The Redskins picked the third of their three defensive backs with the 191st selection of the 2013 NFL Draft, but Bacarri Rambo was my personal favorite pick out of all of them. Rambo was probably the best 'true' free safety in this draft class, having experience in an aggressive Georgia defense. He played plenty of single-high coverage with the range to cover sideline to sideline. Pre-draft reports had him as high as the second round; personally I thought he'd make a solid third round pick with nice upside. So to see him fall to the sixth round was surprising. Clearly his off-field issues put teams off, but if the Redskins can keep him focused on the field, he has big upside.
One of Rambo's best aspects is his ability to read the quarterback while backpedaling and reacts quickly to the ball being thrown. Here against Alabama, Rambo is covering the deep half of the field. He reads the quarterback all the way and breaks on the ball the moment its released.
He lands a vicious hit to knock the ball out as it falls incomplete. I like the range Rambo displays on this play. Notice he starts in the middle of the field and ends up at the sideline. Having the rage to cover a lot of ground is huge for a free safety. Seattle have one of the best defenses in the league and having Earl Thomas and his range is a big part of that. He allows Kam Chancellor to play in the box and make that run defense even more imposing. Rambo doesn't quite have that range, but his instincts and awareness of position helps him be ready to break on the ball quicker than other faster safeties.
I also really like his willingness to go after the ball. Like Thomas and Amerson, once the ball is in the air, he becomes a receiver and attempts to make a play on it. This play against Auburn is a perfect example of that.
Rambo is covering the deep half of the far side of the field. When both routes break inside, he follows suit but makes sure to stay deeper than the deepest receiver. Once the ball is in the air, Rambo charges it down. Now the quarterback badly overthrows this pass, but Rambo took full advantage and managed to hold onto the ball despite taking a hit as he landed.
Those ball-hawking skills are a big part of Rambo's game. His instincts stand up even in pressure situations. Against Florida, Rambo made a key interception in the end zone as Florida were looking to score. Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has to scramble to his right and attempts to force a throw back across his body.
Rambo secures his side of the field, but watches Driskel's eyes the entire time. The moment Driskel motions to throw, Rambo breaks on the ball and intercepts it right in front of the receiver. Driskel made the mistake of throwing back across his body and Rambo made him pay the ultimate price by not only getting an interception, but saving what would have been at least a field goal.
Similar to Amerson and Thomas, Rambo doesn't only rely on interceptions to cause turnovers. He's aggressive and likes to rip the ball out on any given play.
Like we've seen many times for DeAngelo Hall, this kind of play can have negative impacts. As you can see there, the receiver picked up a few extra yards before Rambo managed to strip the ball. On this occasion, it ended up working for Rambo, but there were plenty of plays where Rambo ended up giving the offense an extra five yards without managing to cause a fumble. In the NFL level, he'll have to be more careful when he decides to attempt to strip the ball.
One of my original notes on Rambo was his run support wasn't always great. But having gone back and watched him again, I'm higher on him as a run defender than I first was. But he still has a tendency to get caught up in traffic and go for the big hit rather than wrapping up.
Plays like this one he comes flying in and stops the runner in his tracks. But notice how high he is when he tackles. Powerful backs like our own Alfred Morris could be able to break through high tackles like that. The NFL is full of physical specimens, Rambo won't always be able to simply throw his body around and manage to knock over everyone.
Ultimately, I really like this pick. I wouldn't have been OK with taking Rambo in the third as mentioned previously, so to get him in the sixth offers great value. It's down to Raheem Morris and Jim Haslett now to keep him clean and on the field so they can develop his obvious upside from potential into reality.