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Redskins Rookie Review: Khaleke Hudson Can Do It All On Defense

The Redskins Rookie Review series is presented by Medliminal, the Official Health and Wellness Partner of the Washington Redskins.

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Khaleke Hudson could do it all in high school. He played basketball, baseball and ran track at McKeesport High School in Pennsylvania. He even wrestled a little bit.

On the football field, he was the embodiment of versatility as a safety and running back. He ended his senior season with 60 tackles and three interceptions to go with 1,337 total yards from scrimmage and 22 touchdowns.

He likely won't be asked to play on offense in the NFL, but the former Michigan Wolverine will be doing a little of everything for the Redskins.

"They just told me that I'm a real versatile player," Hudson said after he was drafted in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. "They're going to use me in many ways. That's like music to my ears, and I can't wait to get there and show them what I can do."

Hudson should be used to playing in multiple positions by now. After he chose to accept a scholarship offer from Michigan over Penn State, defensive coordinator Don Brown placed him at the "Viper" position, which is designed to operate as a safety, linebacker and edge rusher.

That required Hudson to learn assignments for not one but three different positions, but he had no difficulty with that.

"Even though I did play a lot of positions, all the positions really tie into each other," Hudson told Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael. "So at the end of the day, everyone is learning every other position, so everyone knows what to do. If you ever move to a different position, it won't be a hard transition because you've been learning it ever since you got there."

Now, Hudson has confidence that he can function as a safety, play in the box as a linebacker and play on the edge as a pass-rusher. The scenario Brown placed him in, Hudson said, was perfect for him.

"I'm comfortable just being on the field and being a difference-maker. I'm comfortable making plays, I feel like that's what I do. I feel like sometimes you get caught up in what a guy who doesn't have a true position [does]. Sometimes that really doesn't matter because once he's on the field he's a playmaker and that's how I see myself."

And according to former Wolverine Jordan Glasgow, who also played the "Viper" position, Hudson had the build and mentality to excel within the defense.

"He's one of the most explosive players I've ever seen, which is extremely important for this position," Glasgow told The Detroit News. "Just look at Khaleke, and you'll see what you need to play the "Viper" in our defense, because he's textbook for it."

Hudson said his game progressed "tremendously" from his freshman to senior seasons. From positions coaches like Al Washington and Chris Partridge, he learned how to hone his pass rushing skills and play on special teams.

By the time Hudson reached his final season with the Wolverines, he was one of the best players on defense. He led the team with 102 tackles, recorded 3.5 sacks, broke up three passes and blocked a punt.

For a head coach like Ron Rivera who loves position flexibility, someone who can play as a linebacker but also operate in space fits what he and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are looking for in their new defensive scheme.

"We are going to play the guys that we believe give us the best opportunity to win football games," Rivera said. "That's what you want. You want guys that can come in and contribute that way."

Hudson is not sure what role he'll be in during his rookie season with the Redskins. All he's focused on right now is learning the playbook and being the best player possible whenever he steps on the field.

The best way for Hudson to contribute might not be at one particular spot, though, and if that's the case, then so be it.

"I'm just a playmaker every time I'm out there, and I'm going to do whatever I can," Hudson said. "[I'll] put the team on my back...if it's going to help my team come out with the win."

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