The Redskins knew they couldn't count on a draft pick starting immediately, not without a first-round pick. If it happened? Great. So they filled their perceived immediate needs in free agency and hoped several in the draft class could fill roles, some more prominent.
Coach Jay Gruden said the Redskins' free-agency signings should allow the rookies to develop without needing to start immediately. I'll take a look at how the rookies fit in and when they might be needed to play bigger roles.
Player: CB Bashaud Breeland
Why he doesn’t need to start: The Redskins don’t need a starter with David Amerson and DeAngelo Hall in the lineup. Tracy Porter will be the slot corner, provided he can do something he’s never done: Stay healthy two straight seasons. He did not miss a game last season but is coming off shoulder surgery and his history of injuries shouldn't make anyone feel comfortable. E.J. Biggers is another option. That gives Washington four veterans – you can debate the quality – ahead of Breeland. The Redskins also have Chase Minnifield and Richard Crawford.
Future role: Third corner/possible starter. Breeland, a fourth-round pick, has skills that will make him a good player to have around because of his special-teams ability. To become a starter he’d need a strong pass rush given how physical he likes to play. For now I’ll say third corner and see how he progresses through the summer and next season. If he becomes a solid third and excellent special-teams player, then that's a win with this pick (assuming two others from this class become starters).
When he might need to be ready: The top three corners are signed through 2015. Barring injuries (again: Porter’s durability has always been an issue so Breeland could be needed sooner) or drop-off in play by Hall, Breeland doesn’t need to be more than a special-teamer and fourth corner until 2016. This is how it should work: draft someone in the middle rounds, let them grow and then stick them in when needed a couple years later. Too often the Redskins have failed at this, failing to develop players then overpaying for a free agent. They need their own to help – and not just those drafted high. Now, Breeland and the coaches just have to make sure this is what happens.
What he must work on: Learning to cover receivers without being too grabby; or, at least, finding veteran tricks to conceal the grabbiness (other corners do it; Seattle’s corners are often physical throughout the route). Breeland has to show that his lack of speed (4.62 in the 40) won’t be a hindrance. His long arms and patience make him a good fit in press or even certain zones, but turning and running with speedier wideouts could be difficult. Seattle corner Richard Sherman isn’t a burner, either, but his combine 40 times ranged in the low 4.5s. Breeland offers versatility because of his ability to play multiple spots defensively and, perhaps, could move to safety down the road if corner does not work. It was evident on tape the kid loves to play the game and that always helps.