Washington Redskins Draft Stock Watch: 8 Players Rising and Falling
When it was assumed Washington would make a huge splash by landing prized free-agent cornerback Aqib Talib, Allen called an audible and signed Tracy Porter—a small ripple.
Were you one of the many who thought Pro Bowl safety Jairus Byrd had an excellent chance at being a Redskin? Too expensive. Try one more year of Brandon Meriweather instead.
Perhaps it's still early, but all has been quiet at Redskins Park regarding which draft prospects the organization has met with or is planning to meet with. It doesn't take a scout, however, to know which positions Washington will be focused on come May.
The offensive line is still light at guard and right tackle. Safety is razor thin. A tall, playmaking wide receiver would be a nice addition to the existing corps. And no matter how you view the makeshift situation at inside linebacker, the shadow of London Fletcher still looms large.
So who's up and who's down on the Redskins draft board? Only Allen knows. He's playing this offseason like a savvy poker player—dark shades on and a burgundy and gold hat pulled down tight. Let's try to figure out which draft cards he may be holding.
Rising: Jimmie Ward, S, Northern Illinois
Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix and Louisville's Calvin Pryor are expected to be the first two safeties off the board in the NFL draft, but the next best thing isn't a bad consolation prize: Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward.
Unable to participate in the NFL Scouting Combine due to a stress fracture in his right foot, Ward (5'10'', 197 lbs) impressed scouts with his 4.45-second 40-yard dash and overall athleticism during NIU's pro day. His performance likely entrenched him as a top-five safety prospect, according to the Chicago Tribune's Dan Wiederer.
Other than re-signing Brandon Meriweather to a one-year deal, Washington has done little to upgrade its thinnest position in free agency. At No. 34 overall, the Redskins could use a playmaker like the third-team All-American Ward, who hauled in seven interceptions last season.
Falling: Loucheiz Purifoy, CB, Florida
Florida cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy was regarded as a first-round talent when he declared himself eligible for the NFL draft. But after a disappointing performance at the combine coupled with an uninspiring pro day, Purifoy's stock has plummeted.
The big mark against Purifoy (5'11'', 190 lbs) has been his lack of speed and strength in workouts. He ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the combine, followed by a moderately better 4.53 at Florida's rainy pro day, via ESPN.com's Jeff Barlis. Purifoy was only able to bench press 225 pounds six times, fewer than any other corner at the combine.
According to his NFL.com combine profile, Purifoy has "outstanding athleticism" and is "conditioned, confident and competitive" but his "poor instincts, tackling and tape are reasons for pause."
Based on potential, Purifoy could be someone the Redskins consider in middle or late rounds.
There's more on the Redskins' current cornerbacks: Mike Jones of The Washington Post tweeted Wednesday that head coach Jay Gruden likely has the depth chart already figured out:
Nugget I forgot this morning (now seeing going over notes) Gruden said Hall and Amerson likely starting CBS w Porter as the nickel.#Redskins— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) March 26, 2014
If Washington did decide to draft a corner early, Virginia Tech's Kyle Fuller and TCU's Jason Verrett are legitimate candidates.
Rising: Jordan Matthews, WR, Vanderbilt
Should the Redskins elect to draft a wide receiver with their second-round pick, they will have an embarrassment of options to choose from. There's even an outside chance that Southern California's Marqise Lee or LSU's Odell Beckham Jr. could fall to Washington at No. 34 overall.
One prospect gaining steam after his performances at the combine and pro day is Vanderbilt's Jordan Matthews. The Tennessean caught up with him after Vandy's pro day:
As offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, Gruden had the luxury of coaching one of the game's great wide receivers in A.J. Green (6'4'', 205 lbs). Matthews (6'3'', 212 lbs) has a similar build and comparable speed to Green. He would be the perfect complement to the Redskins' smaller wide receivers Pierre Garcon (6'0'', 210 lbs) and the newly-acquired Andre Roberts (5'11'', 192 lbs).
It's wishful thinking to assume Matthews will have a superstar-like impact in his first season, but his decorated college resume and experience playing in the SEC is enough evidence to suggest that he can at least contribute right away.
Falling: Kelvin Benjamin, WR, Florida State
Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin has a unique blend of size and untapped potential. But is he a fit for the Redskins?
NFL.com's Gil Brandt thinks that Benjamin's performance at FSU's pro day may have given him an opportunity to be selected in the first round. His weight, however, could be a concern to certain NFL clubs.
The 6'5", 242-pound Benjamin weighed in two pounds heavier at his pro day than at the combine, according to NFL.com's Chase Goodbread. Teams told Benjamin they would like to see him lose 17 pounds.
“They have what they want receivers to be, about 225,” said Benjamin via The Palm Beach Post. “It wouldn’t hurt if I dropped this weight and got down to 225. I think I would be faster, be more deadly.”
