D.J. Swearinger is a popular choice as the Redskins probable number one pick.
It's draft time, and the possibilities are almost endless for the Washington Redskins.
Washington has no first-round pick, meaning it can focus its attention on building depth and a good foundation throughout the later rounds of the draft. For a reigning division champion, that's all you can really ask for: solidifying what is already good and refusing to tamper with things that aren't broken.
For the Redskins, this means taking advantage of the defensive talent that will be available in the middle to late rounds and finding quality backups who can contribute in spots once the season begins. Unlike previous seasons, the Redskins have fewer holes to fill—so the draft strategy should be clear.
It's nearly impossible to predict exactly how a seven-round draft will pan out, but here are some good projections based on the Redskins' positions of need. From safety to wide receiver, these are the players Redskins fans could rally around as the years go on.
Would it be a reach to take D.J. Swearinger at No. 51? Possibly. But he's a special talent, and the Redskins should take advantage of his availability.
Swearinger's combine performance and his clout as a hard hitter have caused his draft stock to increase as the offseason has progressed. Of course, with increased attention comes increased focus on what isn't right about Swearinger, and that has started to turn some fans off to the possibility of Washington taking him.
For one, the phrase "hard hitter" tends to inspire fear in the hearts of the faithful for the wrong reasons. "Hard hitter" implies "bad coverage," and while that may be correct for some safeties, it's probably not the case with Swearinger. He's raw, for sure, but he has ability and should be able to develop the appropriate coverage skills to compete in the NFL.
Swearinger could start right away and make a huge impact on a defensive secondary that imposed no threat to opposing offenses in 2012. His presence alone could vault the defense from bad to decent. If Washington can recapture the defensive magic that came with its 7-0 run to the playoffs last season, the rest of the league will be left behind.
Jordan Poyer could fall to the Redskins and give Washington an instant glimpse at the future.
If Jordan Poyer falls to Round 3, the Redskins should be grateful to the rest of the NFL. It may be hard to believe that the cornerback from Oregon State could slip to 85th overall, but the talent at the position in 2013 makes it a realistic possibility.
Seven or eight corners could theoretically be taken before Poyer, which would set up the Redskins for a defensive coup in 2013. Poyer is a stellar cornerback prospect who would take a year to develop behind incumbents DeAngelo Hall and Joshua Wilson before making a name for himself in the league.
In the event that Poyer is unavailable, the Redskins must still use this pick on a cornerback. Hall's return nullified any immediate need, but it is essential to draft a prospect now so that he'll be ready for the future when the time comes.
The Redskins solidified their offensive line in the offseason, but the problem at right tackle is still there. Tyler Polumbus is a decent player, but he's not starter quality. It would behoove Washington to develop a talent at the position to take over in the near future.
That player could be Brennan Williams, the 6'6", 318-pound right tackle out of UNC. Williams is far from a polished product, but he's long and athletic. He'll be coming off labrum surgery, an injury that cost him the final four games of his senior year—but that shouldn't be much of a concern. Despite missing four games, Williams was still named an All-ACC selection in 2012 and showed that he can compete with anyone.
There are concerns with his mechanics, especially with his movements while run-blocking. But for a fourth-round pick, Williams is everything the Redskins could want in a tackle prospect.
Kenjon Barner could be the perfect complement to Alfred Morris in the backfield.
The Redskins have one of the most fortunate backfield situations in football. Alfred Morris is making next to nothing, yet he turned out a stellar season with more than 1,600 yards and catapulted Washington's offense to the next level.
The problem was that his backup, essentially, was Robert Griffin III. RGIII performed admirably in the running game, but the effects on his body took a toll and eventually knocked him out of a playoff game. Evan Royster was mostly nonexistent, and Roy Helu still hasn't fully recovered from his foot injury.
Enter Kenjon Barner, one of the fastest backs in the draft and the perfect complement to the bulldozer that is Morris. Barner is Morris' polar opposite—a back who is lethal in space and prefers to use his speed instead of his power. The obvious comparison would be Darren Sproles, who has made a career of catching passes and changing the pace on third down.
The difference is that Barner is faster and more versatile than Sproles and could be the piece that gives Washington the most dynamic offensive attack in the NFL. He benefited from a great system at Oregon, but his talents are incredible and he should make a smooth transition.
Josh Boyd has nice mobility for a defensive tackle and could provide good depth.
The core of Adam Carriker (back from injury), Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield has served the Redskins well during their tenure, fitting the 3-4 scheme and performing admirably when the chips were down.
Their solid contributions have made the defensive line less of a priority than it was in the past, and the depth provided by Kedric Golston and Jarvis Jenkins has been much needed.
That being said, the line could use another body, and Josh Boyd would be a good fit. He's not much of a pass-rusher, but he doesn't have to be. He simply needs to be a body to fill up the middle and solidify an already solid run defense. Boyd has to get stronger, but he's a talented, athletic prospect who has shown an ability to play to the level of competition deemed superior.
There can never be enough depth on the defensive line, and Boyd would fit the need well.
Like most late-round picks, Zeke Motta is a project. But his contributions to one of the NCAA's best defenses can't be overlooked.
Zeke Motta had a solid career at Notre Dame and then stunk it up in the Senior Bowl, which dropped his draft stock. Still, the Redskins could take him in the sixth round to give the safety position some much-needed depth.
This late in the draft, you can't argue with another safety. Motta has a good physique and is very athletic. The only real concern is his ability to consistently display correct mechanics. He's not much of a playmaker, but he'll cover his half of the field and try to limit his mistakes.
Could Motta end up making the roster? Maybe not, but he has the talent and ability to catch on in the right situation. The Redskins could present that situation.
Marcus Davis is a big receiver who could provide some length to the receiving corps.
It's debatable whether or not the Redskins should wait this long to draft a receiver, but if they do, the choice is clear. Marcus Davis is far from polished, and he has a lot to work on—but from a purely athletic standpoint, he's worth the look.
Davis is huge at 6'3", 233 pounds, yet he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash and is considered one of the quickest receivers in the draft. His route-running is suspect, and his work ethic could undoubtedly be improved; however, his talent and athleticism cannot be denied.
Davis showed breakaway speed at Virginia Tech and was often targeted on downfield throws. The Redskins lack a true deep threat due to the slow decline of Santana Moss, and Davis could fulfill that need while providing a big body as well.