“[A] five-star standout who stepped right into the starting lineup and had an immediate impact on the games, Blanding is a big safety who plays with good football intelligence and an unwavering commitment on each snap, but his lack of makeup speed and his coverage limitations may force him into a more limited role on the next level.”
— Lance Zierlein, NFL.com analyst
“From what I can tell, fans and media guys are going to be surprised by where he ends up getting drafted. His size is a big plus, but he’s slow and he’s not a game-changer type in the box.”
-- NFC team personnel director
The Redskins 2018 group of undrafted free agents is highlighted by Virginia safety Quin Blanding, who was named first-team all-ACC the last two seasons, and who earned defensive rookie of the year honors in 2014.
The 6-foot-2, 207-pounder was a five-star recruit coming out of high school, and was named a third-team all-American by the Associated Press last season. He ranked No. 2 for the Cavaliers with 137 tackles in 2017, tied for a team high in interceptions (four) and had 3 1/2 tackles for loss.
So, with such an impressive pedigree, why didn’t Blanding get drafted in April?
Probably because he lacks the speed and explosion that would make him a sure-fire impact player on defense in the NFL.
An impact UDFA
Still, Blanding was identified this week by Pro Football Focus as one of the ten free agents who could make an impact. On a list that is topped by Hercules Mata’afa, Quin Blanding appears 3rd, ranked #82 on the PFF Big Board. Here’s what PFF had to say about the the Redskins’ newest safety:
Former Virginia safety Quin Blanding, a five-star recruit coming out of high school, has great size for the position and can develop into an impact defender against the run at the next level.
Blanding earned 82.3-plus run-defense grades in three of his four years with the Cavaliers. He also led all draft-eligible safeties in total run stops (29) this past season, proving himself to be a force as an in-the-box safety.
While Blanding’s coverage grades haven’t followed suit throughout his career, he still has shown enough in terms of his ability to break on routes and make plays on the ball to have a role in this league. And with Su’a Cravens now off the roster, Blanding has a strong chance of working his way into a depth role with the Washington Redskins.
Measurables (courtesy of NFL.com)
Quin Blanding’s top plays of 2017
There’s a lot to unpack from Quin Blanding’s impressive career as a UVA Cavalier. Let’s see what Gibbs4potus had to say after watching Blanding’s film.
Quin Blanding was a four year starter for Virginia. As far as I can tell, he never missed a game. In his last three seasons, he made first team All-ACC and was an All-American.
Blanding is an excellent tackler. He made 495 tackles over his four year career which is the record for the University of Virginia. Blanding played on 98% of the defensive snaps over his career. Those are both incredible numbers.
Blanding takes very good angles in run pursuit. He fights through traffic well. His instincts are good allowing him to make up for not having great speed. For instance, Blanding tracked down and caught Lamar Jackson twice when the Cavaliers faced Louisville.
Blanding is a fairly big safety at 6’2” and 207 pounds. He is a momentum stopper vs the run and brings many runners to a dead stop with his strong leg anchor. I watched eight games of Blanding and I only saw him miss one tackle.
Blanding has a very high football IQ. He was the quarterback of the defensive backfield. He would look over the offensive set quickly and get everyone aligned properly.
Blanding played mostly in zone coverage with Virginia. He sees and tracks the ball well in the air. He is a very alert player and snatched quite a few interceptions off of tipped balls with quick hands and reaction time, however, he only averaged four passes broken up over his college career.
The burning question is, why was Blanding — with such amazing four year stats — not drafted?
The answer really comes down to supply and demand.
Blanding lacks the true range of an NFL free safety. Although he often played the deep safety role, he was rarely a single high safety at Virginia.
Quin Blanding also doesn’t have the desired burst that NFL teams covet in players responsible for the last line of defense. His combine measurements included 10’2” broad jump and 31.5” vertical jump.
He didn’t give up any long touchdowns in the games that I watched, but he usually played well off the receivers when in deep coverage, and Quin used his instincts and ability to read the quarterback in order to make up for his lack of top speed (4.63 40 yard dash).
Some NFL quarterbacks with rocket arms will be able to take advantage of Blanding with well placed passes as he simply isnt an elite athlete.
How would he fit with the Redskins?
Blanding will most likely be limited to playing strong safety in the NFL, and strong safeties with his size and speed are very common.
Free safeties with Blandings size are not so common, and that is the primary reason that the Redskins chose the much less successful college safety, Troy Apke, in the fourth round, passing over Blanding until after the draft.
Virginia’s coaching staff even used Blanding closer to the line of scrimmage more as a senior. The Virginia Tech game is a great example of this as Blanding played just off the edge or in the slot for almost the entire game.
In my pre-draft rankings, I had Blanding at 18th amongst the safeties. I projected him to be drafted in the 5th or 6th round. If there wasn’t such a deep safety class this year, that is probably about where Blanding would have gone.
I really like Blanding as an UDFA. He shows toughness and leadership qualities and a true feel for the game of football. With time and repetitions, he may even become an NFL starter someday. I think he has a decent shot at making the Redskins 53-man roster and is almost a lock to earn a practice squad spot.
DIY film analysis
Blanding only had one cutup of 2017 available but if you have interest in watching those games for yourself, watch the cutups of Andrew Brown and Micah Kiser and look for #3 in the defensive backfield.
Returning from 2017 roster
- D.J. Swearinger
- Montae Nicholson
- Deshazor Everett
- Fish Smithson
- Troy Apke
- Quin Blanding
- Kenny Ladler
Some posts from Quin Blanding’s Twitter feed
God gives his toughest battles to his toughest soldiers. Not to punish them but because he knows they can weather the storm and become prosperous in ways only they can be by overcoming such hardships.— Quin Blanding (@_QKB_3) April 20, 2018
Have a blessed day !
“I’m ready to teach. I’m ready to learn. I’m ready to learn from the older guys, I’m ready to learn from the guys that come in with me. And I’m gonna lead those guys...I want their trust and I want their respect.”-@UVAFootball FS @_QKB_3 #NFLDraft #DraftSZN #GoHoos @FanComSports pic.twitter.com/ljntb1sztN— ProFootball DraftCast (@ProFBDraftCast) April 9, 2018
Virginia Wins........... Again! ♂️— Quin Blanding (@_QKB_3) March 10, 2018
As UDFAs go, rate Quin Blanding
This poll is closed
How good are the chances that Quin Blanding is on the Redskins roster in 2018?
This poll is closed