After a prolific college career at Alabama, Jonathan Allen was expected to have his name called early in the 2017 NFL Draft. But a drop down the boards made the Redskins' decision easy to select him.
“Never in a million years” did Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden believe Jonathan Allen – the top player on the team’s draft board – would be available when the 17th-overall pick rolled around in the 2017 NFL Draft.
Allen had originally entered the 2016 NFL Draft before deciding to return to Alabama for his senior season.
The 6-foot-3, 286 pounder was dominant in his return to Tuscaloosa, finishing his senior season with 69 tackles along with 15 quarterback hits, 10.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries. For his efforts during the 2016 season, Allen’s trophy case significantly expanded, as he was named the Bronko Nagurski Trophy winner, the Chuck Bednarik Award winner and the Ted Hendricks Award winner.
Additionally, Allen was a unanimous first-team All-American selection who finished seventh in Heisman Trophy voting.
During the early stages of the draft process, it appeared Allen would be the No. 2-overall pick. But once Thursday’s draft started to unwind, including the Chicago Bears unexpectedly trading up to the second pick to select University of North Carolina quarterback Mitchell Trubisky, Allen’s name still hadn’t been called entering the third hour of the draft.
Then he got a phone call from a familiar area code.
“I was so emotional, it was hard for me,” said Allen, a Loudoun County native. “I kind of blacked out, I feel like, so I don’t really remember the specifics of what was said. But I do remember him saying, ‘We didn’t think we’d get you but we’re blessed and lucky to have you.’ And I said, ‘No, I’m lucky that you took me.’ But it was a great conversation.”
Adding an impact defensive lineman in the offseason was a priority for the Redskins and Allen will fit that mold.“There really wasn’t anything not to like, really,” Gruden said of Allen. “We like his size, we like his strength, we like his ability to rush the passer, play the run. He’s a very versatile guy – he can play all the positions on defensive line.”
Allen is the first defensive player selected in the first round of the NFL Draft by the Redskins since Washington picked Ryan Kerrigan No. 16 in 2011.
Washington’s offense, of course, is one of the most potent attacks in the NFL today, but Gruden’s hope is that the addition of Allen – coupled with the likes of Kerrigan and cornerback Josh Norman – will help improve the defense immediately.
“You talk about our front, we have guys that can play the run pretty good, but this guy can do everything,” Gruden said. “He can line up at a three, he can line up at a five, he can line up at a nose if you want him to. He can stunt, he can play the run, but he can rush the passer. In the last two years, I think he has 22.5 sacks, 25 or 30 more hurries on the quarterback and that versatility is hard to find this day and age in defensive linemen, it really is. Big bodied guys usually are just run stoppers, they're not able to rush the passer as effectively as he is. And that's a big need for us."
Allen hopes to create his own legacy now that he’s in the NFL, but he's closely watched some of the top players in the trenches to see how they attack opponents, notably Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald.
“Just the mentality that they had going into every play,” Allen said of what he gathered watching their game film. “I mean, you never see those guys take a play off. Just their tenacity and how they play they play the game is just what I love about them the most.
Allen is known for his work ethic in preparation for individual games and an entire season-long slate, but sliding down to No. 17 will add a little extra motivation. He admitted that when the Redskins appeared on-deck to pick, his hope was that Washington would be the one to get him onto stage with a No. 1 jersey. But to be a top-rated talent that went mid-round adds fuel to the fire.
“For me, my motivation is to prove why the Redskins were right and smart for drafting me,” Allen said. “That’s going to be my motivation. So, I mean, it’s definitely going to sit in the back of my mind, but I have a job and I have a business to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
And to play for the team he rooted so passionately for growing up still feels like a surreal moment for Allen.
“It’s only something you read about in books – it doesn’t even seem real,” Allen said. “For me to be going back home to Washington, it’s honestly just the biggest blessing I could have ever received.”
Selected in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, outside linebacker Ryan Anderson's sole focus when on the field is to be a game-changer who brings unmatched toughness.
In the moments following his selection with the No. 49-overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, new Washington Redskins linebacker Ryan Anderson was short on words. It just hadn’t quite hit the Alabama native yet that he had been drafted into the NFL.
“I'm just ready to get back to football,” Anderson told local reporters on a conference call. “I want to enjoy the rest of this night with my family. That's what I want to do."
While Anderson was short on words that night, his play at Alabama for four seasons was anything but, having recorded 128 tackles with 19 sacks, six fumbles forced, six fumbles recovered, three passes defensed and an interception.
