Breaking Down the Most Important Pro Days for the Washington Redskins
Without a first-round pick, that task becomes even tougher.
There are less than 50 days until draft day. Coaches, scouts and general managers will spend the next few weeks traveling from campus to campus for college pro days in an attempt to further solidify their team’s draft boards.
A good chunk of pro days have already passed—detailed recaps can be found on NFL.com—but there are still some high-profile schools still on the docket.
Let's take a look at which remaining pro days are of the must-watch variety for the Burgundy and Gold. This list was compiled based on which players may be available when the Redskins draft coupled with the roster's key areas of weakness: offensive line, defensive line, inside linebacker, wide receiver and secondary.
Stanford Cardinal (March 20)
Two players whom the Redskins will presumably be keeping tabs on in Stanford, Calif., Thursday are guard David Yankey and inside linebacker Shayne Skov.
Yankey didn’t exactly tear up the NFL Scouting Combine, but teams like the Redskins will want to see that he doesn’t regress during his pro day. His game film likely gives clubs the clearest picture of how he’ll translate to the NFL.
The Redskins signed guard Shawn Lauvao away from the Cleveland Browns in free agency (via Brian Tinsman of Redskins.com), but it can be argued that Yankey would be better-suited to start over Lauvao or incumbent guard Chris Chester.
Unable to participate in the combine due to injury, Skov will have a chance to show teams that he is worthy of being a second-day pick. Washington has stockpiled serviceable inside linebackers in free agency to create competition next to last year’s starter Perry Riley, but none have the potential of Skov.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish (March 20)
The Golden Domers will have several prospects on display at Thursday's pro day in South Bend, Ind., including three players projected to be drafted in the first or second round.
Tackle Zack Martin—thought of by most as a first-round talent—is someone the Redskins would undoubtedly love to see fall to them at No. 34 overall. Martin is capable of playing various positions across the line and ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. (subscription required) thinks he’d immediately be able to start at right tackle in the NFL.
Martin would be considered an upgrade from last year’s starting right tackle, Tyler Polumbus.
Defensive end Stephon Tuitt is a player who, before the start of free agency, may have been higher on the Redskins' draft board. After signing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Jason Hatcher away from the Dallas Cowboys to bolster the pass rush, it probably makes more sense for the Redskins to address another position early in the draft.
At 6’2’’, 331 pounds, Louis Nix III is a mammoth nose tackle who would fill a long-term need on Washington’s defensive line. Current nose tackle Barry Cofield is lighter than Nix and playing out of his position. The Redskins can get by with Cofield at nose in 2014, but drafting a talent like Nix for the future is certainly worth considering.
Vanderbilt Commodores (March 21)
Really, there's one reason why the Redskins will be at Vanderbilt's pro day on Friday: wide receiver Jordan Matthews.
Matthews ended his Vanderbilt career as the SEC's all-time leader in receptions (282) and receiving yards (3,759), per NFL.com. At 6'3'', 212 pounds, Matthews is a big target who would be a welcomed addition across from the Redskins' No. 1 receiver, Pierre Garcon.
According to The Tennessean's Jim Wyatt, Washington was one of a handful of teams that interviewed Matthews at the combine. Should he put on a performance at pro day that rivals his impressive showing at the combine, the Redskins may be inclined to select Matthews at No. 34 overall—even in a year when the wide receiver class is as deep as its ever been.
In his post-combine mock draft, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller sees Matthews as a late second-round pick.
South Carolina Gamecocks (April 2)
While the crowd surrounding defensive end Jadeveon Clowney at South Carolina's pro day will compare to that of a rock concert, the Redskins would be wise to break away from center stage and hone in on some of the lesser-known acts.
Cornerback Victor Hampton is a name that will surely be swirling when the Redskins are selecting in the third, fourth and fifth rounds. Hampton, who declared for the NFL draft after his junior season, was All-SEC Second Team in 2013.
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Hampton (5'9'', 197 lbs) is "an aggressive tackler and physical hitter" and "offers safety-cornerback versatility." Hampton's profile, though, does raise character concerns that the Redskins and other teams would certainly want to make sure are non-issues at the next level.
Another intriguing mid- to late-round prospect is wide receiver Bruce Ellington (5'9", 197 lbs), who led the Gamecocks with 49 catches for 775 yards and eight touchdowns last season, via gamecocksonline.com.
Ellington was a two-sport athlete in college, also playing on the men's basketball team. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden worked with wide receivers of all sizes in Cincinnati—the speedy Ellington could be a nice fit in the slot.
And let's not forget about defensive lineman Kelcy Quarles (6'3'', 297 lbs), a first-team All-American who registered 9.5 sacks last season—second in the nation among defensive tackles, per NFL.com. While it can be argued that Clowney's presence contributed to Quarles' production, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller projects him as a third-round pick.
LSU Tigers (April 9)
With talented Tigers surrounding all corners of NFL draft boards, LSU's pro day is a must-stop for the Redskins.
At wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry are two names Redskins fans should familiarize themselves with before the draft.
Beckham is thought of as a late first-round pick, while Landry will be looking to improve his draft stock after a disappointing combine. NFL Media draft analyst Mike Mayock projected Landry going to Washington in the second round before he ran a 4.77-second 40-yard dash at the combine.
Safety Craig Loston is a player the Redskins could target as a third- or fourth-round pick. At 5'11'', 217 pounds, Loston "has NFL pedigree" and "very good football intelligence," according to his NFL.com combine profile. Washington is thin at safety, with the jury still out on their two young projects, Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas.
Other players to monitor include nose tackle Ego Ferguson, inside linebacker Lamin Barrow and defensive end Anthony Johnson. Ferguson is projected as a third-round selection, according to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller. Both Barrow and Johnson are projected as fourth-rounders.
All statistics are courtesy of NFL.com unless otherwise noted.