NFL Draft Picks Who Could Be Instant Starters for Redskins
Although without a first-round pick this year, the Washington Redskins still have a shot at finding some starters in April's 2013 NFL draft. The team has plenty of holes to fill, and this draft class is undervalued in terms of overall depth.
Which position is of greatest priority is being debated amongst Redskins fans, but there is a consensus that offensive line, secondary and tight end all need to be addressed. Additional speed on offense should also float in the Redskins plans on draft weekend.
Here are five prospects who could be around by the time the Redskins pick for the first time in the second round, and all of them have a chance to be immediate contributors or starters.
Before the Senior Bowl last week, Florida International University safety Jonathan Cyprien sailed pretty far under the radar. Or so it seemed. I couldn't even land a photo of him to use on this slide.
The Redskins are in obvious need of help throughout the secondary, and the team should have their choice of talented safety prospects by the time they pick at No. 51. Of that group, Cyprien may very well be the top player available at the position.
Cyprien is a physical safety who likes to see action on every play. He's aggressive, loves to play in the box and tackle, but he's also reliable in coverage. Cyprien has speed, he has instincts and he goes full-speed until the whistle.
Check out my scouting report on him here.
Even with Brandon Meriweather expected back next season, the Redskins need help at safety. Madieu Williams didn't show enough last season to cut it as a starter, and Reed Doughty is suspect in coverage.
Cyprien has the talent to play at the next level, and the Redskins questions marks in the defensive backfield could also work in the kid's favor in terms of earning a starting role as a rookie.
Tyler Eifert and Zach Ertz are the names most heard when talking about tight ends in this draft. I could see both of those guys going in the first round.
But hanging out in the shadows, seemingly just out of sight, is Cincinnati's Travis Kelce. Although he may not have the gaudy stats of an Eifert or Ertz, Kelce deserves more attention than what he's been receiving.
The Redskins will have to decide whether to re-sign Fred Davis or let him hit free agency. Following a four-game suspension to end his 2011 season and an Achilles tear shortened his 2012 campaign, the playmaking Davis may be available to the 'Skins for a reasonable cost.
But maybe not.
In addition to his 6'6", 260-pound frame, Kelce's versatility makes him such an attractive prospect. Cincy's offense didn't necessarily give the tight end the chance to stuff the stat sheet, but he's a large target with reliable hands.
The Bearcats offense did, however, allow Kelce to demonstrate his talent as a blocker. That's huge.
Teams will also take a liking to the Kelce family's athletic legacy: Travis' older brother Jason plays center for the Philadelphia Eagles.
Along with Davis, fellow Washington tight end Logan Paulsen is set to become a free agent (restricted) this summer. Regardless of whether Davis returns or not (I would expect Paulsen to), the Redskins will likely address the tight end position in this draft, and a guy like Kelce could start Week 1 if needed.
In addition to Jonathan Cyprien, Missouri linebacker Zaviar Gooden is one of my draft crushes for 2013.
While it's fun to think of London Fletcher as an ageless football spirit that can captain the Redskins defense for another decade or more, it's simply not in the cards. Fletcher is approaching 40, and the team has to invest in the linebacker position. Adding Keenan Robinson last April was good, but he's not the entire answer.
Gooden is a physical linebacker who projects as an inside guy in a 3-4 at the next level. Using his prep experience as a safety, Gooden is comfortable dropping back in coverage, he has very good speed and range, and his ability to diagnose plays helps him in stopping the run.
You can see my entire scouting report on Gooden here.
I admit I may be a little higher on Gooden than most, but I think his experience, athleticism and natural football instincts project well at the next level—well enough to start as a rookie if called upon.
It's highly unlikely that Alabama's D.J. Fluker is available by the time the Redskins pick in the second round, but if he's there, Washington just found their new starting right tackle.
Fluker is a mammoth at 6'6", 335 pounds, and he can move better than his size suggests. Some were critical of Fluker last year due to his struggles in pass protection, but there's no doubting his ability at the next level.
Last year's starting right tackle for the Redskins, Tyler Polumbus, wasn't good enough for the Redskins to make that position feel anything close to secure. If Fluker is available at No. 51 (which would probably hold best value), the Redskins need to take him. He'll start Week 1.
There's talent to be had in this class if your team is looking to address the secondary, and Oregon State's Jordan Poyer could rise as one of the hottest cornerbacks over the next couple months.
Other than some slight concern regarding Poyer's top-end speed, he has everything you look for in a corner. He has good range and intelligence, he's physical and knows how to use his hands effectively and he has good closing speed. He's also a threat to make a play on the ball; when the Beavers defense forced a turnover, it seemed that Poyer was somewhere in the vicinity.
DeAngelo Hall is set to make more than $7 million next season, and a restructured contract is necessary. Even so, the position itself needs to be addressed for the future, and Poyer appears to be a safe prospect—one who is expected to improve over his first three seasons in the NFL.
In the unfortunate case that things don't work out at all between Hall and the Redskins, Poyer could start. And in such a scenario, he'd be graded with tremendous value if Washington could land him in the late second round.