With the busy portion of the free agent signing period over, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft and, specifically, holes Redskins GM Scot McCloughan still must fill. (And, yes, there are many.) Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine prospects that could be a fit in Washington.
Depth chart: Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Silas Redd Jr. and Mack Brown.
Current situation: Running back ranks as one of the Redskins’ more unsettled areas as the offseason ramps up. Alfred Morris is gone, of course, having signed as a free agent in Dallas. Jones is coming off an inconsistent, injury-plagued rookie season, as well as a minor hip procedure. Still, Jones seems to have shown enough to be penciled in as the No. 1 back.
After that, though, there are many questions.
Thompson had shoulder surgery and is expected to be sidelined until training camp. Redd suffered a major knee injury and missed the entire 2015 season. Brown hasn’t played a regular season snap, while free agent Pierre Thomas might still be re-signed. Thomas could help next season, but at 31-years-old, he’s also not a long-term solution.
Given all of that uncertainty—and the fact that the Redskins produced a lowly 3.7 yards per carry in ’15 (third-worst)—it would make a lot of sense for McCloughan to invest a pick in a running back. And it wouldn’t be surprising if that pick were a high-to mid-round selection considering the team’s immediate need for help.
“We might sign a free agent here in the next couple weeks or we might wait until after the draft to see how we address it in the draft,” Coach Jay Gruden said at the NFL owners meetings last month, hinting that the position figures to be a priority in Chicago later this month.
- Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech
Listed at 5-10, 213-pounds, Dixon is productive all-around back who ranks second in FBS history in career touchdowns with 87 (72 rushing and 15 receiving). Last season, Dixon rushed for 1,073 yards on 198 carries (5.4 yards per) and 19 touchdowns to go along with 33 receptions for 464 yards and seven scores. The three-down back is projected to be drafted as early as the second round.
- Kenyan Drake, Alabama
Used as a complement to Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, the 6-1, 210-pounder rushed for 408 yards (5.3 per) and a touchdown and hauled in 29 passes for 276 yards and a score. He’s also a good kickoff returner who averaged 26.6 yards per return on 19 attempts as a senior. At the Senior Bowl in January, NBC Sports draft guru Josh Norris told me, “He was kind of the lightning to Derrick Henry’s thunder.” Drake is projected to be drafted in the 3rd to 5th round.
- Josh Ferguson, Illinois
Listed at 5 foot 10, 198-pounds, Ferguson is one of the best pass catching running backs in this year’s class. In nine games as a senior, he rushed for 708 yards on 129 carries (5.5 per) and hauled in 37 passes for 280 yards. A quick, agile player, Norris compares him to Chris Thompson. The Redskins reportedly met with Ferguson at the East-West Shrine Game. Projected to be drafted in the 4th or 5th round.