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Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Grading the Redskins' 2017 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we must dig in a little more to come up with a grade for the draft headed up by Bruce Allen. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—B

There really isn’t enough to love or to hate here. They didn’t do much wheeling and dealing while on the clock, making only a minor deal with the Vikings to move up two spots in the sixth round in exchange for moving down 10 slots in the seventh.

For the record, the trade (picks 201 and 220 from Washington to Minnesota in exchange for picks 199 and 230) was just about a wash on the Jimmy Johnson trade chart, with the Redskins giving up a statistically insignificant one point of value.

Whether center Chase Roullier, the player they traded up to draft, makes the team and has an impact or not is not going to make or break the draft but it should be noted that they gave up something of value to get him so it was a player they wanted to make sure they got as his name was still on the board.

The deals that got them up to 10 picks had already been made by Scot McCloughan on draft day last year as he added picks in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds with various trades.

Perhaps they deserve the most credit for a potential deal they did not make. As their first-round pick got closer and defensive lineman Jonathan Allen remained on the board it had to be tempting for them to spend a mid-round pick to jump up and grab him before anyone else could. But Gruden said that they had a number of players to choose from as the pick approached and they decided to stay put. The gamble paid off as Allen fell into their laps at pick No. 17.

RELATED: Redskins roll the dice in the 7th round

Talent/fit/needs—A-

The Redskins needed to bolster their defense and they certainly gave it a go. Their first three picks were on defense as were four of their first five and six of 10 overall.

But the raw number of the picks doesn’t really tell the story; it’s the value of the picks that really matters. According to that Jimmy Johnson pick value chart, they spend 1,596 points on defense and 126 points on offense.

They hit on their biggest needs with their first two picks. They had not drafted a defensive lineman in the first round since 1997 and the neglect of the position was evident. In Allen they got a player with Pro Bowl potential in their biggest area of need.

Allen will help the pass rush from the inside and then in the second round they acquired some edge rushing ability with Ryan Anderson. It seems that this pick was strongly influenced by Scot McCloughan’s draft board. His height, weight, and combine numbers were not what a lot of teams are looking for in an edge rusher but his tough mentality and obvious love for the game are attributes that McCloughan valued.

Although Gruden expressed his confidence in Rob Kelley to be his running back it appeared to most outside observers that an upgrade was needed and they got that in Samaje Perine. You can’t have too many good corners and Bashaud Breeland is set to be a 2018 free agent so they took Fabian Moreau in the third round. They had no backup center Roullier could develop into that spot. Gruden said earlier this offseason that they needed a blocking tight end and that is what Jeremy Sprinkle is.

They didn’t hit on all their needs. With the top three inside linebackers set to be free agents next year many thought they would spend a top pick there. And although there were a few possible nose tackles on the board in the later rounds they bypassed that position. You can’t solve everything in one draft but the Redskins have now had eight drafts since converting to the 3-4 defense and they still haven’t found a solution at nose tackle.

As far as value goes, it doesn’t get much better than Allen, who was a consensus top-five talent who lasted until the 17th pick. Moreau may have been a first-round pick before tearing a pectoral muscle lifting weights during his pro day.

On the other end of the value scale, the fourth round seemed to be way too early to take safety Montae Nicholson. There is something to be said for taking a guy with good measurables who didn’t have good game tape and taking a shot at developing him. But the fourth round is too soon for taking such a chance.

READ MORE: Breaking down the Redskins late round picks

Overall—B+

After their first two picks, they didn’t shy away from red flags. Moreau and Nicholson both have injuries that will keep them out of action until sometime in training camp. Sprinkle had a highly-publicized shoplifting citation that got him suspended from Arkansas’ bowl game. Seventh-round pick Josh Harvey-Clemons failed multiple drug tests during college.

They did stay away from players with histories of high-profile violent incidents like Dede Westbrook, Joe Mixon, and Caleb Brantley.

How those red-flag players turn out will be the key to this draft. It’s fine to take some chances, especially when you go into the draft with 10 picks. But you have better win more than you lose.

There were enough players taken who seem to be sure bets to be productive, if there is such a thing in the draft, to make it unlikely that the draft will be a total bust. Allen, Anderson, and Perine are clean prospects who have very high floors. Allen and Anderson may have Pro Bowl ceilings.

