The Redskins’ wide receiver situation was a little unusual last year. They drafted three and rostered as many as nine at a time, and yet it was often unclear which ones would start or play on a given weekend. Their identity as a unit was constantly in flux.
With the rotation unpredictable, rookie fifth-rounder Niles Paul found creative ways to make his mark, most notably with vicious blocking and inspired special teams play. The guy is just a flat-out gamer.
Niles also has a great personality and was cool enough to email with BB for this original interview.
BB: Welcome to Burgundy Blog, Niles! We are very pumped to have you. Right off the bat, I’m gonna give you a chance to come clean: did you hack Jabar Gaffney’s Twitter account?
NP: No sir, that definitely wasn’t my doing, even though I have been known to hack a Twitter account or two….
BB: Not very convincing. Anyway, tell us something intriguing about yourself that we don’t already know from the newspapers.
NP: If I didn’t play football, I would probably be trying to become a Navy Seal. I’ve always been fascinated with the amount of heart, courage, and fearlessness those guys have!
BB: Whoa, good answer. Your rookie year was very promising, even though your stat lines weren’t huge. You were active for most games, and saw the field in a lot of pressure situations. What do you think was your biggest contribution to the 2011 Redskins?
NP: I think playing gunner really gave me the opportunity to make a name for myself, to show coaches my versatility as a player.
BB: What would you identify as the biggest thing you need to improve upon as a second-year pro?
NP: Letting the game come to me and not always trying to rush things.
BB: What is your opinion of the new pick-ups at wide receiver, Pierre Garçon and Josh Morgan? Did the Redskins need new receivers? Do they still need more? What do you think these guys will bring to the table?
NP: I think Coach is really finding the missing pieces to the puzzle. I see his vision and think these two guys were a great pick-ups for the Redskins organization.
BB: Here’s the question of the hour: what’s the deal with this potential move to tight end?
NP: I honestly don’t know. Coach called me and asked me how I felt about playing tight end, and I told him I’ll play wherever he decides to put me.
BB: Are you big enough to play tight end? Would you be a traditional in-line tight end, or more of an H-back?
NP: At first I thought I was pretty undersized, but Cooley and Fred assured me that I have the size and mindset to do the things they do, so I felt better about the transition.
BB: What do you think is the main reason behind the coaches’ decision to switch you? Overload at receiver? Lack of depth at tight end? Or just the fact that it fits you better? If the latter, why?
NP: I have no idea but Coach says he thinks this will be a good fit for me. I put a little tight end on film towards the end of last year and in some goal-line sets, which probably gave him a little more confidence in me to make the switch.
BB: Be honest with us: how do you feel about Robert Griffin III coming to Washington? How do you expect his presence to change the offense?
NP: I had the opportunity to play against him twice in college and was always impressed with everything he brought to the table as a quarterback, so I’m excited to get him here in Washington!
BB: What if Griffin has a little bit of an “ego?” Or a “selfish streak?”
NP: I’m sure Coach will have no problem with putting him in his place, but let’s be honest, what athlete doesn’t have a bit of an ego?
BB: I love that answer. What’s the deal with Aldrick Robinson? Should we expect to see him on Sundays this year? Of the guys that have been here, who’s your pick for most likely break-out candidate (other than yourself) on the offense?
NP: Aldrick is very quick and fast so I don’t see why he wouldn’t be out there on Sundays, now that he has gotten a year under his belt! And as for break-out candidates, even though he showed flashes of greatness last year before he got hurt, I think that you guys haven’t even begun to see the Leonard Hankerson that we’ve seen. I’m banking on him having a big year (if he is healthy, of course).
BB: Tell us something interesting about Shanny that we don’t already know.
NP: He doesn’t yell at you when you mess up. He just kind of gives you this look, it’s actually pretty scary. Hopefully he never gives me that look! Haha.
BB: What is the point of OTAs? Do you actually get anything out of them? Or is it just a formality?
NP: It feels good to be back out there with the team. Plus I feel like I have some structure in my life again. Before, I was doing workouts at all hours of the day. I think OTAs kind of help in getting back in the groove of things, and also help promote a sense of camaraderie within the team.
BB: Who is the funniest guy in the locker room? Who spends the most time in front of the mirror? Who has the worst car? Who is the worst dresser? Don’t hold back, you know these guys would sell you out, too.
NP: I would say JB or D. Scott are the funniest guys in the locker room, they really have a different humor though. You have to be there to understand what I mean by that! Roy would be the worst dresser because he has been wearing the same clothes since college. Haha!
BB: Is there anything else—anything at all—that you want to say to all your adoring fans in Redskin Nation?
NP: I just want to thank Redskin Nation for all the support and love you guys have shown me since I got here!