Washington Redskins

8 Late-Round NFL Draft Prospects Perfectly Suited for Washington Redskins

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMarch 28, 2014

8 Late-Round NFL Draft Prospects Perfectly Suited for Washington Redskins

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    Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

    Not having a pick in the first round means the Washington Redskins must find value in the later stages of the 2014 NFL draft. Fortunately for head coach Jay Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen, there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be unearthed in the final rounds.

    They include a clever and sure-handed wide receiver, along with a useful "move" tight end. There is also room for a bulky defensive tackle who will provide key depth at the most important position in Washington's 3-4 scheme.

    Here are eight late-round steals waiting to be plundered by Washington this May.

Michael Schofield, OT, Michigan

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    Michael Schofield could solve this team's problem at right tackle.
    Michael Schofield could solve this team's problem at right tackle.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    Michael Schofield offers tremendous value as a potential steal for Washington. He is a mobile offensive tackle with the move skills to suit the zone-based blocking scheme the team has run since 2010.

    Schofield demonstrated that mobility when he ran the 40 in 5.1 seconds at the combine. As a former tight end, he has a knack for shifting quickly off the line and engaging defenders at the second level.

    But the 6'7", 301-pounder's game isn't all about quickness and agility. Schofield plays with a nasty edge that was on display at the Senior Bowl.

    He drew significant praise from NFL Media draft guru Mike Mayock, per NFL.com College Football 24/7 writer Mike Huguenin.

    The Washington offensive line has had a glaring weakness on the right edge for the past four seasons. Tyler Polumbus has been the starter for the last two but has failed to make the position his own.

    Right tackle was surprisingly overlooked in free agency, and there are greater needs at the top of the draft, such as safety and wide receiver.

    Nabbing Schofield, who CBS Sports projects as a fifth- or sixth-round prospect, would give Polumbus some fierce competition.

Ryan Carrethers, NT, Arkansas State

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    Big Ryan Carrethers is a good candidate to back up nose tackle Barry Cofield.
    Big Ryan Carrethers is a good candidate to back up nose tackle Barry Cofield.Michael Conroy/Associated Press/Associated Press

    The Redskins have been getting bigger along the defensive front after re-signing Chris Baker and adding Clifton Geathers in free agency. But where this defense needs more size the most is at nose tackle.

    Barry Cofield starts over the center, but the 6'4", 318-pounder can sometimes be pushed around inside. Chris Neild, a seventh-round pick in 2011, is tough against the run but rarely occupies a double-team.

    Arkansas State monster Ryan Carrethers is an imposing big body to throw into this rotation. Actually, it's more like gently nudging him into the rotation with the help of several others, because nobody is throwing this 6'1", 337-pounder anywhere.

    Carrethers is a natural at filling gaps and disrupting the middle of a blocking scheme. What lets him down is a limited range of movement.

    But for sheer size and power along the interior, Carrethers is a great fit for coordinator Jim Haslett's scheme. He is projected to come off the board in either the fifth or sixth round by NFL.com analyst Nolan Nawrocki.

L'Damian Washington, WR, Missouri

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    L'Damian Washington possesses the vertical speed Washington lacks at wide receiver.
    L'Damian Washington possesses the vertical speed Washington lacks at wide receiver.Associated Press

    Gruden snapped up Andre Roberts in the early hours of free agency to help bolster a thin receiving group. But the ex-Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator is still missing a true burner on the outside.

    That need is sure to make L'Damian Washington intriguing to the first-year head coach. The 6'4" flanker possesses truly frightening field-stretching speed.

    He is a long-legged vertical threat who would give quarterback Robert Griffin III more opportunities to show off his frankly phenomenal deep ball.

    But the eye-popping speed aside, Washington remains extremely raw in the finer points of the wide receiver position. CBS Sports writer Rob Rang chides his "unpolished" routes and annoying habit for catching the ball into his body rather than reaching out and snatching it with his hands.

    But while those foibles are enough to condemn Washington to seventh-round status, they are essentially coaching points.

    While Gruden is likely to target to a more complete pass-catcher in the early rounds, he should still consider gambling on this less-polished but highly intriguing speedster.

Marcel Jensen, TE, Fresno State

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    Marcel Jensen could help both the offense and special teams.
    Marcel Jensen could help both the offense and special teams.Associated Press

    The Redskins are set at tight end with Jordan Reed, but they do need depth and support behind the dynamic, second-year playmaker.

    There are two options for solving that problem. The first is to find a complement to Reed's skills as a roving receiver. That means finding an able in-line blocker. Fresno State's Marcel Jensen fits the bill.

    At 6'6" and 259 pounds, Jensen has the frame to be an asset when supplementing the O-line. He is also a better athlete than he is given credit for.

    CBS Sports analyst Rob Rang identifies Jensen's potential as a receiver:

    He possesses just average initial quickness off the line but accelerates smoothly for a big man. Presents a large catch radius, showing the ability to contort to adjust to passes outside of his frame. Catches the ball with his hands and quickly secures the ball.

    Jensen's size and leaping ability also make him a standout on special teams. He had four career blocked kicks.

    Those attributes belie a lack of production in 2013, when Jensen tallied just 26 receptions, per figures provided by cfbstats.com. But he still managed three scoring catches out of those 26 grabs, and there are certainly tools to work with as a receiver.

    But it is the four blocked kicks referenced by Rang that could really seal a move to D.C. for Jensen. Gruden and Allen have committed to repairing a dire special teams unit this offseason.

