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.

Dec 21, 2017

Eric Dickerson stood along the Los Angeles Rams sidelines during the 42-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Even though he played in Indianapolis during his career, Dickerson was cold. He was shivering. But he looked like a proud father looking at a Rams team he was so happy to get back to Los Angeles.

On SCHOOLED with the Professor, Dickerson talks about how the Rams have bounced back from a horrible first year in Los Angeles. Dickerson opens up about his struggles with the Rams front office last year. Disappointed with an offense that he thought had the design of a high-school offense, Dickerson was critical. The team told him they didn’t want him along the sidelines anymore while Jeff Fisher was the coach. Fisher lost his job.

Sean McVay has brought one of the most exciting offense into the league since the St. Louis Rams when they were "The Greatest Show on Turf." Dickerson also talks about the current state of running backs and how different it was when he was having his Hall of Fame career.

Dec 14, 2017

The Los Angeles Rams come to Seattle on Sunday to determine which team is going to win the NFC West. Get ready for the game with a history lesson from a player and coach who has been on both sides as SCHOOLED with The Professor catches up with Nolan Cromwell.

Nolan is a former Rams defensive back who made the league’s all decade team. He’s been an assistant coach twice with the Rams, and also coached in Seattle on Mike Holmgren's staff.

Cromwell starts by discussing the buildup of the Rams. He goes into great detail into how good Sean McVay is as a coach. In Green Bay, he coached on a staff with Jon Gruden as an assistant. Nolan makes the comparisons.

He gives an evaluation of the Seahawks and where they are. Russell Wilson has many comparisons to Fran Tarkenton. His opinions are interesting because he gives the specifics of how they play and how tough they were to stop.

Dec 7, 2017

This week on SCHOOLED with the Professor former NFL cornerback Ronde Barber (now a semi-finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame and an analyst for Fox) educates us on pass coverage in the NFL.

Ronde talks about how the Tampa Bay Buccaneers two-deep zone defense worked under Tony Dungy. He details how the Cover Two has morphed into the Cover One, Cover Three defense used by the Seahawks and several teams in NFL. And he goes into the evolution of the cornerback position back when he played and where it is now.

Nov 30, 2017

The Seahawks/Eagles game is scheduled for prime time Sunday, so we're going prime time with former Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. You can hear Donovan on ESPN Radio every Sunday starting at 9 PST.

On this week's SCHOOLED, Donovan goes in depth describing how Andy Reid coached him into being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. He breaks down the rapid rise of Carson Wentz, talks about the differences in the current offenses from when he played, details how more trickery is involved with the play calling, and talks about the play of Russell Wilson.

He also breaks down the benching of Eli Manning, the future of Kirk Cousins and what he thinks about Dak Prescott in his second season.

Nov 23, 2017

With Apple Cup Week here, it was a great time to catch up with former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf on Schooled with the Professor.

Leaf was the perfect Cougar to discuss the Cougar-Huskies rivalry. He remembered his first start being against the Huskies in 1995. In great detail he takes us through the three-year process of getting the Cougars to the point in which they could beat the Huskies. In 1997, the Cougars, with Leaf at quarterback, beat the Huskies and won the PAC-10 title and a trip to the Rose Bowl.

Leaf gives a great scouting report about Luke Faulk, whom he respects for his toughness and leadership. Ryan gives an incredible breakdown of the differences of the offense he ran for Mike Price and what Mike Price is going with the Air Raid in Washington State. Leaf also told us he might have better served himself by staying at Washington State for one more year as opposed to turning pro early. 

Nov 16, 2017

This SCHOOLED with the Professor, we're going old school: the evolution of quarterbacks with veteran sportswriter and winner of more than 250 journalism awards Lew Freedman.

Lew is publishing a book that comes out December 15 that does a great job of discussing the history of passing offenses in the NFL. "Baugh to Brady: The Evolution of the Forward Pass" is going to be a must read.

What I respect is Lew’s great feel for the history of passing offenses and each stage of quarterback’s development. Sammy Baugh was the first true passing star in this NFL. Freedman talks about how he opened the eyes of NFL coaches that a quarterback can do more than just make handoffs. Baugh had great throwing skills and was probably two decades ahead of the league. Freedman takes us through the year. He talked about how Johnny Unitas set up the look of current NFL passing offense. He talks about how the 49ers and the quarterbacks of the 1980 moved the sport more to passing. We get into a discussion about current passing offenses.

Nov 9, 2017

I have the fortune to be the main fill-in on Movin’ The Chains on Sirius XM NFL radio with is hosted by Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan. With the NFL at mid-season, it was a perfect time to catch up with Pat and discuss the trends of the league.

Kirwan remains high on the Seahawks chances of winning the NFC West even though he has plenty of great things to say about the Los Angeles Rams. On SCHOOLED, we discussed the problems with offensive lines in the NFL this season. He went into great detail to identify why scoring is down in the league and the problems offenses are having. We talked about the dropoff a team has going from a good quarterback who is injured to a backup. Kirwan offered some great suggestions to improve the quality of play.

Nov 1, 2017

Dr. David Chao is one of the best injury experts around the National Football League. Former team doctor for the Chargers, Chao breaks down NFL injuries as they happen. He joins me on Schooled with the Professor to discuss the current state of injuries in the NFL.

Chao explains how he watches games and then replays times when a player gets injuries. Not only can he pinpoint the injury but he can determine the length of time the player might be out. That’s huge for fantasy players, but the information is vital for all fans.

Chao goes in depth on how the studies the tape. He’s about 90 to 95 percent accurate on his conclusions. We’ll discuss some of the top injury trends in the league on Schooled with the Professor.

Oct 30, 2017

On Schooled with the Professor, mid-season is a great time to catch up on trends and what is happening on the field. That’s why it is a great time to catch up with Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network.

Jeremiah is one of the best in studying drafts. We took that information from the past couple draft and how they have played into this season. We talked about the difficulty of developing offensive linemen, and both agreed that more than two thirds of the league have offensive line problems.

Jeremiah talked about how great the current rookie class of cornerbacks is and how quickly they are making impacts on teams. Shaquille Griffin of the Seahawks is a classic example. We talked about how the NFL is on a great cycle of getting good, young running backs and how they are impacting the older running backs in the leagues. Trends. Analysis. A look ahead of next year’s draft. Great stuff on Schooled with the Professor.

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