It’s that time of year again folks. In just a few weeks the Washington Redskins will add 10 (as it stand right now, before any trades that may happen between now and April 29th) new faces to their roster.
This might be the most odd draft season I can remember for the Burgundy and Gold. After the controversial, poorly timed (and just a bad management decision in my opinion, but that’s another article in itself) firing of former General Manager Scot McCloughan, no one really knows what the Redskins will do.
Will they use McCloughan’s board? Has McCloughan shared his board with the other 31 NFL teams? Will Bruce Allen over rule McCloughan’s board out of spite? Will they draft for need, or best player available?
To me, that will be the most interesting story-line to follow. Although the Redskins are a generally improved roster from the mess that McCloughan inherited two short seasons ago, they still have plenty of needs across the board.
In fact, I don’t think there are many positions you can argue aren’t a need for the Redskins. Maybe Offensive Tackle, but that’s one of very few. Even players at positions you might not think of initially as a big need, like Tight End, Outside Linebacker, or Quarterback could still see their names called.
Jordan Reed is a monster, an absolute and undeniable baller, but his health issues are legitimate. Vernon Davis is 33 years old. And Niles Paul has had his own health issues of late. Depth wouldn’t hurt there. What’s going to happen with Kirk’s future? You need to have a backup plan in place in case things go (further) south. Ryan Kerrigan is as consistent as they come, but who else can they rely on? Preston Smith has been up-and-down throughout his two years, Trent Murphy is facing a four game suspension and Junior Gallette is coming off back-to-back achilles injuries.
Long story short: The Redskins have needs across the board. They aren’t challenging for the Lombardi Trophy in 2017, they would be smart to continue to build the roster with excellent football players, not try to force the board to fill needs.
Without further adieu, here’s Justin Byram’s seven round mock draft:
Round 1: Haason Reddick, Linebacker, Temple
Reddick has become one of my favorite prospects of the 2017 draft class. The Temple product has shot up draft boards since he’s shown his versatility and explosive ability at both the senior bowl and combine. Reddick would be a perfect fit in Greg Manusky’s defense, and combined with newly signed free agent Zach Brown, would give Manusky two sideline-to-sideline, speedy linebackers.
But that’s not where Reddick’s impact will end, Reddick can be a menace as a blitzer, off the edge and coming through the middle on delayed blitzes. Once Reddick puts it all together, and continues to develop as a stand up off ball linebacker, he’ll be a three down impact player who can impact the game in all phases.
Some may not like this pick now, but it could look like a steal a few years down the road.
Round 2: JuJu Smith-Schuster, WR, USC
There are a lot of mid round wide out’s I really like (Carlos Henderson, Zay Jones, Amara Darboh, and Josh Reynolds among others). However, the USC product is probably my favorite due to his high ceiling (he’s only 20 years old), coupled with his perfect fit in Jay Gruden’s offense.
Before you scream at me in the comments, I understand that the Skins just added Terrell Pryor, and last years first round pick Josh Doctson recently proclaimed himself 100% healthy. These new potential impact players, coupled with Crowder, Reed, among others it looks like the Redskins are set on weapons.
I wouldn’t necessarily agree.
The Redskins lost two thousand yard receivers this off-season. That’s A LOT of production to replace. Jamison Crowder is a certified stud, but where do the Redskins stand outside the talented Duke product?
Jordan Reed is one concussion away from his career ending (knock on wood that doesn’t happen), Pryor and Doctson are hardly proven as receivers in the NFL, and that’s not factoring in injuries. You need to have depth. If one of your top guys goes down are you comfortable with Ryan Grant or Maurice Harris stepping in? I’m not.
Enough on the Redskins receiving core, lets talk about the talented USC product. JuJu is a talented route runner, who is a nasty blocker when he’s asked to do so, and he isn’t easy to bring down himself with the ball in his hands.
Smith-Schuster can play from the slot and the outside, tracks the ball well and shows excellent body control and concentration to bring in tough balls. The versatile USC product can play multiple roles in Jay Gruden’s offense, and even if Pryor and Doctson have great years in 2017, and Jordan Reed stays healthy, you can never have too many weapons.
