DraftAnalyst Q&A: Kutztown's Jordan Morgan
Chris TripodiDraft Analyst Writer
A four-year starter at Division II Kutztown University, offensive tackle Jordan Morgan became the first Golden Bear to win the Gene Upshaw award with a productive senior season that put him on the NFL Draft radar. Chris Tripodi talked with the Philadelphia native about measurements, being invited to the Senior Bowl and more.
Tripodi: For some reason scouts totally ignored you entering the season, as few graded you off of junior timing day. Did you participate in junior timing day last March/April?
Morgan: I did some stuff, but I don’t blame people for overlooking me back then. Just looking at the jump I’ve made from then to now has been tremendous, and moving forward that’s something I want to continue to do.
Q: Do you remember your specific marks, particularly height, weight and 40 time?
A: I think I came in at 6-3 ¾, 305 pounds, ran a 5.2 and my arm length was 33-¾ inches. Right now I’m 320 -- just figuring out the right weight I need to be to maximize my game, have an athletic build and gain the weight without becoming too slow or sluggish. We ran a 40 in the beginning of camp and I ran at 4.9. The whole dilemma about my 40 time is not that I’m slow, but my form. I’m a quicker lineman, but from a technical perspective I was never taught how to run in the drill -- I just showed up and ran. I didn’t really know what I was doing.
Q: What is your true height and weight?
A: 6-3 ¾ and 320.
Q: To what or whom do you credit your improved performance this season?
A: I would credit my jump to my position coach [Corey Woods] and my teammates. They knew that I wanted to take a shot at the next level so everybody just worked with me, whether on the field or in the weight room or the film room just helping me to develop as quickly as I can to get to where I wanted to be. I just had great influences and people who didn’t take me lightly -- they worked with me, they were hard on me and they forced me to become a better player.
Q: Our leading draft expert Tony Pauline loves your upside and believes you could develop into a starter in the NFL. He also feels you need to improve your fundamentals, block with better knee bend and be quicker with your hands. Do you agree with this criticism? Have you heard this before?
A: Some of it I’ve definitely heard before. I feel like criticism is something that helps you be a better player. When I hear stuff like that, I know it’s something I need to keep in mind and pay attention to. Yes I have all these accolades but I’m not the player I want to be, and I’m confident that when I’m met with the right resources I’ll be able to improve on all that stuff.
Q: After winning the Gene Upshaw Award, you’re the first offensive lineman in PSAC history to win an athlete of the year award. What does that honor mean to you?
A: It’s actually kind of funny because when I saw somebody got the award, I saw their name was Jordan -- there’s more than one -- and I wondered who got it. Then I clicked the link, saw the picture of me and thought it was crazy. It’s definitely cool to think I made history here; it’s definitely not something I could have seen. I’m just out there trying to be the best player I can be, not thinking about awards; I don’t have control over that. Just seeing it, it’s cool that people notice what I’m doing and they’re impressed and think I have potential. It’s cool to know people are watching, especially as linemen; people don’t necessarily watch us, so it was cool knowing people were paying attention to me.
Q: Talk about your journey, from playing just one year of high-school football to starting every game of your college career at left tackle, winning awards and garnering national attention on your way to the Senior Bowl?
A: I played about five games in high school and originally didn’t think I would go to college. Kutztown came to my high school recruiting other players, and they asked me if I wanted to walk on. I didn’t feel any type of way, I didn’t have film. When I sat down with the head coach he told me I had to prove myself, and I didn’t mind because I’m not afraid of hard work. When I saw I could pursue a degree and play the game I love at the same time, I thought it was a good idea. As time goes on, you get better and get an idea of what you need and don’t need; it’s a matter of building that resume and learning what you need to get better to play at a higher level. That’s been my thought process my whole career -- how can I get better every way. I want to be a dominant player. Every year seeing progress is a motivating factor. I’ve been training so long, and when you’re out there on game day and see the results it’s even better. I like what I did with my career, but at the same time I wish there were some games I could get back, just knowing I could’ve played at a higher level for one reason or another. For the most part I gave it my all, so I’m not displeased with what I’ve done.
Q: When you say you wish you could have some games back, do you have specific examples?
A: I would say there were games where there’d be a series of a few plays where I’m so focused on technique that I’m not firing off the ball like I started to do later in my career. Even with technique you still want to be an explosive player; when I was young I'd play explosive and didn’t have technique, then I needed technique but I’d be a little slower. It was a lesson that took me time to understand, and there were games this year I’d have played better if I trusted my technique and exploded off the ball rather than being so anal about my first two steps off the ball and hand placement.
Q: What parts of your game are you specifically looking to improve?
A: Some big things I want to improve on are my hand placement, pad level and just playing fast all the time. There are some times where I feel as if I’m not playing as fast as I normally could because I can get away with stuff at a different level of competition. Heading into Senior Bowl, my whole goal is developing consistency; my whole second half of the season that’s what I was about -- consistency and playing with minimal mistakes so when my time comes and I can show what I got, people can say, ‘Hey, this guy surprised us and played way better than we thought he would.’
Q: Obviously the Senior Bowl invite is huge for a small school guy. Two years ago, D-III Hobart’s Ali Marpet attended the Senior Bowl and was the best offensive lineman on the field, landing him in the second round. Are you familiar with his story?
A: Yes I am; I definitely think there are similarities -- we were both small-school guys and some teams probably look at you and think you can be something down the road, but you have to prove yourself on the stage first. Seeing players like him do something like that is an inspiration; it’s something you have to go into being confident. I believe I can play with the best of them -- it’s just a matter of getting to show it with everybody else.
Q: The last Kutztown player to play in the Senior Bowl was John Mobley, a 1996 first-round pick of the Broncos. Have you had any interaction with him?
A: To a degree -- there was one of our games he came back to. I spoke to him before and we hung out after and spoke for a long time, and I got his number to reach out to him whenever I need words of advice or how to handle certain situations. The biggest thing he was telling me is it’s one of those situations where you have to believe in yourself and give it all you’ve got, because that’s what ultimately will put you in the positon you need to be in.
Q: What teams have been out to camps to scout you?
A: All 32 teams have been out to our practices or games on multiple occasions. I’ve spoken with all of them at this point, and the big thing that everybody is saying is they can’t wait to see me at the Senior Bowl. A lot of teams have opinions about me, but the Senior Bowl is going to be the deciding factor on where I stand.
Q: Have you spoken directly to any NFL scouts recently and if so, what did they tell you?
A: Lately it hasn’t been as much of what I need to improve on, but things they think I have going for me -- the intangibles. It’s just a matter of really showcasing those when I’m out there. The Eagles called me about a week ago just complimenting me on how naturally explosive I am, my ability to bend and move and how big I am. Right now I’m 320 but I don’t look it; I’m slimmer than most bigger guys. They're just saying these are things they’re scouting me on and they want to see more at the Senior Bowl and do the same things I do against some of the best players in the nation.
Q: What kind of feeling does the recognition of being named to the Senior Bowl give you?
A: It’s indescribable. Coming into the season I’d never imagine I’d receive an invite. Now knowing I did and that people want to see what I can do, I’m ecstatic to get after it. After the season ended I went right into the weight room and back on the field; I’m just ready to get after it. Regardless of what happens, I’m going to make the most of my experience and give every snap my all. I get a chance to play the game I love in front of potential employers; it doesn’t get much better than that.