Florida State football coach Jimbo Fisher is, naturally, high on two players the Redskins drafted: running back Chris Thompson and linebacker Brandon Jenkins. That’s what happens when you coach two players you like as much as he likes these two. Some of what Fisher discussed will be included in my Friday email report, like Thompson’s third-down ability (and pass protection skills) and what makes him a good runner (vision). Also, Fisher talked about what Jenkins’ did last spring that made him salivate. You’ll have to sign up for the email report to find out more. Also, I spoke with Fresno State defensive coordinator Nick Toth after the draft ended for insight into safety Phillip Thomas for the email report.
Meanwhile, here’s the Fisher Q&A:
Q: Easy to see when watching games of Chris that he can move, isn’t it?
A: He can now. He would have been a 1,400 or 1,500 yard guy if he hadn’t gotten hurt.
Q: What about his durability?
A: He doesn’t get nagging injuries. He plays through pain, he’s tough, he practices. He had legitimate injuries. He’s never been a guy who misses for nagging things. That’s why he bounced back from his knee. He’s in great condition, great shape, he loves the weight room. The little things about him you could talk forever and ever and ever about. You won’t find a better human being. Period.
Q: Why do you say that?
A: He’s unbelievable. He’s a huge Christian guy. Big in church. Leadership. Never misses a class or a study hall. Very intelligent. Gets his grades. He’s in church, he’s in unity council, community service and if you ever met his mom and dad you’d know why. Tremendous family. They’re so appreciative, they’re amazing people.
Q: How did he improve as a runner?
A: Runners to a point are very instinctive. If I have to guess if a guy is a tailback, I’m probably recruiting the wrong guy. But his film study and ability to be coached and his discipline…And he puts time in the film room to see where the cuts are and to see how the defense is playing. He did his homework off the field,too.
Q: How was he between the tackles?
A: Very good. Pound for pound he’s strong. You have to remember, he was about 185 pounds at the combine and he did 225 pounds 21 times. He’s a very strong powerful guy. You watch those runs now and he has balance and body control and leg strength and drive. He breaks tackles. He’s not just an outside guy.
Q: Can he sometimes use his size to his advantage?
A: It’s hard to find him under those big guys.
Q: You wonder at that size how he’ll hold up in the NFL in protection.
A: Our guys were 300 pounds across the board and our linebackers were 240, 250. He blocked our guys every day.
Q: Why did you think Brandon would be a first-round pick?
A: There was a chance he would go late in the first round a year ago [if he had declared]. Definitely a second-round pick and at worst early in the third because he can stand up and get down. Unbelievable instincts. Great get off. Can rush the passer and drop into an area. He’s not a 4.5 guy but he has great balance and body control. The game makes sense to him. He can play with leverage and power. Just a very instinctive player. Both those guys they got could turn out to be great players.
Q: What about Brandon as a person?
A: Same way. Work ethic. He won’t say two words. It’s yes sir, no sir. He came to work every day. I know it sounds like I’m saying it for both but it’s the truth now. You won’t have those guys in trouble. They’ll do what they’re supposed to be doing. They’ll be in church on Sundays. They’ll do the things they’re supposed to be doing. You can’t work those two guys hard enough.
Q: The injury must have been very tough for Brandon. How did he respond?
A: It killed me, too. We had a discussion about coming back, about winning a national championship and being a first-round pick. It was devastating. But he held it well and after a few weeks he got healthy and was around the team.
Q: What do you like about him as a pass rusher?
A: Explosion. He doesn’t predetermine his moves. He has a good burst and gets upfield and then can counter very well. He can use his hand and feet at the same time so when he gets stopped he can transition to a second move. He has a good feel for that.
Q: Anything else about these two?
A: I can’t say enough good things. They got great bargain values. If they’re healthy they would have been much higher picks and cost more money. You have to remember this, two years before Chris got hurt he was the only back in Florida State history to have three runs over 70 yards for a touchdown. Warrick Dunn, none of them did that. And last year he had two runs like that before he got hurt.