I was frankly a bit surprised that Quin Blanding went undrafted. The Virginia product had a solid collegiate career and it seemed that he would be a candidate to be selected in the Round 5-7 range.
However, Blanding made it to the undrafted free agent market. The main reason that happened? His speed. Considering that Blanding is a safety, he lacks the requisite play speed needed to be a centerfield safety. As a result, he will be forced into a role as a core special teams player and a box safety. That will limit his potential, but Blanding’s skill set could still be useful.
At Virginia, there was never a season in which Blanding recorded less than 115 tackles. He had a ridiculous 492 stops during his four year career, and he also had really good ball skills as well, notching four picks in his final season and 10 for his career. It was clear that his cover ability wouldn’t necessarily translate to the NFL, but his ability to square up defenders and his tackling prowess will make him a weapon of some sorts.
The only problem with Blanding is that he may not have a natural fit on the Redskins roster. Blanding figures to be a safety/linebacker hybrid at the next level, but to earn a spot on the roster, he will have to beat out a lot of quality talent.
At safety, the starters are locked in as D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson. Behind them, there will be some competition. Fourth round rookie Troy Apke should make the team as an athletic special teamer and backup.
Meanwhile, Deshazor Everett could still have a role as the run stopping special teams safety that he has been for the past few seasons. That means that the Blanding would either have to beat out Everett for a spot or hope that the team carries five safeties. The latter option would be more realistic, as Blanding’s lacking coverage skills will make him a candidate to be cut.
At linebacker, Blanding would have no chance of making the roster. There are as many as six players at the position who could make the squad, so switching position would make little sense for the Virginia product.
With all that said, it’s possible that Blanding’s talent could give him a chance to make the roster. If Apke shows enough in coverage to be the No. 3 safety, the Redskins could choose to give Blanding a shot on the roster and part with Everett. Blanding’s performance will certainly bear watching during the preseason.