Last year, the Redskins drafted a cornerback in the fourth round. Nobody expected much out of Bashaud Breeland but he started 13 games and played well at times, and also showed some rough edges that need to fixed with experience.
In May, the Redskins took a defensive back in the fifth round. They expected Kyshoen Jarrett to play some special teams and back up at safety, his position at Virginia Tech.
But the team suffered a rash of injuries at cornerback early in training camp and Jarrett volunteered to step up and play some nickel corner.
"The thing that's kind of been cool is that we kind of fell into Kyshoen playing nickel back in training camp,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “It was kind of a blessing in disguise. You know, Breeland got hurt, so we had to juggle some things around. I can't remember when it was, but it was the first week of training camp and we started training him [at cornerback]. He just got better and better and better with it.”
He got to be so good that Jarrett at nickel became more than a training camp experiment. When the regular season started and injuries and suspensions left the Redskins in need at cornerback, they called on Jarrett.
“He played really well against St. Louis and played very well again last week [against the Eagles],” said Barry. “He's an unbelievable kid. He's still a rookie. He's going to make rookie mistakes, but he just loves football. He's into it. He just one of those mature rookies that really works at it. It was exciting to see."
Jarrett played every snap at nickel corner against the Eagles. He more than held his own against Philly’s fast-paced attack, knocking down a key third down pass that forced a punt .
Like most players who are drafted in any round, Jarrett has physical ability. But, like Breeland, it is his approach to the game that has earned him the trust of the coaches.
"It's more of a mentality than anything,” said Barry. “Obviously every guy that's on a NFL football field has the skillset, but I just think what he brings to the table is just the bulldog mentality. He's tough. He has got unbelievable work ethic. He's got unbelievable ‘want-to.’ I think he's one of those guys who was a late round draft pick, so I think he's always working to say, 'Hey, I deserve to be here.'”
With Chris Culliver’s status for the near future up in the air due to a knee injury and DeAngelo Hall sidelined with a toe problem, the Redskins will need to lean on Jarrett for the near future. He is likely to be the slot corner at least until the defensive backfield is back to full strength. Even then, it might be tough to get him off of the field.