The selection of Jawan Jamison in the seventh round was greeted by some with surprise and skepticism.
The Redskins led the NFL in rushing last season and had already drafted a small running back in the fifth round (Florida State’s Chris Thompson). But the more one analyzes Jamison’s game, the more the pick seems to make sense for the Redskins.
Although he’s not quite 5-foot-8 and doesn’t possess elite speed, Jamison could provide Washington's already prolific offense with two dimensions it lacked last season. His ability to cutback in the second level makes him a home run threat, while his pass-catching and pass-blocking skills should make him an asset on third downs.
Last season as a redshirt sophomore at Rutgers, Jamison racked up 1,075 yards on 255 carries (4.2 per), despite playing through an ankle injury the final four games. In the eight games prior to getting hurt, Jamison broke off runs of 46, 64, 41 and 45 yards, including a pair of 40-plus yard touchdowns. In 2012, no Redskins’ running back had a run of 40 yards.
That ability to break off long chunks of yardage certainly caught Coach Mike Shanahan’s eye.
“He’s only a little over 5-7, but he’s well over 200 pounds and he’s had some big runs in his conference throughout his career,” Shanahan said.
As a receiver, Jamison snagged 28 passes for 323 yards and two scores. Last season, the Redskins tailbacks combined for a total of 32 receptions.
NFLDraftScout.com’s Rob Rang writes:
“Versatile back who can provide production as a runner between the tackles and as a receiver out of the backfield. Elusive runner who isn't afraid of contact.”
Rang also raises a valid concern about Jamison’s lack of size and how he’ll weather the weekly pounding in the NFL. But he also concludes that Jamison’s running style is reminiscent of another fireplug out of Rutgers, three-time Pro Bowler Ray Rice of the Ravens.
Although the Rice comparison might be a bit of a stretch - for the moment, anyway - a quick review of some of Jamison’s game film shows that he's got an array of highlight reel moves.
If you haven’t already seen it, check out Jamison’s video-game-like spin move here on a USF safety.
And here is an example of Jamison’s aforementioned ability to cut back in the second level to extend runs.
Earning a spot on the 53-man roster won’t be easy; the Redskins kept only three tailbacks in 2012. But with the other candidates for the 'change-of-pace' job recovering from injuries – Roy Helu Jr. had foot surgery in February and Thompson is recovering from ACL surgery – an opening for Jamison is there.
And, in the end, that's all he wanted.
"Everyone would want to go early, but it's all about that opportunity," the Starke, Fla. native said. "The Redskins gave me that opportunity and I'm going top make the best of it."