MOBILE, Ala.—During my trip to the Senior Bowl this week, I spent some time with NBC Sports’ draft expert Josh Norris to get his thoughts on 12 prospects that could/should be on the Redskins’ radar, given the team’s needs in this year’s draft. Yesterday, we covered the defensive prospects. Today, we're discussing the players on offense that Norris believes could be a fit in Washington:
Braxton Miller (6-1, 204), Ohio State
2015 stats: 261 yards rushing on 43 carries (6.1 yards per) and 25 catches for 340 yards, 4 combined touchdowns.
Norris’ take: “From the first game of the season, I saw a natural receiver in Braxton Miller. ...He’s just a slot guy early on [in the NFL], unless he shows the ability to stay out in two-receiver sets. I think the Redskins already have that type of player there [Jamison Crowder]. But do I think his ceiling could be a No. 2 receiver that’s on the outside? Yeah. I just think we need to see him consistently win on the outside and we don’t have enough information. So I think it’s going to be a leap of faith, but I bet he goes in the top-64 based on how on-another-planet he looks.”
Sterling Shepard (5-10, 191), Oklahoma
2015 stats: 86 receptions, 1288 yards, 11 touchdowns, 7.8 yards per punt return.
Norris’ take: “Wide receivers can win in two different ways; they can win in the small game, which is burst and separation and route running and running after the catch, or they can win in the big game, which is physicality and contested catches. Sterling Shepard has shown the potential to win in both areas. …He can make catches when he’s not open. In a class that has a good amount of wide receiver talent at the top, I think he’s among the top-5.”
Charone Peake (6-2, 205), Clemson
2015 stats: 50 receptions, 716 yards, 5 touchdowns.
Norris’ take: “I don’t know if he plays like he’s 6-2, but he moves well. And we know Clemson has been a factory for putting out receivers. He’ll absolutely get a shot, but he’s more of a later-round type.”
Jack Allen (6-2, 296), Michigan State
2015 stats: First team All-American (Associated Press, CBS Sports, SI.com). Started 12 games at center, recorded 77 knockdowns during regular season.
Norris’ take: “He’s a good anchor player and he’s played guard and center. That utility is great, even as a backup because you can only dress probably two backup offensive linemen [on game days]. …I think every single center here is going start in the NFL at some point.” Norris also mentioned Nick Martin (Notre Dame), Graham Glasgow (Michigan) and Evan Boehm (Missouri) as center prospects to watch.
Kenneth Dixon (5-10, 212), Louisiana Tech
2015 stats: 1,073 yards rushing on 198 carries, 464 yards receiving, 26 total touchdowns.
Norris’ take: “With running backs, at the very least you want someone who can pick up the yards that are blocked for them. But the ones that separate themselves are the ones that can create on their own, either with yards after contact or evading defenders. I think a lot of people are going to get caught up seeing Ken Dixon as well-rounded guy. But to me, I see him anticipate angles and cut back. He can also win with contact or without it, and he’s a really good receiver. So if a team needs him to play on all three downs, he can do that.”
Kenyan Drake (6-1, 210), Alabama
2015 stats: 408 yards rushing on 77 carries, 276 yards receiving, 26.6 yards per kickoff return.
Norris’ take: “He can be electric [as a returner]. He’s also a very good receiver. He was kind of the lightning to [Heisman Trophy winner] Derrick Henry’s thunder. The thing is a lot of times his vision isn’t fantastic. You’ll see where the play where the play was supposed to go, but he’ll elect to bounce it outside. But as a returner, he’s going to [produce]. He played special teams outside of that, as well. I would say he’s a fourth or fifth rounder.”
Tyler Ervin (5-10, 192), San Jose State
2015 stats: 1,601 yards rushing on 294 carries, 334 yards receiving, 16 total touchdowns, 23.9 yards per kickoff return.
Norris’ take: “He’s kind of a gadget player. He’ll be someone’s Chris Thompson. He reminds me a lot of [Cardinals running back] Andre Ellington because his speed is awesome. When he gets a crease, it's like ‘Boom’, he shoots through it. If you give him the second level, he can take it 60 yards in a flash. And he’s a good receiver, so you can motion him out and let him do Chris Thompson-type stuff. But whenever you see him have to get the tough yards…he’ll get two yards but he’ll just go down. To me, running backs that fall forward on final contact to pick up those extra one-and-a-half yards, that’s becoming more and more of a bigger thing. He doesn’t do that. But if you’re not going to rely on him as an every down, I think Tyler Ervin can be a good piece.”