Washington Redskins Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistMay 10, 2014

Washington Redskins Day 3 2014 NFL Draft Primer

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    Jason DeCrow/Associated Press

    The Washington Redskins left Day 2 of the 2014 NFL draft well-stocked in the trenches. General manager Bruce Allen added three prospects to both fronts.

    Two of those picks represented excellent value, but the third seemed like something of a reach. Even so, the Redskins used their first night making picks to answer a pair of obvious needs.

    With the pass rush boosted and the O-line reinforced, Allen can now focus on adding talent in the secondary and depth at linebacker. Fortunately, there are still plenty of prospects left at those positions.

    Allen was aggressive on Day 2, earning an extra pick via a trade with hated rival the Dallas Cowboys. He'll need to be just as bold and decisive to achieve maximum value from the team's four picks on Day 3.

    Here's what to expect from Washington on the final day of this year's draft.

Day 3 Recap and Analysis

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    Washington kicked things off in controversial style by agreeing to a trade with the Dallas Cowboys. They swapped second-round picks and also earned the Cowboys' third-rounder, the 78th overall choice, per Redskins.com blogger Stephen Czarda.

    Allen used that pick to select former Nebraska road-grader Spencer Long. While getting bigger at guard was a necessity, Long rates as a surprise pick.

    The 6'5", 320-pounder had trouble staying healthy with the Cornhuskers and displayed only plodding athleticism. The Washington Times reporter Brian McNally listed Long's rather lengthy injury history:

    Long is a right guard who has had injury issues throughout his college career. He is 6-foot-5 and 320 pounds. After starting all 13 games as a sophomore for the Cornhuskers, Long played through a torn meniscus as a junior, making all 14 starts.

    His senior year was cut short after six games after tearing the medial collateral (MCL) and posterior collateral (PCL) ligament in his left knee. Long even underwent an appendectomy and didn’t lift at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

    Long's CBS Sports profile laments his "stiff hips" and maintains he "lacks ideal flexibility." But a closer look suggests Allen and rookie head coach Jay Gruden believe Long can be a good fit in D.C.

    Specifically, they might feel he is ready for Washington's zone-based blocking scheme. McNally notes Long's experience in this area:

    Long said he’s familiar with zone blocking schemes. Under two different offensive coordinators, Nebraska ran zone during his time there. He was one of two linemen taken by the Redskins. Virginia’s Morgan Moses is the other.

    Landing Moses in Round 3 was a partial coup. He had been on the team's radar prior to the draft, according to DraftInsider.net writer Tony Pauline.

    Moses is a big-built right tackle who will add mass to the pass protection. Gruden is looking for more size in this area, per The Washington Post writer Mike Jones:

    They’re big, but it’s not necessarily big that we’re looking for. Size is important. They have some big defensive linemen nowadays, and we want to protect our quarterback the best way we can. But also we want to be athletic and get out and run the football. We’ve been a very successful zone-running team here with athletic offensive linemen. But there’s going to come a time we’re going to have to throw the ball and we’ll need some size in there and these guys will compete.

    As CSNWashington.com reporter Tarik El-Bashir points out, the team has successfully added some beef along what was a feeble offensive front in 2013.

    Gruden and Allen made a smart move before picking either Moses or Long when they chose Trent Murphy with the 47th overall selection.

    As a flexible and ultra-productive outside pass-rusher, Murphy can develop into a key weapon in Washington's 3-4 defense. Coordinator Jim Haslett should have fun lining Murphy up at multiple positions and unleashing him on quarterbacks.

    Just as important, the player who led the nation with 15 sacks in 2013, per cfbstats.com, can be groomed as a potential replacement for Brian Orakpo. The Redskins could lose Orakpo next year if they fail to agree to a bumper new contract with the current wearer of the franchise tag.

    Losing Orakpo is now a blow the team can sustain with Murphy in the ranks.

Updated Needs

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    Having at least boosted depth in the trenches, Washington still needs some talented bodies in the secondary.

     

    Cornerback

    Nine cornerbacks have come off the board so far, according to the NFL.com draft tracker for the position. That is good news for a team that could use a natural player for the slot as well as an eventual successor for veteran DeAngelo Hall.

    Allen could easily find both in the final four rounds. When he consults the board for Day 3, he will see names like Marcus Roberson, Keith McGill and Rashaad Reynolds still available.

     

    Safety

    During the last two months, safety has gone from perhaps the most problematic position on the roster to one the team could feel comfortable overlooking in this draft.

    But while the coaches appear content to rely on veterans, picking a depth player or two might be smart. New arrival Ryan Clark is 34, while Brandon Meriweather has had his share of injuries, and the returning Tanard Jackson has incurred two suspensions.

