The Washington Redskins walked away from this year’s draft with 7 players from rounds 2-7, and they acquired an array of talent. Several of the guys fell in the draft because of their behavioral issues in college, some fell because they spent some time on the injured list for severe injuries. But off of pure talent alone, Mike Shanahan & Bruce Allen may have acquired one of the better groups of players in the entire league, but their mental composure and their ability to stay off of the injury report will be what takes them as far as we hope they can go.
I’ve watched some film on these rookies, and not just highlight tapes. I wish I had still and gifs to give you guys for each player, but I hope those of you who follow me on Twitter (@Sean_Bishop) or have followed my articles here on THN know that I’m a pretty honest guy when it comes to evaluating athletes.
The first pick of the draft for the Redskins, David Amerson, cornerback out of N.C. State, was a controversial pick considering many think he has some downside. I’ve seen some argue all of his strengths are in areas the Redskins play football, and his weaknesses in coverage, we tend to avoid. I’ll be honest, there were some weaknesses that play into how the Redskins play football, and one of those is, he’s not great in evaluating a play fake. Of the tape I have seen, when Amerson is peeking into the backfield, he will bite on a pump fake. He is also susceptible to double moves. But he’s a good athlete, and his ability to catch the football is well documented. He takes a few chances, and gets beat, but that doesn’t account for the majority of his game.
The next guy on the list is Jordan Reed, tight end out of Florida. Reed has been compared to Aaron Hernandez. He has very good speed, quickness, agility, and vision, but he is undersized and not an excellent blocker. Reed will likely be a player the Redskins move a lot in motion before the snap to create mismatches, as he can line up outside of the WR and spread the field, or he can line up in the slot and make defenses pay. He isn’t the best route runner, but he does show the ability to work the soft spot in the zone and find holes in coverage, and he has very good hands. Reed was recruited as a quarterback, and has shown a decent ability to throw the football, as well as run it. Reed could end up playing a lot how the Redskins tried to use Banks last year as a utility guy, moving from various positions and even seeing himself in the backfield taking handoffs once in a while. I caught some flack on Twitter for saying I could see the Redskins maybe running a few reverses with Reed where he could have an option to pull up and pass it if the defense bites up on the reverse, which I don’t think is too farfetched considering they were willing to try that with Banks and Reed has the history and tools proving he could conceivably make those sorts of plays.
Next up is Phillip Thomas, safety from Fresno State. Thomas is a very talented player with excellent hands and athleticism, but he is a project player. Thomas isn’t the best tackler, which is something that needs to change to play safety in the NFL, especially in Washington’s 3-4 defense. Thomas also doesn’t have the ideal range of a FS, so playing single-high with him isn’t really an option at this point. But he has some very good natural instincts and does have the speed to get back in his zone to disrupt a play if he has to. A lot of scouts think he may have been one of the better safeties in the draft off of his potential alone, but he slipped because of his whiffing on tackles and his limited range.
Chris Thompson, running back out of Florida State is up next. Thompson is a playmaker, simply put. He is an excellent runner with great agility, shiftyness, footwork, and top flight speed (before his ACL injury). I also caught flack on Twitter for saying I was reminded of Frank Gore (in his days at The U, not in the NFL) when watching Thompson play. He is a big back for his height with extremely deceptive quickness and a lot of pure speed, and he runs with fluidity as he makes cuts and leans to create leverage and angles against defenders, but has a little power to his game that he could harness to become a complete back. Thompson is also a very good receiver out of the backfield, and again, a player coaches can use in motion and sending out wide to spread the defense and create mismatches. Thompson broke a couple vertebrae in his back a few years ago, and tore his ACL last year upon which time he was one of the leading rushers in the nation.
Next up is Brandon Jenkins, DE/LB out of Florida State. Jenkins is a guy who will be what Orakpo and Kerrigan are. He’s a good pass rusher, but an undervalued run-stuffer. He was a DE in college, so he will make the transition to his feet, and will likely only be used on passing downs during his rookie season. There is a lot of power in his initial burst on his rush, but he has some agile moves that keep him from being one-dimensional and keep linemen busy.
Bacarri Rambo, safety out of Georgia, is up next. This may have been the steal of the draft. Rambo got in some trouble in college for substance abuse, and was suspended twice, which explains a lot of why he fell in the draft. Rambo is an excellent safety with incredible range and he is very accountable on tape. When the CB passes off the WR, Rambo picks him up unless the ball is already in the air going somewhere else. Rambo is also very good in man defense and keeping up with the receiver all the way through the route. He is a tough kid and not afraid to lay a big hit on a ball carrier, as was displayed when he knocked himself out to break up a pass at the goal line. Rambo has great speed, and doesn’t guess wrong on play fakes often. He will come up from 20 yards deep to make a play on a draw or screen, and he will make it back to his zone if he’s playing close to the line. Rambo also commits to his zone, which is widened by his range and natural ability to move within that zone, and will push it deeper if the wide receiver is trying to run deep, which means Rambo can succeed as the single-high safety. Another intangible I wanted to mention about Rambo is his mental game. He is a brilliant player. With under 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter with a small lead, Rambo (who played his zone perfectly letting the corner disrupt the pass underneath) picked the ball off at the 50 and had a clear track to the endzone and could have padded his stats and highlights, but decided to kneel on the football for his team to secure the win, showing maturity and overall awareness of the game.
Lastly, Jawan Jamison, running back out of Rutgers. Watching tape of this kid, I saw a lot of Darren Sproles, maybe because of the size comparison, only, he doesn’t play as fast. But Jamison does have real speed, and running the football, he wasn’t afraid to run between the tackles. He makes guys miss in the open field and has excellent control of his motion when running the football. Jamison has excellent hands and is very good at selling on the screen, but runs some very good quick outs and wheel routes, all of which Washington uses its running backs for in the passing game.
But I also want to highlight a success that wasn’t drafted this year but could benefit from the draft. Jordan Bernstine, safety, could find himself in a very favorable position this season if he is recovered from his injury and is motivated to beat out the rookies who people suggest may have a lock on the position. Bernstine didn’t get to play last season, so he should not be stigmatized by the struggles the DB’s went through. If he is hungry enough to beat out these rookies fair and square, there is a very favorable position in Washington, which is now loaded at safety with pure talent and potential.
However, it remains to be seen if that potential turns into production.