Washington Redskins: 5 Bold Predictions for 2014 NFL Draft
Despite not having a first-round pick in next month's upcoming NFL draft, the Washington Redskins are in position to pull off some bold moves thanks to early choices throughout the remaining rounds and a new head coach in Jay Gruden leading the charge.
The following is a handful of bold, yet practical predictions for the Redskins when they take Radio City Music Hall for a draft process that develops new bends and erratic turns with every podium announcement.
Trading Back from No. 34
By the time you scan the article title on the previous page, see the words "Bold Predictions" and "Redskins" in the same headline and then pan to a picture of Johnny Manziel, it's probably more than enough to make Redskins fans lose their innards.
And yet, here's another top quarterback prospect in Teddy Bridgewater who could have an effect on the Redskins' draft plans at No. 34, depending on potential slipping and sliding scenarios.
Leading up to the draft, we've already heard plenty of opinions regarding Manziel's size and how he doesn't translate to the NFL, just as we've had to hear about Bridgewater, his lackluster pro day and whether or not he can shoulder the load of an NFL franchise. All of that is the kind of predraft chatter that can lead to plummeting stock.
If the Redskins have a desirable signal-caller fall to them at 34—whether it be Manziel, Bridgewater, Blake Bortles or even Derek Carr—there are enough other teams out there looking to land their franchise quarterback who'd be willing to trade up.
In a perfect world, the Redskins take the offer, select a safety or offensive lineman later in the second round and land an additional draft pick or two in the process.
Selecting a Running Back Early
This isn't the first time I've mentioned the Redskins taking a running back in this year's draft (bing, bang, boom) in order to complement Alfred Morris' style with more of a well-rounded receiving threat. The boldness, however, stems from how early Gruden takes his next Giovani Bernard.
While the running back talent doesn't warrant any first-round discussion, there are talented guys to be had in the middle rounds. Would it surprise anyone to see the Redskins take a running back in the third round?
If Gruden falls for a guy like West Virgnia's Charles Sims or Florida State's Devonta Freeman—both of whom offer you a combination of hard running and good hands—we may see the Redskins grab their backfield weapon as early as pick No. 66.
Spending Their Top Pick on a Pass-Rusher
Before the Redskins used the franchise tag to retain linebacker Brian Orakpo, there was logical discussion about the team using their top pick to land a pass-rusher at 34. Although there were plenty of needs elsewhere, losing Orakpo would be a lot to make up for, and the league demands you have a defense capable of getting after the quarterback.
Fast forward to now, and Orakpo still doesn't have a long-term deal in place. Could one come about?
Maybe. But as Rich Tandler of Real Redskins notes, it will be nearly impossible for the Redskins to sign both Orakpo and fellow pass-rusher Ryan Kerrigan to long-term deals.
Deciding whether it's more beneficial to sign Orakpo or Kerrigan long term is a debate for another day (surprise: it's Kerrigan), but the truth is the Redskins need to try their best to build a strong bullpen of pass-rushers.
Sitting at the top of the second round, the Redskins should have a good group of edge-rushing prospects to choose from, and they'd be in prime position to take advantage of a miracle situation where a guy like Missouri's Kony Ealy or Auburn's Dee Ford falls out of the top 32.
Landing a Starting Safety in the Middle Rounds
This would require a wait-and-see approach, but if the Redskins were looking to address a huge need on their roster in the middle rounds, this draft class offers starting potential at the safety position.
Currently suited with two aging veterans in the back half of the defense, the Redskins can afford to add a couple of safeties, regardless of style.
If they're looking for a guy to play closer to the line of scrimmage, Wisconsin's Dezmen Southward, LSU's Craig Loston and Baylor's Ahmad Dixon are all guys to keep tabs on in the middle rounds.
If they're looking to improve pass coverage by way of free safety, there's a decent list of guys who will hopefully still be around in the third to fifth round range, including Florida State's Terrence Brooks, Stanford's Ed Reynolds, USC's Dion Bailey, Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler and North Carolina's Tre Boston.
Again, there's no telling how these guys pan out over the long haul, but this safety class doesn't lack potential.
Not Selecting an Offensive Tackle
Could the Redskins use an upgrade at right tackle? Sure, the Redskins could use an upgrade at a lot of positions. But even as a guy who hammered Tyler Polumbus last year (and even more so in 2012), maybe it wouldn't be all that surprising to see the Redskins go six rounds and not draft an offensive tackle next month.
Between both Polumbus and 24-year-old Tom Compton, perhaps Gruden is comfortable with his options at right tackle, instead focusing more so on ways to improve the interior of the offensive line, which he has gotten a jump start on through free agency.
Clearly, there's room for improvement at right tackle, and the Redskins even expressed interest over the offseason with visits from veterans like Donald Penn. But given other areas of need on the roster and what this class has to offer, the Redskins could work for better value in the draft and roll another season with Polumbus (or Compton) in 2014.