Re-Grading the Washington Redskins' 2013 Draft Class
Four games into the 2013-14 season, how are the rookies for the Washington Redskins faring?
As in any draft class, there have been positives and negatives. Jordan Reed and Brandon Jenkins look to be promising players. On the flip side, Chris Thompson and Bacarri Rambo have yet to provide a spark.
The Redskins were without a first-round pick this year (and next year) due to the 2012 trade for Robert Griffin III. A first-round pick is normally the easiest way to grade a draft class, so we'll have to delve a little deeper into the drafting depths to determine how the 2013 rookies are grading out.
It's still early, but here are the current grades for every Washington Redskins' 2013 draft pick.
David Amerson, CB, 51st Pick
David Amerson was the Redskins' first pick of this year's draft, as they looked to address their biggest need, the defensive secondary.
Like many rookies, Amerson has been a mixed bag so far. He's given up several big plays through both miscommunication and poor technique. He too often gets caught peeking into the backfield, a problem he had at North Carolina State as well.
There's also the matter of his size and length. At 6'1", Amerson possesses the body type to match up against top receivers on the outside. He is able to provide a solid jam on receivers in press coverage. Against the Detroit Lions, there were several plays where he disrupted the receiver's route.
Coaches have praised Amerson for his ability to learn quickly from his mistakes. Given his overall talent level and ability to improve, there's a good chance that he can start to limit his mistakes and make the most of his opportunities.
Jordan Reed, TE, 85th Pick
Washington head coach Mike Shanahan must have seen something he liked in Jordan Reed, because even with a crowded tight end position, Shanahan pulled the trigger and drafted the athletic playmaker in the third round.
Four games in, fans are already seeing the impact Reed can make on the field. Despite sitting out against Oakland due to an injury, Reed has still posted 13 receptions for 106 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season. Reed also is making tough catches and showing an ability to run after the reception.
Perhaps even better than his pass-catching skills, has been his improvement in run-blocking. Shanahan wants to get back to running the ball. If Reed can continue improving his blocking techniques, he could quickly supplant Fred Davis (if he hasn't already) as the Redskins' top tight end.
Phillip Thomas, S, 119th Pick
It's hard to grade a rookie who never really got a chance. Phillip Thomas was an exciting safety prospect coming out of Fresno State, but a Lisfranc ligament tear in Week 1 of the preseason sidelined him for the year.
By all accounts, Thomas is a talented player whose physical and mental abilities would usually warrant a pick higher than the fourth round. But due to the deep pool of safeties in the 2013 draft, Thomas fell to the Redskins at No. 119 overall.
Thomas drew praise from coaches during the offseason and training camp. He has solid ball skills and led the NCAA with eight interceptions in 2012. Projected as a strong safety to back up Brandon Meriweather, Thomas was a sensible pick who offered value and some promise in helping to solve the pressing needs of the Redskins secondary.
There's no way to know how Thomas will recover from the injury and what his impact will be once he returns to the team in 2014. The one thing we do know, he isn't providing any value to the team in 2013.
Chris Thompson, RB, 154th Pick
In somewhat of a surprise draft move, at least to anyone who doesn't know Mike Shanahan, the Washington Redskins' head coach added a running back to an already talented backfield.
Chris Thompson is a speedster, clocking a 4.42 40-yard dash at his workout before the draft. Thompson has been given the role of kick returner this season in the hope that he could provide a spark, but he has failed to do anything through four games.
Washington is averaging a paltry 5.6 yards per punt return this season, 25th among all NFL teams. Kickoff returns have been even worse, coming in at 20.3 yards per return, 27th in the league.
Thompson isn't responsible for 100 percent of those numbers, as he has been benched in certain circumstances for veterans such as Josh Morgan or Santana Moss. His benching was due in large part to his poor decision-making, as the rookie fielded several punts inside the Redskins' own 10-yard line.
With Alfred Morris and Roy Helu firmly entrenched in the running back rotation, it's hard to see where Thompson's value lies at the moment. Of course, in Shanahan's system, any running back is one play away from becoming a star performer.
Brandon Jenkins, OLB, 162nd Pick
Mike Shanahan went on a Florida State run in the fifth round, selecting Brandon Jenkins eight picks after grabbing fellow Seminole Chris Thompson.
Unlike Thompson, however, Jenkins has shown the ability to make impact plays and has worked his way into the rotation after a stellar preseason. He also provides Washington defensive coordinator Jim Haslett the versatility to slide either Ryan Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo inside and have extra pass-rushers on the field in passing situations.
From a technique standpoint, Brandon Jenkins lacks polish, but his athleticism continues to shine through. As ESPN's John Keim stated in his preseason evaluation of the outside linebacker, Jenkins is still just learning which pass-rushing moves can be effective at the NFL level.
In this pass-crazed NFL, it's a common belief that a defense can never have too many pass-rushers. Jenkins provides depth at a crucial position. If he continues to improve, he may make an already-dangerous pass rush even more potent.
Bacarri Rambo, S, 191
The Redskins continued their trend of taking play-making defensive backs when they selected their third of the draft in the sixth round. Due to the lack of free safeties on the Washington roster, Bacarri Rambo found himself thrust into the starters in the 2013 preseason.
So the safety out of Georgia was thrown into the fire early in his NFL career. Hopefully the burns Bacarri Rambo suffered against speedsters such as Chris Johnson and LeSean McCoy haven't damaged his psyche or confidence beyond repair.
Rambo dropped several rounds in the draft due in part to a drug-related suspension at the beginning of his senior year at Georgia. Despite the red flag, the Redskins took a chance on his talent, and so far there have been no character issues in his brief time as a pro.
Still, the Redskins were perhaps a bit ambitious in thinking that a late-round rookie would be able to hold his own against the talented wide receivers and running backs he would face on a weekly basis. After being torched by DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy Week 1, Rambo had to deal the following week with an Aaron Rodger's-led offense that was clicking on all cylinders.
Rambo was relegated to the bench after Week 2, but the Redskins still have high hopes for his future. Rambo is smart and talented, but it will take time for him to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
Jawan Jamison, RB, 228th Pick
For the final pick of the Redskins 2013 draft, Coach Shanahan couldn't resist taking another running back, nabbing Jawan Jamison out of Rutgers.
Jamison had very few opportunities in the preseason, so it's no surprise he was relegated to the eight-man practice squad. Jamison is a compact runner, listed at 5'7" and 203 pounds. He is considered less of a change-of-pace back and more of a natural runner.
Every seventh-round pick is a long shot, but this seems like a wasted opportunity, considering the depth at running back and the holes at other positions.