For Washington, hybrid defensive roles in past years did not work out so well for the team. Mainly Su’a Cravens, who was drafted with the idea to mimic players like Deon Buchannon, was not durable enough to fit that role. Second-year linebacker Khaleke Hudson is an investment that Washington made in the 2020 NFL draft with the idea of creating another hybrid role within their defense. However, this time it really may work out for the team and the player.
John Keim, who covers the Washington Football Team for ESPN, had Hudson on his podcast, the John Keim Report, and the two had a conversation that covered many topics. One of the topics covered was his level of preparedness and general level of understanding for the defense, increasing to the point where Hudson has gained a lot of confidence in his ability to execute.
When Keim asked about what he feels he is better at in year two than in his first season, Hudson alluded to having a complete feel for the pro-game. “I feel that I have got better at all aspects of my game, honestly. Just knowing the defense better, using my hands better, reacting to certain plays and formations, knowing what the offense will do. So just my overall football IQ, I feel like has gotten better from last year to this year, so I am very excited for our first preseason game and the season to start in general to show how much I’ve progressed.” Hudson stated.
As previously mentioned, his increased understanding contributes to his ability to become more of a playmaker. Specifically, Hudson stated, “Making plays in the running game, making plays in the passing game, even making plays in special teams. Being in the right places at the right time and really executing my technique. So, just all the way around, I feel like I improved on all aspects.”
The famous “Buffalo Nickel” role seems primed for a player of Hudson’s stature. One who can maneuver well at both the linebacker position and safety position. Further, the best thing about Hudson isn’t that his athletic profile allows for it; he did this in high school and at the University of Michigan. Instead, his experience level is easily the biggest difference between him and Cravens, who mostly spent time at safety during his time at USC. When asked how his prior experience translates to Washington’s hybrid role, Hudson said, “It helps me a lot that I did it at Michigan and will be able to do it again here. Many things overlap, so it definitely helps that I played the position before, so it's not an issue. I can be lined up in the slot, in the box, or back deep if they had asked me to. So I feel like I’m very versatile and will be able to do it all.”
Hudson has a great opportunity to make a name for himself in Washington’s defense and has a way to stay on the field, which is the most important part. Hudson continued with Keim stating that the best way to stay on the field is to do his job. Specifically, doing what the defense asks of him and trusting his teammates. So, as long as Hudson is making plays for Washington in the role designed for him, expect him to be a household name during his stint in Washington.