. Player interviews. Stories from a Football Hall of Fame career. Further your football education with new episodes each Thursday.
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SCHOOLED with "The Professor" John Clayton




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May 9, 2018

Matt Ryan became the first $30 million player in the NFL. Aaron Rodgers should be next. But what about Russell Wilson?

On SCHOOLED with The Professor, John Clayton talks with Joel Corry, a former agent who studies contracts and the salary cap like no other as a writer for And his thoughts might surprise you!

He talks about the possibility of Wilson playing out two years on the franchise tag similar to what Kirk Cousins did with the Washington Redskins. He makes a bold forecast on how Wilson might be able to top an Aaron Rodgers deal while discussing the challenges of getting quarterback contracts done in the salary cap era. Finally, they get into the salary cap, the future of negotiations in the league and little bit of about what might change in the next collective bargaining agreement.

May 2, 2018

Al Smith was a top middle linebacker when he played for the Houston Oilers. His style of play resembled Seahawks middle linebacker Bobby Wagner - interesting considering they both played at Utah State!

Al Smith joins us on Schooled with the Professor to talk about several things. Smith made a successful transition from player to front office executive. He talks about how difficult it is for former players to get the opportunity to work with teams, but he also talks about the successes of Ozzie Newsome, John Elway and others. Smith discusses how his leadership on the field gave him an edge to work in the front office.

Pick up Al's book "Think Like a Pro, Act Like a Pro" wherever books are sold.

Apr 25, 2018

Devin Hester announced his retirement on Monday by signing a one day contract with the Chicago Bears. He was clearly the best returner in his generation and may have been the best in NFL history. Many feel if there is a place for a returner in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, there should be a gold jacket waiting for him. But the timing of his retirement is interesting.

The NFL is holding a two-day summit in New York City to discuss the possibility of eliminating the kickoff return. Hester joins us on SCHOOLED with the Professor to get his thoughts on that possible change. Naturally, he doesn't like it, believing it takes too much excitement out of the game.

But here on the podcast, Hester goes into even more depth on what this could do to change the game. He discusses how it would take away so much of the value of great special teams players, the coverage guys who make a living trying to stop great returns and those blockers on returns who open lanes for the returner. He talks about the impact on kickers, and digs deep into what the returns meant for his Bears teams and how the mentality was to take the return and put the ball in position for the quarterback to be one first down away from setting up a score.

He had 19 returns for touchdowns during his career and those plays were electrifying. If the league goes away from kickoffs, fans would be missing some of the great excitement created by Hester.

Apr 18, 2018

Gil Brandt was the Vice President of Player Personnel for the Cowboys for almost 30 years, and is now a senior analyst for overseeing which players the NFL invites to draft night.

Gil says this is one of the most unique drafts ever because there is no real consensus as to who the top six picks should be.

He also explains how the approach to the NFL draft has changed, why Shaquem Griffin is his favorite invite ever, and some new things the NFL is doing to reward some of the draftees high school coaches. This week on SCHOOLED with The Professor!

Apr 11, 2018

Jordan Palmer was a long-time NFL backup, spending five years studying under his brother NFL QB Carson Palmer. He is now training quarterbacks for the upcoming NFL draft including the top two QB prospects Sam Darnold and Josh Allen.

On this week's SCHOOLED with The Professor, Jordan describes how he picks the quarterbacks and what he does with them in the long prep before the draft. Palmer gets into what makes Sam Darnold tick, the unique arm of Josh Allen (perhaps the best he's ever seen!), and the USC workout in which Darnold vetoed the idea of moving inside because it was a rainy day in Southern California. Darnold wanted to work to show he can be a Cleveland Brown and the first pick in the draft. Palmer also discusses the comparables and upside of Josh Allen.

If you are getting ready for the draft, you need to hear Palmer talk about two of the top four quarterbacks.

Mar 28, 2018
NFL Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian on the Alliance of American Football: an alternative football league scheduled to begin next February after the Super Bowl.
One of the biggest voids in pro football is the lack of a developmental league. Well, there might be good news on that front. Bill Polian joins us on SCHOOLED with the Professor to talk about a candidate to be the complementary league of the future.
Polian remains an analyst at ESPN, but over the past year, he has been working with Alliance of American Football. After quietly working on the project, the news recently broke about the Alliance. It’s going to be an eight-team spring league based in the South, and games will air on CBS. The league is in the process of hiring coaches, and they have the wherewithal to get good ones. Polian explains some of the details of the league and the need to develop more players. Bill gives a detailed evaluation of how this could get some of the best players on the street into the NFL to be productive players on this week’s SCHOOLED.
Mar 21, 2018

Going back to Pittsburgh over the weekend and being surprised to find out my hometown, Braddock, PA, named Sunday, March 18th after me put me in nostalgic mood for Schooled with The Professor. That’s why we reached out to former NFL quarterback Charlie Batch.

Batch played for the Detroit Lions and Pittsburgh Steelers, but he grew up in Homestead, PA, a steel mill town just across the river from Braddock. With the downturn in the steel industry, both towns had major drop-offs in business. Both were tough towns.

When I was going up in the 1960s, Braddock and Homestead thrived with businesses. That isn’t the case now, but that’s why we talked to Batch. He is developing businesses and opportunities in Homestead with his foundations. Batch is also working on scientific evaluations tools for football injuries for colleges and pro teams.

Mar 14, 2018

Quarterbacks are in the news both in free agency and the draft. On SCHOOLED with the Professor, we caught up with former NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski.