Given that, they seem to be assured of having a least a productive draft (again, with the caveat that nothing in the draft is certain). If Sprinkle develops into a good third tight end who can block and be a threat to catch a pass, that’s a plus. If Moreau can develop into a starter, this could be a pretty good draft. If sixth-round WR Robert Davis can contribute on special teams and be a productive fourth or fifth wide receiver, that would be another plus.

In short, the Redskins did some good work towards giving this draft a chance to be a success. Now it’s up to the coaches, to luck, and seeing how players who are projected to play well at age 22 actually perform on the field when they get older and suddenly have a six-figure salary. 

MORE REDSKINS: Clear winner from Redskins 2017 Draft?

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Whether it's for Dwayne Haskins or one of their vet QBs, Redskins now must get offensive weapons

Whether it's for Dwayne Haskins or one of their vet QBs, Redskins now must get offensive weapons

In the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Redskins managed to acquire a quarterback and an edge rusher, thanks to a combination of patience and then aggressiveness. 

Now, with those two needs taken care of, there's another clear objective for Day 2 of the proceedings: Find a difference-making skill player.

Maybe even make it two.

Washington gave up their second-rounder to move up for Montez Sweat, which leaves them with the 76th overall selection and the 96th overall selection to work with on Friday. The franchise has had its fair share of problems capitalizing on mid-round picks recently, but perhaps this is where they finally hit again on what could be a key pair of prospects.

Regardless of whether Dwayne Haskins ends up seizing the starting job or Case Keenum or Colt McCoy is there in Week 1 instead, that QB is going to need talented targets.

Sure, Jordan Reed is a quality pass catcher, Paul Richardson could be a deep threat if healthy, and Chris Thompson is a terror out of the backfield. But those three all have injury issues, and the other skill guys on the roster currently instill next to no fear in opposing defenders' minds.

Fortunately for the Burgundy and Gold, plenty of receivers remain on the board. Options like Hakeem Butler, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Riley Ridley, Emanuel Hall and Parris Campbell, plus others, are all still available heading into Nashville's second night. It's a very deep class.

The same goes for tight end. Irv Smith, Jace Sternberger, Kahale Warring and more have yet to be snagged. 

In getting Haskins, the Redskins showed they're committed to trying to find a solution to their signal caller woes. Between him, Keenum and McCoy, the offense should be covered for both 2019 and beyond. The next step is to supply those players with more to work with.

Yes, they could look to address guard, or find a safety, or build depth at corner. None of those should be ruled out and all would be prudent decisions.

However, the offense needs an influx of youth, speed and game-changing ability. Friday, the Redskins will have the opportunity to add future pros with those qualities. It's up to them to take advantage of that opportunity.

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2019 NFL Draft: Best remaining players entering Day 2; Third round targets for Redskins

2019 NFL Draft: Best remaining players entering Day 2; Third round targets for Redskins

Good news: The Redskins ended the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft with quarterback Dwayne Haskins and edge rusher Montez Sweat.

Related news: The Redskins no longer own a second-round pick. 

Nobody is complaining.

The NFL world returns Friday for Day 2. Since Washington dealt the 46th overall selection to the Indianapolis Colts along with a 2020 second for Sweat, it won’t be on the clock without another trade until the first of two third-round choices.

Again, no angry mobs are forming. The Redskins addressed two key needs. Yes, they have several more remaining. The same applies to every team to varying degrees.

Here’s a look at the best players remaining and names to watch for Washington in the third.

Day 2 Best Available

Drew Lock, QB, Missouri – So much for Drew being a round one lock. He was the most polarizing of the top four passing prospects based on pre-draft conversations with league sources. Somebody (Raiders?) will jump on the upside early in the second. Lock finished with 72 touchdown passes to 21 interceptions over his final two seasons. 

Byron Murphy, CB, Washington/Greedy Williams, CB, LSU/ Rock Ya-Sin, CB, Temple – The cornerback run never happened with only Georgia’s DeAndre Baker hearing his name called Friday. Williams owns the most public hype of these three thanks to sub 4.4 40-time and strong cover skills, but his stock plummeted throughout draft season in part because of his limited interest in tackling. Don’t be surprised if he’s third off the board among this trio. 