This isn’t the biggest need, but it is a pick that makes too much sense to pass up, especially with the depth on the defensive side of the ball in this draft.
Round 3: Dalvin Tomlinson, DT, Alabama
This is a difficult pick for me to predict, I really like Tomlinson’s fit with the Redskins but trying to predict where the talented Crimson Tide defender will go is no easy task.
In one breath, when watching the film, I see a solid, third round value. However, I wonder if due to a weak defensive line class overall (it’s probably the only week position on the defensive side of the ball in this class, this could cause prospects like Tomlinson to be pushed up draft boards and ultimately be over drafted).
Regardless, if the powerful Alabama product is on the board when the Redskins are on the clock in round 3, they should give him some serious thought. Tomlinson is a well built defensive tackle, who has a powerful lower body and is damn near impossible to move off the line of scrimmage. Combine that with long arms and a decent motor and you’ve got a very good defensive tackle.
Tomlinson is never going to be a 8+ sack guy, but what he can be is exactly what the Redskins lack. Tomlinson can be an absolute menace clogging the middle, he can hold double teams and shows the ability to stack and shed and toss blockers away to make tackles against the run when he isn’t double teamed.
I know McCloughan is no longer with the team, but to steal some of his scouting terminology, you cant have blue chip players at every position. You need a lot of “Red” players too, solid football players who do their jobs and embrace their roles. That’s Tomlinson. He could come in and challenge for a starting spot from day 1, and the defense would be better after this addition, in my opinion.
Round 4: Xavier Woods, DB, Louisiana Tech
If you follow me on twitter (@Justin_Byram) you know I have a major draft crush on first round prospect Budda Baker. However, you can’t have every prospect you want, and in this scenario the Redskins don’t nab the versatile Washington prospect.
If the Redskins choose to wait on a safety (the depth at the safety position in this class is absolutely RIDICULOUS), there might be no better option that Xavier Woods. Much like Baker, the former Bulldog can play a variety of roles from multiple positions.
Need a guy to drop down from safety and cover the slot? Blitz from the slot? play the deep half? Strong Saftey? Woods is your man.
Woods has above average instincts and ball skills, is a reliable tackler who isn’t afraid to fly up in run support. Much like Tomlinson, Woods may never be an all pro, and he doesn’t have perfect size/speed, but what he is, is a smart football player with a passion for the game and great instincts.
A college captain, and four year contributor, the Louisiana Tech prospect could push for multiple roles early, even if he doesn’t start right away.
Round 4: Kendall Beckwith, LB, LSU
Had Beckwith not torn his ACL during his senior campaign, the talented LSU product likely isn’t available here (he’s arguably a top 75 player pre-injury). However, when healthy I really like his ability, and how he would fit with the Redskins. Paired with fellow rookie Dalvin Tomlinson, Beckwith would go a long way in improving the Redskins run defense.
Beckwith is a throwback style linebacker, who comes at you with bad intentions. He isn’t afraid to mix it up with guards, and often initiates contact with guards before they have a chance to gain steam coming to the second level. Beckwith is an intelligent football player, who takes smart angels to the ball and understands that he isn’t they type of sideline to sideline backer teammates Duke Riley and Deion Jones were, but he plays to his strengths.
Beckwith often does the dirty work to free up teammates to make plays, and understands his role as the middle linebacker well. You’re never going to ask Beckwith to go one-on-one with backs and tight ends in coverage, but when healthy, he could be the thumper the Redskins need in the middle. Especially since they play Dallas twice a year. To me, this is a low risk, high upside pick with starting potential down the road.
Round 5: Corn Elder, CB, Miami
Corn Elder might not have the size to play outside at the next level, but you wouldn’t know that if you watch the Hurricane product play ball. His best role at the next level may be as a zone, slot corner, which works out great for the Redskins considering they desperately need a slot corner presence.
Elder’s toughness and tackling could allow him to carve out a niche as a slot specialist which isn’t a big deal considering that slot corners are essentially starters in today’s pass happy NFL.
