Washington Redskins Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 9, 2014

Washington Redskins Day 2 2014 NFL Draft Primer

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Opening night of the 2014 NFL draft didn't wreck the Washington Redskins' plans, but it might've tweaked them. A run on one position, coupled with inactivity at the other, could lead the team to target a few different prospects.

    One interesting consequence of the first round is how it might tempt Washington to recruit talent along the defensive line. Several talented prospects were left untouched and will be available to the Redskins at the No. 34 pick.

    Nothing changed in terms of the Washington defense still needing help in the secondary. But while the need stays the same, the means to fix the problem have been diminished after teams went defensive back crazy on opening night.

    What is unlikely to have altered is head coach Jay Gruden's desire to add at least one more skill-position player.

    With Day 1 in the books, here's what the second night of this year's draft will look like for Washington.


    All statistics and team rankings from NFL.com unless otherwise stated.

Day 1 Recap and Analysis

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    Th Redskins weren't subtle about their interest in offensive tackles during the build up to the draft. The team hosted four tackles, per ESPN.com writer John Keim.

    All four remain undrafted, along with former Alabama powerhouse Cyrus Kouandjio. If reinforcing the O-line is made a priority, the Redskins will find plenty of help.

    Where they won't find help is in the secondary. In all, four safeties were taken off the board, while five cornerbacks also found new homes, per NFL Draft Tracker.

    That binge on defensive backs leaves quality options scarce outside of the first round. So Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen may have to fix their suspect pass defense another way.

    One possible solution is to add another player who can send quarterbacks running in fear. There are enough marquee trench warriors and outside pass-rushers left to fill that need.

Updated Needs

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    Gruden shouldn't just focus on shoring up the edges of his offensive line. The rookie head coach could also attempt to bolster the interior.

    Washington's O-line was soft in the middle in 2013, with both guards and the center consistently toyed with by rampaging defensive linemen.

    Gruden and Allen could fix that problem by turning to players like ex-UCLA behemoth Xavier Su'a-Filo. Former Mississippi State man mountain Gabe Jackson is another option.

    Both would certainly be available at the start of the second and third rounds. Either prospect would beef up the inside of the trenches in D.C.


    Defensive line

    Allen and Gruden must surely have taken note of how many quality D-linemen were ignored last night. This draft is still littered with versatile front-line stoppers who would add some dynamism to Washington's three-man front schemes.

    Players like Notre Dame duo Stephon Tuitt and Louis Nix III are obvious candidates. They operated in a 3-4 collegiately, and each emerged as a consistently disruptive 2-gap lineman.

    Last season the Washington defense was manhandled too often along the front. That meant a mediocre 17th-ranked run defense and only 36 sacks.

    Given the number of promising and versatile D-linemen still available, Allen should fix that issue on Day 2.



    Even after a quartet of the best prospects at the position came off the board, there are still plenty of quality cornerbacks left for Washington to choose from. The team must choose wisely after ranking 20th against the pass in 2013.

    Adding a lengthy press-style corner would help rectify the problem.


    Tight end

    Jordan Reed will lead the way at this position after flourishing as a rookie in 2013. But despite a series of exciting performances, Reed's trouble staying healthy rates as a legitimate concern.

    He missed seven games during his debut season, and no other tight end on the roster possesses Reed's speed and move skills. With players like Jace Amaro ignored on the first night, Gruden might not refuse the chance to add a complementary piece alongside Reed.


    Inside linebacker

    Allen acquired three inside linebackers this offseason. But there are unlikely to be many fans really believing Darryl Sharpton, Akeem Jordan and Adam Hayward can adequately replace the retired London Fletcher.

    In the not too distant future the Washington defense needs a young and intelligent athlete to match the exploits of Perry Riley Jr.

Top Targets

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    The focus of the Day 1 primer centered on possible options for the team's primary pick at the top of the second round. This list will lean a little more toward prospects Washington could select to begin Round 3.


    Keith McGill, CB Utah

    Keith McGill combines the size and opportunist streak the Redskins need in their secondary. At 6'3" and 211 pounds, McGill has the right frame to clamp on wide receivers in press coverage.

    He also possesses keen instincts and a devilish range of tricks to help snatch his share of interceptions. Only health concerns will push McGill out of Round 2.

    He was sidelined for an entire season in 2012 after missing time the previous year. Some teams will also likely be turned cold by the 25-year-old's age.

    But when healthy, this evergreen prospective pro is a physical and accomplished cover man.


    Jaylen Watkins, CB, Florida

    Jaylen Watkins is another cornerback who reportedly visited Redskins Park according to CSN Washington.com. Like McGill, Watkins offers good size for the position at 5'11" and 194 pounds.

    What separates Watkins from McGill is greater speed. The former Gators ace won't be shamed in a race with receivers trying to stretch the field.

    The Washington pass defense was more than generous allowing big gains through the air last season. Putting a true speedster in the secondary is one good way to combat the deep ball.