Cody Ford, G, Oklahoma – Arguably, the most surprising slider based on the foundational aspect of offensive linemen and Ford’s mauling nature. One source told NBCSW pre-draft that the Vikings dropped Ford after their meeting. Perhaps other teams struggled to believe in the college tackle in the first. 

Jawaan Taylor, T, Florida -- Wild day for Taylor, who entered the draft a projected top 10 selection, but several injury and weight red flags popped up in recent days. Seeing as Jacksonville at 7 made for a popular mock selection, maybe the Jaguars circle back on Day 2.

A.J. Brown, WR, Mississippi/D.K. Metcalf, WR, Mississippi -- Two receivers went in the first round. Some are surely shocked the Adonis-like Metcalf fell, but there are concerns about his agility and limited production especially compared to his talented college teammate. He also is 6-foot-3 and runs a 4.33 40-time. Brown had 85 receptions last season. One scout told NBCSW he believes Brown is the better of the two. 

Erik McCoy, C, Texas A&M/Dalton Risner, T, Kansas State – Fine, neither went in the first, but these two versatile linemen remain immediate starters for their yet-to-be-determined NFL team. The athletic and powerful Risner, a three-year starter and 2018 All-American, could play three positions. 

Irv Smith, TE, Alabama – Smith rated just behind the two Iowa tight ends that went in the first. Going with the 6-foot-2 target is more of an upside play, but he did average 16 yards per catch during his junior season with the Crimson Tide. 

Jaylon Ferguson, DE, La. Tech – The pass rusher received some first-round buzz. Don’t be surprised if a team trades up for the edge rusher who had 17.5 sacks and 65 tackles last season. For now… 

Others: Juan Thornhill, CB, Virginia; Nassir Adderley, S, Delaware; J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, WR, Stanford; Parris Campbell, WR, Ohio State; Will Grier, QB, West Virginia; Justin Layne, CB, Michigan State; Dre'Mont Jones, DE/DT, Ohio State; Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan; Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina; Taylor Rapp, SS, Washington; Miles Sanders, RB, Penn State; David Long, CB, Michigan.

Third round

The Redskins enter Friday with the 77th and 97th selections and clear needs at wide receiver, free safety, left guard, tight end and inside linebacker.

Wide receiver: Riley Ridley, Georgia; Kelvin Harmon, NC State – Patience pays off and made easier considering the impressive Day 2 positional depth. Both Ridley and Harmon offer 6-foot-2 size, which the roster needs. Harmon, a three-year starter brings strong hands and a physical presence.

Tight end: Jace Sternberger, Texas A&M; Kahale Warring, San Diego State -- Several league sources believed the Redskins entered the draft focused on adding tight end help and not just mere depth. Head coach Jay Gruden said as much this off-season. Warring, a former basketball and water polo player visited Ashburn, pre-draft. The interest isn’t about the stats, but the tape. One scout cited the 6-foot-5 Warring as the player in this class he wanted on his team most regardless of round.

Guard: Conor McGovern, Penn State; Dru Samia, G, Oklahoma – Redskins senior VP of Player Personnel said Monday former Giants bust Ereck Flowers’ evolution from tackle to guard could earn him the starting spot next to Trent Williams. Legit hope or not, the Redskins must add more help somewhere in the draft. The 308-pound McGovern would immediately boost the run blocking.

Inside linebacker: Mack Wilson, Alabama; Bobby Okereke, Stanford – The Redskins have questions all over the place with this unit, including trusting Reuben Foster to make it through a season without incident. The other projected starter, Mason Foster, becomes a free agent in 2020. Wilson would provide the defense with a stout tackler – and yet another Alabama defender.

Safety: Deionte Thompson, Alabama; Amani Hooker, Iowa – Adding Landon Collins should change plenty in the secondary, but the defense lacks a true centerfielder. Injuries and late-season struggles dropped Thompson possibly into the third, but he would be a strong replacement option for fellow Crimson Tide safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. 

Others: Julian Love, CB, Notre Dame; Sean Bunting, CB, Central Michigan; Darrell Henderson, RB, Memphis; Oshane Ximines, DE, Old Dominion; Michael Jordan, C, Ohio State; Marvell Tell, USC

Not included: Any quarterback. You know why. 

Bonus: Here's a second-round mock plus third-round choices for the Redskins and Ravens.

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