During his senior season in 2016, Anderson earned first-team All-SEC honors, as he collected 61 tackles with nine sacks, four fumbles forced and three fumble recoveries.
Anderson will join an outside linebacking corps that already features two-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan along with Preston Smith, Junior Galette and Trent Murphy among others. While it make take the 6-foot-2, 253 pounder some time to get acclimated to the NFL, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said he’ll immediately bring “a style of play here that we’ve been looking for.”
“He’s a non-stop-motor guy,” Gruden said. “He plays extremely hard. I heard part of his interviews [on draft night] [laughter]. I think he’s that type of guy. Watching film with him, he’s standing up watching film and talking about everybody’s job. He’s just a very high energy, high motor, tenacious guy and I think it’s going to rub off on a lot of people.”
Anderson describes himself as a playmaker that can change games in a heartbeat. For a defense that is looking for more pass rushing consistency outside of Kerrigan, the rookie could live up to the description right away.
“I’m the old-smith football player,” Anderson said. “I’m not a combine warrior, not a workout warrior, I’m a football player. At the end of the day, that’s what it boils down to. It boils down to ‘see ball, get ball and striking the man in front of you.’ That’s what I bring to the table.”
Born and raised in Daphne, Ala., before attending the University of Alabama from 2012-16, being in the Washington, D.C., area will be a change for Anderson. But he already has one familiar face with him at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., in first-round pick Jonathan Allen.
The two were teammates during Anderson’s four active seasons (2013-16) for the Crimson Tide. Together, the duo combined for more than one-third (19.5) of Alabama’s NCAA Division-IA sacks lead during the 2016 season.
“We got to the point where we can work together, we can go out there and we call a lot of games and stuff on our own – that came with trust and time,” Anderson said of his relationship with Allen. “For us to be on the same team, we can just pick right back up where we left off. I know him and I know his skill set. I know when he’s hot, I’m going to cover him, and if I’m rushing good, he can cover me. We pretty much have got that understanding. Like I said, man, it’s a great feeling to have another dog, somebody that’s going to go out there and lay it out there with you every day. That’s good, too.”
A self-described physical cornerback, Fabian Moreau is ready to mix it up with some of the NFL's best receivers once he returns from an injury he suffered at his pro day in March.
In the third round of the 2017 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins were able to land an “ultra-talented” cornerback in UCLA’s Fabian Moreau.
From a skill standpoint, Moreau was considered by some draft analysts a first-round talent, but he suffered a torn pectoral during his pro day in March.
Although the injury concerned some teams when looking to draft the six-foot, 206 pounder, the Redskins believe he’ll be a playmaker once he’s fully healthy again, perhaps as early as September.
“Unfortunately, he hurt his pec at his pro day lifting weights,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “But, he ran a 4.38 [and] 4.35 at the 40 [yard dash] at the Combine. [He’s] just really talented. He’s an ex-running back. What I saw at the East-West Shrine Game with him in one-on-ones, you could see his change of direction, his ball skills. But speed, I think upside, are the keys to Fabian and we’re excited to get him.”
A three-star recruit as a running back coming out of high school, Moreau made the switch to the defensive side of the football as he began his college career.
In 51 career games for the Bruins, Moreau recorded 148 tackles with 26 passes defensed and three interceptions.
As a senior in 2016, Moreau started 12 games and recorded 31 tackles along with personal bests in passes defensed (12) and interceptions (two).
While his pec tear will prevent him from getting on the field immediately, once he’s out there he’ll help a secondary that will face the likes of Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr., not only this year but well beyond.
“He’s good at bump-and-run,” Gruden said. “I still think he’s growing. You know, he’s only been playing, like I said, for three years, very similar to what we’re going through with [Quinton] Dunbar right here. We got another guy that can really run on the outside, you know, to go with obviously [Josh] Norman and [Bashaud] Breeland and Kendall [Fuller]. You can never have too many guys that are physical and can run. We play obviously a very tough division with Dez Bryant, now we have Alshon Jeffrey and obviously Brandon Marshall and Beckham, so the more guys that can run, cover and hit, the better.”
Moreau says he has no issue mixing it up with receivers, either.
"I'm a physical, press corner,” Moreau said. “I like to get in the receiver's face. I like to challenge them. I like to make plays, and just be that dog out there helping my team win."
Moreau visited Washington at the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va., during his pre-draft process.
