Washington Redskins Mock Draft Roundup
For this year's NFL draft, we all have that little extra time to sit, argue and panic about who should be taken with each pick. For draftniks, this means more time mocking and re-mocking the order to equal parts bemusement and satisfaction.
Jay Gruden has more pressure on him than almost all the other coaches in the league. Gruden is in his first season as head coach, without a first-round pick and inheriting a team that badly underperformed last year—there's a lot riding on this draft.
Wading through the mire so you don't have to, read on for a roundup of who the experts are picking to go to the nation's capital in 2014.
At pick No. 34, Gruden will make his first draft choice as a head coach, and it will be for a player expected to contribute immediately. Going for the best player available may not be a luxury that Gruden has, so he could instead look to fill a position of need.
CSN Washington goes with that hypothesis and sends Alabama OT Cyrus Kouandjio to protect Griffin's right side. Running with the knowledge that Dr. James Andrews has cleared Kouandjio to play, the First-Team AP All-American would offer the power and size that Gruden has previously favored in his linemen.
However, whether Kouandjio is consistent enough to make a real difference is unclear.
If drafted, he'll be expected to provide an upgrade over Tyler Polumbus, especially in pass protection. That was an area of weakness for Kouandjio last year, when he would sometimes appear slow and be forced to reach or lunge for his man.
Along with the very real concerns about his knee, Kouandjio isn't a guaranteed contributor in his rookie year. Above all else, that's what Gruden needs from his first pick.
Mark Bullock of The Washington Post, however, cites Virginia's Morgan Moses as a suitor for the 34th overall pick. Playing both right and left tackle in college, Moses thrived due to his abilities in pass protection.
Because of this, he projects to be a better fit than Kouandjio—able to adjust on the move as Robert Griffin III tries to buy time, keeping the pocket clean and driving back oncoming rushers.
However, Alfred Morris and the running game could suffer, as this is an area where Moses struggles. He should be a dominant force but can be slow off the snap and get too tall to properly anchor his feet.
If Gruden is looking to take a right tackle in the draft, a better option could be to take a project like Seantrel Henderson and allow Polumbus to resume his duties for another year. The drop-off between the top tackles and the rest is steep enough to cast doubt, which can be all it takes.
Maybe Gruden will decide that safety is a more immediate concern, where a player like Deone Bucannon could be available early in the second round. It's a fair bet that Brandon Meriweather will get suspended again, and the depth behind him and Ryan Clark is patchy, at best.
Although Phillip Thomas is available, it wouldn't hurt to have a backup plan. At the very least, Buccannon would be a massive bonus on special teams. At best, Washington finds some security at a position that has been disastrous since the tragic death of Sean Taylor.
Washington found Jordan Reed in the third round last year, and getting a similar success with its second pick in 2014 would be massive.
Walter Cherepinsky at WalterFootball.com sees Gruden looking to strengthen his linebacking corps after the departure of London Fletcher. In his mind, Arizona State's Carl Bradford is the ideal candidate due to his ability to switch between outside and inside.
Cherepinsky is allowing for the possible departure of Brian Orakpo next year, which makes a lot of sense. Last year's fifth-rounder, Brandon Jenkins, hasn't been as effective as his coaches would have hoped, but he's not out of the picture. If he can make an impact on special teams, Jim Haslett will find a way to get him some snaps as a pass rush specialist.
Bradford played defensive end in college, but he is undersized for that role in the NFL. He's a good fit for the 3-4 and could make a contribution alongside Perry Riley. A lot depends on the health and effectiveness of both Darryl Sharpton and Keenan Robinson, but Bradford is an intriguing prospect who could provide excellent value.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller sticks with defense but opts for FSU cornerback Lamarcus Joyner. Combining an excellent work ethic with a natural instinct for the football, Joyner plays with no fear and was one of the leaders on a national championship-winning side.
