Growth and development of quality players within the Redskins organization has not been a common fortune for the team in the past. Washington is known for drafting players that don’t live up to the name they made for themselves in college. I know you remember Desmond Howard, Heath Shuler and Rod Gardner. I’ll stop there because I know how painful it is to read all those names together collectively. Instead I will mention names like Roy Helu, Jarvis Jenkins and perhaps the most intriguing of them all, Darrel Young.
The path to greatness wasn’t ideal for Darrel, as he left Villanova with aspirations to play in the National Football League. Darrel went undrafted and was signed by the Redskins in 2009 as a free agent. The Washington Fullback was recruited to Villanova as a running back but actually played linebacker and safety for Villanova where he had a very productive career. In 2007, he was 2nd on the team in tackles (78). In training camp, Washington was impressed with Young’s hitting power and with a nice set of hands to go with it, the team wanted to try him at fullback. This proved to be a smart move as Young has showed constant flashes of greatness on the field. With Sellers aging, it appears as though Washington has found their new answer at fullback with Young. But do I sense that Young could be the replacement for Sellers and Fletcher? It appears as though we have our very own Superman here in Washington.
Jarvis didn’t have much time during his rookie season last year to prove his dominance on the front line of the Redskins’ defense due to tearing his ACL in a Pre-Season game versus Baltimore. The time Jenkins did have, he showed strong signs that he could be the same force in Washington that he was during his tenure at Clemson. The 2nd round draft pick (41st overall), came into Washington with high hopes to fill the void left by Haynesworth and he doesn’t plan to disappoint. I believe that being injured so early into the season gives Jenkins the best chance to fully develop himself back to 100% health. Also injuring his knew gave him ample time to further solidify his upper body strength which is extremely important for a defensive lineman. I anticipate Jenkins stepping right in and making an immediate impact for the Washington defense this year.
Roy Helu, drafted in the 4th round of the 2011 draft (105th overall), was not expected to be an instant contributor to the Redskins. The injuries to Tim Hightower and Ryan Torain caused Washington to insert Helu into the spotlight earlier than expected. Mr. Helu did not disappoint! In fact, Washington altered the way they got the ball into Helu’s hands by using him frequently on screens out of the backfield and by switching from hand offs to tosses. Helu accumulated 640 rushing yards and hauled in 49 receptions during his rookie campaign and has Washington confident that they already have their answer at running back. The question is,” Is he the guy?”
Other notable youth that deserve to be mentioned are Evan Royster, Leonard Hankerson, Niles Paul, Dejon Gomes.
Each of these young Redskins at some point of the season showed why they belong on an active NFL roster. This can only mean good things moving forward in Washington. Hopefully with the added depth joining the team via free agency and the 2012 draft, Washington can finally say they have a strong foundation of youth to build on for the future of the franchise. Don’t look now, but it looks like the Redskins of old are long gone!