FORT COLLINS, Colo. (CBS4) – Dave Baldwin was an assistant football coach at Colorado State University during the past three seasons and wound up as interim head coach of the Rams last December after Jim McElwain left the program.
Now he’s the offensive coordinator at Oregon State, and he took some time out recently to talk with CBS4 about Garrett Grayson, who is touted as one of the best quarterbacks available in this year’s NFL Draft.
Baldwin was the offensive coordinator during the three years that Grayson saw playing time for the Rams, and says he’s got all the tools to make it as a pro. Here are his responses to eight questions about Grayson.
1. What was your role in coaching Grayson in his college career?
I watched Garrett’s progress from a young sophomore as he got hurt to his junior year where he started to when he really pick it up to his fabulous senior year. I called the plays all three years.
2. Do you think Grayson will experience success in the NFL?
I do, because he’ll be in a familiar system with what he’s done at the college level of being able to point out (middle linebackers) and understand coverages and the rotations and where you throw the ball if it’s a certain coverage. Do you throw middle open and middle closed reads and be able to turn protections at the same time? The terminology will be different, but he’s gone through what it takes to get to that level. And he’s got the abilities. He’s got the arm strength and he’s got the foot speed in the pocket to make those things happen. As well, he’s got the desire to be good, which is the big importance, because if you don’t have the desire to film study and be good you can’t make it. I believe he has all those intangibles.
3. How does Grayson compare to other quarterbacks you’ve coached in your offensive systems throughout your career?
Well there’s two kids still playing. I was at Michigan State as a coordinator and we had Drew Stanton and Brian Hoyer. Hoyer started with the Cleveland Browns last year off and on and Stanton started late in the season for the Cardinals. Grayson is very cerebral, like those two. … You’ve got to be a bright kid and understand it. I think he’s got a better arm than one of them, and I think he’s more accurate than both of them, which is the key. I think you have to be an accurate passer, and because of his arm strength and his intangibles of smartness and accuracy I think he can make it just like those two and play up there for some period of time.
4. Where does Grayson rank in terms of the top players you’ve ever coached at any position?
He’s one of the top quarterbacks I’ve ever coached. I’ve had some first round draft choices –when I was a young receivers coach at San Jose State in Mark Nichols and Stacey Bailey. And I had a great running back at San Jose — Gerald Willhite. And there have been some other great players along the years, including Robert Turbin, a running back playing with the Seattle Seahawks.
5. Have you had many conversations with Grayson about going pro?
We’ve had discussions and we talked before he went on Jon Gruden’s QB Camp. … He and I have a good relationship and we understand that I can give him advice. But he’s become a man and he’s got to be able to take that now into his level of being able to prepare for everything he does, and he’s done a great job. … I’m proud of him and his progress.
6. What were Grayson’s top highlights in his college career?
Undoubtedly it was in his junior year in CSU’s Bowl game in New Mexico against Washington State in the second half. In the two minute drives — there’s not a single play there, but he completed 7 of 8 balls I believe and he was just accurate and had command of an offense as it went down to score the first time and then command to then go down and score again. There’s a play that we had thrown — we called it Caesar. It was an option for the inside receiver to break an out and the second receiver on a dig behind it and he had hit the out several times and there was coverage to hit the dig and he put it right on the money and it turned out to be a critical third down that got us a first down that enabled us a chance to win the game. Then this last year his last minute drive against Boston College he took us the length of the field and never panicked. On fourth down he got flushed out of the pocket and went through right away to his progression on the scramble and threw the quarter route to Chuck Lovett for a touchdown to win the game.
7. What part did Grayson play in turning CSU’s program around?
I truly believe players turn the program around. We (coaches) put a discipline in the system in and they bought into it. Grayson is one of the huge reasons that that team completely turned around. He bought into it. He figured out how to get it done, became the leader on offense. And anytime you throw for 4,000 yards that’s a huge turnaround. He and Tyler Sambrailo and the young receiver Rashard Higgins are also a huge part. But Grayson was the main lock in that turnaround.
8. For young college players with dreams of going pro, what are the qualities Garrett possesses that they can emulate?
The desire to be the best. If you don’t think you can be the best and you don’t believe that I think you’re going to have troubles down the line. You have to be able to say that I’m going to have the best fundamentals possible and work on those fundamentals. And then the work study off the field of film study and mechanics and all the things that come off the field — where Garrett is immensely improved — give you that opportunity. Peyton Manning is the biggest example about the film study and everything. Quarterback play is not about an individual, it’s about making the people around you better. And if you believe that — if you can tell the receiver his route, you can tell the offensive line their protection and you can verbally say it to immediately to everybody and you make them better — you’re a better quarterback.
The NFL Draft starts on Thursday evening and continues on Friday and Saturday. Grayson is projected in many mock drafts to be picked in the second or third round.