    They have signed a trio of veteran linebackers to boost the coverage units but could certainly still use a player with Jensen's talent for creating havoc in the kicking game.

Ryan Grant, WR, Tulane

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    Ryan Grant is a quick-witted, reliable target in the passing game.
    Ryan Grant is a quick-witted, reliable target in the passing game.Bill Haber/Associated Press

    Ryan Grant is one of the more interesting late-round prospects in this draft. For one thing, he creates a significant division of opinion among draft experts.

    CBS Sports projects him as a fourth-rounder, dubbing the ex-Tulane ace as "one of the most underrated pass-catchers in the country."

    By contrast, NFL.com writer Nolan Nawrocki feels Grant projects as a seventh-rounder or even a free agent. However, Nawrocki also endorses Grant's skills as a pass-catcher, crediting him with "one of the best pair of hands in the draft."

    It's that quality that should endear Grant to the Redskins despite the absence of even solid speed or imposing strength.

    Too many times during the last two seasons, Washington wide receivers have put the ball on the floor. The group's penchant for drops has hardly aided the development of young quarterbacks Griffin and Kirk Cousins.

    Adding a dependable, sure-handed weapon like Grant to the mix would be a very smart move and certainly one worth a fourth- to seventh-round pick.

Jacob Pedersen, TE, Wisconsin

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    Jacob Pedersen is a useful "Joker" tight end.
    Jacob Pedersen is a useful "Joker" tight end.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    If Gruden wants another roving weapon at tight end to support Reed, he should consider Wisconsin's Jacob Pedersen. The slight-framed pass-catcher is a true "Joker" at the position.

    Pedersen can be moved around to a variety of positions. WalterFootball.com writer Walter Cherepinsky cites his potential as an H-Back at the pro level.

    That should appeal to Gruden, who often declines to use a traditional fullback in the backfield. Pedersen can also attack defenses from the slot.

    However, as Cherepinsky notes, there will be genuine concern about the 4.89 40-yard dash time the 238-pounder posted at the combine.

    But as a flexible, short-range target, Pedersen offers a lot of value to an offense that should spread the ball around more this season.

Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty

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    Walt Aikens has the size to fit a press-based scheme.
    Walt Aikens has the size to fit a press-based scheme.GM Andrews/Associated Press

    Even after signing Tracy Porter and bringing back DeAngelo Hall, Allen would be wise to add another cornerback. One late-round prospect he should have his eye on is former Liberty standout Walt Aikens.

    At 6'1" and 205 pounds, Aikens has the frame to suit a more aggressive coverage system. Haslett would be smart to have his defensive backs employ more press techniques in the NFC East.

    That is the only way to survive against physical receivers like Riley Cooper of the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys star Dez Bryant.

    Aikens is not very refined as a cover man, but he is certainly aggressive. As CBS Sports writer Rob Rang points out, this tenacious streak can be both a plus and a minus:

    Boasts a tapered, athletic build with long arms (32 1/4") and good overall muscle definition. Light feet and loose hips give him the fluidity to handle coverage responsibilities. Asked to play press-man and off-man often for the Flames, showing the athleticism and confidence to handle either role.

    Gets an initial jam on the receiver when in press, turning and running with receivers fluidly. Good patience when off or zone but keeps his eyes peeled on the quarterbacks and has a quick burst to close on the ball. Good (perhaps not great) straight-line speed down the sideline, but accelerates smoothly and has a second gear, when necessary.

    May not possess elite top-end speed. Gets a little grabby down the sideline, as he's highly aggressive and will extend his arm. Tracks the ball well but shows only average ball-skills overall.

    Aikens may be rough around the edges, but he fits the direction this secondary should be taking. Last season's top draft choice, David Amerson (6'1", 205 lbs), offers good size, as does Porter (5'11", 188 lbs).

    Taking a chance on Aiken, who can also play safety, would add another stout and lengthy corner to the rotation.

    He is likely to come off the board in one of the final two rounds, mostly due to an arrest for misdemeanor theft in 2010.

Jonathan Newsome, DE/OLB, Ball State

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    Jonathan Newsome has excellent pass-rush skills.
    Jonathan Newsome has excellent pass-rush skills.Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    After smartly slapping the franchise tag on Brian Orakpo, the Redskins remain strong in the starting positions at outside linebacker. However, depth is a real issue behind Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

    Darryl Tapp joined the Detroit Lions in free agency, while Rob Jackson remains on the market. That really only leaves 2013 fifth-round pick Brandon Jenkins, who barely saw the field as a rookie, as cover for the team's primary pass-rushers.

    Given the lack of options, a player like Jonathan Newsome makes a lot of sense in the later rounds. The ex-Ball State star projects well as rotational pass-rusher in a 3-4 scheme, as NFL.com draft scribe Nolan Nawrocki highlights:

    A 4-3 open-side speed rusher ideally suited for an elephant end or 3-4 Jack linebacker role. Is at his best rushing the passer and has shown improved maturity since departing Ohio State before the 2011 season.

    The issues at Ohio State Nawrocki references involved "academic concerns," according to The Cleveland Plain-DealerBall also served a two-game suspension after a charge of possession of marijuana in August 2012, per Douglas Walker of The Muncie Star Press.

    But if Allen can ease his mind about the off-field concerns, Newsome would be an invaluable addition to the pass-rush rotation.

    With some select shopping in the later rounds, Washington can come away from the 2014 NFL draft well-stocked at key areas on the roster.

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