After rookie orientation, Schmitz will be thrown into the deep end in an open competition for a starting job at center.
“I think J is ready to go,” Boone said. “The one thing about it, as we were going through the rookie training, he was picking things up so fast and understanding things so well. The fact that he moves the way he does, one of the things is a lot of rookies come out and they just go through the motions. I say that because it’s not like they’re actually going anywhere when they’re run blocking or when they’re pass blocking [at the gym]. But with J-Mike, everything with him has a purpose.
“So, with him, we threw him in with the vets early, and they ended up loving him. Chris Reed (Vikings), Cordell Volson (Bengals), Lewis Kidd (Saints), Zach Johnson (Titans), they were like, ‘This kid is unbelievable.’ I was like, ‘I know, right?’ Every one of them loved working with him. Billy Turner (Jets) was talking to me like, ‘This kid is [coming].’ ‘Dude, you have no idea.'”
Unlike Schmitz, Boone entered the league as an undrafted prospect out of Ohio State. He fought tooth-and-nail for a roster spot and ultimately learned the difference between players who swam and those who sank. It started with the ability to “talk like a vet,” which is why his training focuses on teaching systems as much as technique.
“That’s why they don’t make it because we don’t have all day to teach them these things,” Boone recalled of his playing days. “So trying to teach [Schmitz] earlier, he just grasped it so much better. Then when we started putting him in with the vets to actually run through run plays and pass blocking, he just looked so [good]. He calls an offense so well.”
Schmitz also benefited from staying at the University of Minnesota for a sixth season.
“He’s more mature, which is great because as vets that’s what we want – mature players,” Boone said. “Guys we can depend on, we can count on. I know you’re not going to be out late doing anything stupid. These are all things that fit into his wheelhouse very well.”
Of course, there also needs to be a physical element for a center, who will now go up against the likes of Dexter Lawrence and Leonard Williams. And that’s just in practice – wait until he goes through the Eagles twice a year.
“He’s so strong,” Boone said. “He’s so quick, and he has such great hands and his leverage is so low to the ground that he’s so balanced at all times. He moves extremely efficiently from [points] A to B. One of the things that a lot…