With Matt Jones, the Redskins have a powerful running back. The addition of Keith Marshall gives them speed in the backfield, too, heading into the 2016 season.
If Keith Marshall's career at Georgia hadn't been mired with injuries, the Redskins probably wouldn't have been able to wait until the seventh round of the 2016 NFL Draft to grab him.
This is usually the case for most college players that fall in the draft, though the Redskins seem to be particularly fortunate to have Marshall, who many believe could have been a second-round pick were it not for the knee injuries that allowed him to play in just eight games between 2013 and 2014.
His history didn't seem to bother him at the NFL Combine a few months ago, when Marshall ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash, the fastest time of all the running backs in attendance. Paired with a senior year of 350 yards rushing on 68 attempts, the Redskins are looking forward to bringing a different skillset to their running backs group.
"There's no substitute for speed and he's fast," head coach Jay Gruden said. "We're excited about that. We're going to take a good long look at him. It's an element in the backfield that we don't have is that 4.28 40 or 4.31 or whatever it is. Very explosive. Unfortunately has had some injuries in his career, but still, he overcame the injury and ran a very fast time at the combine. [Running Backs Coach] Randy Jordan knows him extremely well and we decided to take a shot at him and I think it's going to be a great pick."
For his part, Marshall expects to excel in that role, and he should have plenty of opportunity considering the Redskins have Matt Jones, Chris Thompson and Mack Brown as the only running backs on their roster.
"I believe I'm an every-down running back," Marshall said. "I'm going to come in and work on every aspect of my game. I'm going to try to be the running back they can leave on the field as much as needed."
That could likely mean learning special teams, too, something former Broncos running back Terrell Davis told him on the NFL Network's "Back to Campus" series.
With the 242nd pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected running back Keith Marshall of Georgia. Take a look at his collegiate career in photos.
"[He was] highly, highly recruited coming out," general manager Scot McCloughan said of Marshall. "He fell behind [Todd] Gurley and [Nick] Chubb at Georgia, two really good football players. But he can run like the wind and he has got size. He has pretty good ball skills and had some success early in his career there before the other two took over, but it's not like it was a shot in the dark because of the height/weight/speed. He has some tape, and the thing about it is I think he has a chance to be a pretty good special teams player."
What McCloughan is encouraged by is the fact that Marshall, by nature of his limited playing time, hasn't taken the same amount of hits that a college running back normally would at this point in his career. It's what usually shrinks the lifespan of a player – repeated big blows that wear a body down over time – and the optimist, when considering Marshall, sees that fact as a strong positive.
"He hasn't been beat up," McCloughan said. "With running backs, it's so important to have the health. The more hits you take, the worse off it is. Again, we'll see how it shakes out, but all seven guys we drafted I really feel good about."
Like many players who struggle to break through in college but find their way into the NFL, Marshall believes full health in a new setting will be just the thing he needs.
"It was a tough journey, but I never lost my goals and my dreams," Marshall said. "Just kept working and trying to push through everything so that one day I would be able to achieve all of those dreams."