Rookie sixth-round pick Kyshoen Jarrett has settled into the team's nickel cornerback role nicely, even though he wasn't expected to play at the position entering the season.
The numbers game led to Kyshoen Jarrett – listed as a safety – being placed the nickel cornerback position.
The Washington Redskins are glad it did.
"Jarrett, really, is a surprise to me because he's not doing it at safety. He's doing it at nickel," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "We had no idea that that would be the case. We had him penciled as competing for safety, being a special team player year one but he came in here and really surprised us with his versatility – being able to play nickel, being able to play safety, the smart football player that's very tough."
Jarrett may not have the size that some of the game's up-and-coming defensive backs possess – 5-foot-10, 200 pounds – or the speed – he was clocked in as running a 4.57 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine – but his natural instincts have led to increased playing time this season.
He also had the confidence in himself early on that he could play numerous positions.
"The thing that's kind of been cool is that we kind of fell into Kyshoen playing nickel back in training camp. It was kind of a blessing in disguise," Redskins defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. "You know, [Bashaud] Breeland got hurt, so we had to juggle some things around. I can't remember when it was, but it was the first week of training camp and we started training him. He just got better and better and better with it.
Barry said as a rookie Jarrett will naturally make mistakes, but he's "an unbelievable kid."
"He's going to make rookie mistakes, but he just loves football," Barry said. "He's into it. He just one of those mature rookies that really works at it. It was exciting to see."
Jarrett said he realized his versatility while starring at Virginia Tech.
"At Virginia Tech, as a safety you had to know what the corners did, what the nickels did, sometimes, some practices, [defensive secondary coach] Torrian Gray, he'll tell you, 'Hey, just go play some nickel today,'" Jarrett said. "So you had to have the ability to roam within the defense, because it wasn't so much the next corner was up, it was the next best man who can help the team win that week so you had to know multiple positions."
Check out images of rookie safety Kyshoen Jarrett during his first few months with the Washington Redskins.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall, who was first in line among Virginia Tech defensive backs to make it to the NFL, said Jarrett "immediately impressed these coaches just with his feetwork, his work ethic."
"Probably the only reason he isn't higher is they have so much depth at that safety spot," Hall said. "But coming from Tech, he understands the importance of special teams, and that's what we're going to need him to go out and shine at, early on."
Through six games this season, Jarrett has tallied 18 tackles. He also recorded his first forced fumble against the Jets last Sunday, jarring the ball free from Eric Decker on their first offensive play of the game.
It delivered good field position for the offense, which would capitalize with a two-yard touchdown pass to Pierre Garçon.
As the Redskins approach Week 7, a matchup against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and then their Bye Week, Jarrett has been pleased with his play early in his NFL career.
But he knows he can't let up one bit on the work ethic that's allowed the sixth-round pick to play a large role on an improved defense.
"I can't really single out one particular thing, but as a player I want to continue to build on all my strong points and low points, all of the areas," he said. "The coaches are helping me out with that as well as my teammates and a lot of the older guys, kind of giving me some guidance on how to approach somethings. All of that information I try to take in. Playing in multiple positions, I have to make sure that I am consistent with that so when I go out there on the field, all that hard work off the field shows on it."