Nevertheless, there are things about him that just don't sit well. At 5'8" and 184 pounds, he's not ideally built for the rigors of the pro game, and the first question that arises is one of durability. He didn't miss a single game at Florida State, but that's not the NFL.
On top of this, his overall athleticism has sometimes been lacking, and he doesn't match up well against genuine pace. Combined with some difficulty diagnosing plays, that could lead to giving up huge yardage.
In the fourth round, Joyner would be good value. In the third, however, he seems a bit of a reach. Bradford would be a much better pick here.
This is where the draft starts to get a little muddy. Although it's feasible to find starters in every round, after the third round its really a question of finding someone who can contribute. Whether it's special teams this year, or a major contribution in a year's time, potential is the key here.
Mark Bullock pointed to defensive lineman Justin Ellis as a fourth-round option. Comparing him to current Washington defensive end Chris Baker, Bullock likes his impressive strength and ability to switch between multiple positions according to the play.
The defensive line could do with some more aggression, however, and Ellis doesn't really provide that. He's not a natural pass-rusher, so has some trouble getting to the next level. His lack of top conditioning also causes him to tire easily and get stood up by more dominant blockers.
Matt Miller goes offense in the fourth and sees Stanford's David Yankey as a better prospect for Gruden's new regime. It's difficult to disagree with that assessment.
Yankey has played both guard and tackle in college, holds up well in pass protection and makes a good contribution to the running game. While he's not going to be an All-Pro, he's likely to become a reliable starter.
There are concerns about his ability to make an impact on a truly consistent basis, but if he fell to Gruden in the fourth, Yankey represents great value.
On to the fifth round, where Charlie Campbell at WalterFootball.com adds some extra depth at corner with the selection of Loucheiz Purifoy.
Purifoy started seven of 11 games for the Gators last year, but off-field incidents marred his season. He was suspended for violating team rules, while also arrested for possession of marijuana and the synthetic drug bath salts in March this year.
While the warrant for his arrest was ultimately quashed, it remains a red flag waved over his NFL future. He is a frustrating player, with flashes of real potential undermined by utter lapses in concentration and tackling technique.
Taking him in the fifth round could prove to be incredible value, but that's only if he can convince the coaches of his commitment to the game. The drug possession charges could also cause him to drop to the sixth, where he would represent a much better choice.
With the 167th overall pick, Washington selects Brock Vereen. At least, that's according to DraftTek.com's consensus mock draft.
The Minnesota safety is unlikely to fall to the sixth, so would certainly be worth the pick. After a very strong performance at the combine that saw him rank among the leaders for his position on four out of six drills, Vereen is a great athlete.
When it comes to on-field performance, Vereen is a smart, committed football player. He takes good angles, and his attention to detail in the film room is visible by his understanding of receiving routes. He has good lineage, with his father playing in the CFL and his brother, Shane, a running back for the Patriots.
What could cause him to fall this far is a concern for his ability to cope with big backs and tight ends. His tackling isn't a strong point, and at 6'0" and 199 pounds he's undersized to play safety in the NFL. This is a worry on a team that looked to determined to bounce off as many opposing players as possible last year.
Nevertheless, in the sixth round, he has too much talent to be passed by. If he makes it that far, you take him.
With it's final pick of the 2014 draft, we'll return to Bleacher Report's Matt Miller once more. Although Reed performed well last year, the concussion that put him on injured reserve is a dangerous sign. Gruden could look to add another tight end, especially with Fred Davis finally destroying any goodwill left toward him from within the organisation.
Miller looks to A.C. Leonard as an option in the seventh, which sounds about right. Although he's got the ability to be an effective "move" tight end, Leonard is not a good blocker and gets overpowered easily.
He was also arrested for misdemeanor battery in 2012 after an argument with his girlfriend. That sort of red flag isn't going to endear him to future employers.
There's really no risk involved in taking him with the team's final pick, however, so his ability to reel off a big play will nevertheless make him worthy of attention.