The Redskins already have a big red-zone target in tight end Jordan Reed. Washington would be better suited to draft a receiver like the aforementioned Matthews, who is speedier than Benjamin and, given his experience, is more apt to make an instant impact.
Rising: Xavier Su'a-Filo, G, UCLA
One of the fasting-rising draft prospects plays a position of need for the Redskins: UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo.
Su'a-Filo (6'4'', 307 lbs) turned heads at the combine with his athleticism and followed that performance up with an outstanding showing at UCLA's pro day. After the workout, Bruins head coach Jim Mora sang Su'a-Filo's praises on Twitter:
@_XRA1 Xavier Sua-Filo runs an electronic 4.88 and looks amazing in the workout. Scouts talking late 1st round.— Jim Mora (@UCLACoachMora) March 11, 2014
This from Su'a-Filo's NFL.com draft profile: "Projects best at left guard, where he has starter-caliber ability in a power-scheme, though he is athletic enough to appeal to zone teams, too."
With the Redskins expected to keep at least some of the zone principles of the former regime, Su'a-Filo's versatility could be put to use right away. If by chance the Bruin standout does get selected in the first round, Stanford's David Yankey would be one heck of a back-up plan for Washington.
Falling: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
It's not breaking news that the Redskins are in need of an upgrade at right tackle.
According to most mock drafts, Virginia tackle Morgan Moses is a player who could be available when Washington selects at No. 34 overall. Seems like a logical fit, right?
I'm not so sure.
Before Moses comes off the board in May, four other tackles will likely have been taken: Auburn's Greg Robinson, Texas A&M's Jake Matthews, Michigan's Taylor Lewan and Notre Dame's Zack Martin.
Moses may end up being a fine tackle in the NFL, but after the combine and an injury-shortened pro day (pulled hamstring), he's currently viewed as a notch below the four aforementioned players.
All that said, his commitment to staying in shape and willingness improve should be commended. According to NFL.com's Chase Goodbread, the 6'6'' Moses entered his pro day at a trim 311 pounds, three pounds lighter than what he weighed at the combine and fourteen pounds lighter than his weight at the Senior Bowl.
The Redskins must ask themselves if it's worth using their first pick on, at best, the draft's fifth-best tackle over a top-rated guard, playmaking wide receiver or an impact safety.
Without a first-round selection, Washington must draft a surefire 2014 starter in the second round. Right now, it's difficult to know if Moses is capable of immediately supplanting incumbent right tackle Tyler Polumbus.
Rising: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin
In January, I wrote about why the Redskins should target Wisconsin inside linebacker Chris Borland. Those thoughts still ring true.
Borland isn't a workout warrior; he's simply a football player. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. (Insider subscription required) has him No. 25 overall on his latest Big Board:
If you look at him purely from a physical and athletic standpoint, you wouldn't consider him a first-round pick, but the tape tells another story. Borland isn't just a clean-up tackler, he's an instinctive attacker of the backfield and a relentlessly instinctive player who can get on the field right away and make plays. I know there are teams that have a first-round grade on him.
Washington probably won't select Borland at No. 34 overall, but they should think long and hard about drafting him in the third round, if he's even available at that point.
The Redskins have acquired three inside linebackers in free agency to go with last season's starter Perry Riley, but none look to be a long-term solution. Borland would be.
One more to watch:
Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier is another intriguing prospect, who is skyrocketing up draft boards after running an unofficial 4.36-second 40-yard dash at his pro day. NFL media draft analyst Mike Mayock sees Shazier as a true 4-3 linebacker (via NFL.com's Mike Huguenin).
Shazier's ability to play inside or outside linebacker, excel in coverage and rush the passer should be noted by the Redskins brass, especially given the fact that Brian Orakpo isn't guaranteed to be in Washington past 2014.
Falling: Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford
Now would be a good time to pump the brakes on linebacker Shayne Skov coming to Washington.
Skov, who sat out the combine because of a calf strain, also had to miss Stanford's pro day with an hamstring injury according to the San Jose Mercury News' Jon Wilner. Skov will hold a private pro day on April 21.
Proud of the boys for once again showin out today. Dominating performances. Personally gotta mend up and get ready to perform April 21st— Shayne Skov (@ShayneSkov) March 20, 2014
In addition to these two nagging injuries preventing him from competing during this crucial time, Skov is just two-and-a-half years removed from a torn ACL. While his play on the field clearly speaks for itself, durability is clearly a question mark.
If the Redskins don't select an inside linebacker with one of their first three picks, it's likely a sign that they're comfortable entering the 2014 season with what they've got. Skov would probably have to drop to the fourth round or later to pique Washington's interest.