The NFL Scouting Combine is where coaches and general managers obsess about 40 times, broad jumps and answers to (sometimes silly) interview questions. It's where a player with a mid-round grade can suddenly propel himself into the first round with an eye-popping performance.
For the Washington Redskins, the work that was put in over the past six days in Indianapolis will be critical to the franchise's long-term success. Without a 2014 first-round pick, each player evaluation must be constructed judiciously.
Based on the Redskins' positions of need, let's take a look at which players either helped or hurt themselves at the combine.
Combine results courtesy of NFL.com.
While guards David Yankey (Stanford) and Gabe Jackson (Mississippi State) arrived to Indianapolis with more buzz, it was UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo who made a strong push to be the first guard taken in the 2014 NFL draft.
Su'a-Filo's athleticism was on display in the 40-yard dash (5.04 seconds), three-cone drill (7.60 seconds) and 20-yard shuttle (4.44 seconds).
At 6'4'', 307 pounds, Su'a-Filo has a trait many teams are seeking—versatility.
His strengths, according to NFL.com:
Quick out of his stance. Effective pass blocker -- can bend his knees, extend and mirror in short area. Generates movement in the run game. Can work his hips and maneuver to gain positioning. Good foot athlete. Can pull, trap, combo block and step to the second level. Durable three-year starter. Has played guard and tackle.
Regardless of the offensive-line scheme the Redskins will look to implement this offseason, add Su'a-Filo to the list of prospects who could thrive in both the passing and running game. He'll probably come off the board in the second round.
Morgan Moses' falling stock is less about him and more about how dominant the top-tier tackles performed at the combine.
It was difficult not to notice the clear drop-off in talent and physical ability after watching first-round locks Greg Robinson (Auburn), Jake Matthews (Texas A&M), Taylor Lewan (Michigan) and Zack Martin (Notre Dame) go to work.
In no way does that imply that Moses won't translate into a solid pro; it's just that many teams, like the Redskins, need players who can contribute immediately.
Certain clubs that fall in love with Moses' size (6'6'', 314 lbs) may be inclined to select him in the first or second round. The Redskins need to identify a player whom they can plug in as a starter on the first day of training camp. I'm not sure if Moses showed enough during the combine to give off that feeling.
Had USC wide receiver Marqise Lee been eligible to enter the NFL draft after catching 118 balls for 1,721 yards and 14 touchdowns in his sophomore season, he likely would have been a top-three pick.
But after a junior year marred by injuries, inconsistent quarterback play and an in-season coaching change, Lee has amazingly flown under the radar in these months leading up to the draft. His combine performance probably jogged the memories of several NFL teams.
By running a 4.52-second 40-yard dash and making some impressive grabs in the field drills, Lee did nothing in Indianapolis to hurt his draft stock. If anything, he justified what's most important—the game film.
Lee is no doubt a first-round talent, but in a draft that boasts several potential game-changing receivers, there's a remote chance that he could slip to Washington at No. 34 overall. His playmaking abilities alongside Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed would be a welcome sight for quarterback Robert Griffin III.
Before the combine, NFL media draft analyst Mike Mayock told reporters on a conference call that wide receiver is a position that Redskins head coach Jay Gruden would like to solidify:
At 35, wide receiver kind of matches up with who Jay wants to be and Jay wants three, four, five quality wideouts, and he wants to push the ball down the field. He sits there early in the second round and who is going to be there, (Jarvis) Landry? I would sprint to the podium if I could get Landry at 35.
LSU's Jarvis Landry came into Indianapolis with that glowing endorsement from Mayock but left with a slow 40-yard dash time (4.77 seconds) and a gimpy calf.
The Redskins have been burned in the past by second-round wide receivers—Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas don't exactly drum up fond memories.
While it's unfair to label Landry as anything but a promising prospect at this point, sometimes the past can make one wary. At No. 34 overall, the Redskins are in a favorable position to survey the landscape and select the best player at any position of need, not just receiver.
It's also possible that one of the other highly touted wideouts, like the previously mentioned Lee, falls into the second round. Landry must bounce back with a superb pro day to get back into that conversation.
With free agency just two weeks away, it's possible that the Redskins will cut ties with a couple of players on the defensive line in favor of additional cap space. Such moves would create yet another area of need on a roster that already has too many.
Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman is a player whom Redskins fans should keep an eye on. Hageman had an exceptional combine, most notably throwing up 32 reps in the bench press and running a 5.02-second 40-yard dash at 310 pounds.
In college Hageman played defensive tackle in a 4-3 scheme, but on Monday's combine broadcast, Mayock said that he could also play end in a 3-4.
With or without linebacker Brian Orakpo, the Redskins need a disruptive force in the trenches. As his NFL.com scouting report notes, Hageman is a "fierce tackler" with "immense upside."
If Hageman doesn't get scooped up in the first round, he could be there for the taking when the Redskins make their first selection on Day 2 of the draft.
It's tough to improve your draft status on the sidelines.
Stanford linebacker Shayne Skov was not medically cleared to participate in the combine, dealing with a strained calf.
Aside from the calf, it's worth noting that Skov also sustained a gruesome knee injury in 2011. NFL teams will have to wait until Stanford's pro day on March 20 to see if Skov has the necessary explosiveness to warrant a middle-round pick.
Feet back down in the bay. Less than one month until pro day, time to put up or shut up... Im all in, time to ante up baby— Shayne Skov (@ShayneSkov11) February 25, 2014
The Redskins have a glaring need at inside linebacker, and Skov has been a name associated with that vacancy, potentially as a third-round draft pick.
Skov could have wowed during the interview portion of the combine, but teams will want peace of mind that he'll be ready to go physically before calling his name on draft day.
The Redskins have already re-signed one Hokie cornerback this offseason, could they be adding another?
"Most teams have second- or third-round grades, but I have him in the first," said Mayock.
Yahoo's Eric Edholm declared Fuller as one of the combine's winners and a contender to be the second cornerback off the board after Oklahoma State's Justin Gilbert:
Gilbert is almost certain now to be the top corner drafted, but with a strong set of workouts, Fuller has moved himself into the discussion of being the second one taken with Darqueze Dennard, Bradley Roby and Jason Verrett. Fuller has the speed, makeup and versatility to be in the first-round picture now. He moved well this weekend.
With VT alum DeAngelo Hall returning to the secondary in 2014, the Redskins could look to free agency or the draft for added depth behind second-year player David Amerson. If they choose the latter, Fuller is a legit option in the second round.
Big cornerbacks are the new craze in the NFL.
The Seattle Seahawks hoisted the Lombardi Trophy earlier this month due in large part to their physically imposing secondary. Teams will attempt to replicate this blueprint in 2014 by trying to identify the next Richard Sherman or Brandon Browner (pre-suspension) in the draft.
At 6'3'', 218 pounds, Nebraska's Stanley Jean-Baptiste—who converted from a wide receiver in college—may have that "Legion of Boom" build, but his performance at the combine revealed that speed is a concern.
Jean-Baptiste ran a pedestrian 4.61-second 40-yard dash. NFL media analyst Bucky Brooks thinks that lack of quickness could eventually warrant a position change:
Although his impressive vertical (41.5 inches, best among defensive backs and tied for second overall) and broad (10-8) jumps suggest he is an explosive athlete, Jean-Baptiste lacks the quick-twitch ability that coaches covet in corners. He could be destined for a move to safety at the next level.
The Redskins don't have the luxury of investing in a developmental player like Jean-Baptiste early. He'd have to drop to later rounds for Washington to take the bait.