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Could Blake Cashman’s Instincts, Physicality, & Athleticism Be Starter Quality For The Redskins?

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Hogs Haven takes a look at 2019 NFL Draft prospects that could contribute to the Redskins

Northwestern v Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Blake Cashman, LB
School: Minnesota | Conference: BIG 10
College Experience: Senior | Age: 22
Height / Weight: 6-1 / 237 lbs
Projected Draft Status: 4th or 5th Round
NFL Comparison: Joe Schobert

College Statistics

Player Overview

Blake Cashman didn’t receive a single scholarship coming out of high school but was one of the most productive inside linebackers in the BIG 10 this year. He is a native of Eden Prairie, Minnesota and walked on to the Golden Gophers program in 2015. Cashman contributed immediately on special teams and pushed for playing time behind established starters his first three seasons posting some impressive production given the circumstances. This past season was a coming out party for Cashman as his production exploded on the field and he received honors like second-team All Big 10 and second team All American honors. It had appeared until not very long ago that Cashman would be one of those guys that gets snubbed from the high profile offseason draft events like the combine despite his production and qualifications. His head coach praised him for how fast he learned the responsibilities of the linebacker position, how his instincts have improved, and how cerebral he has become. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say there is something a little Vander Esch about Cashman considering his circumstances. The cat will be out of the bag very soon as some expect his stock to rise quickly after he makes his appearance at the combine. If he can test well and make himself some more money because of this process it will cap off an astounding college career that featured an incredible rise for a former walk on. He has a nice blend of skills that will certainly ensure he makes an NFL roster and in my opinion if given an opportunity he will be a starter for an NFL team.

Strengths

  • Decent size with good athleticism, strength, and instincts for the position.
  • Read and react ability as well as his instincts stand out. He can sift through the chaos and locate the ball quickly and rarely ever takes the cheese on fakes or gets turned around. In run defense once he locates the ball he is full speed ahead. Has a little pass rush ability and he converts speed to power well and plays with good physicality. As a result he has some really impressive short yardage stops. Additionally his closing burst and quickness are a problem if he penetrates the LOS its the reason why he has so many TFLs.
  • While he isn’t a top tier athlete at the position his athleticism appears above average in a lot of cases. Has a little experience as a DB early in his career and looks good as far as his flexibility and change of direction skills in space.
  • Excellent technique and consistency as a tackler, no one armed swipes and few diving at ankles in his game. Squares up, wraps up, and takes the ball carrier down.

Weaknesses

  • Given his physical style of play some may question how much weight or strength he can add if a team asked. I think his functional strength is more than fine but for some teams they may want their middle linebacker a little beefier. Given his height and frame it may be hard for him to do and maintain his speed and athleticism.
  • A bit under sized for the position, barely 6-1 with arms shorter than desired at the position.
  • Waits for gaps to open up and relies on his speed to create pressure all fine if he wins but I saw very little hand technique involved to help him stack and shed. He’ll need to develop it whether he’s on special teams or not at the next level.

Let’s see his work:

More Blake Cashman videos

How He Would Fit On The Redskins

I wrote about Cashman last year the week Minnesota played Northwestern. I had never heard of him before then but its hard to ignore a guy who has a 20 tackle game. You can’t overstate what a motor this guy has and how instinctive he is. He really is everywhere the ball is. He’ll probably run a 4.7 and proceeded to be poo poo’d. I do find it interesting how analysts are talking more about how the game speed trumps timed speeds in these structured settings like the combine or pro days. This was the case when Steve Smith and Charles Davis were talking on day one of the on field drills when the running backs took the field. Quite a few of them ran in the 4.6s - 4.7s. It’s almost like running in a straight line as fast as you can has little bearing on how well you play your position. This is going to be the case with Cashman and its why he’s going to present excellent value to the team that picks him up early on day 3 of the draft. You have to love his story too. A walk on who has made a name for himself based on production and propelled himself to this opportunity to show everyone what he can bring to the table. I can certainly see him being an upgrade to Mason Foster and probably Shaun Dion Hamilton as a 3rd linebacker on the roster. I know he will make an impact on the Redskins special teams unit and I would not be shocked if he worked his way into some playing time early on in his career. His blend of instincts, burst, coverage, awareness, and physicality are the fundamentals you want to build upon and develop. If the Redskins pass on a linebacker early on in the draft Cashman or someone close to his equivalent should be who they try and target in the later rounds.

Turns out he ran in the low 4.5s so most of this section was made irrelevant. He may move up significantly now.