Washington Redskins Mock Draft: Final 6-Round Predictions
After signing and retaining impact players like pass-catchers Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson and pass-rushers Brian Orakpo and Jason Hatcher, the Washington Redskins will stay in the trenches in the 2014 NFL draft.
General manager Bruce Allen and new head coach Jay Gruden will place a premium on improving the protection around quarterback Robert Griffin III.
That agenda will lead them to selecting a prominent O-lineman with their primary pick. Expect Allen and Gruden to leave draft day having bolstered a perpetually weak part of Washington's offensive front.
Of course, the Capital city team-builders must still find room to add bodies in other areas. In particular, there is a need for a versatile pass-rusher who can cover Orakpo, this year's recipient of the franchise tag.
If the talented outside 'backer fails to replicate last season's superb displays in 2014, Washington needs a replacement in waiting. The Redskins defense could also use an extra cornerback, preferably one comfortable in the slot.
If there's one surprise in this mock, it's the decision to overlook another area of the secondary. A detailed explanation is given in the analysis of the team's pick for Round 5.
Here is how things should look for Washington in the 2014 NFL draft.
Round 2, Pick 34: Morgan Moses, OT, Virginia
The rebuilding Redskins will only go as far as Griffin takes them. That means the team must get better at protecting its prized asset.
Enter ex-Virginia blocking stalwart Morgan Moses. There is plenty of buzz surrounding Moses staying in the Virginia area.
In an interview with Bleacher Report Team Stream host Adam Lefkoe, CSN Washington reporter Tarik El-Bashir places Moses at the top of Washington's big board.
This follows an assertion from DraftInsider.net writer Tony Pauline that Washington won't pass on Moses if he's there at No. 34. Given that he projects as a right tackle, per WalterFootball.com scribe Charlie Campbell, there's a good chance Moses is still available at the top of Round 2.
Right tackle isn't the most attractive position for teams with high picks, but it is just what Washington needs. Tyler Polumbus was an obvious weakness on that side in 2013.
Moses would certainly represent an upgrade. He's got that dream combination of imposing size and surprising quickness.
It is a blend that makes him a perfect fit for what the O-line should look like under Gruden in 2014. The former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator has normally favored size up front.
Moses certainly offers that at 6'6" and 314 pounds. But as CBS Sports pundits Derek Stephens and Dane Brugler note, he also possesses "a strong first step and impressive burst for his size, when asked to fire through to the second level as a run blocker."
Moses will take over for Polumbus and help Gruden add greater power to the team's mobility-based zone-blocking schemes. Most important, he will improve pass protection along an O-line that faltered throughout last season, allowing 43 sacks, per stats from NFL.com.
The Redskins don't want to see Griffin on the ground anywhere near as often this season. The need to protect him has only been enhanced by Gruden's declaration he will scale back the read-option offense this season, reported by Washington Post writer Mike Jones.
With Griffin in the pocket more often, the protection will have to be stellar. Moses has the talent and potential to help make that happen.
His stock is currently on the rise, something ESPN College Football reporter Andrea Adelson highlights. But Moses' first-round credentials will be challenged by a plethora of other highly touted prospects.
Linemen like Zack Martin, Xavier Su'a-Filo, Cyrus Kouandjio and Joel Bitonio could push Moses into Round 2. So could fitness and consistency issues noted by NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki.
Expect Moses to remain hovering at the top of the second round and for Washington to waste no time taking him off the board at No. 34.
Round 3, Pick 66: Jeremiah Attaochu, DE/OLB, Georgia Tech
It is tempting to put another O-lineman here, or maybe an inside linebacker. But the need for an extra outside pass-rusher is actually greater than both.
For one thing, right or wrong, there's no guarantee there will be a major overhaul along the offensive front. Back in early March, ESPN.com reporter John Keim warned fans not to expect wholesale changes in this area:
A guess? At least three and probably four. I was told that there would not be wholesale changes on the line -- they don’t view it the same way as, say, the fans. And that I shouldn’t assume Gruden would automatically want bigger linemen. But we’ll get a better feel for that probably during the draft. I would be surprised if all five were in their current roles next season. But because the Redskins will keep the same run game principles, they won’t just abandon this group. Pass protection was an issue at times and Gruden mentioned it at the scouting combine. But to blame it all on the line is just wrong. A young quarterback, who holds the ball longer -- that’s not unusual for mobile quarterbacks, especially young ones -- played a factor as well. Receivers who didn’t win enough battles was another issue. Pass protection is a group effort.