    The problem is the premier prospects at the position were all taken on the first day. The second day saw another pair of safeties go off the board.

    But a cursory glance at the NFL.com draft tracker shows players who could still interest Washington. Dion Bailey and Craig Loston are still available, as is Tre Boston, who visited with the team before the draft, per ESPN.com reporter John Keim.

     

    Inside linebacker

    Following London Fletcher's retirement, Allen managed to stitch together a new-look rotation during free agency. But despite his efforts, it's hard to identify the credible starter out of Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan.

    The latter is probably the closest, having made 10 starts for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013. But adding a prospect who can compete for playing time wouldn't hurt.

    The likes of Christian Jones, Shayne Skov and Andrew Jackson are still on the board.

     

    Pass-catching running back

    Gruden has explored his options looking for a versatile, third-down running back this offseason. He showed interest in Darren Sproles per Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman.

    Gruden also met with Charles Sims, according to ESPN writer John Keim. A dangerous receiver out of the backfield is the one obvious omission from the current offense.

    Washington can still choose from the likes of Marion Grice and De'Anthony Thomas.

     

    Defensive line depth

    The reserve ranks are stronger for the offensive front, so now is the time to add that same strength to the D-line rotation. Jarvis Jenkins has had his career blighted by injury and suspension, while 30-year-old Stephen Bowen is recovering from microfracture surgery.

    It would be a wise move to acquire another capable 5-technique end or a nose tackle.

Top Day 3 Targets

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    Here are some of the players likely to pique the interest of Washington's team-builders.

     

    Shayne Skov, ILB, Stanford

    Like former Stanford teammate turned Washington draftee Trent Murphy, Shayne Skov is a natural fit in a 3-4. He is a versatile linebacker capable of making an impact in every phase of the game.

    The big question mark involves his history of knee injuries, including a torn ACL in 2011.

     

    Marion Grice, RB, Arizona State

    Gruden still wants a pass-catching back, and Marion Grice is available. Washington officials formed an interested party at Grice's pro day back in early April, per azfamily.com reporter Brad Denny.

    The player averaged 5.21 yards per carry and caught 50 passes in 2013, per cfbstats.com. Grice could be the multipurpose threat Gruden's otherwise loaded offense is missing.

     

    DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State

    Big-bodied bruiser DaQuan Jones has the size to play any position along Washington's three-man line. The 6'4", 322-pounder can 2-gap on the edge and also slide over the center and play the 0-technique.

    Jones plays with a nasty disposition and is tough to move inside. He would provide quality depth all the way across the front.

     

    Dion Bailey, S, USC

    Converted outside linebacker Dion Bailey is the kind of versatile ball hawk Washington hasn't had at safety in years. CBS Sports analyst Rob Rang endorses Bailey's potential as a hybrid playmaker:

    Lanky, athletic hybrid defender with extensive starting experience at outside linebacker and safety. Very good diagnosis skills. Reads the action quickly and is rarely out of position. Experience in the box shows as he is comfortable in traffic, showing very good awareness and vision to weave through the trash to get to the ball.

    Bailey would provide strong competition behind Meriweather and also learn a lot from Clark.

     

    Keith McGill, CB, Utah

    Keith McGill is perfect for a secondary that needs to use more press-based techniques in 2013. The defensive backfield looked good at times last season when Haslett let his cornerbacks clamp on wide receivers.

    McGill has the size to be an asset in a more aggressive scheme. The 6'3", 211-pounder met with Washington prior to the draft, according to CSNWashington.com.

    The king-sized corner would be a steal for a rebuilding pass defense.

What Are the Experts Saying?

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    Here are some of the players the experts believe will head to Washington after Day 3.

     

    Bucky Brooks: Walt Aikens, CB, Liberty

    Few Redskins fans could complain if NFL.com Media analyst Bucky Brooks' prediction of Walt Aikens heading to Washington in Round 4 comes true. The former Liberty standout would add some size to the secondary on the outside.

    At 6'1" and 205 pounds, Aikens is a natural to play press techniques. He would add excellent depth and also function as a useful supplemental corner in multiple defensive back packages.

     

    Walter Cherepinsky: Josh Mauro, DL, Stanford

    WalterFootball.com writer Walter Cherepinsky believes Washington will look for depth behind 31-year-old defensive tackle Jason Hatcher in Round 4. Cherepinsky sends former Stanford man Josh Mauro to D.C.

    Mauro can flip-flop between end and tackle. He also boasts ample experience playing in a hybrid 3-4.

     

    Matt Miller: Ed Stinson, DE, Alabama

    Bleacher Report draft pundit Matt Miller sends another versatile D-lineman to Washington in Round 5 in the form of Ed Stinson. This is an intriguing pick, considering Stinson's broad range of skills.

