For his part, Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan is nothing short of one of the greatest talent evaluators in NFL history. Not only have his first round picks (Trent Williams, Ryan Kerrigan and Robert Griffin III) prospered since the two-time Super Bowl winning coach joined the organization in January 2010, but he’s rounded out this year’s squad, already tapped as being one of the best in the NFL, with late round gems both selected on his own and discarded by the other 31 franchises.
As it stands now, 11 of the 22 projected starters for the Week 1 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles were selected in the fourth round or later, or were free agents the second after Mr. Irrelevant learned of his new perks—outside of playing football. Shanahan’s most notable late round selection? Look no further than the always humble, do whatever it takes second year running back Alfred Morris.
While most considered Morris to be just a filler pick when he was selected in the sixth round of last year’s draft, Shanahan knew exactly what he was getting himself into. After all, the best running back he ever had during his tenure in Denver was Terrell Davis—a sixth round selection himself out of the University of Georgia.
Fast-forward to today where Davis, with over 7,500 career rushing yards, 60 touchdowns and two Super Bowl rings, selected his six favorite running backs not named Adrian Peterson. Life is good when you’re the league MVP.
Morris catapulted himself up the running back depth chart through his performances between the tackles. Davis earned his spot through a bone crunching hit on special teams. That moment wowed the newly appointed Shanahan in 1995 and garnished starting honors on offense. Regardless, both backs exceed the normal low-lying expectations placed on sixth round picks.
In his Sixth Sense segment on NFL Network Davis had the following to say about Morris:
“Alfred Morris—love this young man. Rookie last year ran for over 1,600 yards. I think his key this year will be the health of RGIII. If RGIII is healthy, I think he can go ahead and surpass what he did last year or be about that 1,600-yard season rushing total. But he has strong lower body strength, never gets tackled by that first guy. Just love that guy—No. 4 on my list.”
While the NFL remains as unpredictable as ever, Morris at the very least has some recognition going into his second season. During preseason last year, Morris carried the ball 39 times in the first three games. This preseason he recorded only eight carries. With rested legs, hopefully Morris can indeed have a 1,600-yard season once again.
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