The Redskins added more versatility to their defense by taking Khaleke Hudson in the fifth round (No. 162 overall) of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are five things to know about Hudson:
1. He dominated on both sides of the ball in high school.
Hudson was known for being a defensive force at the University of Michigan, but he was a playmaker on both sides of the ball at McKeesport Area High School in Pennsylvania.
Hudson, who finished his high school career as the No. 1 prospect in the state, played running back and safety and was a terror for opposing teams. In addition to registering 60 tackles and three interceptions in his senior year, Hudson rushed for 1,118 yards and 17 touchdowns while also hauling in five passes for 219 yards and five receiving touchdowns.
"He has the speed and quicks to cover man, especially TEs or RBs. He is very good at his zone cover responsibilities," Hudson's ESPN recruiting page reads. "He opens to the ball, reads into the QB and has a rapid break to the football in flight. He does not get influenced and plays smart. He can play deep-half or the flats equally well."
His ESPN testing results aren't that far off from what he recorded at the NFL Scouting Combine, either. He recorded a 4.61 40-yard dash and a 35.3-inch vertical jump in high school compared to a 4.56 40 time and a 33-inch vertical at the Combine.
Hudson's production earned him several college scholarship offers, including some from local schools like Penn State and Pittsburgh. He ultimately chose Michigan and went on to become a three-year starter for the Wolverines.
2. He embodied the viper position at Michigan.
The viper position on Michigan's defense is certainly a unique one. It's a role designed for a player to operate as a safety, linebacker and edge rusher, depending on the situation. Essentially, the viper's main purpose is to cause havoc.
That's why it fit Hudson's skillset so perfectly.
"Khaleke has a great body-build and mentality for it," former Michigan linebacker Jordan Glasgow told The Detroit News. "He's one of the most explosive players I've ever seen, which is extremely important for this position. Just look at Khaleke, and you'll see what you need to play the viper in our defense, because he's textbook for it."
That versatility is exactly what Redskins head coach Ron Rivera is looking for in his players. But that's only part of what makes Hudson a fit in Rivera's system; despite the fact that playing viper offers the opportunity to rack up stats in multiple categories, Hudson isn't worried about that. He just wants to win.
"That's when guys mess up," Hudson said in The Detroit News article. "They start chasing stats and getting frustrated if you don't get a certain amount of tackles or running a certain amount of rushing yards. For us, we're just about the team. We need to focus on our team and our outcome."
3. He left behind a decorated college career.
Hudson was considering skipping his senior season to enter the draft early, but he decided to return to the Wolverines because he felt there was "unfinished business" with the team. After looking at his 2019 stats, it's safe to say that business has been handled.
Hudson led the team with 102 tackles to go with two sacks, three pass deflections and a blocked punt in 2019. He was named to Pro Football Focus' All-Big Ten team, led the team in tackles in three games and helped lead the team to a berth in the Citrus Bowl.
In four years, Hudson started in 37 of 52 games and was a three-time All-Big Ten honoree. He was also the recipient of several team awards, including the Special Teams Player of the Game against Michigan state in 2019 and multiple Big Hit of the Week awards throughout his career. He also holds a school record for the most tackles for loss in a single-game (eight) against Minnesota in 2017.
4. He had the highest single-game PFF grades by a Power 5 player.
Speaking of his performance against the Gophers, Pro Football Focus has only given out a grade of 99.9 to two players in college. Hudson has the honor of being the only player from a Power 5 school to receive such a high grade.
After playing mostly on special teams as a freshman, Hudson entered the 2017 season as the starting viper. The Wolverines were 6-2 heading into the matchup and were looking to build on their 35-14 victory over Rutgers in the previous week..
The Michigan offense ran over the Gophers, 33-10, but Hudson was putting on an even more dominant performance on the other side of the ball. In addition to his eight tackles for a loss, Hudson led the team with 15 total tackles. And if that wasn't enough, he also recorded three sacks and a forced fumble.
"Spectacular performance by Hudson," head coach Jim Harbaugh said after the game. "He was everywhere he was supposed to be." Hudson said his teammates were the reason for his success.
"The whole work you put in as a team shows. I just didn't do this by myself. [They] helped me in every way. Working hard in practice, preparing for different games like this, and to have performances like this."
5. He was a semifinalist for the Jason Witten College Football Man of the Year Award.
Aside from his stellar performances on the field, Hudson is known for being an exemplary team leader, and he has the recognition to prove it.
The Jason Witten College Man of the Year Award is given every year to a player who exhibits "exceptional courage, integrity and sportsmanship both on and off the field." Hudson was one of three Big Ten players last year to make up a pool of 20 semifinalists.
"A two-time All-Big Ten selection who tied the NCAA record for most tackles for loss in a single game (8.0), Hudson is the unquestioned leader of the Wolverines," the selection committee wrote. "He is very active in the community and has participated in football clinics and charitable efforts in South Africa, France and Italy."
Hudson didn't win the award, but he already had linebackers coach Al Washington convinced he was a unique player.
"He's a guy that makes a great impact, does everything you're supposed to do, goes above and beyond the expectations on the field," Washington said in 2018. "He's just a natural leader, and just a lead by example guy. He's done a great job of being a natural leader."
Now that he's with the Redskins, Hudson already has the right mindset to become a leader on his new team.
"I'm going to do whatever I can, put the team on my back if I've got to if it's going to help my team come out with the win."