Continuing a post-draft interview with SI.com's Don Banks as he credits the Redskins with finding safety Phillip Thomas in the fourth round and how he can start Week 1.
With a number of roster needs and limited high-end draft picks, the Washington Redskins became gamblers during the 2013 NFL Draft.
While most NFL experts saw a fit with Fresno State safety Phillip Thomas with the team's top pick, No. 51 overall, the Redskins had faith that Thomas might be available two rounds later.
Sports Illustrated*'s Don Banks had the Redskins taking Thomas at No. 51 in his final mock draft, but sees a bona fide starter with the draft's 119th overall pick.
"I actually thought he was a second or at worst third-round guy," Banks told Redskins.com. "He's a guy that could very easily surface as a starter at some point early in the season.
"I thought he was a solid second round type guy, and I saw a number of other people who kind of agreed."
In Banks's final mock draft, he had Redskins cornerback David Amerson going to the Denver Broncos at No. 59, taking over for former Redskins cornerback Champ Bailey.
"Interestingly enough, Amerson was also a guy I considered for the Redskins," Banks said after the draft. "He seemed to be rated in that neighborhood where their pick was going to happen at 51.
"I thought they went in with realistic expectations for this draft, obviously the secondary was priority number one. I went with Thomas just because I thought the safety position was a larger position of need."
Moving forward, Banks sees Phillip Thomas as a playmaker capable of finding an immediate home in the Redskins' secondary.
Head coach Mike Shanahan has declared an open competition for the free safety position, and Thomas seems to be the team's top choice as the long-term answer.
The only question is can he start Week 1?
"Yeah, I think thats in the realm of possibility and I think the front office is thinking the same thing," Banks said. "Now you never know how some guys are going to assimilate into the league. Some guys seem to never miss a beat, they seem to pick up the speed of the game and the increased mental responsibility level.
"Other guys hit a wall and the Redskins have seen both of those types. I think Thomas is a guy who could foreseeably come out of camp with the starting job and it wouldn't be a shock."
For his part, Thomas said he is ready for whatever role the coaching staff has in mind for him going into Week 1.
"I want to be a contributor to the team, no matter where it's at," he told the media after rookie mini-camp. "It would be great to start, but I know it's a competitive in that league. I'm going to have to go in there early and put in a lot of work.
"Anything I can do to help this team get some more wins, I'm willing to do that."