Before the Seattle Seahawks selected quarterback Alex McGough out of Florida International with their final pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, McGough’s private passing trainer made Russell Wilson his first comparison for McGough’s athleticism and ability to improvise on the run. “In today’s time of the NFL, you need those quarterbacks now to extend the play,” John Kaleo told McGough’s local Tampa news station a few days before the draft. Perhaps this similar skillset was also what led the Seahawks to choose McGough as their first quarterback drafted since Wilson in 2012.
Kaleo’s next drops were Deshaun Watson and Aaron Rodgers, further exemplifying the template of a passer mobile enough to move around the pocket and escape some critical situations. “So Alex possesses all of that. Being able to throw the ball with awkward release points and keep the play alive,” Kaleo said. Again, that seems relevant given the hazardous predicaments Seattle’s offensive line has tended to produce in the backfield in recent years.
However, when it comes to getting out of close calls, I’m rather more intrigued by something McGough mentioned later in the segment. According to the interview, the New England Patriots supplied McGough’s his greatest challenge in the predraft process: asking him to name in 30 seconds as many things he could think of to do with a paperclip.
“I was kind of like what? I didn’t know how to answer that,” McGough said. “He started counting, so I kind of started rattling things off.”
McGough added he came up with three uses for paperclips. Off the top of my own head, here are some things I typically use paperclips for: binding papers, cleaning a one-hitter, picking locks, and scraping lint out of my phone’s power jack. Now, that’s at least four uses, but I can imagine a reason McGough might have kept some of those to himself in case the purpose behind the Patriots’ question was not a test for quick thinking or resourcefulness but to reveal criminal tendencies. But I also didn’t use the full 30 seconds. According to the internet, you can use a paperclip to make a compass, for example, and dozens of other handy things.
I guess it depends on the scope of the question, whether the paperclip can be used in combination with other things or that’s all you have to work with.
Television’s MacGyver famously used a trusty piece of paperclip to defuse an armed missile, and other even more creative tricks.
(Here’s a web forum listing still more instances of paperclip ingenuity by the Phoenix Foundation operative.)
So it’s a little disappointing McGough wasn’t able to find more solutions with the clock ticking, if he’s supposed to have such a knack for troubleshooting and extracting himself from difficulty at the last seconds. Pressure comes a lot more quickly than 30 seconds in professional football. It’s worth noting that at the top of the 7th round New England opted for passer Danny Etling out of LSU, instead of choosing McGough. Now I want to know how many ideas Etling had for the paperclip test. Then again, MacGyver was a trained physicist, chemist and war veteran, and a seasoned spy (also a fabrication of dramatic writers) not a rookie quarterback. But if we are comparing him to TV characters, hopefully if McGough does see the field for the Seahawks in 2018 or beyond, he can prove to be more handy MacGyver than bumbling Magoo.
Then again, who needs paperclips when you’re already blessed with a lucky girdle?