Washington Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan has literally built himself a reputation throughout the years of taking running backs that virtually no one has ever heard of and turning them into overnight sensations. As recently as last season, Shanahan introduced the world to a sixth-round draft pick out of Florida Atlantic University named Alfred Morris. In his rookie season, Morris would go on to rush for 1,613 yards in helping lead Washington to a playoff appearance. It was evidence yet again of Shanahan having a knack of developing a back, and quickly.
With the 154th overall pick in the fifth round of the 2013 NFL Draft on Sunday, Shanahan seems to have gotten the itch to quickly try his hand at adding another successful backfield project to his legacy.
Shanahan selected Florida State Seminoles running back Chris Thompson in the fifth round on Sunday. Now, while Thompson certainly doesn’t come from a little known program like Florida Atlantic as Morris did, he does come with his challenges to overcome.
In both his junior and senior seasons in Tallahassee, Thompson had his campaigns cut short by two different injuries. In 2011, Thompson suffered a gruesome injury that resulted in two broken vertebrae in his back. Not many believed the versatile Thompson would bounce back from this. In 2012, he returned to the field, proving the skeptics wrong, seemingly more explosive than ever. Then, unfortunately, Thompson would tear his ACL in an October game against the Miami Hurricanes, effectively ending his final year.
Given these unfortunate circumstances, Thompson would most definitely be labeled with that stigma of being ‘injury prone.’ And, he was. While it’s never good for a player at any position to be labeled with this, it’s especially somewhat of a death sentence for a running back.
But, as two days had already passed in the draft and Thompson seemingly almost being forced to give in to said death sentence, it was Mike Shanahan to the rescue in the late rounds yet again.
Injuries or not, Shanahan saw something in Thompson that prompted him to do something that no one else would do 153 picks before that. And, why shouldn’t he?
If the former FSU back can shake the injury woes, he will give Shanahan another weapon in the arsenal that seemed well on its way to returning to their old winning ways last year. Thompson provides the proverbial lightning to Morris’ thunder in the backfield. Possessing exceptional pass-catching abilities out of the backfield, dynamite breakaway speed, and an uncanny ability for man with his short of a stature to break through the middle unnoticed at times, there is a lot that the coach can do with him.
It’s yet another chance for Mike Shanahan to show that he just has simply the greatest eye for running back talent in the history of football.