    Gabe Jackson, G, Mississippi State

    If Gruden is committed to putting greater mass up front, he should look no further than Gabe Jackson. The 6'3", 336-pound monster can envelop defenders in the trenches but is more nimble on his feet than any blocker this size should be.

    Jackson would slot his ample frame in at right guard to give Washington's O-line a power hitter, still quick enough to be effective in the team's zone-based blocking schemes.


    Jace Amaro, TE, Texas Tech

    Jace Amaro played like a glorified slot receiver in 2013. But anytime a slot receiver stands 6'5" and weighs 265 pounds, he is sure to cause mismatches in coverage.

    That's exactly what Amaro did on a consistent basis at Texas Tech last season. The result was a superb tally of 106 receptions for 1,352 yards, per cfbstats.com.

    For a tight end, those numbers are beyond are immense. They represent a level of production Gruden may not be able to resist.

    He stockpiled talented bodies at the tight end position as offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals. Gruden regularly deployed Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert in a troublesome two-tight end set.

    He could welcome the idea of putting Reed and Amaro in the same formation to cause defensive coordinators many a sleepless night.


    Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

    CBS Sports analyst Dane Brugler believes Gruden and Allen won't turn down the chance to take Ra'Shede Hageman off the board in Round 2. Hageman would be a tempting prospect as a potentially dominant move playmaker who could line up anywhere along defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's three-man front.

    CBS Sports pundit Rob Rang highlights Hageman's natural versatility:

    Alternately lining up over the nose or as a three-technique, Hageman consistently pushes his counterparts deep into the backfield, demonstrating rare upfield burst for a man of his size, as well as impressive strength. A brute in the middle, combining excellent size and power to push blockers deep into the pocket.

    Haslett's defense needs more aggression and dynamism up front. Hageman would provide ample amounts of both.

What Are the Experts Saying?

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    Stanley Jean-Baptiste could be added to a remade secondary.
    Stanley Jean-Baptiste could be added to a remade secondary.USA TODAY Sports

    Here are some more expert picks for Day 2. The first involves Washington's second-round choice, while the next three are projections for who the team may take 66th overall.


    Charlie Campbell: Stanley Jean-Baptiste, CB, Nebraska

    WalterFootball.com writer Charlie Campbell believes Allen will be intrigued by the possibility of a cornerback duo featuring Stanley Jean-Baptiste and last year's second-rounder, David Amerson.

    Like Amerson, Jean-Baptiste would certainly add size to the defensive backfield. The 6'2", 215-pounder would give Washington's secondary license to employ more physical coverage techniques.


    Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr.: Jack Mewhort, OT, Ohio State

    The scramble for better O-linemen continues as ESPN Redskins beat writer John Keim references draft insiders Todd McShay and Mel Kiper Jr. picking Jack Mewhort for Washington in Round 3.

    Standing 6'6" and weighing 309 pounds, Mewhort is described by Keim as "a fine right tackle prospect."


    Bucky Brooks: Terrence Brooks, FS, Florida State

    NFL.com Media analyst Bucky Brooks sends namesake Terrence to the Redskins as the second pick in the third round.

    Brooks is a hitter also boasting polished coverage skills. As a natural free safety, he would compete for playing time at arguably the weakest position on the roster.

    But he would have to leapfrog veterans like Ryan Clark and Tanard Jackson to make an immediate impact. The player's talent would be welcome, but it seems like Washington is willing to trust experience at safety this season.


    Matt Miller: Chris Borland, ILB, Wisconsin

    Bleacher Report draft columnist Matt Miller believes the Redskins will be enamored with Wisconsin tackling machine Chris Borland. The stout and active middle 'backer is a natural replacement for retired defensive leader London Fletcher.

    Borland would be a popular choice given his fit as a 3-4 inside linebacker as well as his production. He recorded 111 combined tackles, four sacks and a forced fumble in 2013, per cfbstats.com.

    But like Brooks at safety, Borland would have to fight his way through a crowd of grizzled veterans. Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan will all push for playing time. The latter pair have experience starting in a 3-4 scheme.

4 Predictions for Day 2

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    Kirk Cousins will earn Washington an extra pick.
    Kirk Cousins will earn Washington an extra pick.USA TODAY Sports

    Washington finds a trade partner for Kirk Cousins

    The rumor that just won't go away has been rekindled once again, as backup passer Kirk Cousins is drawing interest. Reporters Mike Jones and Mark Maske of The Washington Post state teams have shown late interest in acquiring 2012's fourth-round pick in a trade.

    Maske and Jones maintain the franchise wants second-round value to part company with Robert Griffin III's deputy. The chances, however, appear slim Washington would receive that level of compensation.

    But if Allen is wiling to flex on the price, he should have little trouble earning an extra pick for Cousins. That would give Washington three prime picks on Day 2.