With Shawn Lauvao added in free agency and Moses too good to pass up at No. 34, the O-line makeover will be complete. Things might be just as static at inside linebacker, even after the retirement of London Fletcher.
Gruden and Allen signed three free agents, Darryl Sharpton, Adam Hayward and Akeem Jordan, to compensate. The trio have primarily been special teamers, but Jordan started 10 games for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, while Sharpton made eight starts for the Houston Texans.
Both played in 3-4 schemes and one is likely to be a short-term partner for re-signed starter Perry Riley Jr.
Things may be stronger than they appear in the middle of the linebacking corps, but Jeremiah Attaochu can help solve potential problems on the outside.
Brian Orakpo is back on franchise tag terms, but if he doesn't merit a lengthy new deal next season, he'll be a free agent. Even if Orakpo performs, Washington's 3-4 system needs another competent rush linebacker, and Attaochu is exactly that.
He has already piqued Washington's interest and undergone a meeting with the team, according to another report from Keim.
Attaochu proved his credentials at the position by logging 12.5 sacks in 2013, per cfbstats.com. He has the agility and frame to quickly made the grade as a 3-4 pass-rusher, as NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki notes:
Attaochu is a young, heady, disruptive, relentless edge rusher who profiles as a 3-4 right outside linebacker. Interviewed well and has the look of a trustworthy, long-term starter given his pass-rush ability, motor and makeup. Needs to get stronger, but impressive display of speed, athletic ability and explosion will enhance draft standing.
Those qualities make Attaochu the perfect deputy to Orakpo, ready to take his place if the 2009 first-rounder falters. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has promised to turn his outside linebackers loose this season, according to Keim.
Attaochu would be a useful situational pass-rusher for Haslett and outside linebackers coach Brian Baker to unleash on quarterbacks.
Round 4, Pick 102: Charles Sims, RB, West Virginia
A backfield receiver is certainly a need for an offense otherwise well-stocked at the skill positions. Charles Sims can answer the call, having hauled in 45 receptions in 2013, per cfbstats.com.
The Redskins have already kicked Sims' tires, according to ESPN.com reporter John Keim. That's a smart move considering how valuable a pass-catching running back can be to a quarterback.
That is especially true for a young quarterback like Griffin, who will often panic and force a deep ball if his primary read is taken away. As a soft-handed receiver and clever runner, Sims would immediately handle the third-down chores in D.C., giving Griffin an outlet when the pressure is on.
He would also be a useful weapon in a loaded backfield rotation with Alfred Morris. The latter is a resilient workhorse, but lacks dynamism and skill as a receiver.
But as willing as Morris is as the proverbial "bell-cow" back, he also needs help from a credible supporting runner. Sims is a ball-carrier talented enough to split a workload with Washington's two-time 1,000-yard rusher.
As Keim notes in a separate report, Sims is suited to the quick-cutting, zone-style runs that are a staple of the playbook in Washington:
Though there were too many short runs, there was the occasional carry in which his quick feet stood out. He didn’t shy away from blocking and, when he got it right, he showed a good base and kept his head up. Sims’ one-cut ability makes him a better fit in a zone running game (which, of course, the Redskins use).
It might be wiser to go defensive back here, but the Redskins have clear interest in adding a versatile weapon out of the backfield. They were reportedly very keen on Darren Sproles back in March, according to Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman.
Washington officials were also in attendance at Marion Grice's pro day, per Brad Denny of azfamily.com. So it's clear Gruden sees third-down back as a position of need, and his inner offensive coordinator won't be able to resist snaring Sims.
With only inconsistent and injury-prone duo Roy Helu Jr. and Chris Thompson as change-of-pace options, Sims rates as a potential steal for the Redskins thanks to his multipurpose talents.
Selecting him would allow Gruden to form a power and speed combination similar to the one he had last year in Cincinnati with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard.
Round 5, Pick 142: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty
However, Allen and Gruden should hope they'll find the physically imposing, but technically limited defensive back still available somewhere in between.
Aikens has excellent size at 6'1" and 205 pounds. However, the former Liberty ace has never combined his frame with refined skills and keen instincts.