Now a member of the Redskins, Moreau said being an NFL player is “everything to me,” and he won’t disappoint those who decided to draft him with the No. 81-overall pick.
“I’ve been wanting this my whole life,” Moreau said. “I’m just ready to contribute, ready to win and ready to be a Redskin.”
Racking up more than 4,000 rushing yards in just three years at Oklahoma, Samaje Perine has the experience and skills to potentially be an immediate contributor for the Washington Redskins.
The University of Oklahoma has produced brilliant running backs over the years, ranging from Billy Sims – the first-overall pick in the 1980 NFL Draft – to former Washington Redskins All-Pro Joe Washington and, more recently, Adrian Peterson and DeMarco Murray.
But in the school’s 112 years of having a football program, no one has collected more rushing yards than new Redskins running back Samaje Perine.
Racking up 4,122 yards in four seasons for the Sooners, Perine is Oklahoma’s all-time leading rusher. In each of his four seasons in Norman, the 5-foot-11, 233 pounder recorded at least 1,050 yards and 12 touchdowns.
During his freshman season in 2014, Perine set the single-game NCAA record for rushing yards with 427 against Kansas. Perine wasn’t the starter against the Jayhawks, but beginning with a 42-yard touchdown run on his first carry of the game, the Pflugerville, Texas, native took over the game. By halftime, he already had 222 rushing yards before finishing with a total of 427 yards on the day following another 42-yard run in the fourth quarter.
It was the highlight performance of a college career in which he averaged six yards per carry.
“You say, ‘Oh, he’s a big back, he’s a between-the-tackles back.’ He’s averaging six yards per carry, so he’s a little bit more than that,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “I don’t think he gets enough credit for once he gets outside that ability to run over people, stiff-arm people [and] still make people miss. Not to mention, the character on this kid is A-plus. We know we’re going to get the most out of him. He benched 30 times on 225 [pounds], so we know how strong he is. Just a total package is really what we liked.”
Perine joins a running backs group that includes incumbent starter Robert Kelley along with third-down back Chris Thompson. Like his time at Oklahoma when he split time with other running backs, Perine will likely be part of a joint running back situation.
“If you are dressed on game day, one of the three that is dressed, you’re going to get carries,” Gruden said. “Whether it’s 18 for Fat Rob and 15 for Perine and five for Chris; however it pans out. They will compete and there is always going to be competition here that’s never going to change.”
Perine believes he’s more of a downhill runner against opposing defenses, but has no issue cutting on a dime and making players miss him that way, too. He said he’s been working with a personal coach who forces him to make a cut one way before speeding up-field.
“I’ve been working on making people miss throughout this whole process, so I’ve gotten better at that,” Perine said. “I’d much prefer to go through you than around you.”
While Perine’s body of work as a ball carrier is polished, he understands that one phase of his game he’ll have to continue to work on is his pass-catching out of the backfield.
Perine caught just 40 passes in his three seasons at Oklahoma.
“Don’t really have much game film of pass catching, but that was something I also worked on throughout this process,” Perine said. “And you know my hands have gotten a lot better, route running has gotten a lot better. Pass pro has always been something that I’ve prided myself on starting from high school and continuing that process through college. So I feel like my pass pro is pretty good. You can always get better at stuff but coming out, as a starting point, I feel like my pass pro is pretty good.”
Despite a torn labrum in his left shoulder, fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson is excited to dive into the Redskins playbook and start his career in Washington knowing all the ins and outs of the defense.
Once Montae Nicholson gets to the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, he’s going to dive right into the playbook.
In one sense, this is all he will really be able to do anyway, as the Redskins’ fourth-round safety in this year’s draft is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum he suffered throughout his junior season at Michigan State. He’s the first player from Michigan State selected by the Redskins since the team chose quarterback Kirk Cousins – also in the fourth round – in the 2012 NFL Draft.
“I won’t be able to do anything right away,” Nicholson said on a conference call with media, “so, I just want to get everything in my head just so I don’t lose a step.”
Nicholson expects to be back around training camp and doctors have said he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab. Head coach Gruden confirmed that the team feels like he’ll be ready for camp.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder from Pittsburgh was an All-Big Ten pick and showed off his skillset at the combine, running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, the third fastest of the safeties present, adding a 35-inch vertical jump and 125-inch broad jump.
For the Spartans, Nicholson contributed 86 tackles, two for a loss, with an interception and two passes defensed last season. Over his three years there, he collected 200 total tackles, four picks and a forced fumble.
