We’re getting to a time where mock drafts actually make some sense. With the major shakeups of free agency in the rearview mirror, team needs are set. That doesn’t mean that the mock drafts will turn out to be accurate but at least the pick will be based more in reality.
Let’s take a look at some of the players various analysts have the Redskins taking in the first round on April 27 with the analyst’s comments and my comments:
ILB Reuben Foster, Alabama, Rob Rang, CBS Sports
Rang: The Redskins surrendered an average of nearly 120 yards per game on the ground in 2016 and only three teams (the Chargers, Bills and 49ers) allowed more than their 19 rushing touchdowns. Foster was kicked out of the Combine after a run-in with medical personnel but his talent is undeniable. Possessing remarkable closing speed and the physicality to intimidate, he could prove a steal at this point in the draft.
Tandler’s take: The Redskins have not taken an inside linebacker in the first round of the draft in the post-merger era. It’s possible that if Foster slips due to his outburst at the combine the Redskins will be tempted. He’s be an immediate starter assuming he proves he can be a three-down player. (Note: Our official CSN mock draft from Ben Standig also has the Redskins going with Foster)
DL Malik McDowell, Michigan State, Dane Brugler, CBS Sports
Brugler: McDowell has an impressive blend of size, athleticism and power to be effective from multiple positions along the defensive line.
Tandler’s take: McDowell has been linked to the Redskins in mock drafts since February and even after they brought in two veteran linemen in free agency there is room for plenty more help when you look at the depth chart. There have been questions about McDowell’s effort and consistency and those factors will be key in the decision on McDowell.
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RB Dalvin Cook, Florida State, Bucky Brooks, NFL.com
Brooks: The ultra-explosive runner would alleviate pressure on Kirk Cousins in the Redskins' backfield.
Tandler’s take: If this pick comes to pass, it wouldn’t be so much about taking pressure off Cousins as it would be about making life easier for whoever is behind center in 2018. If Cousins is indeed going to be gone the Redskins need to build a team that can stay competitive with a ground game and a good defense while the next QB is being identified. Regardless, this pick would be a surprise; their last three starting running backs have been a sixth-round pick, a third rounder, and an undrafted free agent.
DB Jabril Peppers, Michigan, Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.com
Jeremiah: Peppers is a unique athlete, with the ability to excel at the nickel position as well as play as a high safety. He will also be a major difference-maker on special teams.
Tandler’s take: This would be a best available pick although Peppers could bring some interesting possibilities to the defense. Peppers worked out at both safety and linebacker at the combine so he could be a chess piece for Greg Manusky to move around the board. They also would have another flexible player in Su’a Cravens and free agent pickup D.J. Swearinger can play multiple positions, too. The Redskins could go from having a dearth of talent at safety to an embarrassment of young riches there. Still, they might want to spread the wealth around to other needy areas.
MORE REDSKINS: Will the Redskins fall for WR John Ross' speed at No. 17?
QB Deshaun Watson, Clemson, Chris Burke, SI.com
Burke: Washington sort of made its bed here. That’s not to say that the Redskins have to take a quarterback early, but with Kirk Cousins all but certainly preparing for his final season (and even 2017 is in doubt) with the franchise, they should be looking. And here, they get the most NFL-ready option at No. 17.
Tandler’s take: It goes without saying that a move like this would be slamming the door shut on Cousins. In fact, if the Redskins do take a QB in the first it would not be shocking to see them deal Cousins on the one-year franchise tag to another team. That way they would be clear of the massive salary for the rights to Cousins for just one more year. Or they could just give Watson (or another first-round QB) a year to develop while Cousins plays out his contract.