1. If you were like me this weekend, you were hoping for just one result from the minicamp hosted by the Washington Redskins: no injuries. I still remember last year, when Jacksonville fans endured having to see their #3 overall pick in the draft, Dante Fowler Jr., go down in a heap with a torn ACL on the first day of their minicamp. There's not much you can do about injuries--they're going to happen and they're going to suck. Thankfully, the Redskins escaped the first practice with some of their newest toys fully intact.
2. Which player did you get the sense stole the show--and everyone's hearts: Josh Doctson or Su'a Cravens? When we look back on this draft, these are the two players on which any grade given will be primarily based. These were the best players available according to Scot "McLovin" McCloughan, and they will be expected to perform at a high level. It is dangerous to read too much into what you see on video clips from glorified practices, or even sound bytes from beat reporters and sports anchors. We have been there...done that. I am fine with getting excited about a few days where all the measurables we have been so excited about were visible on a field with our logo on it, but we don't know way more than we know (or than we think we know).
3. When you draft a wide receiver in the first round, you expect him to be able to play right away. That is not to say he will need to play right away, or that he will be forced into the lineup right away--although that is the case more often than not. Regardless of what our plans are with Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, Josh Doctson is not quite the luxury pick he seems, at least in the light of that decision. First-round wide receivers are expected to be talented enough to get on the field and be factors in their first year, and if that's what Doc is, then you would expect him to steal catches away from an older vet like Pierre Garcon sooner rather than later. All reports of his performance this weekend were pretty positive. He comes in as our biggest wide receiver, and he looked like a big target (which made it all that more disappointing when Nate Sudfeld couldn't get the ball near his impressively large catching radius). My guess is that every time we see this guy over the summer, we are going to become more and more enamored with him and the idea of what he can do. The best news I can think of here is that unlike other first-round wide receivers, Doc won't be thrust into a role for which he is unprepared. If he struggles with double moves or read routes, the team can depend on Garcon and DJax. If Doc proves he can execute the plays the team puts in for him, you better believe Gruden is going to get him on the field. It says here that Doc will be ready by September. If that is true, he will be the guy that benefits from attention paid to DJax and Jordan Reed. If you get the pick right, this is the exact type of situation where a talented rookie can shine.
4. You didn't get through the weekend without hearing Su'a Cravens' name. I know that there tends to be a split among fans when it comes to offensive or defensive leanings. If you want to see that ball spin through the air into the outstretched arms of a sprinting wide receiver in the back of the end zone, you are likely most excited about Doc. If you get a little bit giddy about seeing offensive skill players get blown up by uber-athletic safeties, than Su'a Cravens has your full attention. With #21 tattooed on his body, everyone knows how this player feels about Sean Taylor. To see him accept the challenge of living up to what we all think it means to wear #36 is something special all by itself. After seeing him in action on the practice field for the first time, it is clear that Su'a stands a very good chance of making everyone very, very happy. Look, don't let yourself get hung up on what position will go next to his name, because that simply doesn't matter. The best defensive units in the league put players in position to succeed. Joe Barry--along with other coaches on the staff--feels like he has a playmaker. Cravens will be put on the field and asked to do what he does best...from a variety of starting points. I loved how his presence this weekend resulted in countless Sean Taylor highlight videos being played on most local channels. None of us should be ready to make any real comparisons between Sean and Su'a because, well, it just would make no sense. Give Su'a a chance to get on the field on Sundays, which looks like it will happen at the outset of the campaign.
5. I know people on this site have long known about and appreciated the game of Deone Bucannon, and we all know that the Arizona Cardinals defensive stud is who Cravens looks to emulate. I think what I love most about Deone is his work to popularize what is by far the coolest name for an NFL position: the "moneybacker." Whether he lines up at safety or inside linebacker, Cravens is a straight moneybacker all day. This is where the genius of McLovin comes through (well, one of the many places). Some personnel men see Cravens and worry about what position he will play, choosing to run away from the challenge of figuring out how to best employ a player like him. McLovin sees a player who can be effective in multiple roles and relishes the opportunity to put Cravens all over the field. I also can't help but think of Preston Smith when I consider Su'a Cravens and his value to our team. Also a second-round selection for our defense, Smith found his comfort zone midway through the 2015 campaign. He has had a great offseason according to local news sources, and he looks to factor into any success we are capable of having next season. It would be hard to argue that McLovin isn't looking for a similar kind of impact from his latest defensive second-round pick, and it would be even dumber to doubt that he will get just that.
6. As always, I reserve this space for topics to discuss for The Audible. Last week, ih8dallas joined us to wax poetic on topics like the draft, the NFC East and his favorite kind of tequila. He also predicted that Preston Smith will start over Junior Galette. Is this something that other people are thinking as well? Kevin is quick to remind us of just how talented Galette is as a pass rusher, and not to sleep on his "werewolf" abilities from the edge. I am torn here. Smith is a monster, and if he continues getting better at the same pace he did last year, I don't know that you can take him off the field. That said, there is a reason guys like McLovin continue to take and pay for chances on guys like Galette. He is a talent, for sure, and his specialty just happens to be at the core of what any good defense prides itself on: pass rushing. Do you think this will be a real competition this summer? Other post-minicamp topics:
- Did you expect Nate Sudfeld to look that raw?
- What are your thoughts when a running back with an injury history pulls a hamstring on the first day(s) of rookie minicamp? (I feel like every running back has an "injury history," right?)
- Of the players not named Josh Doctson or Su'a Cravens, which player did you most enjoy seeing on the field this past weekend?
- Kendall Fuller says he is about 95 percent healthy, which is at least about 15 percent more than I thought he was at this point. If that is true, it would explain the Culliver release better, and it actually makes me think Fuller will be on the field early and often this season. Is anyone out there with me when I say that Fuller has the potential to make the biggest impact out of the top three picks? Doctson is technically buried behind veterans we can still reasonably count on. Cravens is ultimately going to be learning multiple positions, which strikes me as extremely difficult and should result in a learning curve that will take to overcome. Fuller, on the other hand, might very well represent the biggest upgrade over what would otherwise be on the field in his place (which is no knock on Quinton Dunbar or Will Blackmon). If he is fully healthy, he is among the most NFL-ready third-round picks we have seen in quite some time. Bashaud Breeland and Josh Norman take a lot of pressure off of anyone playing the third corner spot, and will likely push balls in Fuller's direction, giving him a lot of opportunities to make plays.
- Free-for-all comments and questions.