The Washington Redskins received high marks for their draft class; this weekend, they’ll get a chance for a long look at them. The Redskins will hold their three-day rookie minicamp beginning Friday. The media will be able to watch Saturday’s session.
It’s an opportunity for the coaches to get a feel for how much information players have retained after working throughout the week, installing plays. This is just the first of many steps they have to endure in order to win a starting job or just a roster spot. And there’s another month before they’ll be tested vs. the veterans in the mandatory minicamp.
What to watch for this weekend:
Josh Doctson’s talent: The Redskins weren’t going to draft a receiver in the first round until Doctson fell to them. They would have passed up every other first-round wideout. This weekend won’t answer the question of whether or not he could end up starting this year, but we’ll get the first glimpse of his ability and perhaps how much he’ll be able to help. The real answers will come in training camp, when the pads are on and they’re in live situations.
As of now, Doctson will be the backup to both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. The Redskins love Doctson's hands and consider him a smooth receiver. At 6-foot-2, he’s taller than the other receivers expected to make the roster. That height, combined with his leaping ability, could make him a tempting red-zone target early in the season if nothing else.
Su’a Cravens positioning: The Redskins have said he’ll be a nickel and dime linebacker, which means he might not end up starting, but could still play nearly three-quarters of the game. But can he do more? Would they just use him as a safety? If so, that means he’d have to occasionally line up deep middle. In college, he’d line up in the box, though often on the wider side of the field (it speaks to the ground coaches believed he could cover). Regardless, we’ll begin to see what the Redskins do with him and what sort of coverage skills he’s starting out with.
Matt Ioannidis’ size: It’s real hard to get a true sense of line play from A) one practice and B) one practice with no pads. With Ioannidis, though, his size and body type will help determine his ultimate role along the defensive front. He’s listed at 299 pounds, which would be small for a nose tackle but good for an end in their base front and tackle in their nickel. Still, general manager Scot McCloughan said they’d try him at nose as well.
Keith Marshall’s speed: He ran the fastest time (4.31 seconds) in the 40-yard dash at the combine earlier this offseason. That’s one reason Washington drafted the running back; the Redskins spent the weekend drafting what McCloughan likes to call “football players,” but Marshall’s speed clearly mattered here. Nothing wrong with that: It gives Washington something it wanted in the backfield. But how does that speed translate to the field? Again, the real test comes in game situations for running backs. And more often than not it’s not the speed that matters, it’s the ability to make defenders miss and create openings on your own. That’s what the Redskins backs weren’t doing much of last season. Still, Marshall has impressive speed and it will be interesting to see it up close.
Nate Sudfeld’s skills: The Redskins like him as a developmental quarterback, which means they’d like him to stick around a few seasons just to see what happens. This weekend will provide a feel for his decision-making and how quickly he has picked up the offense. There will be multiple speed bumps for a rookie quarterback, but you can see the arm strength and how he moves in the pocket (albeit against a lesser rush than he’d ultimately face).
Steven Daniels’ coverage ability: The linebacker’s strength is moving forward and hitting ball carriers. If he hits anyone this weekend, he’ll be in trouble. So that means Daniels will end up showing how well he moves and his ability to cover (it was not considered a strength).
The undrafteds: Again, one weekend won’t reveal all, but it will give the coaches an idea of players who might have a better shot at earning a roster spot or places on the practice squad. Washington signed 14 undrafted players and there will be a large number of others there on a tryout basis. The reality is that Washington might have fewer spots open on the roster, barring injuries in training camp (which, of course, almost always happen). But will there be another Quinton Dunbar here? Just remember: Nobody knew much about Dunbar last season other than he was an undrafted receiver. Later, he became a corner who found his way onto the roster.