ATLANTA - OCTOBER 09: Stephen Hill #5 of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets is tackled by Chase Minnifield #13 of the Virginia Cavaliers at Bobby Dodd Stadium on October 9, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
You’ve heard the whole "slow news time" spiel from the others, so I’ll dive right in.
I chose Chase Minnifield, undrafted rookie corner out of UVA. At 5’ 10" and 183 pounds, the son of former Pro Bowler Frank Minnifield was projected as high as a third- or fourth-round pick before a knee injury and poor 40 time sent him skidding off draft boards. Now nearly 100% healthy, Minni has impressed at minicamp, picking off Rex Grossman (insert joke here) and bringing the ball up the field for a respectable return. Raheem Morris has said he’s "ecstatic" that the former Cavalier starter fell into Washington’s hands.
Minnifield may be our latest steal at cornerback, but he’s got a long way to go to match one of the greatest bargain DBs in history: Pat Fischer. Taken in the 17th round of the 1961 draft by the St. Louis Cardinals, Fischer’s diminutive stature (5’8", 170 pounds) fostered a lot of skepticism about his ability to cover bigger, faster receivers. By the time he arrived in Washington in 1968, however, "The Mouse" had two Pro Bowls under his belt and little left to prove.
Some credit Fischer as the father of the bump-and-run, as he never shied away from physically harassing receivers. Not as often mentioned but equally important to his game were excellent tackling technique and flawless instincts. By the end of his career, Fischer appeared in three Pro Bowls and had countless memorable performances. In 1972, the Redskins defense limited Roger Staubach to 98 passing yards in the NFC Championship game and allowed the Dolphins just 69 passing yards in the Super Bowl (though Washington lost).
Minnifield shares the same raw physicality, strong tackling technique, and ball-hawk instincts that made Pat Fischer great. Also like Fisher, Minni has something to prove after doubts about his physical ability resulted in draft-day disappointment. Now it's up to Raheem Morris to cultivate those talents and, if we're incredibly lucky, put a Fischer throwback on the field for many Sundays to come.