Minnesota Vikings head coach Kevin O'Connell remembers making the trip to Ohio State's Pro Day with former Washington head coach Jay Gruden to watch Terry McLaurin. It was a quick evaluation as to whether the receiver was worth taking with one of their draft picks.
"Walking off that campus, I remember Jay and myself just saying, 'Hey, we gotta have that guy,'" O'Connell said.
Washington eventually took McLaurin in the third round of the 2019 NFL Draft, and the former Buckeye almost instantly became one of the best playmakers the team has had in recent memory. He has been paid well for that production, too, as the Commanders signed him to a multiyear extension in July.
O'Connell only coached McLaurin for a year as Washington's offensive coordinator, but that was enough to see how special he was. Since then, O'Connell has watched McLaurin from afar, and he has been impressed with how McLaurin has grown over the last three seasons.
"I really do love Terry," O'Connell said. "Although I was able to only coach him for that one season, he's right up there with some of my favorite players I've ever been able to coach."
There are several things that O'Connell likes about McLaurin, from his explosiveness to his play strength and his competitiveness at the point of the catch. But one area that O'Connell can tell that McLaurin has grown the most is understanding that he is going to be matched up against teams' best cornerbacks. That has been true since his second season, and this year he has played against Trevon Diggs, Darius Slay, Jaire Alexander and Stephon Gilmore.
That has caused McLaurin's confidence to waver; last week's 33-yard catch against Gilmore that helped Washington claim a 17-16 victory over the Indianapolis Colts is the latest example of that.
"He expects to win that match up and he's proven time and time again that he can do that," O'Connell said.
Against the Vikings, McLaurin will see a lot of 12-year cornerback Patrick Peterson, who is playing closer to the All-Pro resume he built earlier in his career. He has recorded 10 pass breakups, which is the most he has had in a season since 2013.
Given how McLaurin is starting to gain some momentum, it should be a competitive matchup.
Here's a morning roundup of what the local and national media have to say about the Washington Commanders on Friday, Nov. 4, 2022. All reports, rumors and conjecture are a reflection of the media conversation and are not endorsed or confirmed by the Washington Commanders.
The reports and deals expressed in this article have not been confirmed by Washington, nor do they reflect any insider information from anyone in the front office.
- The Washington Post's Thomas Boswell writes that Taylor Heinicke is more than just a backup.
- The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala writes that Antonio Gibson is a triple threat for the Commanders' offense.
- NBC Sports Washington's Peter Hailey looks at how the Commanders can stop Justin Jefferson.
- NBC Sports Washington's Ethan Cadeaux writes about Chase Young's return to practice.
- The Washington Post''s Sam Fortier reports on the trading of William Jackson III.
- The Washington Post's Nicki Jhabvala provides an update on Chase Young.
- The Washington Time's Matthew Paras writes about the Commanders trading William Jackson III.
- The Athletic's Ben Standig writes about Ron Rivera's comments on William Jackson III.
- The Washington Post's Sam Fortier and Nicki Jhabvala go behind the scenes on Terry McLaurin's return home.
- The Washington Post's Sam Fortier breaks down the Commanders' defensive performance.
Check Out What's On Commanders.com:
- Practice report | John Ridgeway has been 'a great addition' to Commanders D-Line
- Chase Young's teammates are psyched for his return
- Practice Report | Chase Young felt "springy" in return to practice field
- Commanders vs. Vikings preview | Taking on the North Star State
- Off Day Outreach | Daniel Wise, James Smith-Williams give back to the DMV community
- From the booth | Owning the game of inches
- Navy veteran Chris Bailey commands Salute to Service program into new era
- Commanders trade CB William Jackson III to Steelers for draft picks
- McLaurin's catch -- and his reaction -- are why his teammates love him so much
- Instant Analysis | McLaurin delivers clutch play to help Commanders claim 17-16 win
- 5 takeaways from Washington's win over the Colts