A popular topic of conversation in the Redskins’ locker room, is the comparison of alma maters. Some teams hail from rival schools (Trent Williams and Brian Orakpo), while others amuse themselves with bold predictions and what-if scenarios.
Each player has their own outspoken bias, but nobody knows a team as well as a former member. So, just one year after he made the jump to the professional ranks, I asked Redskins cornerback Brandyn Thompson to review the draft-eligible Boise State Broncos.
He agreed, as long as I looked past the fact that those are “his guys.”
“I do have a biased opinion. Those guys are not just my teammates, but actually the class that I came in with,” he explained. “I didn’t get to redshirt my freshman year, so all those guys are the ones that I went through the program with.”
By his senior year in 2010, Thompson was part of one of the top defenses in college football, on a team that lost only five games during his time on the blue turf.
“I really feel strongly about all of the guys coming out this year, whether it’s Doug [Martin], Kellen [Moore], George [Iloka], Shea [McClellin], Tyrone [Crawford], Nate [Potter]–all those guys,” he said. “The tools that our coaches gave us at Boise State will really help them at the next level.”
Thompson himself is a testament to that teaching. Taken with the 213th overall pick (seventh round), Thompson battled his way onto the Redskins practice squad last year before appearing in six games.
Thompson said that the Bronco most likely to fill a Redskins need might be safety George Iloka. In four seasons with the Broncos, he had seven interceptions and 23 passes defensed.
“I’m really partial to George, because he was right there with me watching film and preparing for games together,” Thompson said. “He’s a playmaker, and he looks the part of an NFL safety with good size and speed.”
The guy most likely to find NFL success this year might be running back Doug Martin, who backed up a terrific 2011 campaign (1,299 yards, 16 touchdowns) with an equally stellar Combine workout.
Even at 223 pounds, Martin ran a 4.55 40-time, had 28 reps on the bench press, and scored the best among running backs on the cone drills and shuttle times.
Martin wow’d with all of the measurables of an NFL running back–something that his teammates have known for years.
“Doug is gonna come in with his hard hat on and work his butt off,” Thompson said casually. “Ever since I’ve known him, he just runs harder than anyone I’ve ever seen run. In practice, he’s making ridiculous cuts, and we always just chalked it up to ‘Doug being Doug.’ He’s just one of those freakish athletes.”
Here’s video of Doug being Doug:
Another player that springs to mind in Boise State’s offense is quarterback Kellen Moore–a supposedly average specimen with Tebow-esque intangibles.
Over the course of his college career, the team went 50-3, one of the best NCAA marks of all-time.
“If I was a GM or I was a coach, I would give him a look just because he wins,” Thompson assessed. “‘Cause even if you’re playing Pop Warner as a little kid, going 50-3 as a starter is still very impressive.
“I think he has all the tools to succeed, and hopefully, wherever he goes, he’ll have the chance to prove some people right and prove some people wrong.”
Part of the knock on Moore has been his level of competition in the WAC and Mountain-West. Even though Moore beat quality opponents, he wasn’t tested on a weekly basis like quarterbacks in the SEC and Big-12.
Thompson explained that all Boise State players are forced to deal with this situation, and that it’s something that he finally came to peace with.
“The way that we always looked at that is there’s nothing we can really do about that. That’s out of our hands,” he said. “There’s really no point in letting it fester, because you can only play the teams on your schedule. We just took care of business and tried to win all the games we played.”
That’s a pretty good formula for success at the NFL level as well.