Every year, there are a handful of prospects who have the potential to become the “steal” of a particular draft.
The Redskins’ 2013 candidate is Bacarri Rambo, a safety draft prognosticators had pegged for the third round but ultimately plummeted to the sixth.
The reason for Rambo’s unexpected tumble isn’t hard to figure out: he was suspended in consecutive seasons for violating Georgia’s drug and alcohol policy. It’s also not hard to figure out why the Redskins took a gamble on him: he’s got the tools NFL teams seek in a safety.
Rambo has good size (6-1, 211-pounds). He has good speed (4.57 second 40-yard dash). He plays with swagger and delivers intimidating hits. But above all else, he's possesses proficient ball skills (16 interceptions in 36 career starts.)
“You can tell he’s a tremendous athlete,” Coach Mike Shanahan said.
While at Georgia, Rambo also overcame personal tragedy. During his junior season, his longtime girlfriend was due to give birth to his first son, Braylin Adriel Rambo, on Oct. 1, 2011. But, as this ESPN.com story details, something went horribly wrong and Braylin was delivered stillborn, 10 days premature.
Rambo made the difficult decision to play three days later and intercepted a pair of passes in Georgia’s 27-13 win over Ole Miss.
“It was a very emotional week for me,” Rambo said on a conference call with Redskins beat reporters Saturday night. “I couldn’t practice for a couple of days. I even thought about not playing. But God put in my heart to just got out there and …help my team out because I had to put my team first. That’s who helped me through the situation.”
Rambo dedicated the rest of the season to his son and finished with a career-best eight interceptions and earned first-team All-American honors. His interception total ranked second in the nation to fellow Redskins' draft pick David Amerson, who had 13 that season.
Rob Rang of NFLDraftScout.com says Rambo compares favorably to Tampa Bay’s Dashon Goldson:
Like the [former] 49ers' standout free safety, Rambo has a tendency to make splashy plays as a pass thief and intimidating hitter but is prone to an occasional breakdown. If he can tighten up his game (and his off-field decision-making) Rambo has the talent to earn Pro Bowl consideration, just as Goldson has done for the 49ers.
NFL.com’s evaluators compare Rambo to former Cowboys’ standout Gerald Sensabaugh:
“Possesses the combination of overall strength (befitting a last name mimicking the fictitious role played by Sylvester Stallone) and agility to fill multiple roles on defense. Consistently reads routes and the quarterback’s eyes well, flows with plays from the deep half and breaks on the ball quickly. His strong hands can snatch 50/50 and jump ball passes away from receivers, and is willing to throw his shoulder into receivers over the middle to separate the ball. Effective cut tackler at the second level, also changes directions quickly to wrap up running backs making a quick cut. Good effort, upper body strength to ride receivers and backs with a full head of steam to the ground or sideline. Moves well with receivers downfield, can take away deep options and limit yards after the catch."
This highlight package underscores Rambo’s ability to track the ball in the air and make a play on it as well as his eagerness to hit.
This one, however, is a breakdown of Rambo's performance against Alabama last season. It reinforces what Rambo does right but also shows that he remains a work in progress when it comes to pursuit angles and, occasionally, his open field tackling.
Overall, Rambo’s talent ranks far above the spot where the Redskins got him. The challenge for Shanahan and his staff now is to keep Rambo on the right track off the field so he can develop into a starter on it.