NFL Combine Preview: Five prospects to watch with Redskins needs in mind


NBC Sports Washington's NFL Combine preview continues with a look at five prospects at need areas for the Redskins.

Also, read profiles on Kansas State offensive lineman and potential first-round selection Dalton Risner, and Houston speed cornerback Isaiah Johnson.

Quarterback – Will Grier, West Virginia

We have a top four. Dwayne Haskins and Kyler Murray followed by, in some order, Drew Lock and Daniel Jones. Considering the desperation for passers, it’s conceivable that quartet hears Roger Goodell call their names in the first round of April’s draft.

Pre-Combine draft rankings slot Grier next in line, but that status wobbled after a shaky Senior Bowl. Should his accuracy return in Indianapolis, Grier becomes the hot Day 2 quarterback teams target if they missed out on those other options and perhaps a late first if the others fly off the board.

Should Grier remain iffy, NC State’s Ryan Finley or Auburn’s Jarrett Stidham could pass him.

Redskins angle: Come draft time we’ll know if Washington added veteran help during free agency. Unless we’re talking Teddy Bridgewater the depth chart would still need a young passer. Expect them to select somewhere in the draft and possibly by the end of Day 2.

Wide receiver – Keesean Johnson, Fresno State

Sleeper alert. Johnson finished his career with the Bulldogs tops in receptions (275) and receiving yards (3,463) with an FBS-leading 50 consecutive games with a reception. S

olid route running, hands and football IQ spurred on all that production for the 6-foot-1 target. His draft value is a bit all over, but a strong Combine performance could boost Johnson into the round 3-4 range.

Redskins angle: Washington added a few prospect types last year in Trey Quinn, Cam Sims and Darvin Kidsy. Considering the overall weakness within in this positional unit, taking more shots somewhere in the draft works. That’s unlikely in the first round based on big board projections unless the Redskins fall hard for Marquise Brown or D.K. Metcalf, but a deep group of options exists throughout the draft.

Tight end – Keenen Brown, Texas State

While you try remembering which conference the Bobcats play in (Sun Belt) or if by Texas State I mean the University of Texas (no), get to know the tight end named first-team All-American by Pro Football Focus. The Oklahoma State transfer led all tight end’s last season with a staggering 24 missed tackles after the catch and ranked among the position leaders with 51 receptions. The 6-foot-2, 250-pounder and Day 3 prospect is also considered among the better blockers in the draft class.

Redskins angle: Washington is set at tight end with Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis and Jeremy Sprinkle or in need of reinforcements. Davis could become a salary cap casualty. Reed’s age (turns 29 in July) and injury history may finally spook the front office into action.

Edge rusher – Jalen Jelks, Oregon

For some prospects, the Combine offers a valuation reset. That’s the hope for Jelks, who held round one upside after recording 15.5 sacks in 2017. Now the forecast projects late Day 2 after a few regular season kinks and a disappointing Senior Bowl. His sack total dropped to 7.5 this season, but Jelks led all Pac-12 edge rushers with 27 run stops. Rocking the drills and measurables in Indianapolis could swing his draft momentum back toward the top 50 selections.

Redskins angle: Preston Smith is the most high profile defender from last season’s roster entering free agency. As the saying goes, deadlines create deals, but there’s no sense that the two sides are communicating toward that goal. Even if the coaching staff believes Ryan Anderson could step up, Washington needs more perimeter depth.


Safety – Taylor Rapp, Washington

Want a tackling presence for your team’s secondary? Then hope they grab the physical Rapp, the top strong safety prospect entering the Combine. There’s some first-round potential, but Rapp could slide into the middle of the second round based on some coverage concerns and the potential post-combine status of other safeties, including Johnathan Abram. Another round 1-2 prospect, Alabama free safety Deionte Thompson, will miss the Combine after tearing a wrist ligament last week.

Redskins angle: Massive uncertainty at both safety positions entering this off-season for Washington. Perhaps free agent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix returns, but the Redskins need outside help for the deep inside of their defense. This isn’t a particularly deep draft class for safeties so targeting one early might be the answer.