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The 5 O'Clock Club: A look at five Defensive UDFAs in Redskins Training Camp

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

Let’s have a look at 5 defensive Undrafted Free Agents in Redskins Training Camp:

Nico Marley

JP Finlay wrote a very positive article about Nico Marley yesterday.

An average football play last just a few seconds, and success or failure gets determined by a series of flashes, where players fly around the field like violent chess pieces. One of those flashes came Monday, when, during 11v11 drills, undrafted rookie linebacker Nico Marley crashed down to the line of scrimmage, exploding into an offensive lineman, and thwarting a run play.

It was the kind of collision that happens thoughout the NFL, throughout training camps, but rarely by somebody with Marley's size.

He keeps making plays in Richmond during Redskins training camp. Just like he did during minicamp, and OTAs, and rookie camp. Just like he did in college.

Jay Gruden has noticed.

"You watch him at Tulane, he made almost every tackle. Then we brought him in here, said, ‘Let’s just bring this guy in for a workout for the rookie OTAs.’ Then at the rookie OTAs, he made almost every tackle and had two interceptions and a forced fumble," the Redskins head coach said of Marley. "I said if anybody deserves a chance to crack the roster, it’s somebody who’s that productive. So we brought him in here and he really hasn’t disappointed us, man."

In four seasons for the Green Wave, Marley appeared in 49 career games and collected 319 tackles (200 solo), 50.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, six passes defensed and four interceptions.

During his senior season in 2016, Marley led Tulane’s defense with 88 tackles along with three sacks, three fumbles forced, two fumble recoveries and an interception.

From CSN Mid-Atlantic:

"As far as his name is concerned, he’s very proud of his name and all that stuff, but I’m just worried about Nico Marley as a football player, teaching him linebacker and see how we can make him fit in our scheme if we can," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said Wednesday.

When it comes to football, Marley flies to the ball and has a nose for turnovers. The problem, however, is size.

Listed at 5-foot-8, 200 lbs., Marley is noticeably small for a linebacker. His father Rohan Marley, who played in college at Miami, suggested his son should play in nickel situations. His coach at Tulane regrets not playing Nico more on special teams, where his speed would make up for his size and he could show his playmaking ability.

At interior linebacker the Redskins already have Will Compton, Zach Brown, Mason Foster, Chris Carter, Martrell Spaight and rookie seventh round draft pick Josh Harvey-Clemons is listed at the position as well.

From Redskins.com:

“That's something me and my dad talked about, just the lion heart mentality. Just being a lion, you see your prey and you go and get it. You are just somebody who wants to go and get it, the King of the Serengeti. You wake up, you have to be faster than the slowest gazelle. It's just the lion mentality and the lion heart. It's just what my dad instilled into me for the longest. I'm going to do me and I'm going to give them everything I got so that when I leave whenever that time is, it's not because anything that I did.”

Tevin Homer

From FAUOwlacess.com:

The unlikeliest odyssey from FAU to the NFL took another leap forward on Saturday when defensive back Tevin Homer signed with the Washington Redskins. Homer attended the Redskins rookie minicamp this weekend and says the Redskins offered him a contract, which he signed.

The signing will surprise many who watched Homer at FAU. He played in only eight games as a senior, recording two tackles. Homer primarily contributed on special teams as an Owl.

“I’m definitely going to be playing all the special teams,” said Homer, who will primarily work as a cornerback on defense for the Redskins.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

After his FAU career finished, Homer played in the FCS Bowl, an all-star game typically reserved for lower-division prospects. Homer and former Owl Alfred Ansley were the only FBS players on the rosters. Homer had three tackles, one for loss and a pass breakup in the game.

Homer also played in the Tropical Bowl and participated in a regional combine in Washington. At FAU’s Pro Day, Homer posted the best 40-yard dash time (4.58 seconds) and highest vertical jump (37.5 inches) among the 12 participants.

Homer, listed at 6-foot-2 and 191 pounds, said he would have stayed in football, either coaching, training or playing in the CFL had Washington not called days after the NFL draft.

From Riggo’s Rag:

His size pops out upon first glance. He stands at a healthy 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, well within the range of a prototypical NFL cornerback. His length is exceptional, and he certainly passes the eye test. He’s obviously a raw prospect, but his physical qualities could bode well for him in the future. His fastest 40-yard time at FAU’s pro day was a 4.52, and he managed to log thirteen bench reps.

His physique isn’t the issue. Rather, it’s his lack of experience and production. He failed to latch onto a starting job at Florida Atlantic, a Conference USA school that isn’t exactly known for its prowess in football. He did play on special teams, but he even lacks experience in that regard. His inability to provide an impact shows that while he has the physical qualities to play professional football, he’s seriously lacking in the other aspects of the game, whether it be his drive or his fundamentals.

