Washington Redskins 2014 NFL Draft Fact or Fiction
Two prominent linemen are at the center of the latest pre-2014 NFL draft rumors involving the Washington Redskins. They are joined by a less heralded wide receiver, as the team still seeks to surround quarterback Robert Griffin III with more weapons.
There are also murmurs that the Redskins will add another linebacker to their rotation, not only to provide depth, but also to boost last season's horrific special teams.
Perhaps the most intriguing rumor involves the team's interest in one of the more dynamic running backs in this year's class.
Here is a fact-or-fiction judgement on the latest draft speculation surrounding Washington.
Selecting Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio at 34
NFL.com Media analyst Charles Davis, appearing on NFL Network's "Path to the Draft" program, suggested the Redskins could target Alabama offensive tackle Cyrus Kouandjio with the second pick in the second round (h/t NFL.com College Football 24/7 writer Bryan Fischer).
Fellow NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah talked up the idea of Washington moving toward a more power-based blocking scheme under new head coach Jay Gruden. That certainly makes Kouandjio a great fit.
So does Davis' assertion that the 6'7", 322-pounder would slide from left to right tackle in the pros. That would suit the Redskins, considering their struggles up front last season, particularly on the right side.
Tyler Polumbus endured a series of nightmare performances during the later stages of the 2013 season. Kouandjio is likely to be there for Washington at the top of Round 2.
His stock has been hurt by knee issues, according to NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport (h/t College Football 24/7 writer Chase Goodbread on NFL.com).
But if Gruden receives improved reports about the player's health, he might just see Kouandjio as too good to miss.
Gruden has previously indicated there could be some change in the way the O-line blocks in 2014, per Washington Times writer Zac Boyer: "New Redskins coach Jay Gruden said last month at the NFL combine in Indianapolis that there would likely be subtle changes along the offensive line as the team incorporated players who could handle the challenges of an increased power running game."
But as Boyer also points out, Gruden has said he wants a balance between size and mobility:
But if you get the bigger guys who don’t move quite as well, then you lose Alfred Morris’ strength, and that’s the outside zone and stretch and finding holes and lanes to cut through. It can come back and bite you if you want to go big. [You’ve got to] know what you’re doing to make sure you get a lot better.
Gruden's comments actually make the idea of using the team's first pick on Kouandjio more credible. The ex-Crimson Tide behemoth exudes the type of balance between muscle and agility Washington's new sideline general covets.
CBS Sports analyst Rob Rang highlights Kouandjio's blend of attributes:
Quick off the snap and has the lateral agility to slide left to right. Kouandjio uses his athleticism in pass protection well but he's even more impressive as a run blocker, consistently out-quicking defenders to create lanes. Kouandjio relies on good placement, strong hands and an explosive jolt to turn and sustain defenders.
Prior to Jackson's arrival, adding quality pass-catchers was an obvious priority this May. With Jackson and fellow newbie Andre Roberts on board, that need is not as pressing.
But fixing the O-line still remains a necessity. Pairing Kouandjio with Trent Williams would give Gruden's offense bookend tackles.
That will be too tempting to pass up if Kouandjio is still on the board at 34.
Taking Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota with 1st Pick
Allen and Gruden could value talent above obvious need at the top of Round 2. NFL.com Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah believes the team will find it hard to pass on Minnesota defensive tackle Ra'Shede Hageman.
Despite signing veteran front-line pass-rusher Jason Hatcher, Jeremiah thinks last season's 31st-ranked scoring defense still needs help up front:
The Hatcher acquisition was a step in the right direction, and the Redskins have the opportunity in May to keep the momentum going. If Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman falls out of the first round, I could see them taking him at No. 34 overall; he'd be an ideal defensive end in Jim Haslett's 3-4 scheme. The 6-foot-6 first-team All-Big Ten selection is a frustrating player to watch on tape because you see flashes of dominant play accompanied by long dry spells. If he puts it all together, though, he can be a real force at the next level.