    He is not a typical run stuffer or a dominant pass-rusher. But Stinson uses his size well and plays with intelligence.

    Having featured in Alabama's multiple-front schemes, Stinson has been coached to operate at multiple techniques. He can attack from the outside and also be shifted to the interior.

    He is a classic 'tweener, as CBS Sports scribe Rob Rang describes: "Looks like a DE but plays like a DT." While that can put some teams off, it needn't deter the Redskins.

    The team's defensive schemes should be more creative this term, especially after drafting Murphy and signing Hatcher. Stinson would add even more flexibility to the front.

     

    Charlie Campbell: Ben Gardner, DE, Stanford

    WalterFootball.com writer Charlie Campbell chooses another Stanford defensive end for the Redskins in Round 5. This time it's Ben Gardner, another player tough to define positionally.

    Standing 6'4" and weighing 262 pounds, Gardner seems a better fit at outside linebacker than he does for the defensive line. He is certainly smaller than a team would want for a 2-gap end.

     

    Matt Miller: Vinnie Sunseri, S, Alabama

    The theme of stockpiling players from the same college continues as Bleacher Report draft scribe Matt Miller sends another former Alabama defender to Washington. This time it's strong safety Vinnie Sunseri in Round 7.

    Sunseri made a lightning-fast recovery from a torn ACL this year. He is certainly an active thumper in the secondary, but there are more skilled and rounded safeties Washington can target before the final round.

4 Predictions for Day 3

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    Nose tackle Barry Cofield will have some strong competition after this draft.
    Nose tackle Barry Cofield will have some strong competition after this draft.Rick Osentoski/Associated Press

    Washington adds a nose tackle

    Incumbent Barry Cofield can expect to have some competition after this draft. The 30-year-old can cause havoc at times, particularly as an inside pass-rusher. But Cofield can get pushed back in the running game.

    With that in mind, Washington will add a bigger body than the 318-pounder to compete to anchor the base 3-4 defense.

     

    Gruden will pick a skill player

    Jay Gruden will indulge his natural instincts as an offensive-minded head coach by drafting a skill player. It will be something of a luxury for a team that added wide receivers Andre Roberts and DeSean Jackson during free agency.

    But even with Griffin under center, Morris in the backfield and Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed catching passes, Gruden will seek out another weapon.

    If it's a pass-catching back then great. But don't rule out another tight end or even an extra wide receiver.

     

    A rookie starter will emerge from the team's late-round picks

    Washington has a good recent history with late-round draft choices. Morris has twice topped 1,000 yards rushing after entering the league as a sixth-rounder in 2012.

    Perry Riley Jr., a fourth-round pick in 2010, has blossomed into an accomplished starting linebacker.

    Expect another starter to emerge from the later stages of a draft. Given the team's glaring needs in the secondary, it could be whichever cornerback comes off the board.

     

    Bruce Allen will make another trade

    Bruce Allen has traded for an extra pick once already and might be able to repeat the trick. The Redskins don't have much left to deal, but Allen could use position to his advantage.

    The team owns the second pick in each of the final four rounds. In a very deep year, those prominent picks could be access to some real steals.

    If Allen plays it right, he should be able to wrangle an additional choice.

Updated Mock Draft

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

    McGill has stayed on the board because of concerns about his injury history and age. But Washington will be delighted to take the towering 25-year-old in Round 4.

     

    Round 5, 142nd Pick: DaQuan Jones, DT, Penn State

    It will be a potential steal if Washington plucks DaQuan Jones off the board in the fifth round. One of the beefiest trench warriors in this class, Jones will initially feature in the rotation at defensive end behind Hatcher and Chris Baker.

    But Jones will soon find his niche as a nose tackle. Once he does, he will push to split snaps with Cofield.

     

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

    The Redskins are keen on Grice for a reason. Gruden will have hours of fun moving him around formations to utilize his skill and dynamism as a receiver.

    If he responds to coaching, Grice can make his mark on third downs and complement Morris.

     

    Round 7, 217th: Andrew Jackson, ILB, Western Kentucky

    Allen can bide his time and select a linebacker who has the "ideal bulk to fit inside a 3-4," according to NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki.

    Jackson can begin his career in D.C. using his 6'1", 254-pound frame helping out on special teams. The player Sports Illustrated scribe Doug Farrar lists as a sleeper will also push the veterans tasked with succeeding Fletcher.

     

    Conclusion

    Things have gone well so far for post-Mike Shanahan Washington. Dedicating picks to boosting both the pressure defense as well as pass protection was a smart ploy.

    Now Allen and Gruden must finish strong by selecting value prospects at obvious areas of concern.