The Washington Redskins came into the 2013 NFL Draft with all of the focus on the deal and the first round pick they made last year in Robert Griffin III. Despite the injury he is currently recovering and the questions surrounding his availability in round one, no one is criticizing the price they paid to get their franchise quarterback. The Redskins did have another of holes to fill on their depth, but Griffin’s overwhelming ability has worked to cover a number of them up at times. Griffin was not the only injury and the Redskins could improve simply be having their players coming back this year and playing up to their ability, such as outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and tight end Fred Davis. Head Coach Mike Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen came approached this draft with a definite plan of attack and while they may not have had the most exciting draft on paper due to the lack of ammunition, their approach could have pay off handsomely in terms of improving their team combined with some better luck staying healthy.
With their first pick midway through the second round, the Redskins selected David Amerson, cornerback from N.C. State. It remains to be seen if Amerson’s future will ultimately be at corner or if he will move to free safety, but in either spot, Amerson is a ball hawk and a huge threat to cause turnovers. Because of the value of corners, it would not be a surprise if they try to have him play there and if that fails, then make the move to free safety, but safety might be a better fit for Amerson, but the Redskins could use help anywhere they can get it in their secondary. This really proved to a problematic area for the Redskins and made it difficult for them to hold and maintain leads, especially late.
Amerson has a great combination of length, leaping ability, and ball skills but is a risk taker and that has shown to have mixed results. As a sophomore, Amerson had an incredible 13 interceptions and it was a mystery why anyone would throw in the same zip code as Amerson was patrolling. He has always played the corner position like a safety playing off man often around 10-15 yards off the line of scrimmage like a safety would. He is far more comfortable playing while being able to play with his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage where he is able to read the quarterback’s eyes and make plays on the football. This became clearer his junior year where he still had another 5 interceptions, but really struggled in coverage at times giving up a number of big plays. Perhaps a combination of trying to go for interceptions too often and trying to duplicate the overwhelming success he had his sophomore year, he would be caught out of position or beat with double moves that would not just result in receptions but huge plays and touchdowns. The Tennessee game alone was a disaster from start to finish. All of this suggests that he might function better moving inside to the safety position where he can play deeper, keep himself square to the line and have more opportunities to make plays on the ball deep while having corners due to the grunt work in coverage. In that scenario, Amerson is still going to be a gambler but his success rate should be higher and he has the potential to be an Ed Reed type player.
Still, Amerson’s workouts at the Scouting Combine and in the offseason were remarkable. He was able to run a 4.4 40 but never seemed to play that speed on the field. It is hard to argue with the idea that he would get the shot to be an impact corner first before moving to safety, but safety looks like a better fit and more realistic option, where he could start and make an impact immediately as his competition is Reed Doughty, who has not shown to be a long term answer there. And while he may have some bumps along the way in coverage, his ability to turn the ball over and give it back to Griffin and the offense could be extremely valuable. He needs to make dramatic improvements as a tackler in the NFL.
In the third round, the Redskins added Jordan Reed, tight end from Florida. Though listed as a tight end, he is more likely to function in an H-Back and Joker role than as a true tight end. Not only is Fred Davis the starter if and when he is healthy, but they also have a decent #2 option in Logan Paulsen. More to the point is that Reed is simply undersized to play inline at less than 250lbs. Even at Florida, he really never flourished as an inline option and it was as a joker and H-back where he flourished.
In the Redskins offense, with the pistol formation and read option looks, Reed is more likely to line up as the fullback in those situations and be more of a receiving threat than a blocker. Reed plays like an oversized slot receiver who is not overly fast but is incredibly quick and adjusts to the football easily to make difficult catches. And with Griffin as his quarterback, he could really flourish as safety option who can also make some plays. This is a great fit for what Reed does well and could really flourish there with the chance of resembling former Redskin fullback Larry Centers, who only spent two years of his impressive career with the team but caught 150 passes and 6 touchdowns in 31 games during his tenure.
In the fourth round, the Redskins went back to the secondary adding Phillip Thomas, safety from Fresno State. Thomas is hybrid safety that could contribute at either the free or strong safety spots for the Redskins. It is possible that Thomas could spend this year as depth for both spots but it seems more likely that he will be competing to unseat Brandon Meriweather to start as a strong safety.
