Once healthy, the Redskins think Kendall Fuller can play both inside and outside, giving the team more flexibility for how they'll handle opposing aerial attacks.
If Kendall Fuller turns out like his Virginia Tech teammate Kyshoen Jarrett during his rookie season, then the Washington Redskins once again got a steal in the NFL Draft.
Jarrett, of course, was a sixth-round pick for the Redskins in 2015. There wasn't much expected out of Jarrett during his rookie season, pegged to play mostly on special teams with only occasional assistance on defense in situations of absolute need.
But Jarrett would exceed the initial projections for his first NFL season, being one of the most productive -- and consistent -- players on the defense.
Fuller, meanwhile, was selected by the Redskins in the third round of the 2016 NFL Draft. The cornerback was thought to be a first rounder before tearing his ACL early in Tech's 2015 season.
That's one of the reasons the coaches are eager to see him out on the field once cleared.
"I think he's big enough to play corner, but we also think he's got a skillset to play nickel, which is very important," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on ESPN980 earlier this week. "We can leave [Bashaud] Breeland outside."
Gruden also added that if he can familiarize himself with playing outside, that Breeland could me move inside as the nickel corner. That sort of interchanging of roles will pay off for the Redskins, especially against division opponents with high profile wideouts.
"I think he's got a skillset where he can play both corner and nickel, which is very important nowadays to be versatile," Gruden said. "A lot of our guys we picked are versatile players."
Fuller – who was the highest ever Hokie to be drafted by the Redskins – started 12 games as a freshman in 2013, earning second-team All-ACC honors by tallying 58 tackles with 17 passes defensed and six interceptions.
With the 84th pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected cornerback Kendall Fuller out of Virginia Tech. Take a look at his collegiate career in photos.
He followed it up with a strong sophomore season, collecting two more interceptions even though teams started shying away from even attempting passes his way.
Named a preseason Associated Press third-team All-American before his junior season, Fuller was supposed to be Virginia Tech's top player on defense, but a torn ACL suffered after just three games shut down his campaign prematurely.
Fuller likely won't be able to participate in next week's rookie minicamp at Redskins Park, but could make a return by OTAs.
"Worst case scenario we think he will be back for training camp," Gruden said. "He's too talented of a player to pass up. He can play nickel obviously. There's a big hope for him. He can play outside. He's got great, natural football instincts at the nickel or corner position. Obviously he's got great bloodlines. I think it's a great pick."
Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan believes Fuller will be smart with his rehab, but once cleared, everyone will find out just why Washington took him with the 84th-overall pick.
"He's going to do everything in his power to make sure he's a football player for us," McCloughan said. "When you get to the third round, to get a corner that I think can be a starting corner is excellent."