Just as early off-season maneuvering created a potential draft opportunity for the Redskins with a possible quarterback target, the same occurred during the opening day of free agency. Or rather, the legal tampering window, whatever that means.
Pass rusher – The buzz on any type of discussion with the Redskins free agent Preston Smith remained library quiet all the way to the point where the linebacker reportedly signed with Green Bay Tuesday. His exit means the Redskins must find an edge replacement in free agency or, considering the premium position, early in the draft.
To the latter angle, the odds of that potentially happening, in theory, improved this week.
The Lions, owners of the no. 8 pick, are consistently projected to select a pass rusher with Ziggy Ansah headed to free agency. That likely changes after Detroit signed free agent Trey Flowers away from New England.
Then we have the Packers. In my latest mock draft for NBC Sports Washington – updated through Monday’s activity -- five of the top 12 selections are edge rushers including four of the first six picks. With the 12th overall selection, I had Green Bay selecting Florida State's Brian Burns, who had 10 sacks last season.
I won't in the next mock. The Packers signed Preston Smith and Baltimore's Za’Darius Smith Tuesday. They needed pass rush help and didn't wait for the draft.
Therefore, in theory, Burns could slip to 15. On some level he better if the Redskins are pinning their hopes on landing a pass rusher early in the draft.
There were more options not long ago. Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, a projected top-5 pick earlier in the draft process, now seems likely to land in the back half of the first round. Projections for Florida’s Jachai Polite plummeted after reports of poor showings during the interview process at the Combine.
It’s certainly possible the Redskins could land an edge threat in the second round – Old Dominion’s Oshane Ximines and Georgia’s D’Andre Walker among the options.
As for free agency, several top options were kept away with the franchise tag. The two Smith's were the top two targets remaining according to Rotoworld’s Evan Silva’s. Names below including Shane Ray and Derrick Morgan are a tier or more down. For a true upside, the draft offers more hope at least until the next batch of moves.
*The Jets’ shopping spree will eventually end, but the bill racked up in the first day of this legal tampering phase is quite impressive. Those signings included former Redskin Jamison Crowder, but in terms of the first round, the addition of note is linebacker Anthony Barr.
Now New York likely ignores the edge rushers and focuses on Alabama defensive tackle Quinnen Williams – or sets up shop as the place for teams wanting to trade up for pass rushing help or one of the quarterbacks.
*Staying in the AFC East, the Dolphins may be the one tanking for Zion Williamson.
(Oops, wrong sport). Sorry, Miami appears set on tanking for Tu’a Tagovailoa or one of the other top QB candidates in the heralded 2020 class. The QB-needy Dolphins were not aggressive with Nick Foles before the former Eagle signed with the Jaguars Monday. Left tackle Ju’Wuan James reportedly signed with the Broncos Monday, becoming the league’s highest-paid right tackle.
Look for more slow playing from the Dolphins and more talent leaving South Beach. If this holds, Miami may pass on a quarterback with the 13th overall selection.
* The Jaguars did indeed land Foles, a move that could push the remaining top passing prospects in the draft down the board a few spots.
*Even though the Raiders made the splashiest of moves by trading for Antonio Brown, receiver remains a need for Oakland. Jordy Nelson is the No. 2 option if the season started today. Yikes. The Raiders have four of the top 35 picks. Prospects N’Keal Harry, A.J. Brown and speed threat Parris Campbell could go off the board in that range.
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