2014 Draft Sleepers Who'd Fit Perfectly with the Redskins
Here's a look at a handful of names that would fill a void on Washington's rebuilding roster, with a conscious effort by yours truly to stay away from bandwagons I've preached in the past month or so.
Despite Roy Helu Jr. and an unproven Chris Thompson on the roster, Jay Gruden appears to be interested in adding a pair of hands to his backfield in order to complement Alfred Morris' bruising running style.
Arizona State's Marion Grice entered last season as a touted running back prospect, but he broke his leg in November and wasn't able to participate in either the combine or his school's primary pro day.
Grice is more of a lean muscle guy (6'0", 208 lbs) who possesses an attractive skill set for a third-down back in the NFL. He's a patient runner with good vision, packing good strength and, most importantly, a reliable set of hands.
Grice hauled in 91 catches over the last two seasons, 14 of which went for scores.
According to Chase Goodbread of NFL.com, the Redskins were one of 10 teams in attendance at Grice's recent pro day last Tuesday, where he clocked a 4.6-second 40-yard dash and a 32" vertical.
The Redskins are set to have a private workout with Grice this week.
With safety serving as the weakest position on the Redskins roster, we can expect Washington to target a safety anywhere in the draft—from their top pick at No. 34 to the their last in the final round.
North Carolina's Tre Boston is a guy to keep an eye on. The former cornerback turned safety is a raw prospect at this point, but possesses good ball skills and has a good chance at making a roster, even if only for special teams contribution initially.
At 6'0", 204 pounds, Boston has a strong build with good speed. Although he's at his best playing deep safety and looking to make a play on the pass, Boston doesn't shy away from run support, as he can shed blocks and put his helmet in on a ball-carrier.
According to John Keim of ESPN.com, Boston has already visited Redskins Park, showing at least some interest from the team in the potential of a late-round safety prospect.
Even after drafting David Amerson in the second round last season, the Redskins aren't done at corner. A small-school type in the mid-rounds like Liberty's Walt Aikens could make a lot of sense for Washington.
In terms of fit, and given the value placed on good cornerbacks in the NFL, Aikens would be more of a special teams and depth guy early in his career. But with veterans such as Ryan Clark and DeAngelo Hall in the secondary, Aiken could learn from his new teammates in addition to a fiery defensive backs coach in Raheem Morris.
Aikens possesses a good combination of size (6'1", 203 lbs) and speed (4.49-second 40) while demonstrating a good feel for the game both physically (good hips and acceleration) and mentally (understanding position, coverage and angles).
Aikens began his career at Illinois, where he started five games at safety. After pleading guilty to misdemeanor theft, Aikens was kicked off the team before landing at Liberty, where he was also a part of the basketball team and track squad.
While Aikens checks all the boxes from a physical standpoint, he'll need plenty of developmental work at the next level. But with Washington's current situation at corner and the draft choices in which the team has to work with, Aikens is a good fit with the Redskins.
You'll catch Deone Bucannon's name near the top of most safety rankings, yet it still doesn't feel like he's getting the attention he deserves based off his game tape.
Although Louisville's Calvin Pryor is a popular name thrown around with Ha Ha Clinton-Dix as first-round safety prospects, it may be Bucannon who has the best chance of being selected along with Clinton-Dix in the top 32.
Bucannon is a well-built (6'1", 211 lbs) strong safety with impressive speed (4.49) and hammer-laying tackling ability. Like most heat-seeking safeties, Bucannon is vulnerable to overcommitting or lunging, but his good outweighs his bad.
There's no arguing Bucannon's natural fit, but he does possess some ball skills, which is encouraging given the pass-happy league we're used to.
If the Redskins like Bucannon, they could have a shot with their top pick. But Bucannon won't be around by the time they pick in the third round, so Washington will have to act fast.
I tried to list new names for this, but I still believe in the sleeper potential with Utah's Anthony Denham.
Physically, Denham pops. At 6'5", 235 pounds, Denham boasts a chiseled frame with smooth speed (4.77), desirable length and good athleticism.
But beyond that, we don't know much. During his time as a wideout at Utah, Denham caught less than 40 passes in 23 games.
Denham entered the combine as a tight end, and he fits the hybrid role well at the next level from a physical and athleticism standpoint. But coaches are going to have to fall for how he tests as an athlete in order to give him a shot and see how quickly he develops.
For the Redskins, who have a strong group of wide receivers intact, along with good tight ends, Gruden and Co. are in good position to take on a late-round challenge like Denham and see what sticks. Not only would he help add more speed to the offense, but he'd also increase the Redskins' size at pass-catcher—an area the team would like to improve on.
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