Thomas Davis is entering his first season with the Redskins, but he comes to Washington arguably the most accomplished defensive player on the roster.
The 37-year-old linebacker is a three-time Pro Bowler and was named to the NFL's first-team All-Pro in 2015. Entering his 15th NFL season, he's seen a lot of football.
As the veteran presence on an otherwise young Redskins defense, Davis was asked during the Redskins Offseason Update Live show on Monday what advice he has for Washington's young core, and in particular, top draft pick Chase Young.
While Davis did not necessarily single out anything he's specifically looking at from the No. 2 overall pick, the linebacker gave two pieces of advice that Young and the rest of the team's youthful defense can follow.
The first thing Davis stressed was how important it is to know the playbook.
"When it comes to being able to pour back into the younger guys on the team, it's all about pressing upon them the importance of understanding you have to know your playbook," Davis said. "First and foremost, to be able to go out there and play fast and compete at a high level, you have to understand what you're doing when you're on the field."
The Redskins, along with every team, have been unable to conduct in-person offseason activities due to the coronavirus pandemic. Still, the team went through a virtual offseason program starting in late April, where Young and his teammates got their hands on the team's new defensive playbook for the first time.
It's not just Young and the rookies that have to learn a new defensive playbook, either. With new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio in charge and the team switching from a 3-4 base to a 4-3, there have been several changes made schematically to the Redskins defense.
The virtual format has forced the Redskins defensive unit to get creative on how to teach a new system over Zoom. Davis said that the defense has brought competitive energy to the Zoom calls and used the Kahoot app to quiz each other on the playbook in order to make sure everyone is staying on top of their information.
The second piece of advice Davis had, which was more directed towards Young, was emphasizing the fact that where you get drafted doesn't matter. Davis, who was the 14th pick of the 2005 draft by Carolina, pointed to his own career as an example of that once the draft is over, coaches don't care when you were picked.
"It doesn't matter where you get drafted at," Davis said. "I fell into that my rookie year. When I got drafted in the first round, I kind of thought, 'Hey, I'm a first-round pick, so I'm going to be a starter.' I started my first game, then I didn't start [anymore] until the next year."
Young comes to Washington with enormous expectations. Throughout the draft process, many called the pass rusher a generational talent. Some experts are even predicting him to break the NFL's rookie sack record.
While the 21-year-old may have plenty of talent and enormous potential, he does join the deepest unit on the Redskins, with Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat still in the fold. Young will certainly get his opportunities as a rookie, but the Redskins have plenty of other options should the pass rusher struggle in 2020.
Linebacker Cole Holcomb, a 2019 fifth-round pick, finished second in tackles for Washington a season ago. Matt Ioannidis, a fifth-rounder in 2016, led Washington in sacks last season. Kendall Fuller, who just inked a four-year deal with Washington this offseason, was originally a third-round pick by the club in 2016. Bashaud Breeland, a fourth-round pick in 2013, became an immediate starter for four years in D.C.
As Davis said, it doesn't matter when you get drafted. What matters is what you do once you are drafted.
"That's one of those things you got to understand," Davis said. "This is a professional league. This is a business. I got to make sure that I'm on top of my game."
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