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'He's A Monster, Man': At OTAs, Montez Sweat Aims To Showcase His Potential


If you were given the chance to construct the ideal NFL edge defender, you'd probably end up building a player that resembles Redskins first-round pick Montez Sweat.

"Big, big dude," outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said of Sweat, who's listed on the roster at 6-foot-6 and 260 pounds. "And for him to have a 4.4 [40-yard dash time], it's kind of like 'Oh my god.'"

Head coach Jay Gruden said after rookie minicamp on May 11 that Sweat is already one of the team's fastest players." Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith called his length overwhelming. Linebacker Mason Foster has been asked to evaluate Sweat, too, and upon combining all of the rookie's physical attributes, he arrived at a concise conclusion.

"He's a monster, man."

Following the exhilaration of draft night and the exciting and new experiences in the weeks since, Sweat treasured his on-field time during Redskins' rookie minicamp May 10 - 12. He had missed football dearly -- "like a first love, for real" -- and yearned to showcase his potential to his new franchise. After all, the Redskins gave up two second-round picks -- one this year and the other in 2020 -- to trade back into the first round and select the Mississippi State All-American 26th overall.

Sweat said he loved the competition of the three-day event -- "it's what we live for" -- and he even enjoyed the suicide sprints that closed out each session.

It did not matter to Sweat that he and his fellow participants were in helmets and shorts. The uncertainty of the NFL draft was now over, allowing Sweat to focus on more important matters, such as getting to know his fellow rookies and familiarizing himself with his defensive assignments. He's currently working at both outside linebacker -- also known as the "Sam" -- and at weakside linebacker, aka the "Will," though it seems as though the Redskins will primarily use him on the outside after losing Preston Smith in free agency.

"I have no doubt that he's going to play a lot," Gruden said. "The skill set that he has is quite evident. You see his length and then you watch him run after practice and he's faster than anybody we have probably right now."

"He eats up ground when he runs," Gruden continued to gush. "It's like three strides and he's all the way across the field. It's crazy."

Monday's practice served as the first time the media was able to see Sweat compete as a part of the Redskins' young and talented defensive front. He's now taking the same field as four-time Pro Bowler Ryan Kerrigan and former first-round defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. If Monday's session was any indication, Allen thinks Sweat will fit in with the unit just fine.

"I like him. I like him a lot," Allen said. "All I know is that he is big, tall, long, and he works. That's all that matters."

The first session of OTAs continued Tuesday and will conclude Thursday, and there will be three more three-day sessions in the coming weeks. During these workouts, Sweat said he'll be focusing on making steady improvements in hopes of reaching his potential.

That includes leaning on veterans such as Kerrigan for advice, further familiarizing himself with the team's defensive schemes and reflecting on his own performance through film study -- all of which could turn a player with elite physical traits into an immediate NFL playmaker.

"Getting better each and every day, reaching the highest ceiling I can get to," Sweat said. "Who knows how good I will be."