Tevin Homer falls in at last place in a crowded cornerback room. It’s likely his only route onto the roster is to spend a year or two on the practice squad. But that’s been said before, and many have proven the doubters wrong.

Fish Smithson

At 5’ 11” and 190 pounds, some thought that Smithson might get his name called on draft day. Now he’s one of 9 safeties competing for a roster spot. Safety has been a weakness for the Redskins in recent years; can Fish land himself a spot on the team?

Smithson played one year at Hartnell College and then three years at Kansas, and he was a very productive safety once he got to the Big 12. In his last two seasons, Smithson led the Jayhawks in tackles (while topping the entire nation in solo tackles per game in 2015, too) and earned a spot on All-Big 12 teams as a junior and senior. He also had six interceptions across the second half of his collegiate career.

Draft analysis from NFL.com:

Strengths - Plays with above average football instincts and field awareness. Good pattern recognition from two-high and single-high coverage and adjusts his coverage with haste. Quick to recognize play-action and sink into his coverage territory. Has experience covering slot. Used instincts and ball skils to defend 10-of-18 targets this season, including four interceptions. Races downhill from safety spot to jump into a contain position against the run. Shows no hesitation to plug into run fits and stick his nose in. Has potential to operate as combo safety.

Weaknesses - Undersized for his work in the box. Tackling inconsistencies are troubling. Flat-footed tackler who takes force rather than dealing it. Has had a substantial amount of missed and broken tackles over last two seasons. Lacks the twitch to make sudden adjustments in space. Athletic limitations prevent him from making some of the plays his eyes unveil. Unable to carry speed down the field or stick with crossing routes in man.

Draft Projection: Rounds 6-7

Bottom Line

Smithson is a little smaller and a little slower than teams might like at the safety spot, but his instincts and overall football intelligence make up for some of his physical limitations. With six interceptions over the last two seasons, Smithson has shown that he has the ball skills to pair with his instinctive nature, but his issues finishing tackles will not be taken lightly by NFL teams. Smithson has NFL backup potential.

Ondre Pipkins

From the Kansa City Star:

The last five years... have been a whirlwind for Pipkins, one filled with injuries, a disagreement over his health with a new coaching staff and a transfer to Texas Tech.

Pipkins, in essence, left Michigan over a disagreement with the new coaching staff about his health. In the summer of 2015, shortly after Jim Harbaugh replaced the man that recruited him, Brady Hoke, Pipkins told ESPN.com that he was asked about 10 times in two months to sign papers that would have allowed him to keep his scholarship but made him give up football.

Pipkins — who tore his ACL in 2013 and had suffered two concussions to that point — did not want to sign the papers because he wanted to continue his playing career. The stalemate resulted in Pipkins transferring to Texas Tech, where he played the entire 2016 season and recorded 32 tackles in 11 games, all 11 starts.

From DraftAnalyst.com:

First-year starter who made 32 tackles (four for loss) in 2016. Redshirted the 2015 season after transferring to Texas Tech from Michigan. Combined to make 23 tackles in his three seasons with the Wolverines.

Pos: Large and surprisingly athletic defensive tackle prospect with a thin body of work. Quick off the snap, effectively plays with proper pad level and is explosive up the field. Flashes dominance and overwhelms opponents.

Neg: Gets tall and makes himself an easy target. Neutralized at the point by a single blocker and gets easily tossed aside. Does not keep his feet moving and seems to give up on plays.

Analysis: From a size perspective, Pipkins has the makings of a nose or zero-technique tackle and has flashed agility and athleticism to complement his frame. Unfortunately his entire college career has been streaky, inconsistent and unproductive.

Brandon Banks

It’s actually kind of hard to find much information on Brandon Banks. Even Redskins.com doesn’t say much except that he’s 23 years old, 6’ 3” and weighs 267 pounds. His name may cause PTSD issues for Redskins fans who will remember the former Redskin punt returner/receiver of the same name.

Charlotte49ers.com had this short blurb on Banks:

Banks, who ranks second all-time with 43 career starts in 44 games played, earned Honorable Mention all-Conference USA honors as a senior. He recorded a career-high 35 tackles as a senior and added 3.5 tackles for loss, 1.0 sacks and 7 QB hurries. He had a team-best two forced fumbles and added one fumble recovery. He completed his career with 132 tackles and ranks third in school history with 13.0 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. A disruptive force, Banks is second in 49ers history with 23 QB hurries.

Poll

Which DEFENSIVE Undrafted Free Agent has the best chance at making the Redskins 53-man roster?

This poll is closed

  • 54%
    Nico Marley - OLB
    (187 votes)
  • 3%
    Tevin Homer - CB
    (12 votes)
  • 19%
    Fish Smithson - FS
    (66 votes)
  • 17%
    Ondre Pipkins - DL
    (60 votes)
  • 5%
    Brandon Banks - DL
    (18 votes)
343 votes total Vote Now