Redskins Combine Preview: Top Targets, Sleepers and Prospects to Watch
With no first-round pick to work with, the Washington Redskins may have to make some draft day moves to get the most out of this year's draft. While some of their bigger needs may be addressed in free agency, they'll need valuable youth to build their roster.
Washington will have its hands full at the 2014 combine with all of the prospects it'll need to consider.
At this time, weighing need against available talent and picks, the Redskins should address their secondary and offensive line, as well as target an inside linebacker and receiver.
Here are some top targets, sleeper picks and prospects the 'Skins should watch during the combine.
Sleeper: Deion Belue, CB, Alabama
Though not an elite prospect in the draft, Deion Belue is an excellent late-round option for the Redskins. Let's assume DeAngelo Hall is re-signed and David Amerson slides into the second corner spot.
E.J. Biggers spent time at corner and safety, but he didn't impress at either and isn't a lock to be retained for the 2014 season.
A corner like Belue would be a great slot corner to round out the top of a secondary that has struggled to find quality players.
He's technically sound in coverage, aggressive and intelligent. His 5'11", 183-pound frame makes him a perfect slot corner because he's less likely to be overpowered or overwhelmed by bigger receivers on the outside.
Sleeper: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
With London Fletcher retiring, the Redskins not only have to fight to re-sign Perry Riley, but they also need to worry about filling the gaping hole next to him at inside linebacker. Young players like Keenan Robinson, Will Compton and Jeremy Kimbrough have had health problems and are not considered starting material.
Chris Borland may not have ideal size and speed for an inside linebacker, but he makes up for it with excellent run defense, physicality and instincts, among other things.
Though Shayne Skov may be the sexy pick for inside linebacker, he would cost the Redskins their top pick in the second round, which may be too lofty considering their other needs. Borland is projected as a third- to fourth-round prospect.
By no means would drafting Borland be settling for less. It would show a keen eye for traits that cannot be coached as well as save the team a second-rounder.
Top Target: Brandin Cooks, Oregon State
Pierre Garcon caught 113 passes in 2013, breaking Art Monk's franchise record for receptions in a single season. Tight end Jordan Reed caught the next most passes on the team, hauling in 45 as a rookie.
If nothing else, the chasm between the top receiver and the rest of the receiving corps is evidence of dire need.
Brandin Cooks may not be an instant No. 2 receiver, but he caught 128 passes for 1,738 yards and 16 touchdowns in 2013 and won the Biletnikoff Award. He has the potential to break a game wide open whenever he touches the ball, which is something the Redskins offense could use.
He would be an instant upgrade working out of the slot, which in turn would open up the field for Garcon, Reed and whoever else the Redskins add to their receiving corps.
Top Target: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
It may seem odd to spend back-to-back top picks on cornerbacks, but talent and depth are sorely lacking in the Redskins secondary. Josh Wilson was horrible in 2013, which allowed David Amerson to start eight games as a rookie.
Kyle Fuller may have spent the second half of his senior season battling injuries, but he still holds a second-round grade on most draft boards.
What's great about Fuller is not just his skills as a corner, which are top notch, but his ability to play on special teams. Starting a second-rounder on special teams isn't really traditional, but considering that he'd be a slot or nickel corner to start his career and the Redskins have horrible special teams, why not put the talent to good use?
Fuller, along with Amerson, would represent the future of Washington's secondary. Fuller is more the lockdown type, while Amerson has more of the playmaking potential. Either way, Fuller should be on the Redskins' radar with their first pick.
Prospect to Watch: Billy Turner, RT/OG, North Dakota State
Aside from Trent Williams, none of the starting offensive linemen from last season are guaranteed to return in 2014. Contracts aside, none of them played well enough to warrant any such guarantee.
The right tackle position has been a weakness since Jon Jansen broke and dislocated his ankle to start the 2007 season.
Enter North Dakota State's Billy Turner.
Turner, standing 6'5" and weighing 316 pounds, has plenty of strength, athleticism and technique to be the solution to Washington's right tackle woes. Playing for the NDSU Bison, Turner never got the spotlight he might have drawn playing for a bigger program.
In the Senior Bowl, he went up against competition a step above what he faced week to week and held his own.
In a perfect world, Turner would solve the right tackle concerns, but he may end up making the transition to guard at the NFL level. Either way, the Redskins would have an upgrade at a position of need.
Prospect to Watch: Tevin Reese, WR, Baylor
What better way to help a wayward quarterback than by reuniting him with a former college teammate who also happens to be a tremendous playmaker on offense?
Tevin Reese was on the receiving end of 90-some Robert Griffin III passes over two seasons, totaling 1,278 yards and seven touchdowns in the wide-open Baylor offense.
Reese may not be a top receiver and he lacks natural hands and special teams experience, but his presence would give the Redskins offense a dynamic downfield threat it has attempted to create with Aldrick Robinson.
He's explosive, he's elusive and could wind up being Washington's answer to DeSean Jackson in terms of home run capability.