Undrafted out of Tulane, Nico Marley impressed the Redskins during a rookie minicamp tryout and is now trying to do the same in an attempt to earn a spot on the 53-man roster.
At 5-foot-8, Nico Marley is the height of your average slot receiver. And at 200 pounds, he's the same weight as cornerback Josh Norman.
But the Washington Redskins rookie is one of eight inside linebackers on the team's 90-man roster.
Marley has mostly been working with the third-team defensive unit during practice sessions at the On Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va., with Josh Harvey-Clemons, a seventh-round pick who is 6-foot-4, 226 pounds.
While he's significantly smaller than his rookie teammate, what he did during his college career at Tulane was impressive.
In four seasons for the Green Wave, Marley appeared in 49 career games and collected 319 tackles (200 solo), 50.5 tackles for loss, 6.5 sacks, six passes defensed and four interceptions.
During his senior season in 2016, Marley led Tulane's defense with 88 tackles along with three sacks, three fumbles forced, two fumble recoveries and an interception.
"You watch him at Tulane, he made almost every tackle," said Redskins head coach Jay Gruden. "Then we brought him in here, said, 'Let's just bring this guy in for a workout for the rookie OTAs,' and then at the rookie OTAs, he made almost every tackle and had two interceptions and a forced fumble. And I said if anybody deserves a chance to crack the roster, it's somebody who's that productive.
"So we brought him in here and he really hasn't disappointed us, man. He's been running around here, making good plays and he's very smart. We will see what happens when we get to live tackling, but he's a fun guy to watch."
The Washington Redskins defense and special teams conducted their fourth day of training camp practice Monday, July 31, 2017 at Bon Secours Washington Redskins Training Center in Richmond, Va.
Marley will have to fight his way up the ladder to have a shot at making the active roster once the regular season rolls around.
But he's proven to be a sound tackler, a trait that is "everything" for an inside linebacker.
"You've got to get the man with the ball down," Marley told CSN Mid-Atlantic. "If you don't get him down, then you don't have any defense. You can have the best defense in the world and if guys are not tackling [you have nothing]."
Marley had three teams reach out to him following the conclusion of the 2017 NFL Draft, as Washington was joined by the New Orleans Saints and Arizona Cardinals in their interest in the 22-year-old.
Undersized and underlooked coming out of college, Marley doesn't mind being the underdog.
He's just hoping to do enough to extend his stay with the Redskins.
"I don't mind the discredit; they will see," Marley told Redskins.com. "That's something me and my dad talked about, just the lion heart mentality. Just being a lion, you see your prey and you go and get it. You are just somebody who wants to go and get it, the King of the Serengeti. You wake up, you have to be faster than the slowest gazelle. It's just the lion mentality and the lion heart. It's just what my dad instilled into me for the longest. I'm going to do me and I'm going to give them everything I got so that when I leave whenever that time is, it's not because anything that I did."