When the Redskins traded up in the draft to land linebacker Shaun Dion Hamilton in the sixth round, they also acquired the final pick of the draft, known as the Mr. Irrelevant pick. They used that selection on wide receiver Trey Quinn from Southern Methodist, but he has the potential to be anything but irrelevant for the Redskins, as Doug Williams explained to Kevin Sheehan on The Team 980 after the draft.
“He was on the board a lot earlier than the seventh round.” Williams said. “Jay [Gruden] was beating the board for Quinn early.”
Watching Quinn on the field, it’s easy to see why Gruden would have been pleading with Williams to draft him. He’s a strong route runner who can create separation even without elite physical traits.
Here, Quinn lines up in the slot against UCF’s Mike Hughes, whom the Vikings drafted in the first round. Quinn’s assignment is a quick out, but he initially releases inside to give himself room to work outside. He then adjusts his angle back outside and takes a few steps up the field to sell a vertical route before sharply cutting to the sideline. He creates plenty of separation from Hughes and makes the catch for a first down.
His route-running skills allow him to win underneath routes quickly, giving the quarterback an option early in the play.
This time, Quinn runs a slant from the outside. Quinn staggers his footsteps on his release and then bursts suddenly up the field, forcing the corner to open his hips to the boundary. From there, Quinn cuts underneath the corner inside to win the route, but the throw from the quarterback is inaccurate.
Quinn understands the intricacies of route running and pays attention to those small details, which makes him successful in getting open. He’ll do things like staggering footwork and varying the tempo of his routes to keep defenders on their toes.
Quinn’s varied tempo can be seen on this play. He releases slowly into his route, angling toward the sideline. Once he gets far enough outside the numbers to force the corner to open his hips to the sideline, Quinn suddenly bursts inside the corner and vertically down the field. The corner, surprised by the sudden change in speed, has no choice but to grab on and hold Quinn, preventing him from running open down the field. Quinn draws the defensive pass interference call and earns his team a first down.
Another small detail Quinn takes note of is defenders’ positioning.
On this play, the UCF corner shows a look of off-coverage pre-snap, before faking a move up toward the line of scrimmage just before the snap. As the ball is snapped, the corner then begins to shuffle-step back deep, keeping his hips facing inside and eyes in the backfield. Quinn notices this body position and realizes the corner has a blind spot outside. Quinn adjusts his route to angle further outside and work into that blind spot. As he breaks off his route, there are five yards of separation from the corner. The quarterback is slightly late with the throw, so Quinn smartly works back toward the ball to make the catch, instead of giving the defenders a chance to recover.
SMU took advantage of Quinn’s route-running ability, using plays that suited his strengths.
Here, SMU empties the backfield with all five eligible receivers split out wide, spreading out the defense. Quinn lines up in the slot to the left and initially appears to run a quick hitch. But that is just a ploy to draw the defenders in toward him and out of position. After a quick pause at the top of his route, Quinn bursts inside on a delayed under, running inside underneath the defense and into the middle of the field. He’s wide open for an easy completion and picks up extra yards after the catch.
While Quinn can win routes quickly, he can still be effective running deeper patterns.
This time Quinn is tasked with running a deep out route. He sprints directly up the seam, causing the defensive back in coverage to commit to the vertical route. At the top of his route, Quinn sells a jab step and head fake inside before breaking outside. By the time the ball arrives, the deep safety working from the middle of the field manages to get closer to Quinn than the defender originally covering him.
Quinn was also featured in SMU’s offense with corner-post routes.
The key for Quinn to win on a corner-post route is to get the safety to bite and open up space in the middle of the field. He bends his route outside to the corner, forcing the safety to commit outside before breaking sharply across the safety’s face inside. Quinn is open in the end zone, but the quarterback misses the throw.
Quinn’s ability as a nuanced route runner will help his game translate to the NFL quicker than many other receivers in the draft. He has traits that coaches love and can be versatile enough to play multiple spots. He has the potential to contribute early on in his career, potentially replacing Ryan Grant as the primary backup for the slot and Z receiver positions if he can beat out several other competitors for a spot on the 53-man roster.
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