The Washington Redskins are back in the thick of the NFC playoff race, but that's not going to stop the team from scouting talent for the 2013 NFL draft. On April 26, Washington's first pick will come in the second round, so the team's scouts will need to do their homework.
To view analysis of players that could be available to the Redskins in Round 2, please click through the following slideshow. The college stars we focus on play different positions, but all four of them should be solid contributors in their inaugural campaigns.
Following back-to-back wins over Philadelphia and Dallas, Washington's season has suddenly taken a turn for the better. For a look at the team's current position in the NFC playoff picture, click here.
With five games left in the regular season, the Redskins would rather have a berth in the postseason than a higher slot in the 2013 NFL draft, but the team's final record will have an affect on both.
So, let's say Washington wins three of its final five to finish with a record of 8-8. That will likely give the Redskins a choice between Nos. 45 and 52 in the second round.
If that holds true, the Redskins would help themselves by drafting an offensive tackle to plug into the right side of their line.
Wisconsin tackle Ricky Wagner has the size, athleticism and versatility to fit into Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. He may also close out his senior season as an Outland Trophy candidate.
Those prospects include D.J. Fluker, Taylor Lewan and Jake Matthews. Fluker has helped anchor coach Nick Saban's line at Alabama, Lewan is a star at Michigan and Matthews is a Texas A&M teammate of first-round prospect Luke Joeckel.
Matthews also has an intriguing bloodline. According to Wikipedia, he is "the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Bruce Matthews and the younger brother of former Aggies center Kevin Matthews. Jake is also the cousin of [current NFL linebackers] Clay Matthews III (Green Bay Packers) and Casey Matthews (Philadelphia Eagles)."
At 6'3", 194 pounds, he is in the same height and weight range as Seattle Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner. Sherman and Browner are facing possible suspensions for the use of Adderall, but they've proven that height and aggressiveness can shut down some of the NFL's best receivers.
Amerson is physical like Sherman and Browner, but he's also a ball hawk. According to Wikipedia, Amerson broke former NFL star Dré Bly's ACC record for most interceptions in a season with 13. He was also a 2011 finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award.
Texas junior Carrington Byndom could also be available if he chooses to forego his senior season. As a sophomore, Byndom faced Big-12 offenses led by the Redskins' Robert Griffin III (Baylor), Miami Dolphins rookie Ryan Tannehill (Texas A&M) and first-year Cleveland Browns starter Brandon Weeden (Oklahoma State).
Byndom also has starred in the same defensive backfield as All-Big-12 first team senior Kenny Vaccaro. Vaccaro will be one of the most sought after safeties in the 2013 draft.
If safety is the choice for Washington, the Redskins will miss out on the aforementioned Vaccaro. In most mocks, Kenny is slated to go somewhere between picks 25 and 35.
Florida's Matt Elam would be tempting to trade up for in Round 2, but the Skins may not have the will or the ammunition to do it.
So, if safety's truly the call, look for Southern California's T.J. McDonald to get rung up by the Redskins.
McDonald is next in a long line of talented defensive backs to come out of USC. He has also followed in his father Tim's footsteps as an All-American captain with the Trojans.
At 6'3", 205 pounds, T.J. packs a wallop as a tackler, but his natural position is free safety. According to USCTrojans.com, he led the team with three interceptions in 2011. He was also third in tackles (67) and managed two deflections, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt.
The school's website tapped some knowledgeable people, who have had some very kind words to say about McDonald.
Tony Pauline of SI.com wrote:
McDonald is easily the most complete next-level secondary prospect from USC since Troy Polamalu. His cover skills are good enough that he can be relied upon to play over the slot receiver, and he displays a large degree of toughness against the run.
After a year's worth of injuries and lackluster play, the Redskins could sure use a reliable safety. T.J. McDonald would have to transition to the pro level, but he may prove to be the right man for the job.
Skov could man the middle of the Redskins defense for years to come.
Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov is a young man who has learned some hard lessons in life, despite a star-studded college career.
After shining as a Cardinal freshman, Skov was voted the team's most outstanding sophomore in 2010. But, in the third game of his junior season, he blew out his knee.
After a grueling rehabilitation, Shayne returned for an impressive senior season, but it was overshadowed by a DUI arrest and one-game suspension.
Now, Skov hopes an NFL team will take a chance on him in the second or third round of April's draft.
If the Redskins wish to replace aging middle linebacker London Fletcher, they can do so with Skov, who has played his entire college career in a 3-4 defense.
In Stanford's stunning Week 12 upset of top-ranked Oregon, Skov led a Cardinal defense that limited the high-flying Ducks to just two touchdowns. Oregon came in averaging over 35 points per game, so the accomplishment was extra special for Shayne, who was voted the NCAA's Defensive Player of the Week.
According to WalterFootball.com:
Skov is a perfect fit in the 3-4 scheme. He attacks the line of scrimmage, is a hard hitter and has a tenacious attitude. He is also an excellent interior blitzer and has good agility to weave by blockers and get pressure on the quarterback.
Skov could also receive a good reference from San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh. As Stanford's former head coach, Harbaugh is tight with Skov and helped groom Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck and Colts rookie tight end Coby Fleener.
Joe Versage is an NFL Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage Takip et: @JoeVersage
Unless otherwise noted, all profiles are courtesy of the NCAA or Wikipedia.com. Additional information was obtained from Redskins.com, CBSSports.com and NFL Draft sites such as NFLDraftWizard.com, WalterFootball.com, FootballsFuture.com.