It happens all the time. Rookies come into the league and spend a few years relying on pure ability and natural talent before figuring out “what it means to be a pro”. Then, you hear them say things like:
“I think I could’ve done some things differently, It didn’t go the way I was thinking it would go. There are a lot of things that go into being a pro. It’s taking care of the small things and sacrificing things. It’s bigger than people understand. There are a lot of layers to this whole professional football league. Things I didn’t focus on as far as fundamentals and the little things were the key problem I had during my rookie season.”
“I’ve got to accept the fact I messed up. I wasn’t on my Ps and Qs. I can’t let that happen again. It’s like when you touch a hot stove when you’re a little kid. I’m not going to do that again. I’m more mentally into it this year. I go home and study a lot now. I spend extra time with coaches after practice. In meeting rooms, actually paying attention. Last year, just a mess-up on my part. But this year, I’m making sure I don’t have that same downfall.”
“I feel like in college, a lot of guys just go out there and just try to play and not really understand the game. In the NFL, it’s a mental game. Once you start understanding the game mentally and paying attention to the splits, route concepts and offensive coordinators favorite things to do in certain situations, that’s really when you become a great player.”
Those first two quotes came from guys who were picked in the top two rounds, still have yet to put it together in the league, and have widely been considered busts; Robert Nkemdiche and Cody Latimer.
The last quote comes from Denver’s own Bradley Roby who admitted to coming in not recognizing the importance of film study and mental preparation. Fortunately, he had mentors to show him the ropes.
“The biggest thing I learned from him (Talib) was just studying,” Roby said. “Really learning how to study film, watching tape. Knowing tendencies and things like that. He taught me how to be a pro studying-wise. A lot of people see all the outside stuff that happens with him, but he’s a Hall of Fame guy, and it’s for a reason. It’s because he puts in a lot of work, he’s put in a lot of work, a lot of study time. Just being a young guy watching that, I would be dumb not to pick up [those habits].”
“Just watching a lot of film. I’ve learned from Aqib and Chris [Harris Jr.] that film is everything, and I’m just watching and critiquing myself, critiquing the defense, looking at offensive schemes and stuff like that. I think that is the biggest thing, for me.”
Which leads us to incoming rookie DaeSean Hamilton. Hamilton met the media for the first time as a member of the Denver Broncos at Rookie Mini-camp on Friday, and I really liked what I heard from him.
DaeSean Hamilton said he wants to watch some footage of Adam Thielen, because of Thielen’s success working with Case Keenum and also what Thielen did working inside and outside.— Andrew Mason (@MaseDenver) May 11, 2018
Hamilton is already talking about studying players’ tape to break it down and learn their game; particularly his teammate, Emmanuel Sanders.
“Actually, I just asked the video guys here with the Broncos to put a lot of Emmanuel Sanders’ tape on my I-Pad specifically so that I can just watch and learn,” Hamilton said. “By the time I get on the field with him and a lot of other vets like Demaryius Thomas and a lot of the other guys, I can really just go in and have questions and learn as much as I possibly can from them.”
It sounds like Sanders is all for that and is ready to pass on his knowledge his young teammates.
“I’m going to teach those guys everything that I know,” Sanders said. “That’s my job. You see a lot of these cats, when they get up in age, they kind of shy away from the rookies. I will never, ever be that type of receiver that says, ‘No, I’m not going to teach this guy.’ I’m going to teach you everything that I can possibly do.”
I know it’s just talk right now until we see him on the field, but Hamilton has the right attitude coming in as a rookie and already seems to “get it” when it comes to his mindset and being focused on the little things.
“Really just attention to detail I’d say,” Hamilton added. “Like you guys noted, really my route running is something I take pride in. As long as I carry that same mentality and I’m paying attention to all of the little details and I’m really precise, I think that will be a key component to being successful.”
Hamilton has a similar game to Sanders, in that he is a precise route runner and is technical to gain separation. It’s clear from his tape in college and performance at the Senior Bowl the attention to detail he puts into his game and how focusing on the little things make him successful.
Check out this breakdown of the kind of nuance that Hamilton already possesses.
It’s fun to see rookies come in really locked in on the mental aspect of their position. Those are the kinds of guys that make immediate impacts, and won’t be looking back at their rookie year wishing they would have studied more.
I don’t think DaeSean Hamilton will have to worry about that.