4 Undrafted Washington Players Who Could Prove to Be Gems
Undrafted free agents are a long shot to make any team. However, any player in the discussion obviously has talent. Why else would they get called into camp and be given a chance to show what they can do?
The Washington Redskins brought in nine undrafted guys and gave them that chance. Notre Dame quarterback Tommy Rees has since departed, but there are still players who could make a real contribution to the team.
Competition is already fierce in D.C., which is a good sign for fans. With a new coach and a healthy Robert Griffin III, there is a buzz of excitement developing. While that is something we say every year, players truly look committed and eager to make their mark.
Let’s have a look at four undrafted free agents trying to do just that.
Silas Redd, RB
Silas Redd hasn’t been the luckiest guy in the world, jumping from the scandal at Penn State to the sanctions at USC before going down with a knee injury that stifled his senior year. His familiarity with the sideline (along with a slow 4.70 40-yard dash at the combine) planted doubts in the minds of NFL GMs.
As a result, he fell out of the draft.
Washington lacks a runner truly capable of backing up Alfred Morris and gaining hard yards after contact. Fullback Darrel Young could spell him for a time, but he is best utilized as a lead blocker, a surprise receiver out of the backfield and a bulldozer into the end zone.
If Redd can prove that he hasn’t lost the burst and determination that were supposed to propel him to stardom, he could carve himself a very nice niche on Jay Gruden’s new-look roster.
Robert Thomas, DT
At 6'1" and 327 pounds, Robert Thomas adds both size and strength to the interior of the defensive line. In the first three games of his final season at Arkansas, he racked up 12 tackles (4.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks.
For an interior defensive lineman, that sort of production will turn heads.
The rest of the year didn’t go quite that well, and Thomas broke his leg after seven games in his last contribution as a Razorback. As a JUCO transfer, his opportunities were limited and his production was frustrating.
Realistically, Thomas is a practice squad guy with potential. He is a powerful defender who has shown he can get a second step toward the quarterback. He’s not a pass-rusher by any means, but he has good hand technique and quick lateral movement. This will serve Thomas well as he tries to make it in the NFL.
Bryan Shepherd, CB
We all know how bad special teams were in Washington last year. It was physically painful to watch, and Gruden has taken steps to improve it. Fourth-round pick Bashaud Breeland should make some waves in that area, but so should fellow cornerback Bryan Shepherd.
The North Dakota State product (via Coffeyville Community College) might be a corner, but he hits like a safety. At 5’10” and 178 pounds, those hits somewhat allay the concerns over his ability to compete physically. He has good speed and obvious aggression, which could make him a special teams success.
Whether this is returning kicks or channelling those hits into good field position for his defensive teammates, Shepherd should be going all out as the season draws near.
Cody Hoffman, WR
BYU’s all-time leader in receptions (260), receiving yards (3,612), receiving touchdowns (33) and all-purpose yards (5,105), Cody Hoffman is probably the favourite undrafted rookie to make the Washington roster in 2014.
The team needs a big-bodied receiver to act as a red-zone threat. At 6'4" and 223 pounds, Hoffman can fill that roster spot. No timetable has been set for Leonard Hankerson’s return, so Hoffman has to make his mark in the preseason to get himself noticed.
There is suddenly a stacked receiving corps in the nation’s capital, so Hoffman won’t get many chances. His size will help him, but so will his hands and ability to make the tough catches under pressure.
Of course, many of these contested catches are only made possible by Hoffman not getting a lot of separation and sometimes being predictable with his routes, but he has the tools to succeed in the NFL.