Packers preparing to promote Maurice Drayton to role of special teams coordinator
GREEN BAY - Passed over for the coordinator’s job two years ago, special teams assistant Maurice Drayton will be offered the job after the firing Wednesday of Shawn Mennenga.
According to two sources, Drayton is coach Matt LaFleur’s choice to take over the underperforming special teams units that Mennenga directed and Drayton helped coach. The two sides had yet to negotiate a contract and when NFL Network reported that Drayton was the choice, he had not been told the job was being offered to him.
However, it’s likely Drayton will accept the job after working his way up through the college ranks for 14 seasons and the NFL ranks for five seasons.
An NFL source said the Packers were eager to announce that they had hired Drayton because at least one other team was interested in interviewing him for its special-teams opening and they did not want to lose him. The Packers would have had to give any interested team permission to interview Drayton, and LaFleur has said he would never stand in the way of one of his assistants getting a promotion if the opportunity was there.
It only took a day for LaFleur to make the decision on how to replace Mennenga.
Drayton was a candidate for the job in 2019 after highly regarded Miami Dolphins special teams coach Darren Rizzi dropped out of consideration when he felt the Packers weren’t serious about meeting his contract demands. He wound up with the New Orleans Saints.
A source said LaFleur was high on Drayton at that time, but there was pressure from the front office to go with someone who hadn’t been on former coach Mike McCarthy’s staff and Mennenga wound up being hired.
The Packers have denied that there was any pressure on LaFleur to hire outside the organization.
Though Mennenga’s crew ranked 29th in special teams according to the Rick Gosselin rankings of the 32 NFL teams and committed a series of gaffes over the second half of the season, the Packers felt Drayton was well-respected and had ideas of his own about the way special teams should be run.
Drayton did not try to undermine Mennenga and coached the schemes the coordinator wanted him to, a source said. The best thing the two did was cut down considerably on the penalties that had plagued the special teams units under previous coach Ron Zook.
Drayton is well-liked inside the organization and a source said his style of special-teams coaching will be to simplify some of the schemes and make sure players were 100% sure about their assignments. His style is to stress quality over quantity when it comes to practices.
Drayton was hired by McCarthy in 2018 to assist Zook. Drayton had spent the previous two seasons as assistant special teams coach under Tom McMahon in Indianapolis.
Drayton became available after the Colts fired head coach Chuck Pagano and his staff following the 2017 season.
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“I think No. 1 is his relationships with other coaches,” McMahon, now special teams coach in Denver, said of Drayton on FootballScoop.com. “Other coaches saw right away how special he was. Coach Pagano saw it in him. All offensive and defensive staff, throughout our organization, the whole building, could see it even from a scouting perspective.
“He did a great job of evaluating talent. He didn’t push. Every single point that he makes about something or somebody is verified on video. The No. 1 trait he has is truth.”
Drayton played high school football at Canton (Ohio) McKinley High School under coach Thom McDaniels, the father of New England offensive coordinator and classmate Josh McDaniels.
He walked on at The Citadel, was a graduate assistant and later coached tight ends/tackles, wide receivers, outside linebackers and secondary/special teams. He went on to coach at South Carolina State, Coastal Carolina, Southern Mississippi and then The Citadel again, where he was assistant head coach/defensive coordinator/cornerbacks coach in 2014-15.
He joined Pagano’s staff in 2016.