Meriweather was a free safety with the New England Patriots before spending time on the Chicago Bears and then the Redskins, though he was another injury casualty this past year, so he will be coming back from an ACL while competing to take the strong safety. In many ways, Thomas played the same style of free safety as Meriweather did with the Patriots for Fresno, which is one of the reasons he could end up as a strong safety in Washington. Thomas was a ball hawk for Fresno State with substantial production, but he showed the ability to be a big hitter and impact tackler when he was coming up and attacking. He had far more problems adjusting to tackles in short areas, but he was a player who could play deep or in the box with success, so while he still has some issues to improve upon, he just seems to find a way to get the job done. If he can ultimately play as a strong safety, the Redskins could end up with a dynamic pairing on the back end where both safeties could ultimately have the ability to cause turnovers.
With their first or two picks in the fifth round, the Redskins added Chris Thompson, running back from Florida State. Thompson is small but well-built speed back option who struggled with injuries in Tallahassee including a season ending knee injury this past year. That is not the biggest injury Thompson has battled back from going back to 2011 where a hit broke two vertebrae in his back, potentially ending his football career, so it stands to reason he will be able to come back from this and be effective. When healthy, Thompson showed he could be a speed option out of the backfield as a runner, receiver and as a threat on special teams.
In the Redskins offense with the read option look as well as some spread options, Thompson’s speed and ability to make opponents could thrive in the space the offense creates. Shanahan has a history of success taking running back options late and made another good move in picking Alfred Morris last year, a projected fullback by many out of Florida Atlantic. If he is not the founder of the idea of taking a running back every year, he is arguably its greatest proponent. With the ability to contribute immediately and make an impact, taking late round running backs has the potential to make a big time impact is a smart strategy and one Shanahan has had incredible success. Morris can be more of a power option with Thompson coming in as a speed threat and this fit could make him a dangerous player, if he can stay healthy. By giving Griffin more weapons and the ability to make it so he is not as much of the focal point of the offense is a good investment and could create more opportunities for him to make plays in the passing game, especially when they require such a small investment and low risk such as Thompson presents here.
With the pick they acquired in the deal for ridding themselves of Albert Haynesworth, the Redskins stayed in Tallahassee and added Brandon Jenkins, one of the Seminole defensive ends. Jenkins, like Thompson, has had injury issues including a foot injury that ended his season before it started this past year. Jenkins opted to go ahead and declare for the draft instead of taking a medical red shirt year. Jenkins will move to outside linebacker and provide depth behind Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, which was a problem just this past year in addition to the fact that teams can simply never have too many pass rushers.
Before the foot injury, Jenkins was hoping to come back from a drop in production after a breakout sophomore year. Jenkins has shown potential as speed rushers off the edge and is a natural fit moving to an outside linebacker in the 3-4 as he is a classic undersized Seminole defensive end. After coming back fully recovered, Jenkins can work as a depth pass rusher and continue to develop behind Kerrigan and Orakpo as well as spell them when they are tired. It will be interesting to see if Jenkins comes back and shows promise if they will find a way to get all three pass rushers on the field in obvious passing situations. Kerrigan is nearly 270lbs, so it is possible he could kick inside to a rush tackle positions and Jenkins comes in to rush off the edge.
In the sixth round, the Redskins added more help to the secondary in another safety; this time, Bacarri Rambo from Georgia. In a fall that has to be categorized as due to off field issues stemming from a suspension in connection with failing a drug test he blamed on mistakenly eating brownies with marijuana in them. Perhaps there was more there upon further investigation into his background, but Rambo brings a great deal of talent to the Redskins and gives them a third productive ball hawk to add to their secondary.
Rambo, along with Amerson, had perhaps the best ball skills of any two defensive prospects in this draft. The former Bulldog has shown incredible timing, hands, and leaping ability to go up and get the football with the knack for coming down with it. Rambo is a true center fielding safety that has a great deal of experience patrolling the back end and coming up to make plays behind an incredibly talented Georgia defense. Rambo will occasionally take some bad gambles that can result in big plays but his batting average is high in this area and he has shown the understanding of when to try to make the big play. As a tackler, Rambo has been good when put in the situation as the last line of the defense who makes the play or it goes for a touchdown, but he is more of a head hunter and highlight hitter in situations where he knows he has backup which can be extremely hit or miss.
For the Redskins, his best fit would be as a free safety but it is possible they are looking him as depth for both spots. He definitely has the talent to be a starter in the NFL and if Amerson can play at corner, he could ultimately find himself in the mix as a starter for the free safety spot, potentially giving the secondary three ball hawks that can create turnovers and completely overhauling a secondary that has had significant issues.
