Thoughts and observations: Jawan Jamison

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim

Taking a look at the Redskins seventh-round pick Jawan Jamison, a running back from Rutgers, 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 but it still reveals a lot about his game.

  1. After the draft Mike Shanahan said he considered Jawan Jamison to be more than just a third-down back. I agree that he has the potential to be an every-down back in terms of his style. But the problem is at his size (5-foot-8, 200 pounds), how durable would he be? If nothing else he could develop into a nice backup who serves as a third-down guy, a more complete version than, say, Evan Royster (who moved the chains better) when he entered the NFL. But Jamison is equipped to handle a third-down role early in his career based on what he did at Rutgers.
  2. Jamison often ran between the tackles out of I-formation sets; also some single back and offset I. Rutgers also used him on stretch zone runs. So, yes, he’s a good fit here. Jamison, like fifth-round pick Chris Thompson, is short at 5-foot-8. Neither is much of a pile mover, but both have the ability to make defenders miss with quick feet. Jamison would occasionally lower his shoulder and run through a defender but more often than not it was his footwork that caused them to miss. It’s not that he didn’t lower his shoulder and push forward on occasion, but typically he’d ditch second-level defenders with a shake, cut and go.
  3. But Jamison does have solid leg drive; sometimes he needs to drop his shoulder a little sooner (and get a little lower). For the most part, however, he was OK in this area. Again, he’s not a pile mover but in this offense you have to find creases and cutback lanes more than drive piles.
  4. Jamison is not a home run hitter (honestly, I don’t know why he came out this year from a football standpoint; he said he did so after receiving his grades from the NFL and he thought he’d be a second-round pick, maybe a third-rounder. He was good, but not that good. Another standout year and he’d have gone a couple rounds higher. Yes, I know his mom’s cancer factored into the decision; but that’s the emotional tug that pushed him in). He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds at the combine and in 4.72 and 4.73 seconds at his pro day. Clearly speed is not the No. 1 attribute in a running back (see: Morris, Alfred, 2012 Redskins).
  5. What makes him dangerous, though, is his agility in the open field — will that remain a strength in the NFL vs. a higher quality of athlete? Thompson, in comparison, is more explosive and that will translate well. But Jamison’s elusiveness and vision will help him. Several times defenders were left lunging at air after one of his moves. I couldn’t find if he played high school basketball, but some of his moves in the open field were the football equivalent of a crossover dribble. He suckered one Kent State linebacker in the open field that way on a screen pass, with a hard jab step to the right. The linebacker bit on the step and Jamison cut back inside for a nice gain. Jamison sold the fake well – just like in a crossover move. There were many examples of him shaking defenders, including vs. Iowa State in which two defenders appeared to have him nearly pinned after catching a screen pass in the right flat. Both were a few yards in front of him, but one had the inside and the other had the outside. But a Jamison shake left both on the ground and he cut inside where he then broke a tackle for several more yards. Another time he caught a pass in the right flat and had a defender diving at his legs. Jamison hopped backwards and then bounced inside for a gain on a play where he should have been stopped for nothing.
  6. Jamison scored on a fourth-and-1 inside the 5-yard line vs. Iowa State in a 2012 bowl game because of his footwork. Linebacker A.J. Klein came up fast on the outside, forcing Jamison, running off-tackle, to swerve back inside. Klein did not get a good shot at him, but was able to wrap him up. However, his forward lean and momentum allowed Jamison to keep moving forward as he shifted to the left and scored. Though Jamison will occasionally stutter-step, he does it fast enough that it doesn’t slow him down. Very agile. Because of it, he routinely made defenders miss once he reached the second level.
  7. Like Thompson, Jamison runs with vision. He seems to sense pressure and finds the open lane or crease, an obvious must in the Redskins’ system. Both almost look past the defender, while keeping him in sight. Jamison also likes spin moves; one resulted in a highlight-reel touchdown vs. South Florida. After a good cutback to the middle Jamison needed to juke the safety. So he stutter-stepped and then spun as the safety lunged for air. Thing is, Jamison didn’t need to spin. He did this several times in the games I watched. Tough to do that a lot in the NFL.
  8. Jamison did a nice job picking up blitzes. Actually, a very nice job. He particularly excelled at protecting the edge vs. outside linebackers. When Jamison engaged them he had a strong base, head up and could deliver a good pop. He stayed balanced. And he cut a linebacker on one blitz. When he picked up a blitz through the middle, Jamison was not as stout, but he sidetracked the linebacker enough to buy the QB enough time to throw. Considering he did not handle this role as a redshirt freshman, it’s impressive how he looked. Jamison’s hands were solid and he ran more than just screens, with some wheel routes and downfield routes as well. He caught a TD pass on a wheel route in which the DB had no clue where the ball was and Jamison jumped and reached over his head for the catch.’
  9. Have to like his toughness as he played the final three games with a bad ankle sprain. It limited his effectiveness, but he kept playing. He was a steady player for Rutgers and sometimes a little bit more – he gained 1,075 yards, but averaged 4.2 yards per carry. Defenses keyed on him a lot; saw more than a few eight-man fronts so a good D would shut him down. Syracuse held him to 2.3 yards per carry; Virginia Tech limited him to 1.6 yards per carry in the bowl game. The Hokies focused on him and, for the most part, did a good job preventing a cutback run by having a linebacker come downhill from the backside. So it wasn’t all on Jamison (who exited the game with an ankle injury; don’t know how much it bothered him earlier). He did lower his shoulder on one run vs. an eight-man front, bouncing the DB backward. And Jamison did a good job in protection, even picking up a defensive tackle by staying low and hitting him in the chest. It slowed the DT.
  10. There’s enough to like about Jamison to be intrigued: third-down ability; elusiveness beyond the line; willingness for contact. There’s enough to wonder about his future: size, speed, overall athleticism. It’s why he lasted to the seventh round. He has a chance, but also a lot to prove.

 

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John Keim

Staff Reporter - Washington Redskins
The Washington Examiner