The Green Bay Packers recently held a workout with an athlete from Duke University. The idea that a NFL team is spending its valuable pre-draft time working out any player from Duke is notable enough on its own. The Blue Devils have had just three players drafted in the last decade and not since Sonny Jurgensen and Mike Curtis have they produced a football player who succeeded at the highest level. So if it seems like a waste of time on the face of things, what does it seem like when you find out the player is Greg Paulus, who played basketball and not football at Duke?
Paulus does have some football bona fides. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in his senior year of high school as a quarterback in Syracuse, New York. He passed up scholarships from Notre Dame and Penn State, among others, to play point guard for Coach K, something that worked out so well that Paulus spent his senior season on the bench. His trip to the bench was spurred in no small part by his limited athleticism, which turned him into a player whose sole skill was trying draw charges from players dunking over him.
If ACC players were too fast and too strong for Paulus, one can only imagine how well he'd do escaping from the likes of Jared Allen. With the advent of the Wildcat offense, perhaps the idea is that he could be a runner but, again, the athleticism makes that hard to believe. It also rules out the chance that he could switch to wide receiver or defensive back, which makes the whole thing a gigantic head-scratcher of a move by Thompson.
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One last thing, because it strikes at the heart of the way NFL teams evaluate draft prospects. At the scouting combine and in myriad interviews, teams ask players about all manners of things related and unrelated to the game of football. Many of those questions are designed to uncover a player's passion for the sport, something that would indicate how hard they'll work throughout their career.
Paulus chose basketball over football, when he had a serious chance at playing for an elite football program where he could also play basketball. While you can't begrudge a man's choice to follow his dream, shouldn't that be a pretty major red flag when you're worried about guys who have devoted their whole lives to pursuing a professional football career? Now, word is that other teams want to interview Paulus, and the whole story is starting to take on Emperor's New Clothes dimensions.
It's probably a bit silly to get worked up over one workout, but you'd think that Kurt Warner leading another team to the Super Bowl might remind football executives that they should dig a little deeper with actual quarterbacks before they start turning over rocks that don't need to be turned over in search of the next big thing.