The obvious hiring trend last year during the NFL coaching cycle was teams targeting young coaches with a proven knack for developing quarterbacks to try and capture the lightning in a bottle that Sean McVay had been for the LA Rams.
This year, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer believes two college coaches might be solid targets for open NFL jobs – Iowa State’s Matt Campbell and Florida’s Dan Mullen.
One common thread between both those guys is their ability to get the most out of rosters that are largely believed to have less talent on them than opponents.
Iowa State isn’t landing blue chip prospects on the regular, and they’ve got to rely on their ability to evaluate prospects and then develop them to their full potential, all things that NFL front offices will appreciate greatly. Campbell is obviously a program builder that is highly regarded in coaching circles for doing things with integrity, and his players love him.
While at Mississippi State, Mullen impressed a lot of folks by taking the Starkville program to a #2 national ranking at one point in 2014 (the highest ranking in program history after knocking off #8 LSU, #6 Texas A&M, and #2 Auburn), and couple that with his experience developing quarterbacks like Alex Smith, Tim Tebow, and Dak Prescott, and there’s a lot for NFL teams to like. Now in his second season at Florida, Mullen has led the Gators to back-to-back double-digit win seasons.
Developing quarterbacks is something that the NFL has, and always will, put a high value on, so couple that with the trend of offensive innovation trending toward what college programs have been doing, and the offensive success Mullen’s team’s have traditionally had, and Mullen certainly deserves to be on the radar of NFL front offices.
Breer notes in closing that he doesn’t know that either will end up at the NFL level this time next year, and that Campbell actually turned down an opportunity to interview for the Jets last off season, but both certainly warrant a long, hard look if you’re running an NFL front office.
One other idea that Breer entertains is the notion that Chris Petersen may be ready for a jump to the NFL. Petersen announced his decision to step down after six seasons at Washington yesterday, and at 55 years old, Breer seems to think that after recharging for a year or two, Petersen could look at an NFL job. Petersen is a guy that the NFL has tried to get their hands on for years, and much like Mullen and Campbell, his ability to win with less heralded players coupled with his proven ability to build programs makes him another really intriguing option – likely not in this coaching cycle, but a year or two down the road seems more than logical.