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Redskins mock draft v. 2.0 fills needs on defense

Redskins mock draft v. 2.0 fills needs on defense

For my second version of the Redskins mock draft, I went with the options to add trades and I went in being open to the idea of trading down in the first round. While making such a deal would clearly have its drawbacks, a first-round trade back would be the best way to Scot McCloughan to stockpile the additional draft picks he wants. But if there was a player at No. 21 who represented value too good to turn down I would take him.

Round 1

When No. 21 came up Andrew Billings, Jarran Reed, A’Shawn Robinson, Eli Apple, Laquan Treadwell, and Josh Doctson were all gone. I made a deal similar to the one I floated in this article a couple of weeks ago. In exchange for the Redskins’ first-rounder and one of their seventh-round picks, the 49ers sent their second, third, and fifth-round picks to the Redskins.

Round 2

R2 P6 Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama—I don’t like him in the first since he’s probably only a two-down player. But in the second Ragland is almost too good to turn down and he is the pick over WR Michael Thomas and S Karl Joseph. I don’t think McCloughan values the position that much but he is a “football player” as the GM defines it. If he’ll draft a guard fifth overall he’ll draft an ILB in the second.

Another trade here, with the Redskins sending their second-round pick to Carolina for their second-, which is just nine spots down, fourth-, and fifth-round picks. I looked down the board and figured that there would be a player I liked still available with Carolina’s pick and I’m happy to have the two extra picks early on Saturday.

R2 P31 Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Ole Miss—Is this realistic? I think it is, given all of the question marks surrounding him. And while the questions are legitimate he has too much value to leave him on the board.

Round 3

R3 P5 Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama—I know that the draft Kelly in the first round crowd is going to say there is no way that he’ll be on the board early in the third round but the low value of the position could well push him down the board. If he’s gone, maybe they could turn to Nick Martin of Notre Dame here, although that would be a bit of a reach.

For the third straight round I’m trading my own pick and moving back. I send my third round pick, 21st in the round, to the Bills for picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth plus a 2017 fourth-round pick. The 2017 pick is important because the Redskins have dealt away their fifth-round pick for Derek Carrier and this recoups that pick.

Round 4

R4 P 19 RB CJ Prosise, Notre Dame—I like Alex Collins of Arkansas but I left him on the board to get the versatile Prosise. He is a good combination of speed and power and since he started out a slot receiver he is polished when it comes to catching passes out of the backfield.

R4 P22 CB Cyrus Jones, Alabama—Lacks ideal height at 5-10 but he’s stocky and physical. Ceiling is probably a nickel corner who plays special teams but good value here.

R4 P31 S K.J. Dillon, West Virginia—A 6-0 versatile safety who really took a jump up in productivity when teammate Karl Joseph was lost to a knee injury.

Round 5

R5 P6 WR Jalin Marshall, Ohio State—An ex-quarterback who could return punts while he polishes his skills as a wide receiver.

R5 P17 QB Kevin Hogan, Stanford—This is the sweet spot for the developmental quarterback. Hogan played in a pro style offense so he would be able to step in should disaster strike.

R5 P19 CB Daryl Worley, West Virginia—A press man corner who also may be able to play free safety.

R5 P29 TE Thomas Duarte, UCLA—As of right now, the Redskins have no tight ends under contract for 2017. Duarte is similar in build and skill set to Jordan Reed. Although a big blocking TE may be preferable, they remain rare.

Round 6

R6 P12 NT DJ Reader, Clemson—He played at 340 but slimmed down to 327 for the combine. It’s not that the Redskins don’t want a dedicated zero technique nose tackle, they just don’t want to expend a lot of resources on one. A sixth-round pick and accompanying cap hit would fit their budget.

R6 P17 ILB Antonio Morrison, Florida—A McCloughan “football player” who tackles well (over 100 tackles both as a junior and senior).

Round 7

R7 P21 CB Brandon Williams, Texas A&M—Good size (5-11, 197) but very raw. A good project to stash on the practice squad and see what you have in 2017.

Total 13 picks plus picked up one in 2017. Eight defensive players, five on offense.

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The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft pool may push the Redskins into continuing a short-term draft trend that appears to be working out fairly well for them. 

For seven straight years beginning in 2009, the Redskins went along with the conventional wisdom in the draft, taking a player that primarily impacted the passing game or stopping the other team’s passing game, with their top draft picks. 

