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Five Potential Redskins First Round Picks

We’re finally approaching the finish line of the race to the NFL draft, and all across the world analysts, bloggers, pundits and fans are putting the finishing touches on mock drafts, big boards, and scouting reports.

Why should we here in Redskins Nation miss out on all the fun?

After the signing of Josh Norman late last week, we wrote here at Redskins Capital Connection about how it may have impacted Washington’s approach to the draft, and although Scot McCloughan suggested at his Monday press conference that it wouldn’t change their big board, the fact remains that the odds of the Redskins selecting a Cornerback in the first round now seem unlikely.

In this article today we’re taking a look at five players who have a more than realistic chance of hearing their name called by the Redskins at pick 21 and explaining the rationale behind each of these potential selections.

Let’s begin!

Keanu Neal – Safety, Florida

Strengths

  • Ideal size at 6’1 and 215lbs
  • Great speed and agility
  • Reads the play well
  • Excellent at locating the ball in traffic
  • Strong hitter
  • Shuts down running lanes
  • Good in man coverage
  • Great in zone coverage
  • Covers huge area of the field
  • High football IQ
  • High-character man off the field

Weaknesses

  • Has the skills to tackle, but can elect to go for big hits instead
  • Good in man coverage against Tight Ends and Running Backs, can struggle against Receivers
  • Dropped several should-have-been interceptions

Redskins fit

Regular readers of this site will be familiar with Keanu Neal, seeing as we mocked him to the Redskins in our Round One Mock Draft last week. Whilst another Safety in this draft class seems to be the more popular mock selection (see below), Keanu Neal is an enormously exciting prospect who has all the makings of what Scot McCloughan famously refers to as a ‘football player’.

Likely taking the place of the week one Strong Safety opposite DeAngelo Hall at Free Safety, Neal would see himself covering Tight Ends, playing the running lanes, and acting as a last line of defense in Defensive Coordinator Joe Barry’s scheme. With Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland in front of him and the veteran Hall next to him, Neal would be developing as an NFL player surrounded by a perfect mix of talent and leadership.

There will be those who would label this pick as a reach if the Redskins did call his name at 21, as there is a pretty big discrepancy between how different scouts and talent evaluators grade him; some have him squarely as a mid-to-late first round pick, whilst others have him as a ‘day two’ player.  Similar comments were made when McCloughan famously selected Brandon Scherff at pick five last year, however, and surely we can all agree that ‘reach’ worked out pretty handsomely for the Redskins.

Karl Joseph – Safety, West Virginia

Strengths

  • Ferocious
  • On-field leader, team captain
  • Great hands – will intercept multiple balls thrown in his direction
  • Good in jump ball situations
  • Can play single-high schemes
  • Makes quick decisions
  • Shuts down running lanes
  • Does everything at 100 percent – doesn’t take any plays off
  • Causes fumbles

Weaknesses

  • Undersized for the position at 5’10 and 205lbs
  • Coming off of season ending ACL injury suffered during non-contact training drill
  • Had success against college-sized opponents; question marks about transition to pros
  • His hits draw flags

Redskins fit

For a lot of the same reasons that Keanu Neal makes sense for the Redskins, Karl Joseph is an attractive prospect in his own right. There can be no denying the power and ferocity that he plays with, and he was adored by his teammates and fans alike at West Virginia for being the type of player who leads by example and gives his full measure of devotion to the game of football.

The combination of his size and his injury are a cause for concern, but if he can make a full recovery from what was (hopefully) an isolated freak incident, and if he is coached into a technique that won’t draw flags from his big hits, then Joseph could be a well and truly special player in the NFL.

