One of the few positives coming off the loss to the Patriots was the continued development of rookie defensive back Kyshoen Jarrett. Taken in the sixth round of April’s NFL draft, Jarrett was expected to spend most of his rookie year on special teams, but has quickly found himself as one of the Redskins’ most important defenders. After secondary players suffered multiple injuries in training camp and early in the season, Jarrett transitioned from his natural strong safety position to nickel back. It’s a position that’s becoming increasingly important, with most offenses using three-receiver sets for high percentages of snaps.

Jarrett has been exceptional in zone coverage, particularly as a curl-flat defender in the Redskins’ base cover-three scheme. He does an excellent job challenging seam routes while he works to the flat.

Here against the Falcons, Jarrett lines up in the slot opposite Julio Jones. Jones runs a go route up the seam, while Roddy White runs a quick out into the flat on the outside. Jarrett’s primary responsibility is to work outside to cover against curl and flat routes.

Jarrett works towards Jones, pushing him wider in his seam route. That disrupts the timing of a potential pass to Jones, forcing the quarterback, Matt Ryan to look elsewhere.

Jarrett then works to the flat to take away a pass to White. Ryan can’t throw to White and the window to Jones is a small one with a safety and linebacker dropping to their zone landmarks. Ryan ends up throwing to a receiver on the other side of the field.

Later on in the same game, the Falcons tried a similar route concept.

This play came with a minute left in the fourth quarter. Breeland got all the praise for the end result, but Jarrett played his part in it. Former Redskins wide receiver Leonard Hankerson lines up in the slot and runs up the seam, while White runs a stop route on the outside.

Like before, we see Jarrett force the seam route wider, giving Breeland more time to decipher the play.

The coverage from Jarrett forced Hankerson outside the numbers. It might seem like a small margin, but it made all the difference. Jarrett works to White in the flat while Breeland breaks on the seam route.

Breeland just manages to make up the ground and deflect the pass away from Hankerson, saving the touchdown.

While Breeland made the key play, he might not have been able to had Jarrett not forced the route wider and delayed the throw. Jarrett shows a strong understanding of the cover-three system and his role in it, which allows him to help out other defenders. It also enables him take on larger responsibilities and allow the defense to show different looks.

On this play against the Jets, Washington lines up its inside linebackers in the A gaps either side of the center. The intent is to show a heavy-blitz look. The problem for the Redskins is that by showing this look, they leave just two defenders against three receivers on the outside. The Jets run a three-level flood concept, attacking three levels of the defense. It’s a common cover-three beater.

But despite being left three on two, Jarrett and Breeland, the cornerback, are able to account for all three receivers. Breeland squats on the outside receiver, watching the quarterback and reading the underneath routes. Jarrett splits the two underneath receivers, giving him the ability to sink deeper to the intermediate route and break on the underneath route. They leave quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick with no option to that side of the field, and he has to work back to the other side.

That play displayed the high football IQ that Jarrett has. He took a smart position in between the two receivers, allowing him to effectively cover two routes at once. He has shown multiple times this season just how smart he is on the field.

On this play, the Redskins change from their basic zone coverage and use a pattern-matching scheme. While it would appear Jarrett is playing man on the outside slot receiver, while safety Dashon Goldson has the inside slot receiver, they’re actually reading the routes.

The outside slot receiver runs a quick in route, while the inner slot receiver runs a corner route. If they were playing purely man coverage, this route combination might get one of them caught in traffic. But with a pattern-matching scheme, they avoid that problem. Goldson has to wall off any receiver running inside, while Jarrett has to ride the deeper route.

Goldson breaks on the underneath route, while Jarrett sinks to pick up the deeper corner route.

Both receivers get picked up, but most importantly Jarrett takes away the corner route that could have done the most damage.

Pattern-matching schemes aren’t the easiest to pick up for rookies. It requires smart defenders who can react quickly and be on the same page with the rest of the defenders. Jarrett, as a rookie, has impressed with how quickly he’s picking up defensive concepts.

It’s not only defensive concepts he’s picking up. He’s starting to understand what offenses are looking to do in certain situations.

As Jarrett approaches his receiver on this play, he signals to the corner on the outside that the Buccaneers were going to run a pick play. He was right, that’s exactly what they did.

Jarrett works hard to fight through the traffic and maintain coverage on the slot receiver. He actually manages to recover and cover the receiver fairly well, but Jameis Winston made a fantastic throw where only the receiver could reach it.

While you never want to see a rookie defensive back give up a touchdown, the fact Jarrett knew what was coming and was only beaten by a great throw is encouraging. His overall football IQ and his development through eight games into his rookie season is equally encouraging. While he’s played smart and has been excellent in zone coverage, he’s had a few inconsistencies in man coverage.

The Jets found a matchup that Jarrett struggled to handle. Wide receiver Eric Decker lines up in the slot and runs a simple slant route. Jarrett, in man coverage, plays with outside leverage and is late to react to the cut inside.

Credit to Jarrett though, for not giving up on the play. Decker made the catch and was tackled by Goldson over the middle. Jarrett came in and knocked the ball loose, which the Redskins recovered for a turnover.

But slant routes from Decker were a problem for Jarrett all game.

Here he gets beaten inside again, but the quarterback looks to the other side.

Here, Jarrett plays a little tighter, forcing Decker to run a crisper route, but Decker does just that and makes the catch over the middle for a first down.

Again, Jarrett plays off and Decker wins inside on the slant route. He does, however, drop the pass.

That is just about the only criticism I’ve had on Jarrett through all eight games of his rookie season thus far. He hasn’t been beaten consistently in any other fashion and he’s improving in man coverage, something he didn’t have to do too often as a safety.

Back to the Falcons game, Jarrett lines up opposite Jones in the slot. Jones runs a go route up the seam.

Jarrett turns and runs well with Jones, sticking to his inside hip with a safety over the top to the outside.

Ryan pulls the trigger, despite good coverage from Jarrett, and is nearly intercepted as a result. Jarrett has to stop himself, as the ball is thrown behind him. He can’t quite hold on to the interception, but the coverage was good.

Most recently, against the Patriots, Jarrett showed he can cover against bigger, more physical tight ends too.

Here in the red zone, Jarrett lines up opposite tight end Scott Chandler.

This time, Jarrett takes outside leverage, knowing his safety help is on the inside. Jarrett runs with Chandler but reads Tom Brady the entire way. As soon as the ball is thrown, Jarrett undercuts it. The throw from Brady was just out of reach of Jarrett, but because the coverage was so tight, Chandler couldn’t reach it either.

Overall, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by Jarrett. Sixth-round rookies aren’t expected to make much, if any, impact in their rookie year. But Jarrett has become a starter and one of the Redskins’ most consistent players on defense. He still has plenty to work on, but the early signs are certainly encouraging as he looks set to be one of the top players from Scot McCloughan’s first draft class.

Mark Bullock is The Insider’s Outsider, sharing his Redskins impressions without the benefit of access to the team. For more, click here