Instead, he is a rough and rowdy prospect who is likely to be seen by many as too raw. Yet despite his flaws, there is a place in Washington for Aikens.
Based on size and tenacity alone, he suits the direction this secondary should be steered toward. Aikens is a natural press-based cornerback. The Washington secondary had some rare bright moments in 2013 when given license to jam receivers at the line, a strength of Aikens' game.
His major weakness is a lack of what CBS Sports pundit Rob Rang refers to as "elite top-end speed," and a tendency to be "a little grabby down the sideline."
Those deficiencies, along with an arrest for on-campus theft while at the University of Illinois in 2010, will consign Aikens to the top of the fifth round. That's where he will be worth a risk for a team in need of another tough corner.
The franchise dumped free agents Josh Wilson and Jerome Murphy and has room for new blood at the position. In fact, the need at corner is actually a little more pressing than the one at safety.
The latter position was a glaring weakness last season, but an infusion of experience can be expected to steady the ship. Bringing in greybeard Ryan Clark was a smart move.
He is an intelligent pro who knows how to marshal a secondary. His savvy will complement aggressive fellow veteran Brandon Meriweather, who actually played well in the final handful of games last season.
The return from a season-wrecking Lisfranc injury of 2013's fourth-round pick Phillip Thomas is also a major boost. He is a potential playmaker worth keeping an eye on.
The news that Tanard Jackson will be reinstated, broken by CBS Sports reporter Jason La Canfora, may not have generated much buzz. Indeed, the team is taking a true wait-and-see approach on Jackson's potential contribution, per ESPN.com writer John Keim.
But all being well, Jackson gives the safety position another veteran presence, one familiar with secondary coach Raheem Morris. The Redskins may be dabbling in stop-gap solutions at safety, but that is no bad thing in what is a weak year from prospects at the position.
Loading up on experience and waiting for more marquee reinforcements next year is a good move after a season spent suffering through the mistakes of youth.
Things are the opposite at cornerback, where two potential veteran starters should be complemented by some youthful verve.
The returning DeAngelo Hall and new arrival Tracy Porter should have the inside track on the starting jobs. That would let last year's top draft pick David Amerson continue developing the technique to complement his size.
Aikens, who can also operate at safety, would learn alongside Amerson under the stewardship of Morris.
Round 6, Pick 178: Zachariah Kerr, DT, Delaware
The Redskins have room to add another beefy, interior D-lineman to their rotation. Zachariah Kerr is a good fit as a mobile and active tackle who can split gaps and make plays in the backfield.
The former Delaware linchpin has good size at 6'2" and 326 pounds. But even with that frame, Kerr is not a natural 0-technique playing over the center.
He shifts down the line well and can make plays in space. But the drawback to his game is the lack of a consistently strong initial push.
The result is a sporadic presence in the backfield and a tendency to sometimes get pushed back on the snap, evidenced in the above video.
But even that weakness can't completely mask Kerr's obvious potential. He would join a crowded rotation, but would fit best as an understudy to starting nose tackle Barry Cofield.
While he may not have Chris Neild's natural strength, Kerr would create more disruption through the middle. With good coaching from line guru Jacob Burney, Kerr would be a useful rotational player at perhaps the most important position on the team's defense.
Round 7, Pick 217: Jon Halapio, G, Florida
Jon Halapio can add some much-needed size and depth along the interior of the offensive line. The 6'4", 323-pound former Florida Gators starter would push for playing time behind less-than-mighty mite Chris Chester.
Halapio is a savvy and tenacious right guard whose main failing has been an inability to stay healthy. He played through a litany of injuries in 2013, including a torn pectoral muscle, according to Miami Herald writer Jesse Simonton.
But despite his unfortunate accumulation of ailments, Halapio has displayed a toughness and resolve that should impress any coach.
He is prepared to do battle in the trenches and also has the mobility to act as a lead-blocker on pulling plays in space. Given the team's paucity of options behind its five starters up front, Halapio is certainly a risk worth taking for Washington.
This mock covers some primary needs for Gruden's rebuilding roster, specifically the need for extra muscle and talent along the O-line. These picks also show some future planning to help create a sustained winner in the form of adding Attaochu, an invaluable selection in the event Orakpo fizzles out.
Meanwhile, Sims and Aikens are potential steals for a team capable of a quick turnaround from last season's 3-13 nightmare.