Andrew Billings – Defensive Tackle, Baylor

Strengths

  • Explosive burst player
  • Bull rushed over Offensive Linemen frequently
  • Closes gaps
  • Collapses pockets
  • Doesn’t get pushed around
  • Effective swim move technique
  • Quick feet
  • Strong as an ox
  • Prototypical Nose Tackle in the 3-4

Weaknesses

  • Doesn’t get hands up for deflected passes enough
  • Short at 6’1 for the position
  • Will lose length/reach battle against NFL Offensive Lines

Redskins fit

With the departure of Terrance Knighton, conventional wisdom suggests that the Redskins need to plug the gap that is left at Nose Tackle. In a draft class that is considered deep at Defensive Tackle, the Redskins may have multiple options if they do in fact decide to address that need in the first round. Andrew Billings may not be the absolute most talented prospect at his position in the class, but he just may be the best prospect for this Redskins team.

As a traditional Nose Tackle, Billings has the tools and the talent to be a day one starter for the Redskins, which may benefit both team and player as his development would be aided from being a part of a defensive scheme that rotates between a traditional base 3-4 cover 3 that utilizes the Nose Tackle, to nickel and quarters packages which would give him a breather.

Reggie Ragland – Inside Linebacker, Alabama

Strengths

  • Excels against the run
  • Doesn’t miss tackles often
  • Good blitzer
  • Solid in zone coverage
  • Intelligent player
  • Leader
  • Stood tall in big games and big moments
  • Knows where the sticks are; keeps ball in front of him
  • Big hitter
  • Changes direction quickly

Weaknesses

  • Not fast; will lose foot races
  • Could stand to shed some weight (checked in at 259lbs at the combine and pro day)
  • Questionable on pure passing downs

Redskins fit

The combination of Will Compton and Mason Foster won over Redskins fans last year due to their on and off field chemistry, and they enter the 2016 as the presumed starters. According to advanced metrics and analytics, however, the Compton/Foster combination was one of the poorer performing Inside Linebacker duos in the NFL. Perry Riley Jr is still a Washington Redskin at the moment, but he has tried and failed at cementing himself as a starter over the past few years. Reggie Ragland has the potential to step on to the Redskins roster and become the number one Inside Linebacker instantly.

Whilst he probably needs to shed a little bit of weight and get himself into better overall physical condition when it comes to becoming a pro, Ragland has those innate intangibles that simply cannot be taught in meeting rooms and cannot be developed in weight rooms; he reads a Quarterback’s eyes pre-snap; he positions himself correctly against both run and pass plays; he lifts the level of play of the teammates that surround him. It would be no surprise at all if over the course of his college career, Scot McCloughan has been watching him closely and thinks he will bring value to the Redskins team.

Laquon Treadwell – Wide Receiver, Ole Miss

Strengths

  • Good size at 6’2 and 229lbs
  • Possession receiver
  • Great above his head
  • Strong
  • More than willing and able to contribute as a blocker
  • Pro-level hands
  • Wins jump ball contests
  • Doesn’t shy away from physical contact
  • Good feet
  • Gets yards after catch
  • No diva-like tendencies that can be prevalent in receivers

Weaknesses

  • Lack of speed
  • Not a vertical threat
  • Won’t beat Cornerbacks out of breaks

Redskins fit

As we mentioned in our article last week about the impacts of the signing of Josh Norman, the simple maths is that the Redskins have too much money allocated to Wide Receivers who are unlikely to play a significant part in the future of the franchise. It makes economical sense to look to the draft to plan for the future, and when it comes to shoring up the future at Wide Receiver, Laquon Treadwell looks like a mighty fine foundation with which to do so.

Treadwell was once considered a potential top five overall pick in this draft class, but then the questions about his speed -or lack thereof- started denting away at those grades, and Treadwell started tumbling down big boards everywhere. The possibility of his still being on the board for the Redskins at pick 21 was once considered a pipe-dream, but is now entirely possible, if not completely plausible. The best way to alleviate any concerns about Treadwell’s speed would be to plug him into a system where he doesn’t have to be the fastest Wide Receiver. Lining up alongside players like DeSean Jackson would suit Treadwell perfectly, and allow him to concentrate on doing what he does best; running his routes and getting his hands on to the ball, even if that means he has to literally jump over a Cornerback to do so. An under-rated aspect of Treadwell’s likely transition to the pros is that he would almost certainly draw a lot of Defensive Pass Interference flags in his favor.

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