With their last pick of the draft, the Redskins took another running back in the seventh round in Jawan Jamison from Rutgers. Jamison opted to declare as an underclassman with the idea that he could not really get any bigger, stronger, or much better had he stayed in college; he is probably right. At 5’7” and change, Jamison is built like a tank at 203lbs and possesses a great deal of strength and power for the position. In addition, Jamison has good vision and feel for the position with the ability to make opponents miss. The only real issue Jamison has other than having less than ideal size is his lack of long speed. He is not a home run threat at the running back position but in college, he was a guy who had a large number of carries that resulted in 10-20 yards. He may not be a guy likely to take it 60+ but a couple of runs over 10 yards add up in a hurry and finding a guy who can get those types of carries in the seventh round is a significant value. Jamison also has solid hands for the position out of the backfield.
Jamison represents competition in the Redskins backfield and it will be interesting to see who of the guys they have on their roster will make the cut. Currently, after Morris, the Redskins have Evan Royster, Roy Helu, Keiland Williams, and then Thompson, who was picked earlier. Thompson is the one guy who is significantly different style-wise than the others and assuming he is healthy, he seems likely to make the roster. The rest are similar; power backs without a ton of speed, which can eat up yards but have not shown to be special players at this point. As a result, training camp could feature a four-way battle for the third running back position on this team as it seems unlikely they will keep four. Shanahan is a fan of competition, especially at the running back spot so the best guy will land the job.
My Thoughts: The Redskins were without a first round pick and were picking later in each round since they managed to make the playoffs, but they appear to really gone out and improved a weakness in their secondary as well as giving their quarterback more weapons. Coming off of the knee injury from Griffin, the Redskins might take a small step backward but they appear to be a much better team on paper.
It remains to be seen how they will all fit in the scheme, but the Redskins added three ball hawks to their secondary that could really work to overhaul a problem area. If they are only able to get two of the three on the field at the safety spot, they could still work to keep them in games as well as shut down comeback attempts by opponents. The ability to get interceptions and give that offense the ball and more opportunities to score points to either come back in games or extend leads can be an extremely demoralizing factor and win football games.
I love the potential of all three players in this scheme and while I like Amerson far more as a safety than as a corner, I understand the idea that a team would want to see if they can get a quality corner first before going with the safety position. I maintain I think he was basically playing safety at N.C. State and they just called it a corner. Perhaps the Redskins have similar ideas but that does not really fit the type of corners they have used, so it remains to be seen. I thought both Thomas and Rambo were nice values and could present nice value in the Redskins secondary, both possessing the potential to be starters sooner than later.
I really like the fit for Jordan Reed in this offense and what he could potentially bring both as an H-back and joker. His measurables were never overwhelming but he is a much better player on the field than his measurables would suggest. Reed is just a good football player that is going from what he did naturally in the Gators offense to perform almost the same role in Washington. It seems difficult that Reed could have the same impact for any other team in the league that he could have for the Redskins with the possible exception of Seattle. This is a great setup for Reed as well as Griffin.
Jenkins and Thompson both have a great deal of talent and come at a nice value because of the fact they both had injuries this past year. It remains to be seen if they will be able to have an impact in the NFL, but the value and risk for where they took them made sense. If one of them can produce and be an asset to the team, the fifth round of this draft will have paid off; both have the ability to be good players in the NFL.
Lastly, Jamison is another guy that made sense for the value and the Redskins now have four running backs competing for one spot. I do not think Jamison should be counted out in that competition as he just seems to be a good running back that understands how the position should be played and shines on the field when given opportunities.
The Redskins draft attacked one big problem area and brought in some good utility players that can make an impact early in their careers. In fact, every player the Redskins picked this year could end up making an impact during their rookie years, provided they are healthy. If I would criticize anything the Redskins did, it was simply not continuing to bring in offensive linemen. They have some solid, albeit unspectacular veterans in the middle of their line without a ton of young options developing behind them. The Redskins appear to be continuing to improve themselves and their chances in the NFC East, but they might be a year away from being a serious contender, but will have the picks to potentially address any other holes in next year’s draft.
Topics: 2013 Nfl Draft, Bacarri Rambo, Brandon Jenkins, Chris Thompson, David Amerson, Florida Gators Football, Florida State Seminoles Football, Fresno State Bulldogs, Georgia Bulldogs Football, Jawan Jamison, Jordan Reed, N.C. State Wolfpack Football, Phillip Thomas, Rutgers Scarlet Knights Football, Washington Redskins