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Thoughts and observations: Bacarri Rambo

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

Taking a look at the Redskins sixth-round pick Bacarri Rambo after watching a number of his games and highlights, thanks in part to the videos posted on Draft Breakdown. Keep in mind this is based off a TV feed so it’s difficult to fully gauge all that a safety does, but it still reveals something about his game. A big issue with Rambo, too, is character. It’s part of the reason he dropped to the sixth.

  1. He played a more traditional free safety at Georgia so the adjustment for him to the Redskins’ scheme won’t be the same as, say, Phillip Thomas. While Thomas played in a similar scheme, it was not a similar role and he’ll have to learn how to play the deep middle vs. speedy receivers, and how to approach a ball carrier when in certain looks. That doesn’t mean Rambo has an edge overall, but he won’t have to make that particular adjustment. Thomas, though, probably has better instincts for the ball (though Rambo got his share of picks too – against higher competition) and I think he drives harder on the ball. It’s not as if Rambo is bad in this area, though. In fact, he’s not.
  2. Just when I thought Rambo was a guy who would grab more than tackle, he’d have a good hit. There was one hit vs. a Georgia Tech receiver in which he approached him to his inside shoulder, hit him square in the midsection, lifted him and drove him to the ground. A really nice tackle. Against Tennessee, on a run around the end, Rambo met the ballcarrier in the hole, using similar form. But then there were many examples of him trying to grab ballcarriers or hitting them up high. It’s tough to do that against the strength of an NFL player. Other times he’d try to deliver a shoulder blow only to whiff.
  3. Thought he was a more consistent tackler than Thomas, partly because he took some better angles in the open field. Yes, Rambo missed a couple tackles in the open field. But for the most part when he’d come downhill from a two-deep look, he’d attack the proper shoulder (the inside), forcing the ballcarrier to stay inside if he missed. Rambo did miss some plays and he’ll have to do less grabbing and tackling up high in the NFL. He’s not a punishing hitter, but he was able to usually get guys on the ground.  And more often than not Rambo was balanced as he approached ballcarriers. Saw a couple times where he came up, broke down under control and reacted well as the runner darted inside. Thomas, for example, had trouble in that area.
  4. He was mixed in run support, too. Saw a couple times where he did not take on the lead block well, allowing a bigger hole to be created for the ballcarrier. When not facing a lead blocker, he was able to squeeze the hole and was a little more aggressive. This will bear watching. Rambo will need to show more urgency in this area.
  5. Rambo does an excellent job of stripping the ball from the runner. It happened several times in the games I watched. Against Georgia Tech it happened twice in the same series. The only problem is, there were times it was the first thing he tried to do rather than to tackle the runner. Rule of thumb: If you’re the first guy trying to make a tackle, don’t go for the strip. It worked once against Georgia Tech as he was the first guy to grab the ballcarrier and then focused on trying to strip him of the ball; as defenders crashed down on the runner Rambo finally succeeded – about two yards from the goal line. He also tried to punch the ball free as he would reach a ballcarrier before trying to wrap him up.
  6. It can be tough to accurately gauge a safety off a TV feed. You need to see how he reacts off the snap, where his eyes are and who else is in his zone. But there was one play in which he had deep middle on a two-man route, one down each side, that he failed to get enough depth. Though the corner broke up the pass, Rambo did get over to help but he helped because the pass was slightly underthrown. Heard some talk before the draft that this was an issue (allowing defenders deep) but there weren’t a lot of examples. He did get beat on a double-reverse pass to the tight end vs. Ole Miss. And there was another time in which the quarterback made a horrendous throw down the middle. Had the QB led the receiver, it might have been a long play. Instead he threw to where he was, not where he was going, and Rambo made the pick. Point is, I didn’t see a lot of situations in which he was not deep enough. I did see times where he was not as strong with his back to the ball.
  7. It’s funny because in some pre-draft guides there was talk that Rambo was not good on 50-50 balls in the air, that he had the ball ripped from him. Other draft analysts said he was good at this. Why the difference? Because both scenarios happened; I saw him have him one such pass grabbed from him, but I saw him do that to others. It’s not a strength; it’s not an issue.
  8. Thought Rambo did a good job reading the quarterback and breaking on the ball for the most part. Reading the QB’s eyes resulted in a pick at the end of the first half vs. Florida. As the QB scrambled to the right, Rambo checked quickly to his right to see what else was around him. Two receivers were behind him but probably not factors. So he kept creeping toward the sideline and when the QB passed back toward the middle Rambo pounced. He accelerated and made the pick in the end zone. Against Alabama, he showed a single-high look only to drop deep outside half. The Tide was a bit fooled and the quarterback threw a deep out. Rambo broke on the ball. This is where you see someone’s mindset: He went for the pick rather than a killshot. On this play he ran through the receiver’s hands, breaking up the pass while nearly picking it off. Against Auburn he intercepted a pass by reading the QB. Again, aligned in a deep middle and occupied. Another receiver was open in the intermediate area down the middle. The pass should have been completed, but because Rambo broke hard on the ball he was able to catch the overthrow. It was a weakness in the coverage that the receiver was open. By the way, Auburn tried a flea flicker in this game down 38-0. Seriously? Rambo wasn’t fooled, but dropped a pick in the end zone.

 

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