One day after he was drafted by the Washington Redskins, Kevin Barnes made a point to visit his new NFL home.
Barnes, the Glen Burnie, Md., native and University of Maryland standout, was at Redskins Park on Monday, getting a tour of the facility and meeting coaches and new teammates.
Barnes wanted to get acclimated to his new surroundings, three days before he was due to report to Redskins Mini-Camp this weekend.
Among all of the Redskins draft picks, Barnes should have the easiest transition.
"I love the area and I played right down the street," he said. "My mom is not too far away. It's really an honor to play here."
Barnes, 6-0, 187-pound cornerback, was the Redskins' third-round draft pick in the 2009 NFL Draft.
He admitted to surprise that the Redskins picked him.
"I had not really talked to them too much in the [draft process]," he said. "But from what I've talked to my former teammates, that's how it usually happens. The team that you don't really talk to the most has the most interest in you."
Barnes was a two-year starter at Maryland and posted 100 tackles, 5.5 tackles for a loss, six interceptions, 15 passes defended and two forced fumbles.
Barnes plays with physicality--video of the tackle he leveled on Cal's Jahvid Best last year proliferated around the Internet shortly after the Redskins selected him.
Defensive coordinator Greg Blache and secondary-cornerbacks coach Jerry Gray like their cornerbacks to be aggressive tacklers so that they can help support the run.
"Right now you have a lot of big backs running in our division, and you have to be able to get those guys down," Gray said. "If you can't hit when you're not putting eight guys in the box, and if you don't have extreme cover skills, something is wrong.
"You have to be able to do everything pretty well. That's the kind of player you want."
Gray said the addition of Barnes upgrades the secondary, as long as he takes the right steps this offseason to earn playing time.
Barnes is expected to compete for playing time as a nickel or dime cornerback beyond starters DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers.
In terms of coverage, Barnes has impressive speed and leaping ability that allows him to compete against taller wide receivers.
"I'm a big corner, but I move like a smaller guy," he said. "I'm not a long strider. I am quick. So I feel like being a big corner I can compete with the big receivers and move with the smaller receivers, too."
At Maryland, Barnes practiced every day against two big wide receivers in 6-2, 206-pound Darrius Heyward-Bey--who ran the fastest time among wide receivers at the NFL Scouting Combine last February--and 6-2, 205-pound Isaiah Williams.
Heyward-Bey was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the first round of the draft. Williams signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted rookie.
By all accounts, Barnes was able to hold his own against Heyward-Bey.
"His coaches [at Maryland] said he was maybe the only guy in that league who could run with Heyward-Bey," head coach Jim Zorn said. "There is something to be said about his speed."
Barnes' senior season was cut short by four games due to a fractured shoulder blade.
He said the injury has healed, although he suspects it hurt his stock in the draft.
"Sometimes you fall into the right place and I feel like I fell into the right situation, the best situation for me," he said.