1. There are always lots of bold predictions after the first post-draft minicamp. Coaches have good things to say about the newly minted pros. Rookies talk about working on the new terminology and faster game speed. As a result of seeing guys do next to nothing that genuinely resembles what happens in an actual NFL game, it is not uncommon to hear people suggest that "this guy looks like he is going to be a major player."
2. I will stop short of suggesting Spencer Long is "going to be a major player" for us in 2014...today. There is a real logjam on the offensive line right now, and a ton is going to happen between now and September that will shape who we go with in September. Chris Chester has not missed a start over the last three seasons in Washington, and he is not going to lose his starting spot after a May minicamp. I was most interested in NOT hearing about any complications involving Long's knee. He tore his MCL and PCL during his senior season and while he has been reportedly without limitation in his workouts prior to this weekend, I wanted to see if he would be hampered at all. He seemed unhampered. If Spencer Long is able to display the ornery athleticism coming out of that 6'5", 320-pound frame that he showed prior to his college injury, this is a player that could give the Redskins an excuse to go young on the right side of the line with him and Morgan Moses. We are a long way from that though...no pun intended.
3. The sexier stories out of minicamp involve Trent Murphy and Morgan Moses of course. Murphy is being coached up by outside linebackers coach Brian Baker to get after the passer. Moses is working at the tackle spot, and was matched up on Murphy quite a bit it sounds like. Mike Jones, the Washington Post's Insider, reports that Moses seemed to get the better of Murphy overall, but you have to like what you hear when Jay Gruden talks about the amount of technique Trent brings to the table as a rookie. It seems to me that we have spent many days around these parts bemoaning a lack of technique from certain pass rushers on our team. Former Redskins greats like Charles Mann even joined in that chorus a few years back, suggesting that the team bring him in to help develop second and third moves for guys who seem to only know one. If it is true that Murphy can execute both inside and outside moves, spin moves and counter moves, and use his size, strength and hands to make the quarterback's job difficult--and we won't know this for sure until much, much farther down the road--we will all be very, very happy.
4. Speaking of high praise after the first minicamp, Jay Gruden said that Ryan Grant, the fifth-rounder out of Tulane, looked like a 10-year veteran. Now you're talking--just the kind of rookie minicamp hyperbole I love! As I said last week, if Grant makes the 53-man roster (and it says here he will), he will get reps. They will be limited, but Jay Gruden likes to work his receiver group. It is good to hear that he is off to a good start, and I believe that any progress made in May shows up huge in September. The thing about Grant is that expectations for him will remain low mostly because on paper, our wide receiving corps is fairly set above him. What will be key for us is how he handles those situations when he is asked to come in and spell the starters. If he can excel on special teams, that would turn Grant into a dream rookie for most of us. Think about the receivers we have drafted over the years--ones that we selected well before where Grant was picked. If Grant shows any kind of polish, he will outshine most of the guys we have drafted in recent memory.
5. As far as our mid-round picks go, I am more inclined to closely watch Bashaud Breeland's chances of being a major contributor early and often this season. This is obviously because of our deficiencies in the secondary, as well as my unquenchable thirst for young cornerbacks that can hold down the fort in press coverage. Memories of ten-yard cushions when the opposing offense needed less than ten yards to get a first down will haunt me to my grave. It is probably more likely that Breeland will be featured on an episode of Sheldon Cooper's "Fun with Flags" (because of the penalties rookie corners take) than it is that he becomes a stud any time soon. Still, thanks to a weak spot on our roster, Breeland has a chance to play his way into the lineup sooner rather than later--a chance that few fourth-round rookies realistically get.
6. It is nice to have actual football things to comment on again in the Sixpack. It is even nicer that those things aren't draft predictions and rumors. Still, the way that Bruce Allen attacked this draft, it leaves me beyond curious to see what he will do next year when we are back to a full slate of top picks. I know that his recent performance is getting panned--and I am not here to defend it--but at least to me, I can see the rough outline of a plan that is coming together. I do believe that we will find ourselves with less holes to plug next offseason than we did this past offseason. I do believe that we will be able to use our top two picks next year to solve deficiencies that currently have Band-Aids on them. After a year of the Gruden Era under our belt, we will have an even better idea of the priority that those deficiencies should be given in the draft. All of this hope after just one rookie minicamp! I tell you what...it could be a pretty fun summer.