When the Washington Redskins snagged Terry McLaurin in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, they believed they landed an overlooked gem.
Roughly six months later, McLaurin may already be one of the most polished wide receivers in the league.
McLaurin's razor-sharp route running, meticulous attention to detail, and genius-level football IQ have earned him rave reviews from Redskins coaches and teammates.
He's already totaled 408 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns so far this season and he's on pace to become just the 21st rookie since 1950 to break the 1,000-yard receiving mark.
As we detailed in our Path to the Pros feature on McLaurin, his career at Ohio State was defined by an insatiable hunger for improvement. His mindset of getting just a little bit better each day took him from a member of the scout team to a two-time team captain.
Ahead of his redshirt senior year at Ohio State, McLaurin worked with Buckeyes receivers coach and former NFL pro Brian Hartline to innovate a new series of drills that enhanced his ability to win contested coaches.
While many high-level receivers spend countless hours catching balls off a JUGS machine, McLaurin wanted to make that type of training more realistic.
He begin adding a stand-up bag to his JUGS machine drills to simulate a pesky defender. The bag itself was about as tall as McLaurin:
HOW ARE YOU IMPROVING TODAY?
The difference this morning between "just catching balls" and Training with a Purpose is WANT TO...but the difference next Fall will be 6 points.. make the investment! #1%Better #BeDifferent pic.twitter.com/oOIe5u8qI1
— Keenan Bailey (@CoachKee) February 5, 2019
"You want to create drills that make you uncomfortable," McLaurin told STACK in February.
"You notice in football, more and more, how many times do you catch the ball that cleanly? Just no obstruction, nobody hanging on you, no arms in your face?…There's probably 20 different drills you can do just with that bag."
"I worked those drills probably 3-4 times a week along with catching footballs and running routes. That's all I did last year, and I feel like I probably made the biggest jump."
A chart inside the Ohio State facility showed that McLaurin caught 3,500 balls last offseason, more than any other OSU receiver. He details his dialed-in training at the 5:00 mark of the below video:
"We try to take specific events or opportunities in-game and recreate them in drill work. And that's essentially it. A lot of dialog goes into it, we communicate a lot with our players. The best feedback you can ever get is talking to your players. 'What did you like? What didn't you like? Did you like this drill? If you didn't, why not? If you liked it, why'd you like it?' Then you enhance from there," Hartline told STACK.
"So we take a lot of pride in our drill work here at Ohio State and if something's not working or we're not seeing a lot of it, well, guess what, we don't do it a lot."
Young receivers would be wise to consider ways they can make monotonous drill work more realistic and more challenging. As McLaurin continues to prove, athletes tend to play how they practice.
Photo Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images
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