Washington Redskins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
June 4, 2013

Solid Starter

Philip Thomas, S, Fresno State – Round 4
The Redskins safeties were a major weakness in 2012, and the organization had a serious lack of talent at the position entering the offseason. Washington lacked cap space to sign any quality veterans in free agency, so the team was forced to address the need in the 2013 NFL Draft. Fortunately for the Redskins, this draft had a great class of safeties with depth deep into the third day. Washington landed two potential starters in Thomas and Georgia’s Bacarri Rambo. The fourth-rounder Thomas could break into the lineup as a rookie.

Thomas led the nation in 2012with eight interceptions. He also recorded 82 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss, four passes broken up and four forced fumbles. The 6-foot-1, 208-pounder has good size and length to match up on tight ends and big receivers. Rambo (6-0, 218) has similar size, and both rookies have the ability to function as a free or strong safety. That is an essential attribute for defensive backs coach Raheem Morris as he likes to switch his safeties to confuse quarterbacks.

Thomas fell to the fourth round because of injury concerns, while Rambo fell to the sixth because of off-the-field issues. However, each player has the physical talent and production to have been an early-round pick.

Thomas’ ability to create turnovers make him a great safety to pair with Washington’s up-and-coming pass rush. Outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan could cause a lot of errant throws and the instinctive Thomas could pick off a lot of passes for his defense. Thomas may need a little time to develop, as most rookies do, but he could turn into a solid starter sooner rather than later for the Redskins.

Most Likely To Bust

Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State – Round 5
I think general manager Bruce Allen and his scouting staff had a phenomenal draft. They did a tremendous job considering the organization was without its first-round pick. The only pick that I felt was questionable was Thompson. He is very undersized and, in my opinion, seems too brittle for the NFL.

The speedster Thompson was having an impressive year for the Seminoles before a season-ending injury involving a torn ACL in his left knee. The senior averaged 7.5 yards per carry in 2012 for 687 yards and five touchdowns. He also had 21 receptions for 248 yards through the air.

Thompson broke his back against Wake Forest in the fifth game of the 2011 season and missed the rest of the year. He ran for 845 yards with an average of 6.3 yards per carry and six touchdowns in 2010.

The 5-foot-7, 192-pounder has game-breaking speed and could offer a nice change of pace from Alfred Morris. Washington head coach Mike Shanahan has had a legendary ability to take mid- or late-round running backs and turn them into good pros. Thus, Thompson deserves the benefit of the doubt, but of all of the Redskins’ picks, I think he is the most likely player not to stick in the NFL.

Potential Boom Pick

David Amerson, CB, N.C. State – Round 2
This was a tough one because I think Thomas, Rambo, linebacker Brandon Jenkins and tight end Jordan Reed all have the potential to be boom picks for the Redskins. However, verybody was projecting Amerson to be a top-10 pick at this time last year. Some even felt that he could turn into a pro of the caliber of Nnamdi Asomugha. Amerson is a big cornerback who has speed and ball skills. He really has an elite skill set to be a special NFL cornerback.

To be fair, Amerson was coming off a record-setting 2011 season in which he totaled a nation-leading 13 interceptions. That set both school and ACC records as it was the second-highest total in FBS history. Amerson also had 59 tackles with five passes broken up. The junior’s draft stock came crashing down in 2012 as he was repeatedly burned for long touchdowns.

The real problem for Amerson last year was that he was often caught gambling with his coverage. Amerson was so aggressive wanting to jump routes to get an interception that he became very vulnerable to double moves. Those routes beat him repeatedly for touchdowns. It wasn’t all bad as Amerson still had some impressive games. He totaled 61 tackles, five interceptions and 12 passes broken up in 2012.

Fortunately for Amerson, he landed with perhaps the best defensive backs coach in the NFL, Raheem Morris. He’ll teach Amerson to play more fundamental football and be more disciplined with his eyes. If Amerson works out his kinks, he has the skill set to be a Pro Bowl cornerback and one of the top corners in the NFL at producing interceptions. Amerson has the potential to be a massive steal with the ability of a top-10 cornerback.

Future Depth Player

Brandon Jenkins, OLB, Florida State – Round 5
Jenkins has the potential to fit in as a boom pick as well since he was viewed as a likely first-round pick at one point. Jenkins went out for the year with a broken foot in the first week of the season. He had a breakout 2010 season as a first-year starter at right end, leading Florida State in sacks while the Seminoles led the nation in sacks. Jenkins notched 13.5 sacks with 21.5 tackles for a loss. The sophomore had five multi-sack games and was voted the team’s MVP. He had 41 tackles, 12 tackles for a loss and eight sacks in 2011.

The Redskins don’t need Jenkins to become a starter because they have two good young edge-rushers in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Orakpo went out for the season in 2012 and his loss hurt Washington. The team had players step up to help the Redskins win the NFC East, but Jenkins offers them better pass-rushing depth. Plus, he can rotate into the game to keep Kerrigan and Orakpo fresh.

Jenkins is a speed-rusher off the edge and offers a nice change-up in style from Kerrigan and Orakpo. There is no doubt that Jenkins has talent, and if he stays healthy, he could be a dynamite backup and situational player.

2013 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

51. David Amerson, DB, N.C. State: C+ Grade
David Amerson had an outstanding 2011 campaign and was once considered a top-15 prospect. And then 2012 happened. Amerson was picked on quite often. He probably should have been chosen in the third round, but he does fill a big need, regardless of whether Washington plans on using him at corner or safety.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

85. Jordan Reed, TE, Florida: C Grade
I don’t think the Redskins have enough selections to make a luxury pick like this. Jordan Reed doesn’t fill a need whatsoever, but he’ll be an intriguing long-term weapon for Robert Griffin. However, Washington’s secondary is terrible and is in desperate need of several upgrades.

119. Phillip Thomas, S, Fresno State: A Grade
I’m positive I mocked Phillip Thomas to the Redskins in the third round, so he’s a slight steal in the middle of the fourth frame. Thomas is a versatile safety, which is exactly what Washington needs considering Brandon Meriweather’s injury concerns.

154. Chris Thompson, RB, Florida State: C- Grade
Surprise, surprise, Mike Shanahan used a late-round pick on a running back. I don’t know anyone who considered Chris Thomas a draftable prospect, but I don’t want to be one to question a Shanahan running back pick.

162. Brandon Jenkins, DE/OLB, Florida State: B+ Grade
The Redskins found out the hard way how important rush linebacking depth is when Brian Orakpo went down in Week 2 last year. Brandon Jenkins is coming off an injury of his own (foot), but he’ll provide a solid Plan B in the event of another player getting hurt.

191. Bacarri Rambo, S, Georgia: A Grade
The Redskins did a great job of coming away with two steals at the safety position on Day 3. Bacarri Rambo should have gone in the third or fourth round. Washington will love his instinctive play.

228. Jawan Jamison, RB, Rutgers: A Grade
Another running back? You don’t say! Jawan Jamison was given a third-round grade from the draft advisory committee. He fell because he’s a small back with a slow 40, but he plays faster than his 4.6. This is not a need, but I love the value here in the middle of Round 7.

2013 NFL Draft Team Grade: B- . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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