Thursday began with Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and Senior VP of Player Personnel Doug Williams talking to Washington, D.C., media prior to the first prospect media sessions with the running backs and offensive linemen.
The primary focus was, naturally, at the quarterback position, where Gruden acknowledged that will be an area of focus over the next couple of months with all the uncertainty surrounding Alex Smith and his injury timetable.
“I don’t know what to say,” Gruden said. “This injury is a tough one to overcome for sure. You also don’t know Alex and what he can do with his mind and what he can overcome. It’s a combinations of things. Will he be ready next year, or the year after? I don’t know. We’re just going to play it by ear moving forward. And OTA and training camp we’re going to get Colt ready to go and whoever else we have.”
"Whoever else" could be a veteran free agent or a rookie with star potential, such as Kyler Murray, who had a beneficial day where his measurables were concerned – he’s above 5-foot-10, he weighs 207 pounds.
But Thursday was primarily an opportunity to chat with the running backs and offensive line prospects, the latter of which are of importance to the Redskins as they actively look for a left guard. Here are so more news and notes from a busy day.
--In his conversation with the media, Williams was asked about positions of need. “It’s tough to say there’s a starting left guard on this football team,” he responded. “I think everybody would say no…But you’ve got to start somebody. We’re not opposed to drafting a young guy if it’s a guy that we like and just stick him in there. If not, we’ve got to go out and get a veteran that we think can do the job.”
--Oklahoma tackle Cody Ford has been linked to the Redskins in mock drafts and could be a candidate capable of moving inside, much like Brandon Scherff did four years ago. In his interviews, Ford has been primarily asked about whether he would be amenable to a position switch and how he might perform should that be needed.
“It’s been pretty much, ‘Where can we play you right away? Can we do inside or outside?’ They keep asking me, every team so far, has asked me where I feel comfortable, and they’re like, ‘Well what if we move you inside?’ So that’s pretty much the talk I’ve been hearing.” Asked what would be his biggest challenge switching spots, Ford responded, “I think the stance for me would be the biggest transition from guard and tackle.”
--Over on the side tables, away from the podiums, Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien answered questions. If the name sounds familiar, it’s because Brett is the nephew of Redskins Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien, the last quarterback to win a championship for Washington. Brett doesn’t see too many similarities in his style of play with his uncle, only to be expected for a nearly 30-year difference.
“Obviously I’ve watched a lot of film, seeing my uncle on some old tapes I’ve got at home,” he said. “You know, he kind of got me into football, watching him play in the Super Bowl in ‘91 was a really cool thing for me. Something that I’ve always strived to do since that point, watching that. As far as me modeling my game after him, I think it’s a very different time. You know, it’s obviously a very different game. I’m not going to be doing a whole lot of straight drop back, nine step drops, back-pedal style drops like they were doing back in the day. But, obviously, he threw a great deep ball, so that’s something I try to implement in my game.”
--With left guard a top priority for the Redskins this offseason, former Alabama guard Ross Pierschbacher could provide a championship pedigree to the Washington line saying "At the end of the day to win, it comes down to the team that makes the most plays. [At Alabama] We just kept fighting, we never gave up, and we just believed in each other every Saturday."
--Fighting is something former Georgia Bulldog back Elijah Holyfield, son of boxing great Evander, is all too familiar with. However, his patience at the line before attacking his opponent is something he has predicated his game on. "I like to press the line with patience. I see them out there, and I like my chances a lot of those times one on one when I bounce it outside." Holyfield continued. "I just like to ball."
Take a look at photos of 2019 NFL Draft prospect Kyler Murray.
--As the ever-prevalent phrase "size matters" has been used to describe many former, current and future NFL stars, former Stanford running back Bryce Love disagrees, saying "size is not a skill." Love continued, "There's plenty of small backs, plenty of big backs that weren't successful, but you can point to the greatness that a lot of smaller backs had: Barry Sanders, Emmitt Smith, they speak for themselves."
--Bennett Powers served as Kyler Murray's front line of protection standing at 6-foot-4, 313-pounds. He provided his thoughts on the 2018 Heisman winner. "He had no problem having balls batted, so I'm tired of seeing all the stuff about his height. He can play, you see the film, and that's what matters the most."
--After a career bounceback season for Adrian Peterson, and a healthy Derrius Guice expected for 2019, the offensive line becomes even more important to solidify this offseason. Florida's Jawaan Taylor could be the answer, as the 6-foot-4, 334-pound former Gator says he "enjoys everything about run blocking." "Getting guys moved at the point of attack, that's one of things I do best. I really love run blocking."