"I'm a physical player, you know what I mean?” Nicholson said. “I like to run and hit people. I'm pretty fast, and I have got good range. That’s pretty much attributes for the team."
Nicholson will likely get a taste of special teams first as he transitions into the defense, hoping to see his physicality manifest on punt and kickoff teams as he catches up to speed with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky’s scheme.
“Montae was sitting there and it was kind of a position of need, but also he was one of our top-rated safeties and we decided to take him,” Gruden said. “He’s a big kid that can really run. I think he ran a 4.4 at the Combine, and worst-case he’s going to help out our special teams and that’s important. That’s one of the big three phases so that’s a good add for us.”
Nicholson took some time to think about returning to East Lansing for one more season, but is content with his decision to head to the NFL, and now, to the Redskins.
“It was definitely a tough decision, probably one of the toughest decisions – if not the toughest decision – I’ve had to make to this point in my life,” Nicholson said. “I talked it over with my mom, my grandfather. I call them my panel, so to speak. I sat down for weeks trying to decide what was best for me. In the end, I decided out to come out and that it was best for me and my family. I don’t regret it at all. I’m very excited to get to work.”
At 6-foot-5 and more than 250 pounds, Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle gives the Redskins a strong blocker opposite the likes of Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis.
While the Washington Redskins already had a strong set of receiving threats at the tight end position entering the offseason, headlined, of course, by Pro Bowler Jordan Reed, the team was seeking a blocking tight end in the 2017 NFL Draft.
They got just that in Arkansas tight end Jeremy Sprinkle in the fifth round. Listed as 6-foot-5, 252 pounds, Sprinkle did record 71 receptions for nearly 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns – an Arkansas school record for tight ends -- in his four seasons with the Razorbacks, but he’s best in pass protection and working off opposing defenses with superb hand placement and long arms.
“He’s a big guy that can do both,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “That’s very exciting. That’s very rare nowadays in college football. A lot of tight ends are athletic, can run, but when you ask them to put their hand on the ground and block that six-technique, it’s a whole different ballgame. We feel like Jeremy can do a little bit of both.”
From the time he played in his first career college game back in 2013 to the conclusion of his senior season last year, Sprinkle believes his blocking skills are what improved most significantly.
“I feel like this past season, just being able to be in those gap schemes and everything like that, it really gave me an opportunity to show that my in-line blocking is really good,” Sprinkle said. “I feel like that part of my game is good and solid.”
While Sprinkle hadn’t hear much from the Redskins after meeting with the team at both the Senior Bowl at the NFL Scouting Combine, it was Washington who was on the other line when he got a call in the fifth round of the draft.
Sprinkle admitted it was a “big surprise,” to find out the team that was selecting him, but he’s excited to be joining a Redskins offense that utilizes the tight end position in multiple ways.
“It was pretty exciting,” Sprinkle said. “This has always been a big dream for me. To finally have it come true, it’s a big moment for me right now.”
While Sprinkle’s senior season helped him jump up some draft board for NFL teams, the year concluded with him being suspended for Arkansas’ bowl game against Virginia Tech. Sprinkle explained the off-field incident with teams in-depth and is ready to put the situation past him.
"I feel like it was a big disappointment for everyone around me,” Sprinkle said. “Obviously it was something that was out of my character. I just learned that, you know, you just have to be the same person whether you think someone's watching or not.”
Focused now on contributing for the Redskins, Sprinkle joins Reed along with Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Derek Carrier and Wes Saxton as the sixth tight end on the roster.
From a weight standpoint, Sprinkle comes in as the heaviest tight end, four pounds heavier than both Davis and Carrier and six pounds heavier than Reed.
While it’s a good starting point for the 22-year-old, the coaching staff actually wants to see Sprinkle get a little bit bigger once he gets to the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park in Loudoun County, Va.
“He’s still got to develop his upper body, but I think we get him in our building, get him in the weight room… He’s got the length, he’s got the size, he’s got the toughness,” Gruden said. “I think he’s a good pick.”
The Redskins' newest offensive lineman played center and guard at the University of Wyoming and is grateful to join a franchise with a strong foundation at his position.
Relief followed excitement once the Washington Redskins selected University of Wyoming center Chase Roullier in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
Within minutes he was on the phone with local media sharing his initial reaction and began researching more about the franchise he had visited a couple weeks before being drafted. As an offensive lineman, however, Roullier already had a good sense of at least part of the team’s history.
