Mike Shanahan talks Redskins draft picks

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says the Redskins are a better team following this year's draft. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Redskins coach Mike Shanahan says the Redskins are a better team following this year’s draft. (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan obviously won’t know until a couple of years down the road exactly how good a job he and his staff did at drafting their 2013 class. But as the team wrapped up its draft Saturday night, the coach said he felt good about the collection of players acquired.

“When you get done with the draft, you’re trying to look for some depth and some competition on your football team and I thought we were able to do that today,” Shanahan said. “I felt good about the guys that we did get. It gives guys a chance to compete against one another, and we’re a better football team today than we were yesterday, and I thought the draft went well.”

Shanahan spoke most extensively about his secondary additions, but did give some analysis on each player taken on Saturday.

Here’s some of what the coach had to say:

  • On safety Phillip Thomas (fourth-rounder):

What Shanahan liked:

“Lot of things. Great job adjusting to the football. Lot of interceptions. … He wasn’t afraid to hit people, he can support the run, had a good feel, played a lot of different coverages that we play. When we did meet with him, he was very quick mentally, and we think he’ll adjust very quickly to our system. Very similar system that he ran in college that we run.”

On if Thomas could start as a rookie:

“I think that’s what you expect. That’s what you’re hoping for. It doesn’t always happen that way. If they can’t start, you’re hoping eventually they’re ready if we do lose a player, and that they can help on special teams. Some guys can pick things up fairly quickly. I think for a guy like Phillip Thomas, it’ll be a little bit easier because they ran a very similar system to what we have, so he might be able to help us a little bit quicker. But you never know for sure until they get out here, start working out. But we feel very good about the guys we signed.”

  • On Bacarri Rambo (sixth-rounder):

What he likes?

“Just the way he played the game. You can tell he’s a tremendous athlete, former quarterback. Just a guy that has a lot of intangibles, makes plays all over the football field, and I think his game will just get better and better.”

On possible concerns about Rambo’s past drug problems:

“We do a lot of background checks. We talk to these people quite a bit, and not only him, coaches and head coaches, and if we don’t feel comfortable with someone, we don’t sign them, and we felt very comfortable with him.”

On if Rambo and Thomas are free or strong safeties:

“You add a couple safeties with [Thomas] and [Rambo] – two guys that play the free safety position but also play the strong safety position as well. We felt like we needed some depth and some competition at those positions as well.”

On how Rambo, Thomas and David Amerson help the secondary:

“You’re always looking for guys that can catch the football. But you’re looking for speed, the safety position, you’re looking for guys that can catch the football. But more importantly, I think we’ve got a little bit more flexibility. You’ve got a guy like [E.J.] Biggers, and a guy like Amerson, we’ve got the flexibility with a guy like D-Hall, a guy like Josh Wilson, who can work inside as well. But we’ve got flexibility on the outside, and a little more flexibility inside with our nickel and dime packages, combined with our two new safeties and the possibility of Brandon Meriweather coming back full speed, is Tanard Jackson? But, Pugh, [Jerome] Murphy, we’ve got a lot of guys that are competing and that’s what gives you a chance.”

  • OLB Brandon Jenkins (fifth-rounder)

On where he would’ve been taken if healthy in 2013:

“You never know for sure, but we had him ranked fairly high anyhow, and then when he was there, we couldn’t pass him up. Last season he played extremely well. Would he have went in the first round, second round? I really don’t know, but he was impressive.”

(The 6-foot-2, 251-pound Jenkins – a preseason all-American – recorded 13.5 sacks in 2010 and eight sacks in 2011).

  • RB Chris Thompson (fifth-rounder)

On his potential role:

“I think Chris is a guy that could excel against nickel defenses, he could be that third-down back. He’s got great hands, he’s got great elusiveness. He averaged over seven yards a carry. He’s a guy that I think can do it all, and you always like to have a couple backs that complement each other and I think he’ll complement our running backs in what they do.”

  • RB Jawan Jamison (seventh-rounder)

On taking him in the seventh round and his potential:

“Jamison is a guy I thought would be gone much earlier. We weren’t really looking for a running back in that seventh round, but he was there and we just thought he was too good to pass up. Very similar to guys we’ve talked about in the past. When a guy’s in the seventh round that you have ranked much higher, we thought he could do a lot of the same things. Not only could he excel in the nickel packages, but he could be a first-down runner as well.”

Also on The Insider

Redskins take RB Jawan Jamison out of Rutgers in seventh round