Veterans on the Washington Redskins began workouts a few weeks back in Ashburn. Now come the kids.
Friday begins a three-day rookie minicamp at Redskins Park for Washington's seven draft picks, including first-round pick Josh Doctson, plus a group of undrafted players. The coaching staff will get a look at how the new guys perform on-field drills and absorb classroom work. They will also simply get to know them in greater depth compared to whatever little pre- and post-draft time was spent together and ahead of all that is to come with Organized Team Activities (OTA) and training camp later this summer.
The Redskins media will get their first look at the rookies Saturday, and Breaking Burgundy will be there. Here are five things we're interested in about the rookie minicamp. Let us know what else you plan on tracking in the Forums.
1. Josh Doctson -- This is an all-encompassing reference to Washington's first selection and the 22nd overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. How does he look? Does he play bigger than 6-foot-2? Is he grasping the playbook quickly? Can he easily translate what he learned in the classroom to the field? Does this early preview suggest the former TCU star can push current starters DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon for playing time? Ultimately, it's not so much about questions with what the Redskins got in the talented receiver with a 41-inch vertical leap, reliable hands and 4.5 40-time speed, but seeing those skills produce on the next level.
2. How do they use Su'a Cravens? -- If you're not already familiar with the "hybrid safety" term, get used to it or some facsimile. NFL teams are finding more and more use for defenders with safety abilities and size in linebacker situations The Redskins selected Cravens in the second round with this modern look in mind. There will be times when Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry lines up the second-round pick in the secondary and other times when he moves him near the line of scrimmage. Don't expect the USC product to be a starter in base looks, but considering how often teams must play nickel and dime packages in the pass-heavy era, expect Washington's "Land Shark" on the field plenty, ideally. Where and when he'll line up on the field and are among the questions.
3. Jewelry appraisers -- We're not talking about any bling worn by the rookies, but whether there are any gems in the bunch. Third-round pick Kendall Fuller could end up helping the most as a rookie, according to Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan, but the cornerback won't be an on-field factor this weekend. Fuller, the only one of the seven draft picks yet to sign a contract with the Redskins, is still recovering from microfracture surgery on his right knee.
The other four selections -- defensive tackle Matt Ioannidis, quarterback Nate Sudfeld, inside linebacker Steven Daniels, running back Keith Marshall -- are expected to suit up. There is a roster path for all four, though a dicier road for Daniels in what shapes up as a deep group of inside linebackers. Washington did little to address its defensive line needs this offseason outside of selecting the rugged Ioannidis. Sudfeld projects as the third QB behind Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy while Marshall could turn into a dynamic threat if his blazing speed translates on the NFL level.
But it's not just about those who heard their name called during the NFL Draft. Quinton Dunbar and Rashad Ross are recent examples of undrafted free agents becoming helpful players for Washington. Expect plenty of mentions on the sheer size of 6-foot-9, 330-pound offensive tackle Kevin Bowen, especially if the East Central (Okla.) product looks like a viable project. Linebacker Reggie Northrup, the first client of rapper Lil Wayne, led Florida State in tackles last season.
4. Heath Shuler mentions - Nobody should in theory be talking about the former top-5 pick/NFL quarterback bust turned one-time congressman this weekend. That would be rather random unless there is perhaps some part of Sudfeld's game that reminds anyone of Shuler's. This comes up, however, because of what ex-Redskin Mark Schlereth said of his ex-teammate during a recent ESPN broadcast ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft.
Not every draft pick makes the league, let alone stars. That includes early-round selections. Hopefully, nobody mentions or hints at any bust talk this weekend.
5. Rain - No doubt most if not every inhabitant of the greater D.C. area is over the daily appearance of rain. With the wet stuff expected to stay with us for at least the next two days, that could alter plans in Ashburn. The bubble for the practice field was damaged during January's epic snowfall. For now, outdoor activities will remain purely outdoors. Granted, football games are often played in the elements, but the Redskins will likely do their best to avoid having players slip and slide whenever possible this weekend. No need to increase injury risk.
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