- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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The knock against him was his speed. It’s one reason Ryan Grant fell to the fifth round in last month’s draft. Yet one of the first lessons he learned in the NFL? Don’t go so fast.
It’s a lesson almost every receiver learns upon coming to the NFL.
“The most important thing I take away is slowing down,” Grant said. “At the college level it’s go, go, go, go. But here you have to be patient and slow down and pay attention to detail.”
In a best-case scenario for the Redskins – and Grant – he’ll be able to develop while waiting his turn. The Redskins don’t need him to make an immediate impact at receiver, perhaps not even for a couple years. If he does anything right away it’ll be to help special teams. Grant has been working as a gunner on punt coverage and a jammer on punts.
But in order to develop he’ll have to get stronger -- to get off jams and help as a blocker -- and learn to run routes against NFL defenders. Redskins coach Jay Gruden said last month that Grant, “plays like a 10-year veteran already.”
Because Grant won’t threaten a defender deep, allowing them to play tighter, he has to be precise in other aspects of his game. He did not create great separation in college, even at a lower Division I level, but helped himself with smooth routes (he'll still need to get sharper here) and good hands.
“There’s a lot you can do with different angles and techniques to throw a defender off,” Grant said.
He still wants to play fast, but needs to slow down his routes to be in sync with the quarterback. Santana Moss often talks about how he had to learn not to always run his fastest. It’s also a lesson receiver Aldrick Robinson was still learning last season, when he’d arrive at a spot before the quarterback was ready to throw. He might have been open when he got there, but it was too soon.
“It’s about studying the defender and your craft,” Grant said.
1hDianna Russini and Adam Schefter