I’ll never understand why teams knock corners for projecting to slot roles, or being “too small” (especially when they don’t play small, like Elder).
However, because teams have this odd mentality on small slot corners, and the overall depth of the DB’s in this class, Elder could be on the board when the Redskins are on the clock here. If he is, he shouldn’t be after they submit the pick. It’s rare for a fifth round pick to push for playing time early, but this is an uncommonly deep class, and I think Elder could be a nice addition and see playing time early in his career.
Round 5: Ejuan Price, EDGE, Pittsburgh
Another guy who will get knocked for measurables, and an injury history but here’s the bottom line: This kid can ball.
Price is a smart rusher, who can beat you in a number of different ways, including showing impressive bend around the edge. With Trent Murphy serving a 4 game suspension, the Redskins are going to have to get creative with how they rush the passer.
I think Price can help there, even early as a situational rusher. I really like how Price compliments what the Redskins currently have at EDGE. Price has better twitch and bend than the rushers currently on the roster which gives opposing tackles another style to combat. Not to mention Price could be on the field in a “speed package” with Kerrigan/Murphy for example.
Much like the previous pick of Elder, if Price falls the Redskins should really consider putting that slide to an end.
Round 6: James Conner, RB, Pittsburgh
You probably know James Conner for beating Hodgkins lymphoma, but Conner wants to be know as a great NFL running back.
His story is phenomenal, this toughness and resilience is inspiring. He’s the type of guy you want on your team, and he ain’t a half bad prospect either. Conner wears #24 for Marshawn Lynch, AKA Beast mode, and it’s easy to see why when you see the Pittsburgh product consistently run angry. Conner is a big, physical back who is extremely tough to bring down.
Conner is never going to out run you for an 80 yard score, or juke you out of your cleats, but he has good vision and he’s a battering ram who can wear you down over the course of the game. If the Redskins miss out on the McCaffrey/Cook sweepstakes, I’d love to see a combo of Kelley/Conner behind a very good offensive line wear defenses down, while fellow back Chris Thompson gets 10-15 touches a game as a back/receiver.
Conner is an easy guy to root for, he can play for my team any day.
Round 7: Chad Williams, WR, Grambling State
Chad Williams is an interesting case, he played ball at FCS Grambling State University, and wasn’t invited to the combine. However, he put up 26 reps (!!) at his pro day, as well as a blistering 4.4 40-yard dash (hand timed, take this with a grain of salt).
However, at the Reese’s Senior Bowl. I thought he had a good showing, he isn’t the biggest, fastest, or best athlete on the field, but he’s got grit and fights for every rep and yard. Williams would be a nice player to “redshirt” on the practice squad, to continue his development. I like Williams long term potential, and think eventually he’ll earn a role in the NFL.
Round 7: Billy Brown, TE, Shepherd
A division II receiver who will need to transition from WR to TE?! What are you thinking Justin?! Billy Brown is a local prospect from my neck of the woods, small division II Shepherd University. In a little West Virginia town that has an obsession with college football, you could see Brown dominating defenders every Saturday afternoon.
Obviously, Brown (6’4, 255) was a physical mismatch and often looked like an NBA center high pointing the ball over a JV basketball team during his time at Shepherd. He’ll need to adjust to a higher level of competition and athletes he’ll face. However, I think Brown has some potential at TE. Another solid candidate for a “redshirt” season, Brown is worth taking a chance on this late in the draft. With tight end not being an immediate need, the Redskins could take their time bringing Brown along, working on his technique and blocking.
The Bottom line:
Obviously you can’t get everything you want, and you can’t make the Redskins Super Bowl contenders with 10 selections. I would have liked to have gotten interior line help (this OL class is horrendous), an ILB who could push for playing time earlier, and a TE earlier to help with depth.
Although you can’t fix everything with 10 selections, I do feel good about these 10 guys, and in my opinion, the Redskins would be a better team with their additions.
Have questions, comments, hate my mock draft? let me know about it in the comments or on twitter.
Thanks for reading! Let me know on Twitter what you think of this draft.
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