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John Michael Schmitz embodies 'smart, tough, dependable'


The NFL is full of tough guys. But how smart can they be while trying to be tough? Those are harder to find.

"J is one of the best at it," Alex Boone said of John Michael Schmitz Jr. on's Big Blue Kickoff Live.

Boone played in more than 100 NFL games from 2010-2020 and was part of the hard-nosed 49ers teams that made three consecutive NFC Championship Games. These days, the former guard runs a gym in Minnesota and trained the All-American center leading up to his selection by the Giants in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

"With John, it clicked immediately," Boone said. "His attitude, the way he approached the field, the film – everything about him I was like, dude, we have to get this kid. He's incredible. [Every] step of the way he has been phenomenal."

After San Francisco, Boone played a season with the Vikings and was teammates with Jeremiah Sirles, another interior offensive lineman who is now a partner at the gym. Sirles is also an agent and represents Schmitz.

As pick No. 57 inched closer on April 28, Sirles gave Boone a quick call and said, "This is it."

"My heart stopped," Boone said. "This is the perfect scenario. I cannot tell you how excited I am to see him in that blue."

View the top photos of offensive lineman John Michael Schmitz's career at Minnesota.

The connections run even deeper.

Sirles finished his career with the Bills in 2018, which was Brian Daboll's first year as offensive coordinator in Buffalo.

"Jeremiah was a very smart player," Daboll said last weekend at rookie minicamp. "What we did when I was with him is probably a little bit different now, but certainly I think having someone like that for John Michael is probably a benefit. You'd have to ask him. I've stayed in contact with Jeremiah on a lot of different things. Got a lot of trust in him, so it's good to be able to bounce some things off of him regarding players that he may represent."

"Jeremiah Sirles and Alex Boone, tremendous guys that are my mentors, and having an agent and a trainer that's been in the league was very helpful for me to have," Schmitz said.

Boone also thinks it will be a perfect personality fit.

"I love the way Daboll runs his offense and I love his whole mentality," Boone said. "I feel like J-Mike is just going to thrive on that and the whole 'we're out here to beat someone's ass.' That whole thing is awesome, and that's what he wants to do. Take that, and just throw gas on it."


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 of the vets were saying was, 'Wow, this guy doesn't move like everybody else.' He moves with a purpose. You tell him he needs to be there, he's there ready to go."

Then there is the rookie's snap technique, which has generated some conversation.

Schmitz used the "dead ball" snap that has become popular in college. A center tips the ball on its nose, puts his hands over the laces, and snaps it back. It comes back to the quarterback nice and easy, straight up and down – "kind of like a rainbow."

"But in the NFL, we like a spiral," Boone explained. "You grab it like a football. You sling it back there quick, and it's one of those things where people think it's really weird. I don't mind it either way. John can do either. We've snapped both ways. We worked pistol, we worked under [center], we worked [shot]gun, we worked dead ball."

That's well and good, but no one really cares what makes a center comfortable.

"I told him I don't know where you're going to go, but whatever quarterback you get, you need to be ready for what he wants," Boone said, "because he is the most important person in your life now."

Daniel Jones agrees.

Get your first look at the newest Giants as they hit the practice field at rookie minicamp.


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