Former St. John’s University quarterback Jackson Erdmann is carving out his path to the pros and on Thursday, he made his debut at the University of Minnesota’s Pro Day where more than 50 representatives from 31 NFL teams got the chance to see just what Johnnies’ star was all about.
Erdmann, 24, spoke exclusively with Fox News on Friday about his performance at the Gophers’ Pro Day, just a year after the coronavirus pandemic put his hopes of making it to the NFL on hold.
“It was a little disruption in the plans as far as the canceled Pro Day, minicamps, CFL season, so the last year … I was kind of in limbo,” he explained. “I was training, working out with guys just hoping for a shot … This year I was actually able to get into the Pro Day because they had it.”
Erdmann was eligible for the NFL Draft last year but he said coming from an NCAA Divison III school meant that he would need to play in front of teams to make an impression — without a platform to showcase his skills, he wasn’t picked up.
“For me especially, my feedback as a D-III quarterback coming out of school, it was like ‘okay, he’s got good film. He’s got good stats and everything but we just have to see him in person, being D-III seeing if he looks like he does on tape’ … that’s why the Pro Day was so big for me last year.”
He continued: “I was really disappointed last year when it ended up being canceled. I was supposed to be throwing Tyler Johnson (Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout) and a couple of other guys, so that was disappointing for sure.”
Erdmann was redshirted his first year at Penn State where he was a preferred walk-on before deciding to transfer to SJU, which would ultimately give him the opportunity to play as well as he did.
“Traditionally [Penn State’s] been pro-style offense and they actually made a switch on offensive coordinator when I was there and they were kind of molding the offense around Saquan (Barkley) and moving into a dual-threat offense with Trace McSorley and Tommy Stevens … and [I thought] this doesn’t fit my strength and abilities as much and I can’t showcase myself.”
Erdmann earned a number of awards as the Johnnies starter and was named the 2018 Gagliardi Trophy recipient as the NCAA Division III’s most outstanding player — the equivalent of the Heisman Trophy for D1 athletes. In his senior year alone, he threw for 5,040 passing yards and 47 touchdowns.
Despite the setback, he would join the Fan Controlled Football league in 2021, where he would win the championship game as the Wild Aces signal-caller in the league’s inaugural season.
Erdman was back on track with Thursday’s appearance and he certainly caught the attention of several scouts.
“I spoke to a couple,” he recalled. “I was throwing pretty much the whole time … but a couple came up to me and were like ‘Hey, I remember you … you looked good. You’ve developed a lot over this last year.”
Erdman said that he spoke to Gophers head coach P.J. Fleck who told him that several team representatives came up to him asking: “Who the heck is this guy, where did he come from?”
“It was great hearing the scouts’ feedback yesterday like, ‘Hey, you’ve developed well,’” Erdmann added. “I put on some weight since college and I’ve been able to develop a stronger arm and just learn more.”
He said he also spoke to the Minnesota Vikings reps who were present on Thursday, after developing a relationship with them last year. Erdmann shares the same agency as several members of the Vikings and was able to train with some over the summer to bring his game up to speed.
“It was a great learning experience for me. I was able to develop a lot, too,” he said.
Erdmann was also able to throw to first-round hopeful Rashod Bateman during Thursday’s Pro Day.
“We’ve thrown this past summer and fall a little bit together. So we have that chemistry,” he said. “We have a great relationship. He’s a great person, we get along well … We were on the same page for a lot of [the day]. I thought we were clicking pretty well for the Pro Day, so that was exciting.”
Erdmann said he’s hopeful that rookie minicamps won’t get canceled this year but all he needs is one opportunity to prove himself.
“I’m excited for the future,” he added. “It was awesome for me to be seen and be in front of some scouts and just show them what I can do and it only takes one team for them to give me a chance and show them what I can do and show everyone what I can do.”