This year's group of rookies features some interesting prospects.
The Washington Redskins got good value with their draft picks, which was necessary following last year’s trade to acquire Robert Griffin III. If they could get a similar value from their undrafted free agents, the 2013 offseason will have been an unqualified success.
The following pages outline five players who could make a real contribution to the team, whether it’s this year or in the future.
Xavier Nixon is a player who has potential, but doubts remain.
Xavier Nixon was the biggest name among the undrafted free agents arriving in Washington this year. He’s a divisive player who shows flashes of real talent, but all too often he takes plays off and looks uninterested in playing at all.
Recently he addressed these concerns when he spoke to The Washington Post. Nixon sounded determined to focus on the future, mentioning that this was "a new beginning" for him and that he’ll only go as far as his work ethic will take him.
That’s really the key here. With the right tackle position a genuine weakness, he has the tools to rise up the depth chart. He played in a zone-blocking scheme at Florida, also within an offense that made good use of the read-option. He has quick feet and ideal NFL size, but is yet to make good on his potential.
Training camp will give us a better idea of where Nixon will fit in his rookie season.
Will Compton is dedicated and consistent.
Will Compton was a productive player at Nebraska. His senior season saw him rack up 82 tackles (six for loss), three quarterback hurries and 0.5 sacks. In 2011 he was an honorable All-Big Ten selection, and his consistency is something that every coach looks for.
With London Fletcher reaching the twilight of his career and both Brandon Jenkins and Keenan Robinson coming off injuries, Compton must like his chances of seeing the field this year.
Even if he sits behind Fletcher, Robinson, Perry Riley and Jenkins, he has the chance to contribute on special teams.
Compton is a tough and intelligent football player, fully committing to tackles and giving his all on every play. He shows good awareness of how the play develops and is quick to take advantage of this.
With Lorenzo Alexander departing the nation’s capital, there’s an opening for a special teams ace who can make some plays. Compton could be that player.
Emmanuel Ogbuehi has good size and vesatility.
Emmanuel Ogbuehi is 6’3” and 245 pounds, which immediately makes him a matchup nightmare. He’s also spent some time at H-back, giving the Redskins some versatility in the same manner as former fan-favorite Chris Cooley.
Tight end is another position where the team has multiple players coming off injuries, including this year’s third-round pick, Jordan Reed.
Ogbuehi was pretty much unknown until he started turning heads at his pro day. He told GeorgiaState.247Sports.com that there was a Redskins scout present, and after Ogbuehi finished his workout, he was immediately asked to run routes.
With a strong preseason, Ogbuehi could find himself with a role to play.
Although he spent most of his college career at left tackle, Jacolby Ashworth moved to guard his senior year, which is where he projects at the next level. He moves well, which suits the ZBS the Redskins run under Mike Shanahan.
He keeps himself square and makes good use of his hands to ward off defenders. At 6’3” and 300 pounds, he’s not the biggest of players, but in the above video, his college coach enthused about his work ethic and dedication to improving as a football player.
Houston running back Charles Sims had four separate 100-yard games behind Ashworth, so he could open vital holes if called upon this year.
Although it’s more likely that he remains a developmental player this year, Ashworth’s commitment to furthering himself could see him emerge as a real contributor in 2014.
Chase Minnifield has had his share of setbacks but has great potential.
Although not part of this year’s crop of UDFAs, Chase Minnifield’s promising career as a Redskins player was cut short by the second ACL tear of his career, having also come off microfracture surgery just prior to the 2012 combine.
Minnifield has just returned to practice with the team, although Shanahan is understandably keen to take his progression slowly. When speaking to Zac Boyer at the Free Lance-Star, the Redskins coach outlined his plans for ensuring Minnifield remains healthy going into the new season:
Anytime a guy comes off a knee injury, we like him to practice when he’s OK, but we don’t want to overdo it, especially when you’ve got a month and a half of recovery time. So, he’s going to practice next week on Tuesday and we’ll probably give him Wednesday off as well.
Minnifield was making excellent progress in camp last year, raising expectations for his contribution to the team. He’s got a huge amount of potential, but it’s important to get him through this year without further setbacks before making projections about his future.
He deserves his place on the list, however, because of his obvious talent.