Washington Redskins: Early Rookie Progress Reports
Suddenly, the players who just fulfilled their lifelong dream of getting drafted were met with the realization that those feelings of euphoria don't last too long. There's no such thing as being the big man on campus anymore. Now there's pressure to perform, to show you belong.
How is Washington's new class progressing after a few weeks on the job? Here's the latest:
DE Trent Murphy
It's no surprise that outside linebacker Trent Murphy will begin his NFL career as a backup behind Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. While he will undoubtedly contribute on defense this season, special teams is where he must excel in 2014.
During last Thursday's OTA, Murphy and fellow rookie Ryan Grant were spotted lining up on kickoff coverage:
Rookies Trent Murphy and Ryan Grant lined up for kickoff coverage. FA WR Andre Roberts had a return too #RedskinsTalk— JP Finlay (@JPFinlayCSN) May 29, 2014
Murphy's all-out effort will be a welcome sight for what was the NFL's worst special teams unit in 2013. His work ethic, which is already on display, is another attribute the organization should feel good about:
Last 2 guys off the field - Trent Murphy and Jordan Reed. Still Practicing, everyone else is gone. Told you guys Reed is a workaholic #HTTR— Son of Washington (@SonofWashington) May 29, 2014
These minicamps and OTAs provide rookies with an opportunity to make a positive first impression on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden spoke fondly of Murphy's versatility during last month's rookie minicamp.
"He's another element of the pass rush we drastically need," Gruden said via ESPN.com's John Keim. "The ability to move him around and do things with him defensively is exciting."
OT Morgan Moses
Early reports indicate that offensive tackle Morgan Moses—the man tasked with taking over as the Redskins' starting right tackle—is a work in progress.
"It will take him some time," Gruden said at last month's rookie minicamp via ESPN.com's John Keim. "We're happy with his progress and he has some major, major upside with his size."
Gruden's message was largely the same last Thursday:
Gruden reiterated that Morgan Moses is talented but has a ways to go before playing. No exact date on when he'll be ready.— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) May 29, 2014
Moses (6'6'', 314 lbs) will need to adapt to the speed of the NFL game. He'll also need to get reacclimated to playing right tackle, a position he hasn't played since 2011 at Virginia via NFL.com. Last Thursday, Moses was playing behind Tyler Polumbus on the second-team offense, according to The Washington Post's Mike Jones.
The competition at right tackle will start to heat up when the team goes full pads at training camp in Richmond, Virginia, Moses' hometown. In the interim, the rookie would be wise to immerse himself in his playbook, continue to improve his technique and make sure that his conditioning is top-notch come late July.
G Spencer Long
Guard Spencer Long, the Redskins' third-round draft pick, has turned heads in his short time at Redskins Park.
Gruden came away from last month's rookie minicamp raving about Long's performance via Mike Jones of The Washington Post:
He did a great job. From the first [session] to the fourth [session] of practice, you could see how effective he's going to be, how smart he is, No. 1, how physical he can be. He's athletic enough to do whatever we want in the zone game. He's smart enough to pick up the blitzes and the line stunts. He's going to be competitive right away.
You wonder if Gruden's comments also serve as a wake-up call to last year's starter, Chris Chester.
At 6'3'', 309 pounds, Chester is already smaller than Long (6'5'', 320 lbs). He's also coming off of a less-than-stellar season in which he was given a pass-block grade of minus-10.2 and an overall grade of minus-5.6 by Pro Football Focus (subscription required—learn more about PFF grades).
According to Jones, Chester was running with the first-team offense at right guard last Thursday. It may not be for Long, though, if the rookie from Nebraska continues to impress.
CB Bashaud Breeland
Cornerback Bashaud Breeland had his first "welcome to the NFL" moment last Thursday.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch's Michael Phillips also had some interesting observations of Breeland versus Garcon:
Towards the end of the workout, Garcon caught a 7-yard pass, and gave a celebratory ball spin right under Breeland’s nose.— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) May 29, 2014
Also, didn’t take long for Bashaud Breeland to get under Pierre Garcon’s skin. The two shoved back and forth during 11-on-11 drills.— michael phillips (@michaelpRTD) May 29, 2014
The fact that Breeland mixed it up with Garcon, the NFL leader in receptions last season, is a positive sign. It shows fearlessness. Plus, if you're going to get beat by one of the top receivers in the game, it's better to learn from it in May rather than have your team pay for it in September.
While Breeland continues to develop as a corner, he did show off some of what he was brought in to do immediately:
When Breeland was drafted in the fourth round last month, CBSSports.com's Jason La Canfora noted the Redskins' focus was to identify the best special teams player on the board. Breeland certainly has a chance to play meaningful snaps on defense this season, but special teams is where he'll make his money.
WR Ryan Grant and RB Lache Seastrunk
WR Ryan Grant
During last month's rookie minicamp, Gruden said wide receiver Ryan Grant "plays like a ten-year veteran already."
Despite the high praise, Grant is, at best, competing for the No. 4 or No. 5 receiver spot on the Redskins roster. As previously mentioned, he was seen lining up for kickoff coverage last Thursday, according to CSN Washington's JP Finlay.
Being a fifth-round pick, Grant has an edge when it comes to making the team, but he must be an effective player on special teams.
RB Lache Seastrunk
Before the start of OTAs, running back Lache Seastrunk told ESPN.com's John Keim that he doesn't have any weaknesses. If that's indeed the case, he should hope that his strengths are greater than that of his competition.
In his evaluation of last Thursday's practice, ESPN 980's Chris Russell suggested that Seastrunk still has a ways to go. Russell was more impressed with the speed of second-year running back Chris Thompson and also noted that Gruden was a fan of his dating back to last season.
In other news, it's only June.
Player measurables are courtesy of Redskins.com.