8 NFL Draft Prospects the Redskins Can't Afford to Pass Up
As the Redskins prepare for May's upcoming NFL draft, they'll focus on landing good value with early selections in each round, starting with the No. 34 overall pick. And with areas of need spread throughout their roster, the Redskins wouldn't mind a little luck in the process.
Maybe an unforeseen stock decrease here, a bogus medical red flag on a player there—anything to help Washington squeeze every ounce of juice from their six total draft choices.
Here's a look at several draft prospects the Redskins would have a hard time passing on at specific points in the draft.
While the Redskins have young guys on the roster who can hopefully amount to something and improve the offensive line, the unit remains an area of need, and the team is likely to address it come May.
UCLA guard Xavier Su'a-Filo has first-round talent, but could find himself drafted somewhere in the early second round. If the Redskins are sold on upgrading the interior offensive line, adding a strong, athletic type like Su'a-Filo would be hard to pass on at No. 34.
After whiffing on safeties during free agency, the Redskins are left with a tough situation heading into 2014. Although re-signing Brandon Meriweather was a good move, he's not a top-caliber guy, and there's lots of uncertainty with second-year players Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas.
Due to the hole at the position, the Redskins may feel some pressure when they come across the opportunity to draft a player like Northern Illinois safety Jimmie Ward with one of their top picks.
Ward's name has floated near the top of the safety class for quite a while now, but it seems as though his stock is rising as of late. Despite less-than-ideal size, Ward is a physical athlete with good coverage skills.
Assuming Ward is available early in the second round, the Redskins could take a look. And if he happens to fall to the third, the Redskins would almost have to pull the trigger, as the value of Ward at that point paired with the team's need at the position makes for a near-perfect match.
Drafting a running back this offseason may seem like a strange idea for the Redskins, but with new coach Jay Gruden running the offense, it shouldn't surprise anyone if/when it happens.
Last offseason, with Gruden serving as the offensive coordinator, the Bengals selected running back Giovani Bernard in the second round to complement power-back BenJarvus Green-Ellis, helping to add versatility to the offense.
Although Alfred Morris has jump-started his career with incredible back-to-back rookie and sophomore seasons, Gruden may look to find another back in this year's draft. Yes, Morris would remain the bell cow. But adding a new dimension to the backfield wouldn't hurt this offense.
This year's running back class may not be boiling over with talent, but it doesn't lack intriguing names. A guy like Devonta Freeman from Florida State would fit the mold of a versatile complement back thanks to his strong running, reliable hands and above-average pass protection.
While Freeman's talent should warrant second-round consideration, crazier things have happened. If he drops to the fourth round, Gruden and the Redskins could be waiting with open arms.
With the success Jay Gruden found in Cincinnati with dual pass-catching tight ends, the Redskins may look to add to their position come draft weekend.
This isn't the first time I've mentioned A.C. Leonard as a intriguing tight end prospect with good hands, threatening speed and impressive athleticism. However, due to his off-the-field concerns and red flags, Leonard may find himself on Day 3 still waiting for a phone call.
If the Redskins are confident in their locker room and leadership, Leonard is worth a sixth- or seventh-round draft choice. Pairing his skill set with that of Jordan Reed has the potential to generate some juicy mismatches.
When the Redskins released Will Montgomery and mentioned the idea of moving guard Kory Lichtensteiger over to his more natural center position, it felt like an upgrade at offensive line. But following reports by the Washington Post of free-agent center Brian De La Puente visiting Washington, it's clear the Redskins aren't completely satisfied with their starting blockers.
USC's Marcus Martin is easily the top center prospect of this class, and it wouldn't be surprising to hear his name called in the second round. But if concern regarding his durability pushes him into the third, the Redskins will take notice.
At 6'3", 320 pounds, Martin possesses great size and backs it up with impressive strength and heavy hands. His athleticism and overall skill set would drastically improve the Redskins' current situation, and his versatility at each interior position increases his value.
No, I still can't ignore Seantrel Henderson's combination of size, strength and athleticism. And yes, I suppose the semi-crush continues for the 6'7", 331-pound Miami (Fla.) offensive tackle.
Henderson is a high-risk, high-reward offensive lineman prospect who would fill a need at right tackle in Washington. He does come with character concerns and red flags off the field, but a strong team and the right coaches would help Henderson achieve his Pro Bowl potential.
I've said before that I love Henderson's value in the fifth round, and I'll stick by that. But unless he blows scouts away at his pro day on April 3, Henderson could fall as low as the sixth round, in which case the Redskins would have to make the investment.
The Redskins are a year removed from spending their top pick on a cornerback, but the secondary is still in need of some pieces.
South Carolina's Victor Hampton is an undersized (5'9") and scrappy cornerback with superb athleticism, fluid hips and plenty of potential at the next level.
Although Hampton's raw ability could put him in the latter part of the second round, his lack of technique could push him into the third round or later. And if the Redskins have a shot at Hampton in the fourth, they'd have a chance to gain excellent value at an important position.
Following an underwhelming combine performance, LSU wideout Jarvis Landry has watched his draft stock slip over the past couple of weeks. But don't be fooled—Landry's game tape doesn't lie.
Although he lacks ideal size and speed, Landry is a reliable receiver with sure hands, good route-running skills and admirable toughness. My scouting report does a better job explaining the reasoning for my draft crush.
Even with the recent signing of Andre Roberts in Washington, the Redskins would have a tough time passing on Landry in the third round. And in the fourth? Forget about it.
Landry is a natural football player with an uncoachable knack for the game and superb hands. He's a quarterback's best friend at the next level.