By Jason Reid and Jason La Canfora
Washington Post Staff Writers
Monday, April 27, 2009
After focusing on the defensive line at the outset of the NFL draft, the Washington Redskins sought secondary help yesterday and selected Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes with their third-round pick.
"I was pretty much speechless," said Barnes, who spoke with reporters on a conference call, of his reaction when the Redskins contacted him. "I really wasn't expecting them to pick me. I hadn't really talked to them too much in the process."
Washington used its first pick (No. 80 overall) on the second day of the draft to select the 6-foot, 187-pound Barnes, who was sidelined for the second half of his senior season because of a fractured shoulder blade but performed well in physical and intelligence testing at the NFL combine in February. If he makes the opening 53-man roster, Barnes, who attended Old Mill High in Glen Burnie could provide secondary depth behind starting corners DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers and compete with veteran Fred Smoot for a significant role.
"He's a very tall corner," Coach Jim Zorn said of Barnes. "He kind of reminds you of maybe a little thinner . . . Carlos Rogers. He can run fast. He can run with receivers" down the field.
Although the Redskins finished fourth overall statistically in defense last season, they have made several moves in an attempt to produce more big plays next season, including luring Pro Bowl defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth from the Tennessee Titans and drafting Texas all-American defensive end Brian Orakpo with the 13th overall pick.
In addition to Barnes, the Redskins also took two linebackers (Cody Glenn of Nebraska, with the 158th pick, and Robert Henson of Texas Christian at 186), as well as Idaho tight end Eddie Williams at pick No. 221 and Nevada wide receiver Marko Mitchell with the 243rd selection.
Barnes, 22, said he plans to be a part of the Redskins' new-look group on defense.
"I know they just signed DeAngelo. I know Carlos is on the last year of his deal," said Barnes, whose agent, Todd France, also represents Rogers. "Smoot, he's getting a little bit older. I'm ready to get in there and compete as soon as possible and try to have an immediate impact. I do my studying. I do my research."
Barnes expects to contribute immediately because "I feel like I can compete with anybody. I'm a big corner but I also move like a smaller guy. It's not like I'm a big guy who's a long strider, [and] not very quick, I'm very quick also. I feel like, being a big corner, I can compete with the big receivers and move with the smaller receivers, too."
The Redskins, who tried to trade down and out of the third round in some scenarios, league sources said, were not among the teams that had concerns about Barnes's shoulder injury.
"It was repaired," Zorn said of Barnes's shoulder injury. "He's not going to have a problem at all."
The injury occurred during a game against Wake Forest in October while Barnes was attempting to make a tackle. Doctors inserted a pin, which is still there, into the damaged area of Barnes's shoulder, and he sat out the Terrapins' final five games while rehabilitating.
Barnes practiced with Maryland for its bowl game against Nevada, and he wanted to return to the lineup, but Maryland's coaching staff exercised caution and held him out. "I've been healthy for a while now," Barnes said. "I've been checked out by several doctors, so everything will be fine. I'll be back to normal."
In September, Barnes became an Internet sensation because of a video clip of his crushing, fumble-causing tackle of California running back Jahvid Best. He impressed NFL officials at the combine, ranking among the top cornerbacks in speed and agility testing. As well as Barnes performed in the physical aspects of the workouts, however, he was at his best when he took the Wonderlic test, which is used to evaluate critical thinking and problem solving.
The test is composed of 50 questions, worth one point apiece, and each question is more difficult than the preceding one. It must be completed in 12 minutes. With a score of 41, Barnes had the highest total of any prospect at this year's combine.
"I think it's unusual," Zorn said of Barnes's high score. "A 41. How do you do that? I don't know what to think of that. I think if you score in the mid- to high 20s, you've got to know what you're doing. Maybe it just all came together.
"That wasn't the deciding factor in taking him. But when we watched him on video, when we interviewed him and talked to people who knew him," the Redskins were impressed.
The average score for an NFL prospect is 19. Former Cincinnati punter and wide receiver Pat McInally, a Harvard graduate, is the only football player to have recorded a confirmed perfect score of 50. Barnes should have been the second, he said.
"Actually, I was kind of disappointed, to tell you the truth. I really expected to get at least a 49," Barnes said. "When I finished the test, I was like, 'I think I only got one wrong, maybe.' When they told me I missed nine, I was surprised. I mean, really, I kind of expected to get most of them.
" The test really isn't that hard. I've had a lot of people question me about [the score] after the test, and I tell them all I should have done better. I had a 3.6 GPA in high school and I kind of underachieved in college. I guess I spent a little too much time focusing on s ports."