Despite growing up in Minnesota, Roullier had heard about “The Hogs,” and how that group of offensive linemen had made the position exciting again, forming an ethos to emulate for those that succeeded them.
“It’s a name that has been passed down to high school and college offensive lines throughout the country because of guys like Russ Grimm, Jeff Bostic and Joe Jacoby,” Roullier said. “Those kinds of guys paved the way for so many offensive lineman throughout the country and made it an exciting position to play.
“Growing up in the Midwest, I wasn’t deeply rooted in the understanding of who the Hogs were in Washington, D.C., but you know their reputation, that they’re a great offensive line, and they’re players who you aspire to be.”
Roullier will now get the chance to play with “Hogs 2.0,” an homage and nickname started by left tackle Trent Williams last season to describe the dominance up front that the Redskins have exhibited over the last two seasons. Bookending a line with Morgan Moses, who just signed a multi-year extension with the team, Williams, along with the continued development of right guard Brandon Scherff, will give Roullier some serious guidance.
“Obviously when you have the opportunity to join an offensive line that’s already a great offensive line, and you’re just in there doing your best to try and make it better, that’s awesome to join that,” he said. “It’s an honor to be in there with those guys.”
Roullier, who will join the team before rookie minicamp next week, played guard for the first three years of his career at Wyoming but moved to center in his senior year, a switch that benefited the Wyoming Cowboys greatly as well as his draft stock, he believed.
Pro Football Focus has sung his praises, saying he makes blocking look easy sometimes and he “has the ability to steer defensive lineman in a way rarely seen,” insinuating a solid career is ahead of him.
“I think my switch to center really proved that I was a versatile offensive lineman on the interior,” Roullier said. “If I had stayed at guard throughout my years there, that would be a question mark, whether I was versatile enough at center and whatnot. But by actually doing it my entire senior year, it just proved that I was, and it wasn’t a question mark anymore, it was one of my strengths. I think it helped me a lot, it pushed me up boards.”
As a mechanical engineering major, and then the signal caller at the line of scrimmage for the offensive line, Roullier admitted he had plenty of late nights at the library, finishing homework and then waking up early for practices. It was a sacrifice he was willing to take, and he’s glad that, for now, 100 percent of his energy will be on football.
He also knows that much work lies ahead. That will start with shedding the impossible burden of being the 199th-overall selection in the draft – the Tom Brady selection, it’s deemed – that Roullier has heard ad nauseam since Saturday.
“It’s kind of hard to be compared to one of the best, if not the best, quarterbacks in NFL history, and all I am is a draft pick,” Roullier said. “People already trying to compare me to someone like that is…I don’t think it’s necessarily fair. I’m just going to come in there and do the best that I can. Obviously I’m not going to be thinking about what pick I was in the draft. Hopefully it’s a little bit of luck that can get passed down to me at the very least.”
The Redskins continued the push to get big receivers on the roster, drafting the 6-foot-3 Robert Davis in the 2017 NFL Draft. He’s Georgia State’s all-time leading receiver.
Among the Washington Redskins’ seven picks selected on the third day of the 2017 NFL Draft, Georgia State wide receiver is, perhaps, the most intriguing prospect for the coaching staff to work with this summer.
“[Wide receivers coach] Ike Hilliard had a pretty good grade on him and really liked him,” Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. “He has a skill set that is very interesting. He’s big, he’s strong and he is fast and he can catch. He was productive; I don’t know what else you want in a wide receiver so he is going to be an interesting guy to watch. He can play outside, run through arm tackles so keep an eye on him.”
Unlike a majority of the Redskins’ 10 draft picks for the 2017 draft class, Davis did not come from a big school, nor was he highly recruited coming out of Northside (Ga.) High School. In fact, during his senior season Davis caught just 11 passes in a run-heavy offense.
Despite the lack of targets and production, Davis was still able to enroll at Georgia State where he would eventually become the Panthers’ all-time leading receiver. While Georgia State would join the Sun Belt Conference starting with Davis’ freshman season in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 219 pounder experienced quite a bit of success when the Panthers went up against elite college programs.
In games against West Virginia, Alabama, Washington, Clemson, Oregon and Wisconsin, Davis recorded 23 receptions for 335 yards and three touchdowns, going against the likes of Marcus Peters, Marlon Humphrey and other first-round talents.
Davis hopes that he can take some of the positives from those performances and parlay them over to the NFL, where defenses won’t be locking in on him quite the same way they were when he was Georgia State’s No. 1 receiver.