Their top pick (whether in the first or second round) in every draft from 2008-2014 was at a traditionally high-value position associated with the passing game — wide receiver (Devin Thomas), edge rusher (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy), left tackle (Trent Williams), quarterback (Robert Griffin III), or outside cornerback (David Amerson). 

This was the Redskins going along with the conventional wisdom. Since 2000, 62 percent of first-round NFL draft picks have been players at those positions even though they account for just 32 percent of a team’s starters. 

The Redskins have shifted away for conducting the draft focused on the passing game at the top in two of the last three drafts. The Redskins selected guard Brandon Scherff (No. 5) in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and interior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (No. 22) in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In between, they went the old way, selecting wide receiver Josh Doctson (No. 22) in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

This trend is likely to continue due in part to the makeup of the top talent in the draft.

If you’re not looking for a quarterback, the top half of the first round is very light in talented players playing the positions that are most important to the passing game — outside cornerback, edge rusher, left tackle, and wide receiver. Cornerback Denzel Ward is a top-10 player as is edge rusher Bradley Chubb. But that’s about it at those positions and there are no wide receivers or left tackles worthy of consideration in the top 15.

That leaves players like interior defensive linemen Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne and inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds as players who have the potential to be the best available players on the board when the Redskins are on the clock. Traditionally, these players play positions that teams are looking for in the latter stages of the first round at the earliest. 

They could go the non-traditional way for the third time in four years with Vea, Payne, Fitzpatrick, or Smith. In fact, unless Ward slips or they pull off a major surprise it’s likely that they will.

Scherff has worked out well and Allen was getting the job done as a rookie before he got injured so perhaps the way the draft plays out will work out well for Washington.

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Need to Know: Alex Smith will need to be a fast learner for the Redskins to be successful

Need to Know: Alex Smith will need to be a fast learner for the Redskins to be successful

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 24, two days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Smith will need support for the Redskins to be successful early

There are high expectations for new Redskins quarterback Alex Smith. He needs to replace Kirk Cousins, who was one of the league’s most productive passers over the past three years. Smith, of course, has been a solid performer himself. Since 2015, the first year that both were starters, Cousins has passed for more yards but primarily because he attempted 225 more passes. Their adjusted yards per attempt and passer ratings over that time are nearly identical.

Smith will be expected to be at peak production right out of the box. With 151 starts in 12 NFL seasons, he knows what is expected of him as the leader of the offense. 

However, he may have another issue, one we’ve seen from him before. He was traded from the 49ers to the Chiefs following the 2012 season. Smith got off to a rocky start in Andy Reid’s offense. In the first seven games, Smith threw seven touchdowns and four interceptions, posting 6.1 adjusted yards per attempt and a passer rating of 79.2. 

After that, he got rolling. In the final nine games, he threw 16 TD’s and three interceptions and improved his adjusted yard per attempt to 7.5 and his passer rating to 98.7.

Will it take him that long to pick up the Redskins offense? 

It needs to be noted that the Chiefs went 7-0 during the Smith’s bad start. They were able to support him with a running game that went over 100 yards every week (121 per game average) and a defense that didn’t allow over 17 points in any game and let up single-digit point totals in three of them. 

Looking at the history of the last three years, the Redskins would have more trouble winning if their quarterback was struggling as much as Smith was in his early Chiefs days. In fact, during Cousins’ three years as the starter, the Redskins went 2-17 in games where he posted a passer rating of 90 or lower. 

In his five seasons with the Chiefs, the team went 17-17 when Smith posted a passer rating of lower than 90. While that may say something about the relative abilities of the two quarterbacks to scuffle to a win when things aren’t going as well as planned, it says much more about the teams surrounding Smith and Cousins. 

Unless the Redskins’ defense and running game improve significantly—and that’s certainly possible—they won’t be able to prosper in wins column if Smith needs an extended adjustment period to get comfortable in Jay Gruden’s offense. 

He has a chance of doing so, based on the 2017 performances of the pass defenses he and the Redskins face in the first half of the season. In terms of pass defense DVOA, the Redskins face only one that ranked in the top 10, the No. 5 Saints. Also above average were the Panthers (10th) and the Cardinals (11th). Five of the opponents were in the lower half including the Cowboys (18th), Falcons (19th), Giants (20th), Packers (26th), and Colts (32nd). 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Sent out as the Caps were holding on to a fourth-quarter lead over Columbus.


Today’s schedule: Pre-draft press conference with Doug Williams at Redskins Park, noon.

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 17
—OTAs start (5/22) 28
—Training camp starts (7/26) 93

The Redskins last played a game 114 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 138 days. 

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