    The team will draft a cornerback first for the second year running

    There are simply too many good cornerbacks left on the board for Washington to resist at the start of Round 2. Prospects like Watkins, Jean-Baptiste and LaMarcus Joyner are all still available.

    Any member of that trio could justifiably be expected to win a starting role as a rookie in D.C. Amerson just about stood firm under that pressure last season.

    With so many talented ball hawks passed over on opening night, Allen won't be able to resist adding the second half of the team's eventual starting cornerback tandem.


    Safety will continue to be overlooked

    Even though it has been the bane of the team for too long, the safety position will still be overlooked. It's becoming increasingly clear that decision-makers in Washington will let veterans steady the ship at the heart of the secondary.

    That explains keeping Brandon Meriweather and signing 34-year-old Ryan Clark. It also helps explain the decision to bring back Tanard Jackson.

    Having Jackson available after suspension and the return of Phillip Thomas, 2013's fourth-rounder who missed his rookie year due to a Lisfranc injury, constitutes the team's new blood at the position.


    A pass-rusher will be added

    The Redskins managed only 36 sacks a year ago. That's bad news in an NFC East division featuring quarterbacks Tony Romo, Nick Foles and Eli Manning.

    The New York Giants added to their weapons around Manning by drafting dangerous wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., per New York Times reporter Bill Pennington. Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys placed another skilled blocker in front of Romo by selecting Zack Martin to join Tyron Smith, according to Sports Illustrated writer Doug Farrar.

    Put simply, Washington needs a strong and deep stable of pass-rushers to survive and compete in the division. Haslett's defense needs another player who can frighten quarterbacks by supporting outside linebacker Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.

    That could lead the team to a prospect like DeMarcus Lawrence, the former Boise State rush end who met with the team prior to the draft, per CSN Washington.

    Alternatively a big D-tackle like Hageman or Stephon Tuitt could be added to support new arrival Jason Hatcher.

6-Round Mock Draft Predictions

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    There is some change in the latest mock predictions, reflecting the events of Day 1. Specifically, the availability of so many quality defensive linemen changes the order of selection priorities.


    Round 2, 34th Pick: Ra'Shede Hageman, DT, Minnesota

    The more thought you give it, the easier it is to like Brugler's idea of sending Hageman to D.C. His flexibility should let Haslett move Hageman across the front to target blocking mismatches against both the run and the pass.

    Hageman also possesses that malevolent streak this defense has missed. His raw, nasty energy and intimidating physical power will make him an immediate force in base and nickel looks.


    Round 3, 66th Pick: Cameron Fleming, OT, Stanford

    DraftInsider.net reporter Tony Pauline has declared Washington's considerable interest in this skilled blocker from Palo Alto. Cameron Fleming represents superb value at the start of Round 3.

    He will make a strong push to remove Tyler Polumbus from starting duties at right tackle while also offering depth for left tackle Williams.


    Round 4, 102nd Pick: Keith McGill, CB, Utah

    Gruden and Allen won't be able to supply themselves with enough reasons to pass on Keith McGill. Yes, he's old for a rookie, and yes, he's had a few people's share of injury woes.

    But the 25-year-old also has the length, frame, tenacity and opportunistic daring to be invaluable in multiple defensive back packages. That has to be an important consideration in a division loaded with quality passing attacks.


    Round 5, 142nd Pick: Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford

    At this point, the front office could justify rolling the dice on a second supremely talented yet ultra-brittle defender in as many rounds. Shayne Skov is a natural fit for playing inside in a 3-4.

    He is tough against the run, sly in coverage and useful on the blitz. In other words, Skov displays the full range of skills coaches covet in linebacker-led defensive schemes like the one used in Washington.

    The tricky part, of course, is keeping Skov on the field. He broke down several times while playing for the Cardinal.

    As a result, ESPN draft insider Todd McShay told Redskins writer John Keim Skov will still be available in either the fifth or sixth round. Even with new recruits on board, it couldn't hurt to add a young and skilled middle 'backer who could prove a steal if he can stay upright.


    Round 6, 178th Pick: Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State

    Gruden would have fun moving Grice around the field and aligning him in places certain to cause defenses pre-snap problems. Grice has the quickness as a runner and talent as a pass-catcher Gruden needs to use in tandem with the tough running of lead back Alfred Morris.


    Round 7, 217th Pick: Jon Halapio, G, Florida

    Jon Halapio is another otherwise talented prospect blighted by injuries. But when fully fit, he is a smart and scrappy guard who engages with strength and skill along the interior.

    Halapio also has sudden mobility to be a useful blocker at the linebacker level of a defense. That last quality is vital in Washington's zone-style blocking system that requires linemen to be a factor on the move.



    Day 1 didn't change much for Washington. The team's needs remain the same, but there is less ammunition available to fix problems in the secondary.

    By contrast, the fully stocked field of D-linemen could force Allen to prove his talk about targeting the best player available, per The Washington Post's Mike Jones, wasn't just a bluff.