FOXBORO, Mass. — Learning a new playbook often is the most difficult part of an NFL rookie’s transition from college to the pros. Luckily for the New England Patriots, Malcolm Mitchell is not one to shy away from books.
Mitchell became an avid reader during his time at the University of Georgia. He gained national attention after joining an Athens book club primarily made up of 40- to 70-year-old women and even went on to write his own children’s book, “The Magician’s Hat,” in 2015.
If you search Mitchell’s name in Google, the first two results are “malcolm mitchell book club” and “malcolm mitchell book.”
So, when the 23-year-old wide receiver was selected 91st overall in the 2016 NFL Draft and handed New England’s complex playbook, he immediately knew what to do.
“Later in college, I started doing a lot of reading,” Mitchell explained after Friday’s training camp scrimmage. “So I started understanding the process of how to learn, which definitely helped coming into this situation.
“Any time you start a book — say, a big book, like the fifth ‘Harry Potter.’ Huge. Gigantic. If you think about the end of the book and how long it’s going to take you to get there, you might never start. The first thing you have to do is flip the first page and begin, and that was the same approach I took with learning this playbook.”
Digesting an NFL playbook isn’t exactly like beginning a new novel for a book club, Mitchell said, “but the learning process is similar.”
“You’ve just got to start,” he said.
Though he’s been held out of several practices, Mitchell is off to a strong start in his first NFL training camp, displaying strong route-running ability and sure hands.
He caught three passes from quarterback Tom Brady during Friday’s intrasquad scrimmage and also made an impressive leaping grab over two defenders that was called back, apparently for offensive pass interference.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
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