Who Are Experts Predicting to Washington with Redskins' 1st NFL Draft Pick?
Jay Gruden might not have the luxury of a first-round pick for his inaugural season in Washington, but that just makes his second-round choice that much more important on draft day.
While the experts are mostly concentrating on the first round right now, there are some high-profile analysts and media outlets who are going further with their predictions.
The most surprising part regarding who the Redskins might select? Not one safety among them.
Read on for a little insight on who is being allocated to Washington with the 34th overall pick in the NFL draft.
Mel Kiper, ESPN: Antonio Richardson, OT, Tennessee
Mel Kiper at ESPN Insider (subscription required) likes the idea of upgrading the offensive line, which is a plan Gruden has already put into action with the acquisition of Shawn Lauvao and the release of Will Montgomery.
Of Antonio Richardson, Kiper says this: "He is a special athlete and has the ceiling of a good left tackle, but he can certainly slot in as an upgrade on the right side, which has been a problem area."
That would leave Tyler Polumbus out in the cold, but with many people calling for his head since the end of the 2012 season, this could be a move that satisfies fans in DC.
However, Richardson remains a left tackle, and plugging him in on the right side and expecting him to be an immediate upgrade is a little short-sighted. While he is one of the better tackles in this year's draft class, taking him at 34 and playing him on the right isn't going to yield the best value from the pick.
The team needs an immediate contributor with its first pick, and Richardson isn't it.
WalterFootball.com (Walter): Xavier Su'a-Filo, OG, UCLA
Walter at WalterFootball.com also sees Gruden going OL with his first pick, but moves to the interior to select UCLA's Xavier Su'a-Filo.
Will Montgomery's release saw Kory Lichtensteiger move to center, which leaves Chris Chester as the only starter at guard. Both Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis are on the roster, but LeRibeus hasn't shown commitment, and Gettis looks to be too small for the line that Gruden is building.
Drafting the 6'4", 307-pound Su'a-Filo would not only add some size and strength alongside Chester, he could even act as his replacement if either LeRibeus or Gettis impresses in camp.
The truth is that Chester didn't have a great season last year, and the interior was targeted all day by opposing coaches. Just look at Justin Tuck's four-sack game for proof there.
This could be a solid pick, but there's lingering fear that Su'a-Filo would struggle if required to be an immediate starter. He can sometimes look sluggish off the line and this leads him to over-reach with his blocks. Experienced linemen would target him and he could be exploited.
With players to learn behind in his rookie year, Su'a-Filo will likely develop quickly. Washington just doesn't have that luxury however.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports: Ra'Shede Hageman, DL, Minnesota
If we're going purely on talent and potential, Ra'Shede Hageman will be a first-round pick, even cracking the top 10 for a particularly needy team. His initial quickness and build have earned comparison to J.J. Watt.
He's not there yet, obviously, but it's easy to see the excitement surrounding him. Dane Brugler at CBS Sports says that "Hageman has the tools to line up as a full-time five-technique while also taking some snaps at the nose."
Hageman is an incredible athlete with great size, strength and burst—everything that teams are looking for in a defensive lineman. With Jarvis Jenkins notably lacking in explosiveness since his ACL tear and Stephen Bowen among the favorites to be cut, Hageman would add some power to the defensive line.
He feasibly could play anywhere in Jim Haslett's 3-4 and be used as a matchup nightmare. In college he frequently pushed offensive linemen into the backfield. Hageman might not be the most obvious player to take at No. 34, but if he falls that far no one should be complaining.
He'll be a 24-year-old rookie, which means he has little physical development left. But there's no question he has what it takes to succeed in the NFL.
CSN Washington: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
Returning to the offensive line, CSN Washington published its mock draft and allocated Virginia's Morgan Moses to Washington. At 6'6" and 314 pounds, Moses would certainly add some size to the right tackle position.
CSN Washington points to Robert Griffin III's struggles to find time to throw the ball last year as the reason for picking Moses up: "All the receiving toys won't matter if RGIII doesn't have the time to throw their way. If Jay Gruden wants bigger lineman, Moses is bigger."
Solid reasoning, no doubt. Moses could keep rushers engaged and drive them away from his quarterback, allowing Griffin to make the throw. He's got a lot of upside, and could develop into a very good NFL player.
There's that word again. Develop.
Moses isn't quite ready to be a Week 1 starter, and hasn't shown the aggression that should accompany his size. While Moses is a local player—he lives in Richmond, Va.—and it's great to see locals land in Washington, Gruden should look somewhere else with his first pick.
If Moses is still there in the third round, he would represent a much better investment.
Charlie Campbell, WalterFootball.com: Kyle Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Josh Wilson has gone, and Tracy Porter has seemingly replaced him. However, if Kyle Fuller dropped out of the first round and into Gruden's hands, the new head coach would be tempted to take him.
Charlie Campbell at WalterFootball.com thought so, but recently changed his prediction to Morgan Moses. Maybe he should reconsider.
Tracy Porter hasn't shown much since his Super Bowl heroics in 2010, and could be the liability in coverage that we saw from him last year. If so, Gruden will need someone to step in and perform.
Fuller has shown he can do that, and comes from a long line of Fullers at Virginia Tech. He has a natural instinct for the football and plays aggressively at the line of scrimmage. He's a fearsome competitor who learns quickly, and there's no doubt he would be a good addition to the roster.
Where that leaves Chase Minnifield is uncertain, but the secondary would be in much better shape.
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