Interview: Mardy Gilyard

Written by Will Spencer on January 30, 2010


During Senior Bowl week, I had the pleasure of talking with Cincinnati WR Mardy Gilyard. Mardy was great and very vocal about his abilities and how things are going during Senior Bowl week. We talked about everything from Tim Tebow to Santonio Holmes, and he was very complimentary of the Detroit Lions coaching staff. Continue reading below for the full transcript of my chat with Gilyard.


Spencer: What’s your overall impression of the Senior Bowl so far?


Gilyard: Like I said the first day, everybody here is real.Back at school you play a lot of guys that go to smaller schools and can’t compete. But everybody here in NFL ready. The DBs are good, all the guys I’m going against are good. Everybody’s working hard to adapt to the speed of the game because mostly everybody out here is fast. These last couple of days I’ve just noticed that the North team, man, we’re starting to come together.


Spencer: What have you been learning from the Lions coaching staff while you’ve been here?


Gilyard: Oh man, it’s like, what haven’t they worked on with us? Coach Jefferson and Coach Todd (Downing), both of those guys are just excellent. They don’t shoot it to us sideways, they give it to us straight forward. Regardless of whether you like it or not because there’s times where we definitely don’t like what’s coming out of their mouths. But, it’s not for us to like those guys, it’s for us to get better and be successful in the league and those are the kind of coaches we need. So I just want to say kudos to Coach Jefferson and Coach Todd (Downing) for just getting us right. They’re starting to get us right and we’re getting better and better every day. I’ve probably learned more in the last couple days from these guys than I’ve learned in a while from playing the game of football. So those guys are working us.


Spencer: What’s the one thing you’ve been able to improve that the Lions staff has been able to help you with?


Gilyard: My route running. They’re helping me understand the route running and the route tree as it pertains to the NFL level. I’m able to get in and out of my breaks a little bit better. They’re just working on the fundamentals and mechanics of being a wide receiver with me and it’s helping me a lot.


Spencer: This Senior Bowl is a little bit different with all the extra attention on Tim Tebow. Is it a distraction for you or are you just trying to stay focused on your game?


Gilyard: Well, it isn’t a distraction for us because he’s on the South team. I can imagine how those guys on the South team feel though. Nobody here is getting attention for anything. It’s the Tebow show. He’s a rock star. I mean, you have other top guys in the game like myself, Stafon Johnson of USC, Taylor Mays of USC, Devin McCourty of Rutgers, [Kyle] Wilson of Boise State, I could name on and on. Asante from Nebraska, I could go on and on. My man Vladimir from UMass. I could go on and on and on about great players that are here, but you would never know. Probably no one is hearing about them because it’s Tebow’s show down here. He’s a rock star. You see little kids in the lobby with helmets on and his jersey on playing play football. I was listening to the radio yesterday down here in Mobile and even fans are tired of hearing about Tebow. They’re calling into radio shows saying ‘can we hear anything about any other athletes?’ But on the North side, we don’t get caught up in that because he’s not a part of our team. But I honestly feel bad for the guys on the South team because they aren’t getting credit for anything.


Spencer: I agree with you but I can tell you this. I don’t think the NFL scouts are paying as much attention to Tebow as the media is. They’re watching guys like you. Now looking at your game, what would you say is the strongest aspect of your game?


Gilyard: I’m versatile. I can come in immediately and help a team on special teams. I can play my role under those veteran receivers and learn the game a little bit better and also help those guys as a receiver as well. I’ve shown that I can go outside, I can play inside in the slot and I’ve shown my ability as a kick returner and a punt returner. So the main thing I can bring to the table is just being a versatile player.


Spencer: Are there any current NFL players that you model your game after?


Gilyard: Santonio Holmes. Everybody in Cincinnati kind of calls Santonio my twin, as funny as that sounds, because we just favor each other so much the way we play the game. I can’t explain it. Even in the Super Bowl when Santonio caught that ball, I remember a fan had a picture of Santonio and me on the sidelines in the Orange Bowl. It showed his picture with the catch and both feet in bounds in the end zone and then it shows me and my one foot down, over at the Orange Bowl. So it’s just little things like that. Every time he does something people are like ‘Hey Mardy, you see your twin on TV?’ And of course, both of us are from Florida, so that kind of falls into play. Santonio when to Ohio State and I was at Cincy, so it’s nice. It’s nice to just follow somebody like that because I take so much from the game from watching him and he probably doesn’t even know I watch him like that. But just watching that guy and enjoying the game. I enjoy watching what he does. I like it…it helps me do a lot of things.


Spencer: Before the play starts and you’re looking across the line of scrimmage at the defensive back, what’s going through your head?


Gilyard: I don’t even look at the DB at first. I actually scan my triangle and I kind of take a glimpse at the DB. I take a glimpse at the linebacker to see where he is. I’ll take a glimpse at the corner and kind of see where everyone is at. Then I focus in on the corner after I get my reads from my triangle. And of course, I’m really a noise talker out there. You’d never think that from seeing me off the field. The game’s mental too as well. If you can get in that guy’s head before the snap comes off, then you’ve won half of the battle right then. The best thing about corners is, and Deion Sanders is a prime example, he was really patient. So if you can get a corner to be impatient, then definitely you can win as a wide receiver. That’s what good wide receivers do, they get corners to be impatient. So if I can get them to get their concentration off of focusing on me and try to get them focusing on the personal level of what they can and can’t do to me, then that’s when I’ve got them.


Spencer: Are you working out anywhere in particular coming up to the Combine?


Gilyard: Yeah, I’m working out with Cliff Marshall down in Naples with Ignition.


Spencer: Mardy, I appreciate you taking your time out for me and I wish you the best of luck this week and in the Draft!


Gilyard: No problem!


Will Spencer

Will is the founder and President of Draft Breakdown & has been scouting draft prospects since 2002. His work has been featured in numerous publications, including the USA Today Draft Preview Magazine, the official website of the Baltimore Ravens, Ravens Insider and The Orange and Brown Report. Will has previous playing experience as a defensive end in the AFA, is currently a member of the Football Writers Association of America and graduated from the SMWW Football Scouting course in 2009.

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