On the outside, of course, Washington already has Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Josh Doctson, while slot receiver Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed demand attention in the middle of the field.
“I'm an athletic receiver that can help stretch the field,” Davis said. “I really feel I can come into that organization with the great receiver coach they have there. I'm just ready to go to work and see what I can do to help the team."
Davis comes into the fold for a wide receiving corps that has changed quite significantly since last season, most notably the group’s overall size.
Gone are the six-foot Pierre Garçon and the 5-foot-10 DeSean Jackson. In their place, Washington signed Pryor (6-foot-4) and Brian Quick (6-foot-3) and brought in Davis.
“I think when you’re looking for outside receivers, you’re looking for a guy that can be a little bit bigger,” Gruden said. “We feel like we have the best inside receiver – one of the best ones in the game – in Jamison so we weren’t really looking to add another one there. But we have some guys that can play a little bit of everywhere. You’d like to have size, but we just felt like at the time Robert was the best player available at receiver.
He just so happened to be 6-3 and runs a 4.4. Good for us. Really, size, we weren’t looking for a specific position there. We were looking for a guy that could run and maybe help out on special teams in his first year and continue to develop and break in the lineup that way first.”
Davis will have to fight for playing on offense with all of the large weapons currently ahead of him on the roster. But even if his appearances on offense are limited to start, he’ll find ways to make it onto the field.
“All I can say is I’m a football player,” Davis said. “I don’t even consider myself as just a wide receiver. I consider myself a football player. I feel like I can go out there and make plays on special teams. I’m willing to block. I went to a triple option high school, where that was the only thing we did. I only caught  passes my high school career. I mean, blocking was what I did, and I am a skilled blocker. I’m a physical guy and I’m a guy who’s willing to go out there and compete.”
Taken five picks apart, both Josh Harvey-Clemons and Joshua Holsey provide instant depth in the defensive backfield and both are looking forward to helping wherever the Redskins need them.
The Redskins added more defensive help – for the present and near future – in the seventh round of the NFL Draft when they took Louisville linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons and Auburn cornerback Josh Holsey just five picks apart.
Harvey-Clemons was a second-team All-ACC pick last season for the Cardinals, as he racked up 61 tackles (four for loss) and two sacks. He did that mostly listed as a safety, although the Redskins plan to use him in a variety of ways, starting with dime linebacker.
The role could be similar to what safety Su’a Cravens experienced last year, learning the defense in a limited role that will still be a big factor considering the way that offenses are adapting.
“You look around the league and you look at some of these running backs that are getting drafted, you know [Alvin] Kamara and some of these smaller scatbacks that are really good receivers, you better have somebody that can run and cover them and also be able to tackle if they run inside zone or something like that,” head coach Jay Gruden said. “We feel like he can do that. [It will] be a good project, and height/weight/speed, he fits all the measurables, we’ve just got to find a spot for him.”
At 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, Harvey-Clemons stressed with the media that he’s willing to play anywhere – likely a special teams project, too – and hopes that experience will benefit him down the road.
“I think my strengths are my range and my length and my ability to get to the ball,” Harvey-Clemons said. “Some things I need to work on… I would say just small footwork things and staying low out of my break and things like that.”
Holsey has similar ability to be versatile, traits that come in handy as teams take stock of their picks and project their rosters.
Gruden sees the Auburn product competing at both corner and nickel-corner positions, relying on his instincts, which make up for his lack of size – 5-foot-11, 195 pounds.
In his senior season, Holsey was selected as All-SEC third team after making 30 total tackles and three interceptions last season, dealing with nagging injuries – two ACL injuries -- that he acquired throughout his five years as a Tiger.
“Big time,” Holsey said when asked if the injuries affected his play. “But I was able to bounce back from that. A lot of guys can’t come back from two ACL injuries and play as well I did. I was able to battle through those. Injuries happen, so you have to be able to fight through and come back. I feel like I did that and Washington and Coach [Torrian] Gray and Coach [Jay] Gruden felt that as well and took a chance for me.”
Holsey is banking on his intelligence and tenacity on the field to help him excel and is ready for what the Redskins have in store for him.
“We see him competing at nickel and a little bit at corner,” Gruden said. “He played very well. He competed against Mike Williams and did a great job. I love his competitiveness. You look as his measurables and he’s not the biggest guy in the world, but he competes as good as any corner we’ve seen out there. We’re excited to throw him in the mix and let him compete at nickel/corner and special teams obviously.”