Despite a torn labrum in his left shoulder, fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson is excited to dive into the Redskins playbook and start his career in Washington knowing all the ins and outs of the defense.
Once Montae Nicholson gets to the Inova Sports Performance Center at Redskins Park, he's going to dive right into the playbook.
In one sense, this is all he will really be able to do anyway, as the Redskins' fourth-round safety in this year's draft is still recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum he suffered throughout his junior season at Michigan State. He's the first player from Michigan State selected by the Redskins since the team chose quarterback Kirk Cousins – also in the fourth round – in the 2012 NFL Draft.
"I won't be able to do anything right away," Nicholson said on a conference call with media, "so, I just want to get everything in my head just so I don't lose a step."
Nicholson expects to be back around training camp and doctors have said he's ahead of schedule in his rehab. Head coach Gruden confirmed that the team feels like he'll be ready for camp.
The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder from Pittsburgh was an All-Big Ten pick and showed off his skillset at the combine, running a 4.42-second 40-yard dash, the third fastest of the safeties present, adding a 35-inch vertical jump and 125-inch broad jump.
For the Spartans, Nicholson contributed 86 tackles, two for a loss, with an interception and two passes defensed last season. Over his three years there, he collected 200 total tackles, four picks and a forced fumble.
"I'm a physical player, you know what I mean?" Nicholson said. "I like to run and hit people. I'm pretty fast, and I have got good range. That's pretty much attributes for the team."
Nicholson will likely get a taste of special teams first as he transitions into the defense, hoping to see his physicality manifest on punt and kickoff teams as he catches up to speed with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky's scheme.
On Saturday, April 29, 2017, the Washington Redskins selected safety Montae Nicholson with the 123rd overall pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.
"Montae was sitting there and it was kind of a position of need, but also he was one of our top-rated safeties and we decided to take him," Gruden said. "He's a big kid that can really run. I think he ran a 4.4 at the Combine, and worst-case he's going to help out our special teams and that's important. That's one of the big three phases so that's a good add for us."
Nicholson took some time to think about returning to East Lansing for one more season, but is content with his decision to head to the NFL, and now, to the Redskins.
"It was definitely a tough decision, probably one of the toughest decisions – if not the toughest decision – I've had to make to this point in my life," Nicholson said. "I talked it over with my mom, my grandfather. I call them my panel, so to speak. I sat down for weeks trying to decide what was best for me. In the end, I decided out to come out and that it was best for me and my family. I don't regret it at all. I'm very excited to get to work."