Despite Not Being Drafted, Chase Minnifield Has Eye On Roster Spot
ASHBURN – One of Chase Minnifield’s worst decisions may turn out to be one of the Washington Redskins’ best.
Minnifield, the former University of Virginia cornerback, has impressed the Redskins’ coaches throughout offseason workouts, seemingly giving him a better shot at making the roster when players return for training camp at the end of next month.
“I am ecstatic he did not run as well in his 40 time to make him drop to be a free agent and to be able to come to Washington,” defensive backs coach Raheem Morris said Wednesday. “He’s done a nice job.”
Minnifield tried to return early from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, but instead ended up looking hobbled and slow during his on-campus workout for scouts in late March. The most lasting result was a 40-yard dash that was nearly 4.7 seconds – a significant drop from the 4.3-second speed he claimed earlier in his career.
That caused him to plummet in teams’ cornerback rankings, and a player who was considered a high-round pick during the football season instead ended up never hearing his name called during the NFL Draft.
“You know, the draft is what it is,” the 6-foot, 185-pound Minnifield said. “I’m not a different player. I’m the same player, so you know, being undrafted is kind of a label that’s given to me, but at the end of the day, I personally think I was the best corner in the draft, so I’m just going to play how I’ve always played.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said the Redskins had a third-round grade on Minnifield before the knee injury. Despite being limited during rookie minicamp in early May, the cornerback has otherwise demonstrated he’s everything he was during his time at Virginia.
“He’s got football intelligence,” Haslett said. “He’s got awareness. He’s smart. He can play a lot of different positions. … Hopefully he keeps progressing the way he’s doing because I like the kid.”
Haslett said the Redskins are likely only to take five or six cornerbacks heading into the season, and the team has eight on its 90-man offseason roster. Minnifield has been comfortable and rarely looked overwhelmed, including one play on Tuesday when he dove in front of a pass from quarterback Rex Grossman that was intended for Anthony Armstrong and intercepted.
Minnifield said he thinks about the label of being an undrafted player all the time, using it as motivation “because it’s something that’s never going to leave me.” He takes inspiration from linebacker London Fletcher, who not only went undrafted and made a roster as a rookie, but has excelled for the past 14 seasons.
“I’m just going out there and trying to compete every day, just trying to put my health in the Lord’s hands,” Minnifield said. “You know, you can’t come out here and half it half the time and protect yourself. You’ve got to go all at it, and whatever comes out, you’ve got to deal with it.”