In this fourth and final installment in the Smoking Musket's series on the newly drafted Mountaineers, we tell you about how NT Chris Neild fits in with the Washington Redskins. We'll do this through the eyes of the Redskins head coach, Mike Shanahan, and media. We know that Neild is a tough, rugged run-stopper, but before the Redskins drafted him, Skins' fans and media types may not have known much about Chris Neild. Now I'll give you their take.
Neild was almost Mr. Irrelevant. He was the next to last pick in the draft. He recieved a call on the second day of the three day NFL Draft from the Redskins. But it wasn't a call that told Neild he was being selected. A Redskins official just wanted to let him know that the Skins were interested in him, and that they had numerous late-round picks that they might select him with. When THE call came, it was Redskins Head Coach, Mike Shanahan, on the line welcoming Neild to the team.
I've already shown you how Brandon Hogan fits n the Carolina Panthers, how Robert Sands fits in with the Cincinatti Bengals, and how J.T. Thomas fits in with the Chicago Bears via a Q&A with Windy City Gridiron's Lester Wiltfong.
First, here is what Mike Shanahan thought about the drafting of Neild with the next-to-last pick in the NFL Draft.
Redskins Head Coach, Mike Shanahan was asked what he liked about Chris Neild:
"Everything," Shanahan blurted at a press conference following the Draft when asked what he liked about Chris Neild. "I love the way he competes. I love how important football is to him, because you can tell. He's got a mindset when he plays, and you can tell he really enjoys football. He lines up right over that center and competes on every down. I'll be surprised if doesn't come in here and do everything possible to make this football team. Just talking to him, I could tell he's excited and wants to get here right away and do what he can do to make this football team. He's a great competitor."
Here is what the Redskins media think of Neild.
"Neild is the type that’s a classic Jim Burt type, super tough overachiever who is not real athletic. Those guys make it. He’ll play in this league and in the 3-4 he’ll play a long time. He’s a good player, he’s just not a good athlete. What you’ll see is a guy who never takes a play off. He has excellent hand use and competes every play like it’s the last he’s going to play. He gets pressure and makes tackles but it’s all through sheer effort and hustle; none of it is because, ‘I’m better than you.’ He’s not that gifted to whoop a guy’s [butt] to get to the quarterback."
"The fact Neild was the second-to-last player selected is mind-blowing. He's a 320-pound slugger who brings his lunch pail to work every day and is a prospect coaches will love. Don't be surprised if he's starting by the end of his rookie season."
Brian Tinsman, Redskins.com:
"At 6-2, 319 pounds, Neild is a little undersized for a prototypical 3-4 nose-tackle, but he should fit the Redskins system one he gains experience. He comes to Washington with a reputation of gritty play, leadership and making up for his athletic deficiencies with intensity."
"Neild... started the last three years at West Virginia. His draft bio, distributed to reporters after the Redskins selected him, suggests that he was the "pulse of the defense, the unquestioned locker room leader and a role model both on and off the field.
"Okay, that's just PR talk. But you can't ignore that the Mountaineers were second in the nation in rush defense and sacks recorded last year and Neild - who posted 35 tackles and a career-best three sacks - was a significant contributor to those stats."
During the Redskins offseason practices, Neild has lined up across the line from a familiar face: former Mountaineer teammate, Selvish Capers.
I apologize for the delay between this article and the piece on J.T. Thomas. My wife insisted that I go on vacation. It was almost a disaster, but that's neither here nor there.