While few could complain about adding another playmaker to the front seven, there are problems with this scenario. For one thing, a prospect taken at the top of the second round should be viewed as a credible starter from Day 1.
Yet Hageman might have trouble winning a regular spot. The starting berths seem set with Hatcher at end and Barry Cofield at nose tackle. Re-signed Chris Baker and 2011 second-rounder Jarvis Jenkins will likely tussle for the other position.
It's difficult to see where Hageman, despite his obvious flair for disruption, fits along this three-man front. He is too big to adequately challenge Cofield for a role over the center.
With more immediate needs, such as along the O-line and in the secondary, it's difficult to see Gruden using his first pick on the defensive front.
Meeting with Indiana Wide Receiver Cody Latimer
Baltimore Sun reporter Aaron Wilson has tweeted that the Redskins are scheduling a visit with Indiana wide receiver Cody Latimer. Wilson has also indicated Washington is not Latimer's only suitor.
The flanker has as many as eight visits to complete, according to a National Football Post report from Wilson. What is interesting about the Redskins' meeting with Latimer is how he would fit Gruden's offense.
The former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator tends to favor big receivers. A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu all caught passes in Gruden's scheme. Each stands 6'2" or taller and weighs between 195-210 pounds.
The problem with this rumor is that Washington is now pretty well-stocked at the receiver position. Adding Jackson and Roberts alongside Pierre Garcon creates a potentially dominant trio.
But Gruden still has five capable receivers to call on. He could have one more if 6'2", 211-pounder Leonard Hankerson recovers well from a torn LCL.
While Gruden might kick the tires on a number of receivers, firming up that interest doesn't look likely.
Adding a Linebacker Late On
On March 7, WalterFootball.com writer Walter Cherepinsky cited a rumor from DraftInsider.net blogger Tony Pauline, suggesting the Redskins want to take Clemson linebacker Quandon Christian in Round 7.
The idea of selecting a linebacker to add to the rotation has recently been echoed by CSN Washington reporter Rich Tandler: "A late draft pick here would not be surprising, especially if it’s someone who could be a strong special teams contributor."
Christian certainly fits the bill in both categories. Cherepinsky has listed outside 'backer on the Redskins' lists of predraft visits, indicating the team is "interested."
There is still need for depth on the outside despite the recent re-signing of Rob Jackson. Last year's fifth-rounder Brandon Jenkins has hardly featured, while Darryl Tapp joined the Detroit Lions in free agency.
Christian is quick, aggressive and resourceful. He is the ideal candidate to continue Gruden and Allen's revamp of the special teams.
Strong Interest in Arizona State Running Back Marion Grice
Redskins fans might get to see a dynamic double act in the backfield during the 2014 season. NFL.com College Football 24/7 writer Chase Goodbread has credited Washington with strong interest in Arizona State running back Marion Grice:
The most interested club? One never knows for certain, but Grice said he has a private workout scheduled next week with the Redskins. Roy Helu led Redskins running backs in receiving last year with pedestrian totals of 31 catches for 251 yards and no touchdowns. By comparison, some of the NFL's top receivers at the running back position last season included San Diego's Danny Woodhead (76-605-6) and New Orleans' Darren Sproles (71-604-2).
Grice will work out for Washington on April 15, according to Brad Denny of azfamily.com.
It makes perfect sense to bring in a backfield receiver as proficient as Grice. It is the one thing this offense is currently missing.
Grice tallied 438 yards on 50 catches in 2013, per figures from cfbstats.com. He has the potential to be an invaluable outlet for Griffin as well as acting as a change-of-pace complement to bruising workhorse Alfred Morris.
Gruden had that same dynamic last season in Cincinnati. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was the grafter inside, while rookie Giovani Bernard was the elusive speedster and dangerous receiver.
Grice would be excellent compensation as roving playmaker for Gruden to torment defenses with.