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Fordham's Skelton Adjusting to New Life in the NFL
Now that all of John Skelton’s student assignments at Fordham are finished, quarterback who was drafted into the NFL has just graduation left.
“I’m ready to go. I had a great four years,” Skelton told The Post. “But college can’t last forever.”
Neither will the NFL. But Skelton already has begun his pro career, having been drafted two weeks ago by the Arizona Cardinals with the 24th pick in the fifth round. The 22-year-old quarterback’s life is different now from what his friends are doing – and still completely different from what some of his new teammates are doing.
So far Skelton has gone through a three-day Cardinals mini-camp, been on the field with Larry Fitzgerald (though he hasn’t thrown any passes to the All-Pro wideout) and impressed his new coach. Cardinals passing game coordinator Mike Miller said Skelton needs to get more comfortable being under center and improve his footwork. But the coach says: “We were excited with his progress.”
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How good do the Cardinals and Miller think Skelton can be? Miller revealed that Ben Roethlisberger is “probably a good comparison” – on the field – because the 6-foot-5 258-pound Skelton has skills similar to those of the 6-foot-5, 241-pound Steelers questerback.
“Big strong kid that has very good mobility, escapability from the pocket, he can make all the throws and he can create on the run,” Miller said.
Skelton will have to be patient. With Kurt Warner retired, Miller said Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson will battle for Arizona’s starting quarterback spot, insisting Skelton won’t be part of that derby in training camp. But in the future, the Cardinals view Skelton as an NFL starter.
Skelton also has much to learn. He had five practices with the Cardinals in mini-camp, and Fordham coach Tom Masella said when he spoke to Skelton afterwards, the player said, “Boy, that was a lot” in reference to the new terminology and the new offensive system. And Skelton admits he was lost.
“For those five practices, my head was spinning most of the time,” he said. “We had a meeting where we installed probably about 10 plays. And then we had practice right after that where we had to run those plays. And then we had another meeting after practice to review the practice we just had. And then we installed again and had to practice again.
“So it was kind of like being force-fed and then having to regurgitate everything.”
Skelton, who joins a team that has gone to the playoffs the last two years, will be here until going home to El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday. Then it’s on to Phoenix for another Cardinals camp on May 16 before coming back to Fordham for graduation.
Still, even here, Skelton is immersed in Cardinals football. This past Wednesday, even though he had a meeting with a Fordham professor and threw with Fordham’s quarterback and receivers, he also did a Cardinals-prescribed workout and studied his team playbook notes.
“I think I realized how much more of a business it is than I first thought,” Skelton said. “I knew it was going to be a job and I knew I was going to have to work at it. But I hear guys talking about, they’ve got to take their kids to school in the morning before practice. With me, all my friends are finishing up school and I’m over here working essentially.”
Fordham’s Skelton Adjusting to New Life in the NFL
Mark Hale, the New York Post