We know these two will be around
The weeks and months leading up to the NFL draft are often chock full of trades and other free agent movement as teams assess their needs heading into next season. However, with the league’s collective bargaining agreement set to expire in March, uncertainty will likely make this spring dull compared to previous years. For the Washington Redskins, that could be a good thing.
Having already given up 3rd and 4th round picks in trades last off-season, the ‘Skins will have to sit tight and try to maximize value if they want to improve their roster. The team has seven picks over the three days—first, second and sixth rounders, as well as two each in the fifth and seventh rounds. Based on those spots, and assuming they don’t trade down for more picks (they ought to), who should the Redskins target come April 28th?
NOTE: Draft preparation is an inexact science and some of these prospects may or may not be available where I have them. If any of the consensus top 9 is still on the board (Fairley, Bowers, Miller, Green, Gabbert, Dareus, Peterson, Amukamara or Watt), that would certainly change the Redskins’ strategy.
Bring in the big guns.
I know, I know—draft logic says you don’t reach for an interior offensive lineman in the top 10 (in the last ten years only two have been taken in the top 20—Leonard Davis and Steve Hutchinson in 2001), not to mention a dozen picks higher than many scouts have him on the draft board. But keep in mind that half of the players projected in the 10-20 range are defensive ends that may not fit well with the Redskin’s 3-4 scheme, and some of the other projections would be equal reaches. Pouncey won’t be available in the second round, especially not after the season his brother had for the Steelers this year, so this is their only shot.
Mike could join his brother in the Pro-Bowl immediately, and the Redskins need instant impact players. He’s versatile in that he can play both Center and Guard, and he would be a mainstay for years to come. The best way to build a football team is from the inside out, and with the right moves Pouncey could be a key cog on this decade’s version of the Hogs. Any QB not named Blaine Gabbert would be a reach here.
Locker may become even more familiar throwing on the move.
Another crucial pick if the Redskins hope to address their quarterback need through the draft (hint: they do). Locker may have been taken in the top five if he’d come out last year, and this would be incredible value for the Pac-10’s second best signal caller. Some boards have both he and Ryan Mallett falling into the second round, leaving only Blaine Gabbert and Cam Newton in the first.
Mike Shanahan had his eye on Locker and considers him a good fit for their system. He’s been graded as one of the draft’s best talents throwing outside the pocket, and considering the Redskins haven’t been able to block anyone it won’t matter as much that he needs to develop his pocket passing.
If Locker isn’t available here, and there’s a good chance he isn’t, the Redskins will have a tough decision to make. QB prospects Andy Dalton and Christian Ponder won’t be around when they pick again in the fifth round. Baylor’s Phil Taylor (DT) is the other guy I’d target here. The Redskins have already been talking to him, and the nose tackle is a key position in Shanahan’s 3-4 defense. At 6’4” 337 pounds, the Penn State transfer would be able to move the line and get into the opponent’s backfield—something he did effectively at the college level.
Little often comes up big...
Can Greg Little be the next Hakeem Nicks out of UNC? Little is 6’3” 210 pounds, great size for the position. He’s a strong, crafty wide-out with an effective stiff-arm. What he lacks in speed he makes up for with good positioning on deep balls. Sort of reminiscent of Dwayne Bowe.
The ‘Skins have also been talking to Titus Young (WR, Boise State), but it’s a stretch that he’d be around in the fifth—he’s got great hands and everyone knows it.
Many fans want to address the WR position earlier, but that would be a mistake, especially when the free agent wide receiver class is so deep. You never want to drop the ball on a top-tier talent (and the Redskins know something about drops), but wide receiver has typically been a position where you can get great value in the later rounds.
This is the year the ‘Skins have to hit the “Do Over” button on 2009 second round pickups Malcolm Kelly and Devin Thomas.
Hopefully Casey is made from the same mold as Clay, Jr.
CBS Sportsline and NFL Draft Scout have Matthews slipping into the fifth round, and if that’s the case the Redskins should be thankful. Matthews has football in his blood—father Clay played 19 years in the NFL, uncle Bruce is a HOF offensive -lineman, and his brother Clay Jr. just won a Super Bowl with the Packers.
Matthews recorded a team high 79 tackles, including nine for loss, in addition to three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. He was first team all-conference and was a big part of getting Oregon within a sniff of a national championship.
Casey isn’t as highly regarded as his brother was coming out of USC, but succeeding in the NFL is about “getting it” almost as much as anything. Clay Jr. made huge strides when he got into the league and you can expect the same from Casey.
He may not be a well known name, but he certainly made an impact in college.
After missing much of the 2010 season with a torn pectoral muscle, Culliver could go a little under the radar this year. The team tried moving him to cornerback with mixed results. But Culliver is a specimen, running the 40 in under 4.5. He was all-SEC second team in 2009, with the first team slots going to Eric Berry and Mark Barron—one who went in the top 5 picks last year and made the Pro-Bowl, and the other who is expected to go in the first round of next year’s draft.
He also finished his career at the “other” USC as their all-time leader in kick returns and kick return yardage. While he likely won’t be asked to do double duty at the next level, he can focus on his future as an NFL safety and add a little bulk to his 6’, 200 lbs. frame. If the Redskins don’t tackle their needs at safety, it would be a Kareem Moore-level whiff.
The Redskins should celebrate if they can land big #78
Randy Edsall put together a nice little football program up at UConn before leaving for Maryland, and Hurd was a big part of that the past couple seasons. A two-time All Big East selection, he has the distinction of blocking during four separate 1,000 yard rushing seasons.
Perhaps more importantly, he was a team captain with model work ethic and a competitive streak. At about 6’6” and 320 pounds, he’s a mountain of a man and could help immediately along the Redskins o-line.
Mike Shanahan doesn’t typically love big interior linemen, but reports indicate that Hurd is hard at work preparing for the combine—if he can shave off 10-15 pounds he may be able to improve on his already mobile 5.16 40 time.
If you can catch Denard Robinson youre doing something right
Rolle was first team all-Big Ten and was on the short watch list for the Butkus Award in the preseason. If Ohio State had played for a national title this year he probably would have gotten more consideration, but as it is he looks to go under the radar.
A team captain, the knock on Rolle is undersized—something that hasn’t seemed to bother another Pro Bowler and current Redskin London Fletcher. He’s fast and won Big Ten defensive player of the week four times last season.
If Rolle isn’t available the ‘Skins should take a look at another Big Ten linebacker, Jonas Mouton (OLB, Michigan). He’s bigger than Rolle but was only second team all-Big Ten and played on a porous defense. Thomas Keiser, a junior from Stanford, would be another name to watch but will likely be off the board by this time.