A popular series from last draft cycle is returning yet again at Stampede Blue. Last offseason, I interviewed over 40 prospects that could eventually be fits for the Indianapolis Colts in the 2019 NFL Draft. As a result, we were able to find out a lot about two Colts who went on to eventually be drafted by the team in Marvell Tell III and Khari Willis. This year I hope to interview even more prospects so you all can get an inside look at these player’s accomplishments and mindsets going into this next draft.
Our next prospect is cornerback Keith Washington from West Virginia. We had a great conversation about his performance during Shrine Week, the style of defense that West Virginia plays, and what he can bring to an NFL team.
6’1” 180 pounds
23 tackles, 9 pass deflections, and 3 interceptions.
Fit with the Colts:
The Colts need a little bit more depth at the cornerback spot heading into the 2020 NFL season. Washington is an intriguing fit as he is a bit of a project at this point but he does flash a lot of ability as a ball hawk in the secondary. He also has that JUCO grinder mentality that should slot well at the bottom of the depth chart. Adding Washington could be an interesting play late in the draft or in the UDFA period.
Late Day 3-PUDFA
ZH: So to start let’s go way way back. I saw you were a quarterback in high school. Did you play any cornerback at all before college and how was the overall transition for you?
KW: I maybe played 5-8 plays at corner in high school (laughs). I came in at Michigan as an athlete and decided to play cornerback. I just knew with my size that I wasn’t the typical quarterback and I felt like corner was the best spot for me. The transition was pretty smooth from the beginning though.
ZH: So you mentioned it there but you started your career at Michigan. What went into the decision to transfer after you redshirt freshman season?
KW: It was mostly because, you know, I was playing but I felt like I could be a starter somewhere else. I just wanted to showcase my talents a bit more so I believed in myself and made the ultimate decision to transfer.
ZH: After leaving Michigan, you ended up going the JUCO route. How was that overall experience for you?
KW: Man it was humbling. I left from a three story house in Michigan to a little dorm room in Mississippi. It was humbling and I had to watch my friends that I grew up with on TV playing college football and stuff, so it was motivation and it humbled me and got me back into practice to get better.
ZH: You ended up transferring to West Virginia and put together a nice couple of years there. How would you look back on your time at WVU? Would you change anything about?
KW: No sir, I wouldn’t change anything at all. I feel like a lot of the things I experienced on the field and off the field turned me into the person that I am today.
ZH: So, throughout this crazy journey that you had in college, what area would you say you grew the most in throughout those five years of your life?
KW: That’s a tough question man. I’d have to say my first year at West Virginia coming out of JUCO. That was my first time actually playing corner in live game action and just getting that experience really helped me develop as a player. Just getting that on-field experience helped me get more comfortable on the field and helped me make plays.
ZH: You were invited to Shrine week this year. How was that entire experience for you?
KW: That was a great experience for me. All the coaches were out there and I got to match up against some of the other top-tier college players. I also got to learn some of the schemes from the NFL standpoint and how the NFL system and how it works at the next level. So, yeah, I was able to showcase my talents and it was a good week.
ZH: Going to your film, what coverage did your defense at WVU primarily play?
KW: We played quarters. This past year we played quarters and the previous year with Coach Gibson we played mostly cover 3 and cover 2 but this past year we played quarters.
ZH: How did quarters coverage fit your own talents? Which scheme do you feel best fits your skillset?
KW: I’ve played it all. I played man to man at Michigan but I really enjoyed playing quarters this past year. I like having that freedom to make a lot more plays on the ball so I really enjoyed that aspect of quarters last year and feel like it fits my game well.
ZH: So playing quarters or any type of zone, you have to have great zone eyes. How would you describe the term zone eyes when it comes to cornerback play?
KW: I feel like it is all based on scheme and gameplan and just recognizing routes. As a corner playing off in zone, you recognize the route the receiver has and it is just a lot easier to break and make a play on the ball.
ZH: A big part of the NFL today is run defense from cornerbacks. How comfortable do you feel coming downhill and being physical?
KW: I take tackling out there in the open field like a challenge. It is you vs me just like at corner. It really is about who has more dog in them and at the end of the day wants it more so I love coming up and being physical.
ZH: Which NFL guys do you like to study to take little bits and pieces from their game?
KW: Oh Richard Sherman for sure. He’s a tall guy who is real confident in himself and he’s been doing it for a long time so he’s making plays as a veteran. He’s just got something about him that sticks out to me and other people. He just makes plays.
ZH: You mentioned it earlier but it’s so important to have that “dog” mentality. How important is it though to you for a corner to be that type of scrappy, “dog” mentality corner?
KW: It’s real important. Playing corner, there’s going to be sometimes where you make the game winning interception and other times where you get scored on. You have to have that short term memory and compete. Most the time we are out on an island against the best receiver, and a lot of times the best athlete, so it’s all about being confident and ready for the challenge.
ZH: Final question for you. What is my team getting if they draft Keith Washington?
KW: You will be getting a great teammate in the locker room and a guy who can relate to a lot of players. On the field, you are getting a playmaker. I’m tall, athletic, and I just make plays on the ball.