The Washington Redskins entered the 2013 NFL Draft with question marks about their secondary, offensive and defensive line units and wide receiver core. With seven picks, the Redskins drafted two running backs, an area that they already had stability. Nevertheless, building depth was the Redskins’ goal, and quietly, they may have been able to, despite popular opinion.
“Well, first thing, when you get done with the draft, you’re trying to look for some depth and some competition for your football team… I felt good about the guys we did get,” said Redskins’ executive vice president/head coach Mike Shanahan. “What it does is it gives guys a chance to compete against one another. We’re a better football team today than we were yesterday. I thought the draft went well.”
The Redskins drafted cornerback David Amerson in the second round (No. 51 overall) from North Carolina State, tight end Jordan Reed in the third round (No. 85 overall) from Florida and safety Phillip Thomas in the fourth round (No. 119 overall) from Fresno State.
Washington’s selection of Amerson marked the earliest that the team had chosen a defensive back since selecting safety LaRon Landry (who is with the Indianapolis Colts) out of LSU with the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 NFL Draft.
Reed is the eighth player from the University of Florida selected by a coaching staff led by Shanahan, the most of any school, while Thomas is the first Fresno State product selected by a Shanahan-coached team. In the fifth round, the Redskins selected RB Chris Thompson (No. 154 overall) and DE/OLB Brandon Jenkins (No. 162 overall) from Florida State.
This marks the fifth time in the common draft era (since 1967) that the Redskins have drafted a pair of college teammates with consecutive picks. The others were Roy Helu, Jr. (No. 105), DeJon Gomes (No. 146 ), Niles Paul (No. 155) from Nebraska in 2011, Carlos Rogers (No. 9), Jason Campbell (No. 25) from Auburn in 2005, Tom Carter (No. 17), Reggie Brooks (No. 45) from Notre Dame in 1993 and Rick Brand (No. 347), Paul Rogers (No. 374) from Virginia in 1969.
The Redskins selected the best named player in the draft in safety Bacarri Rambo with the No. 191 overall pick and running back Jawan Jamison out of Rutgers with the No. 228 overall selection. The ‘Skins secondary sorely needed improvement after allowing 377.7 yards per game (28th in the league) and 281.9 passing yards per outing (30th in the league).
Shanahan feels that the team properly addressed their secondary unit through the draft.
“You take a look at (David) Amerson, we talked a little bit about him yesterday, but here’s a corner that’s got some pretty good speed, good length,” said Shanahan. “He’s come up with some big interceptions throughout his career. We had a couple safeties with Phillip Thomas and (Bacarri) Rambo and two guys that played the free safety position but also played the strong safety position as well. And we felt like we needed some depth and some competition at those positions so we helped ourselves out there.”
Creating turnovers has been an issue for the Redskins, and with the newcomer in Thomas, Shanahan believes that he could be team’s x-factor for their overall defense.
“We’ve talked about turnovers since I’ve been here,” said Shanahan. “Usually the team that excels in turnovers, they win championships. If it’s not Super Bowls, it’s getting into the playoffs. That will always be an emphasis on offense and defense. These guys have come up with a lot of turnovers, one of the reasons they were drafted where they were.
“He (Thomas) does a great job adjusting to the football. He had a lot of interceptions,” he added. “That was one key. The next key is that he’s not afraid to hit people. He would support the run. He had a good feel. He played a lot of different coverages that we play. We did meet with him and he was very quick mentally. We think he’ll adjust very quickly to our system. A very similar system at college to what we run here.”
After drafting Thompson and Jamison, the Redskins have five running backs on their roster. Those two draft selections appeared to not make sense, unless the Redskins plan to release Helu and Evan Royster, due to injuries (Helu) or lack of production. Running back Alfred Morris had an outstanding rookie season last year, but Shanahan is looking for backs to complement each other with a combination of power, speed and elusiveness.
“I think Chris is a guy that could excel against nickel defenses,” said Shanahan. “He could be that third-down back. He’s got great hands. He’s got great elusiveness. He averaged a little over 7.5 yards per carry in his last year. He’s the type of guy, I think, that can do it all. You’d always like to have a couple backs that complement each other and I think he’ll complement a lot of our running backs and what they do.
“Jamison is a guy that I thought would be going much earlier,” he continued. “We weren’t really looking for that running back in that seventh round, but when he was there, we just thought he was too good to pass up. Very similar to different players we’ve talked about in the past. When a guy is in the seventh round that you ranked much higher, we thought he could do a lot of the same things.
“Not only could he excel in the nickel package, but he could be a first-down runner as well,” he added. “He’s only a little over 5’7″, but he’s well over 200 pounds and he’s had some big runs in his conference throughout his career.”
The Redskins did not have a stellar draft as no offensive lineman or wide receiver was picked, but according to Shanahan, their selections filled holes. The Redskins focused on this draft alone, as they did not trade out of concern draft positions or trade with other teams for picks for the following year. The team drafted accordingly, and overall, Washington’s 2013 NFL Draft can not be judged until two to three seasons from now – like the other 31 teams in the league.
“A lot of times the guy’s not there and you move back five, 10 picks and you pick up an extra pick,” said Shanahan. “This year, when it was our pick, we had a guy in mind and that guy was available. It doesn’t always turn out that way. Sometimes you do move up, but we didn’t feel like we had enough draft picks to do that. We needed to fill a few holes and we were able to do that.
“But when we (his staff) first got here, we needed depth in the offensive line and defensive line,” he continued. “Going into this draft, I thought we had depth at both, at the defensive line and the offensive line. You take 10 or 11 guys that you feel can compete at a position in your offensive line, then you’ve got some great competition and that’s what you look for.
“And the defensive line, anytime you are three- or four-deep and you’ve been working on that for a couple of years, able to keep those players, that’s some really healthy competition,” he added. “So I think we’ll get better as a football team.”
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