Over 200 players will hear their name called this April in New York City with another couple hundred receiving invites to participate in NFL mini-camps. Not all of them will hail from big-time BCS schools, but luckily for them and their respective NFL teams, once they strap on the pads and don their new Pro uniforms each has the chance to make an impact and help their team get one step closer to that ever-elusive Super Bowl. The following are ten players that come from schools outside the Six BCS conferences that the Redskins should consider adding to their roster this Spring whether through the Draft or Undrafted free agency.
A Juco transfer out of Hinds Community College (Miss.) Derek, not Cam Newton should be suiting up in the Burgundy and Gold next season. Weighing in at 6'4" and 306 lbs, Derek Newton has great upside. He has great natural agility and quickness, a perfect fit for Shanahan's zone blocking scheme. His lack of big game experience and top-level coaching leaves him a bit unpolished though, with questionable pass blocking footwork and a tendency to not to finish his blocks on a consistent basis. A possible late-round choice, Newton could develop into the young right tackle that the Redskins have been searching for, if given limited game experience and a good deal of coaching.
The Redskins offensive line remains in shambles. The solution? Bring in quality young players to provide depth and develop into contributors over the next few season. Darius Morris, a 6'4" 319 lb tweener tackle/guard out of Temple is an absolute mauler on the offensive line. Although a bit heavy-footed, Morris has the necessary athleticism to develop and become what Stephon Heyer never could, a solid utility lineman stepping in to fill gaps in the offensive line on a short-term basis. Does he have the talent to become a NFL-Caliber starter? Yes. Time to develop, solid coaching and hard work will go a long way towards ensuring that becomes a reality.
Noticing a theme? The NFL game is won and lost in the trenches, sadly over the last few years the Redskins simply haven't gotten the memo. The Redskins desperately need young offensive linemen, and Brandon Fusco, the 2010 Division II offensive lineman of the year, fits the mold. Weighing in at 6'4" 306 lbs, Fusco is noted for his intelligence, hard work and discipline. A rather large center, Fusco is the first ever player from Slipper Rock to receive an invitation to both the NFL Combine and Senior Bowl. Thirty-three Year Old Casey Rabach has looked past his prime for a couple of seasons now and it is time to find his replacement, Fusco could be it.
Thought I was only going to list offensive linemen for the entirety of the article? Luckily for those of you reading this the Redskins' roster is so depleted that almost every position could be considered a need. Cecil Shorts III hails out of Division III Mount Union College. Some may be turned away by the stigma of Division III football, however Mount Union's Ten national championships since 1993 is pretty damn impressive no matter which way you spin it. Ever heard of a guy named Pierre Garcon? Neither had I, until he tore up the 2009 AFC Championship game to the tune of 11 catches for 151 yards and 1 touchdown that is. Cecil Shorts III is somewhat small, measuring in at 6'0" and 200 lbs, however, he boosts very impressive quickness and burst. The Skins' have been searching for a solid slot receiver for years. A match made in heaven.
You'd swear I was writing an article about World War I with all the time we're spending in the trenches. I'm not funny sorry, but hey it was worth a try. The Redskins lack the proper personnel to play the 3-4 defense, and it really showed last season. The defense was absolutely dominated up front and as a consequence the linebackers were unable to consistently make plays both against the run and rushing the passer. Not only do the 'Skins need a solid nose tackle, but a solid contributing defensive end. Adam Carriker proved himself a serviceable starter, but the lack of continuity opposite him definitely showed. Cedric Thornton out of Division II Southern Arkansas has received significant attention from NFL Scouts and it's easy to understand why. Coming in at 6'4" 300 lbs Thornton has the necessary size to play 3-4 defensive end at the NFL level. A First Team Division II All-American Thornton was absolutely dominant, however the question remains whether he can translate to the NFL Level. Although a bit of a risk, the Redskins would do well to give him a look in the later rounds.
Sexy Rexy. Gotta love him, as long as he's holding a clipboard that is. Not many people will agree with me on this one, but the Redskins should bring back Mcnabb next year. Sure he may not be in his prime, and yes the Redskins will be 100-1 odds to make the playoffs with him as their starting quarterback, however there is not a single NFL-ready quarterback in this year's draft. Mcnabb has done nothing but conduct himself with class since arriving in Washington and would provide a stop gap measure until the Redskins find their franchise quarterback. Watching film of Enderle you can't help but be impressed with his arm and precision. The guy has the ability to make NFL level throws, and has played in a pro-style offense while at Idaho. Sitting behind Mcnabb for the next couple of seasons Enderle just may develop into a solid starting quarterback. Measuring at 6'5" and 240 lbs, he is the ideal NFL quarterback size and would be a great pick up for the Redskins in later rounds.
Ricardo Lockette is a physical specimen, coming out of little known Fort Valley State (GA). Measuring 6'2" and 210 lbs, Lockette has the size to start at wide receiver in the NFL. He certainly has the speed, He is projected to run a sub 4.4 40, and scouts are up about his burst and quickness. With Santana Moss on the down-swing of his career, Lockette could be a great pick-up for the 'Skins. The greatest knocks on him would be that he was a two-sport athlete in college, excelling in the spring as a track star. Also he played at a less than stellar Division II school. He reminds me alot of Jeremy Maclin, and honestly, the Redskins would love to have a guy of that caliber. Expect to see him rocket up draft boards following the combine.
Ijalana has been gaining notoriety around NFL circles over the past few weeks. An absolute beast out of FCS Villanova, Ijalana measures in at 6'4" 320 lbs. He was the only player from FCS named to the Outland Trophy watch list, awarded each year to the best offensive lineman in college football. He was unable to appear at the Senior Bowl due to a sports hernia and that may hurt his draft stock. If the 'Skins can nab him in the second round, they should. He has good athleticism, however he is criticized by scouts for possibly lacking the polished skills necessary to play tackle at the next level.
My personal favorite player for the Redskins in the entire draft. Kenrick Ellis began his college career at South Carolina before being dismissed from the team. He ended up at Hampton where he went on to a stellar college career. He is absolutely enormous, coming in at 6'5" and 340 lbs. Throughout last season the need for a solid nose tackle in the redskins' 3-4 defense could not have been more obvious. Ellis has great strength, and can occupy double teams on a consistent basis. He has a great base, using his lower body well for leverage. I see him as a future Vince Wilfork in the middle for the Skins, and if he is available, the Skins should jump at the chance to take him.
Last, but certainly not least. Martin Parker out of FCS school Richmond was incredibly impressive at the Shrine Game. He has a great body for defensive end in the 3-4, coming in at 6'2" and 300 lbs. I cannot reiterate enough the Redskins dire need for solid guys on the defensive front. Marker has shown great burst and his punch is already NFL-caliber. If he is available, the Redskins should give him a very serious look.
The Redskins have a number of needs all over the field heading into this draft. However, the offensive and defensive lines take precedent over any other needs the team may have. Hopefully Shanahan and Co. will seriously consider each one of these prospects throughout the course of the draft, as despite their small name schools, they each have the potential to become big name commodities in our nation's capital. Thanks for reading my first ever article, and Hail to the Skins. Chief Zee, this one's for you.