Gradkowski is getting into broadcasting and scouting after his NFL career. He offers great perspective and opinions on the current state of quarterbacks in the NFL and also what’s ahead in the draft. He studied the current group of first-round picks and offers insight on whom he thinks could have promising NFL career.

We also talk about how the big contracts given to quarterbacks impact the game and the value of quarterbacks currently. With quarterbacks being such a big topic, it was a good time to catch up with an educated student of the QB position.

Mar 8, 2018

The salary cap number was announced this week: $177.2 million. And teams have to be under the cap by March 14.

On SCHOOLED with the Professor, we talked to cap expert Andrew Brandt. When the salary cap started, Brandt was an agent. He then spent almost a decade as the Green Bay Packers capologist and now writes about the salary cap for MMQB and The Athletic.

We go through the history of the salary cap and talk about how it has evolved. Brandt talks about how the league changed for negotiations in 2011 when the NFL and NFLPA agreed to have a lower paying wage pool for rookies.

Learn about the salary cap this week on SCHOOLED!

Mar 1, 2018

On this week's SCHOOLED, National scout and General Manager of Ourlads' NFL Scouting Services Dan Shonka breaks down the combine and NFL draft prospects with our one and only Professor John Clayton.

Dan shares his analysis of the top quarterback prospects, his favorite running backs in what he says is a loaded class, and the weakest position group in this year's draft.

Feb 22, 2018
Last week the NFL made a major announcement that didn't get as much attention as it should. The league announced that all 32 teams will be receiving full analytics reports from Zebra, the Illinois based company that puts tracking devices on players and the football.
John Pollard, who lives in Seattle, joins us on SCHOOLED with The Professor to talk about the advanced science of scouting. With the chips on the players' uniforms and in the football, Zebra can do analytical reports on every position. It can determine if a player is slowing down with fatigue. It can study the breakaway speed of a receiver. It can evaluate so many things about a quarterback. Pollard, for example, goes in depth discussing Russell Wilson. Though the tracking system, Zebra determined how Wilson buys more time in the backfield to run around and gains more than three seconds a play before he releases the ball. Zebra also illustrates how precise Wilson is throwing the ball and how far he throws it down the field. Pollard discussed the improvement of Paul Richardson and pointed out the analytics of how he became a play-maker as a receiver. This science is revolutionary, and John Pollard takes us through what will be a fascinating time for scouting and player and team evaluation.
Feb 15, 2018

Quarterbacks are in the news in the NFL: Alex Smith was traded to the Washington Redskins. Kirk Cousins is a free agent. Patrick Mahomes takes over the Kansas City Chiefs. Jimmy Garoppolo signs a $137.5 million contract with the San Francisco 49ers.

With so many quarterback topics making headlines, we went to Joe Theismann, former Redskins quarterback, to get his opinions on the quarterback position in the NFL. Theismann likes the Smith trade and believes he fits in well in Jay Gruden's offense. He's really looking forward to see what happens to Cousins in free agency.

Theismann is a big fan of Russell Wilson and spends plenty of time talking about Wilson's virtues and how Brian Schottenheimer will do as his offensive coordinator. Theismann is a big fan of players who love the game, and believes Wilson loves it as much as anyone he's ever run across. He also talks about some of the creative things young coaches are doing with their offenses.

Feb 1, 2018

Today on SCHOOLED with the Professor, Lesley Visser joins John Clayton live in Minneapolis to discuss her new book "Sometimes You Have To Cross When It Says Walk."

Lesley is the only woman enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and shares her experiences being one of the pioneers of women in sports broadcasting, shares some great work stories about John Madden and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and she and The Professor make their Super Bowl picks!

Jan 25, 2018

Offensive line is a big topic these days. The Seahawks changed offensive line coaches, going from Tom Cable to Mike Solari. Next week, Kevin Mawae and Steve Hutchinson are in the final 15 for voting in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Howard Mudd, a legend among offensive line coaches, joins us on SCHOOLED with the Professor, to take about the current state of the offensive line in the NFL. He didn’t waste time getting into the Seahawks offensive line, and raves about the hiring of Mike Solari.

Solari executes a theme that Mudd followed through his years of coaching. Mudd says it’s the job of the offensive line coach to get the job done regardless of the talent. He stressed technique. Mudd details how Solari improved a troubled New York Giants offensive line last season.

Mudd talks about how unique he was in his coaching and how he tried to adapt to the talent he was given. He also gives an overview of what he sees about the trends of offensive line blocking in the NFL.

Jan 11, 2018

Everson Walls played 13 seasons at cornerback in the NFL for the Cowboys, Giants, and Browns. Walls led the NFL with 11 interceptions as a rookie in 1981, which still stands as the most by a first-year player in NFL history. Walls is also the only cornerback in NFL history to lead the league in interceptions 3 different times. He is one of 15 finalists for the 2018 NFL Hall of Fame in his 20th and final year of eligibility. Walls discusses how much the game has changed, how much he hates "diva" wide receivers, and asks the Professor to get up there and "preach" to get him into the HOF on this week's episode of SCHOOLED with the Professor.

Jan 4, 2018

One of the things the NFL has been watching is the development of wide receivers. Wide receivers have been getting bigger and better through the years. Herman Moore, one of the big receivers who started that trend, joins us on Schooled with the Professor to discuss the development of the receivers. He talks about the changes in offenses over the years. The NFL is a quarterback driven league but the receivers are gaining more stature. Moore talks about how offenses have grown and developed. He also talks about some of the top receivers in football on SCHOOLED.