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Can 2019 UDFA B.J. Blunt help a ‘Skins defense thin at both safety and linebacker?

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Blunt struggled with being academically ineligible; he is a former safety-turned-undersized-linebacker-turned-safety-again who wasn’t drafted, yet, somehow, he may have a role on the 2019 Redskins

We’re lucky that Hogs Haven prepared a pre-draft profile on B.J. Blunt that was published in late February. Let’s look at some of the highlights from that profile:


Bryan ”BJ” Blunt, LB/S

  • College: McNeese State | Conference: Southland
  • College Experience: Senior | Age: 23
  • Height / Weight: 6’0” / 220 lbs
  • Projected Draft Status: 7th Round or UDFA
  • NFL Comparison: Malcolm Smith

College Statistics

Player Overview

If teams are looking for a hybrid type of defender with strong special teams upside, they may want to take a flier on BJ Blunt.

According to 247 Sports, Blunt was a three-star recruit coming out of McDonough High School in New Orleans. [H]e was deemed academically ineligible coming out of high school, [so] Blunt began his playing career with Garden City Community College in Kansas [where] he primarily played strong safety, and excelled in that role. In 2016, GCCC won the NJCAA National Championship, a season in which Blunt recorded 8 interceptions and received NJCAA All-American honors.

After his success at the junior college level, he transferred to McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana [where he] switched to linebacker. By his Senior year, he was the team’s best player on the defensive side of the ball. In 2018, he was named the Southland Conference Defensive Player of the Year and was an AP FCS First-Team All-American.

This all sounds okay for a UDFA — especially the Defensive Player of the Year and FCS 1st team All-American honors.

East-West Shrine Game

[At the ‘19 East-West Shrine Game] he had a solid game that was capped off with a ridiculous interception that should have gotten the attention of talent evaluators everywhere.

Red Flag?

While he did himself a favor on the field during the all-star game, the event also raised his first major red flag. Blunt only came in at 203 lbs during the official weigh-in.

This immediately [raised] the question [of whether] a permanent switch to safety was inevitable.

According to his camp, Blunt has got his weight up to 220 lbs. since the game. This remains to be seen and will be a big topic of discussion at McNeese State’s Pro Day on March 21st.

Pro Day Results

It looks like Blunt’s weight is, in fact, up to 220. For what it’s worth, Redskins.com lists him at 6’1” and 220 pounds.

It seems that, for the Redskins, his experience at safety and his ‘tweener’ size might actually be positives that could allow the defense to be more ‘multiple’ or flexible.

How He Would Fit The Redskins

The Cardinals Head Coach [in 2014], Bruce Arians, fit [Deone Bucannon] into their defensive scheme as a hybrid Linebacker/Safety. Bucannon had early success in this role and other teams quickly took notice. Since the NFL is a copycat league, other teams followed suit and attempted to find their own Moneybacker.

The Redskins have made two such attempts. First they spent a second round pick in 2016 on Sua Cravens (ya, that didn’t work); and then they turned around the very next year and used a seventh round pick on Josh Harvey-Clemons, so there is evidence that this is a position of interest for Washington.

While Harvey-Clemons has been serviceable in spot duties on defense and special teams, he has had a hard time getting onto the field in his first couple of seasons.

Blunt is this same type of Moneybacker-type player who could be a special teams star sooner rather than later. He has all the physical tools and tenacity to be just that.

I think by adding Blunt, the team would be looking to either press Harvey-Clemons to improve or move on from him altogether.


Click this link to access all 2018 and 2019 Undrafted Free Agent profiles on Hogs Haven

Just two weeks ago, Nola.com published an article about B.J. Blunt, From New Orleans shipyards to NFL minicamp, BJ Blunt plans to ‘do it right the first time’.

Joining the Redskins

“There’s no doubt in my mind that he’s going to make the team,” said Southeastern defensive coordinator Lance Guidry, who coached Blunt at McNeese.

If the Southland Conference’s defensive player of the year does indeed make the 53-man roster, it will be just another stop on a football journey that led him away from the sport three years ago to becoming one of the NCAA’s top defensive players.

It’s a road that has taught Blunt many lessons, mainly “to do it right the first time.”

Armed with the right attitude and undeniable talent, he’s out to do just that with his NFL career.

“My goal is to show I belong and show why I’m going to be a premiere, dominant person, three years from now, in the NFL,” Blunt said.

The Indianapolis Colts, Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans offered him contracts as well. Blunt decided Washington’s defensive scheme was the best fit for him.

“Looking over their schemes, talking with Rob Ryan while I was up there on the visit, it just felt more like a connection,” he said. “So I just decided to go with those guys over the other teams that called.”

That decision was the first time in his football career he was able to truly decide where he would play.

A rocky start to his college careeer

“Student-athlete? No. (He’s) a football player,” [former college coach Frank] Daggs said with a laugh when he recalled how he would describe Blunt to college coaches.

Blunt ultimately signed with McNeese in 2014 but was ruled ineligible due to his academics. He still, however, attended McNeese, but his first stint in Lake Charles didn’t end well.

“I went in with the same mindset I had in high school and failed out of McNeese,” Blunt said.

From there he went to work painting and sandblasting in the New Orleans-area shipyards for the next year.

While he was earning a living, coaches who recruited him out of high school were wondering where he was, as his Division I five-year clock had started.

