Following his senior season at Florida, offensive tackle Xavier Nixon believed that he had compiled a body of work solid enough to get him drafted into the NFL. But all seven rounds of the draft came and went without Nixon hearing his name.
Shortly after the draft, however, the Washington Redskins called the 6-foot-6, 321-pound Nixon – originally projected as a third-to-sixth-round pick – and signed him as an undrafted free agent.
Nixon, who in four seasons started 33 out of 46 games – splitting time between right and left tackle – reported to Redskins Park last Thursday and took part in the team’s three-day rookie minicamp. He will continue working and training throughout the offseason with the goal of earning a spot on Washington’s 53-man roster.
“Regardless if I would have went first pick or not picked at all, the situation I’m in, I’ve got to stay hungry,” Nixon said on Sunday. “I’m going to stay true to myself. I know where I came from and I know the people and I know what I’m working for. I’m always gonna stay hungry.”
Tackle is considered a position of need for the Redskins. The team has a Pro Bowl player in Trent Williams on the left side. At right tackle, Tyler Polumbus returns a year after starting 16 out of 17 games, but he has some limitations. Offseason additions Jeremy Trueblood and Tony Pashos have starting experience, but Trueblood struggled and lost his job in Tampa Bay last season, and Pashos was out of football with a serious foot injury in 2012. Meanwhile, 2012 sixth-round pick Tom Compton also is in the mix, but didn’t play a game last season.
Nixon, who along with his impressive size boasts good athleticism, believes that he has found the ideal situation in Washington. The Gators ran a zone-blocking scheme, so Nixon already has familiarity with the concepts the Redskins utilize along the line.
“We ran it a lot this past year and we ran it a lot with Charlie Weis, so I’m pretty familiar,” Nixon said.
Relaying the feedback Redskins coaches had given him during the minicamp, Nixon said, “They’re just telling my athleticism, my foot speed and my agility all fits into the scheme.”
Despite his physical talents, Nixon struggled with consistency at Florida, and leading up to the draft, questions were raised about his work ethic. That could have been a reason why Nixon went undrafted, but he refuses to dwell on that. Instead, he aims to improve and earn a roster spot.
“All that to this point is really irrelevant,” Nixon said. “All I can do is worry about the future and where my work ethic will take me. This is a new beginning for me, so I have to start fresh.”
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