According to NCAA rules, players have five calendar years to play their four seasons of college football once they enroll.

Garden City Community College

Seven players coached by [Jeff] Sims have been taken in the first two rounds of the NFL Draft and the way Blunt practiced reminded him of those guys.

“Common trait that all those guys have is that you can’t tell what day of the week or what time of the year it is when you watch them play football,” he said. “They are the same dude all the time.”

“Every game is the Super Bowl. Every practice is the Super Bowl. Every play and every practice is the Super Bowl.”

Blunt earned first team All-Region VI honors and tied for second in JUCO football with eight interceptions to go along with 50 solo tackles and two forced fumbles during that season, when Garden City was crowned the 2016 NJCCA National Champion.

Once again the big schools came calling.

McNeese State

“He had some bigger places that wanted to sign him, but he was a couple classes short and he didn’t want to wait around anymore. So, he ended up coming to McNeese because we were his school of choice. And we knew we had a diamond in the rough, I promise you.”

Blunt filled in at linebacker due to an injury to Cowboys starter Christian Jacobs that season and was an all-conference honorable mention in 2017. He moved back to safety for his senior season and dominated posting 102 tackles, 11 sacks, six pass breakups and two fumble recoveries en route to being named the Southland’s top defender.

Guidry said Blunt’s effort in the weight room and practice was always high and Blunt was very coachable.

“Even though he was the best player we had on our team, BJ could take a butt chewing,” Guidry said “And his only response ever was ‘Yes, sir!’”

“(Blunt) was so driven internally … that’s why he was so easy to coach,” Guidry said, “He wasn’t a guy that I had to motivate. He motivated himself and he motivated everybody around him.”

“Ever since he was young, he was a person that could never be denied,” Daggs said. “I know him going the hard route made him stronger.”

Well, I’m intrigued. Unlike, say, Stanford Graduate Bryce Love, Blunt doesn’t sound like a natural student, but perhaps he is a natural athlete.

Still, he wasn’t drafted; he’s got questionable size for a linebacker - a position he played only as a junior; he is already 23 years old. Is this guy really a good fit for the Redskins?

To get some insight into B.J. Blunt as a player on the field, and to get some clarity about his postion, I turn again this week to James FitzGerald.

James FitzGerald (@GMDfitz7765) is a former college player, high school coach, and an avid college football fan who has spent hours in the film room watching opponents and his own teams. His analytical skill adds depth to these profiles that I can’t supply on my own.

He seems to be rather positive about Blunt, and his possible career as a Redskin.


Fitz’s film review

Film Watched:

  • Northwestern State University v. Mcneese State.
  • BYU
  • Multiple highlight reels

B.J. Blunt was the leader on his college team defense; he was the one making the calls on defense and communicating with his teammates.

Focusing on his individual play, Blunt has good vision and a nose for the ball. He can find the ball carrier and move toward him with great efficiency. He also takes great angles toward the ball carrier to get there as quickly as possible.

In pass defense, his coverage skills are adequate; I won’t say he is excellent in coverage, but he is good enough in both man and zone defenses.

One thing that stands out about Blunt is his game speed. I was surprised, watching his film, at how quickly he closes in on a ball carrier. He uses his acceleration to close in and make play after play.

He also has a very high motor, always trying to make a play even when he is out of it. This kind of energy and hard work can make him a playmaker on defense.

B.J. Blunt has potential to be a great tackler. At times, he demonstrates great form tackling the ball carrier, and he hits hard. However, Blunt too often goes for ‘shoe lace’ tackles or arm tackles. If he attempts do that in the NFL, he will miss a lot. This is probably a trait that can be coached out of him.

Blunt also tends to avoid blocks rather than shedding them, which means that it takes him longer to get to the ball carrier. He likely does this because he is actually poor at shedding blocks. He is small for an inside linebacker and he does often get swallowed up by opposing lineman, so he has trouble shaking the block and then successfully pursuing the ball carrier.

As a pass rusher, B.J. relies on his speed. He will need to work on a few pass rush moves in order to make a difference in the pass rush at the NFL level.

How would he fit with the Redskins?

BJ Blunt is a good all-around player. He played special teams, inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and safety in college.

He did play in the FCS and NJCAA, so his production might be exaggerated due to playing against lower level competition.

He will play inside linebacker with the Redskins because he isn’t fast enough to play safety in the NFL; I believe it’s why he was forced to change position at McNeese State.

However, his high motor, vision, and linebacker mentality will make him a candidate for a backup linebacker role. Blunt played a lot of special teams in college and that is important for a UDFA trying to make the team.

I predict that he will be a special teams contributor and a role player on defense with a lot of growth potential.

Poll

As UDFAs go, rate BJ Blunt:

This poll is closed

  • 14%
    A
    (72 votes)
  • 53%
    B
    (260 votes)
  • 27%
    C
    (131 votes)
  • 3%
    D
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    F
    (4 votes)
484 votes total Vote Now

Poll

How good are the chances that BJ Blunt is on the Redskins roster in 2019?

This poll is closed

  • 9%
    Pretty strong
    (43 votes)
  • 32%
    Above Average
    (153 votes)
  • 39%
    50/50
    (187 votes)
  • 19%
    Unlikely
    (93 votes)
476 votes total Vote Now

A taste of BJ Blunt’s Twitter feed: