Redskins Draft Picks 2017: Results, Grades and Analysis for Each Selection
The Washington Redskins wisely went defense-heavy in the 2017 NFL draft, using six of their 10 picks to select prospects on that side of the ball. Naturally, the most intriguing of those selections are Alabama duo defensive end Jonathan Allen and outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, taken in Round 1 and 2.
The Redskins waited until the fourth round to finally add some talent to their offense, when they selected former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine 114th-overall.
Focus then returned to defense, with the team's second pick in the fourth going on Michigan State safety Montae Nicholson. A tight end, center and wide receiver followed, before the secondary received some much-needed depth via Washington's two picks in the seventh round.
Read on for grades and analysis for each of Washington's 2017 draft picks.
Round 1, Pick 17: Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Landing the potential steal of this draft with their first pick has to mean a high grade for the Redskins in Round 1. There is just no other way to view getting Jonathan Allen 17th overall.
He is arguably the most complete defensive lineman in this class thanks to natural talent and solid production in every phase of the game. Allen's versatility allows him to play end, defensive tackle or nose guard and disrupt offenses in a variety of ways.
The former linchpin of the Crimson Tide defense is a force as a run-stuffer and more than useful as a pass-rusher. Allen can crush the pocket both off the edge and directly over guards as an interior rusher.
Frankly, the Redskins have been fortunate to get a player this dominant with the 17th pick.
Allen's tumble is due to a shoulder problem, one he addressed at the NFL Scouting Combine, per Nicholas Tolisano of the team's official website: "Every doctor said if there is a problem, it will be after football, way after football. I have no concerns with it at all. It’s not really a problem now, but it might be a problem 15, 20 years down the road so Im not worried about that right now. I’m just worried about playing good for whichever team I go to."
Allen also downplayed the issues with his shoulder after he was selected, according to Mike Jones of the Washington Post.
Even so, the Burgundy and Gold can justify the risk to take a player with legitimate potential to be a difference-maker up front for a decade. Allen joining free-agent acquisitions Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee has instantly transformed what was a threadbare D-line from an Achilles' heel to a true strength of the roster.
Round 2, Pick 49: Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
Front seven again. Alabama again. The Redskins score a top grade again after selecting rush linebacker Ryan Anderson 49th overall.
This team needed pass-rushing help in the worse way thanks to more than one issue on the edge. Trent Murphy will miss four games serving a suspension, while Junior Galette's history of off-field woes resurfaced again this offseason. It doesn't help Preston Smith regressed in year two, logging just 4.5 sacks.
In this context, it makes perfect sense to add Anderson, an edge-rushing demon from the SEC with the frame to play 3-4 outside 'backer in the pros. Standing 6'2" and 253 pounds, Anderson can set the edge against the run and is also flexible enough to drop into space and cover.
Of course, he's ultimately going to be judged on how many quarterbacks he takes down while wearing a Redskins uniform. Fortunately, Anderson improved his rush skills every year he was in Mobile, as these statistics from Pro Football Reference (h/t CSN Mid-Atlantic's JP Finlay) show.
The numbers aren't gaudy, but they do speak to a player who has refined his technique and expanded his rush repertoire. Such attention to the fundamentals is symptomatic of a prospect NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein described as: "Well-schooled with a high football IQ and a history as a winner."
A steady presence is something the Redskins haven't had to bookend with the always-dynamic Ryan Kerrigan. Anderson will face a lot of competition to play as a rookie, but he has the nuanced and dependable game to push himself to the top of the pecking order at "Will" linebacker.
Selecting Anderson one pick after taking Allen all but completes a fine offseason's commitment to overhauling the front seven.
Round 3, Pick 81: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
Staying on defense for Round 3 was a sound strategy for the Redskins, but the decision to draft a cornerback is something of a head-scratcher.
It's not that former UCLA cover man Fabian Moreau is a poor prospect. In fact, Mike Jones of the Washington Post has lauded the player's size, while CSN Mid-Atlantic's JP Finlay has noted how the player dropped into the third due to a pectoral injury.
Moreau suffered the problem during his pro day with the Bruins, so there is potential he lands on the PUP list. However, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo has reported there is a chance Moreau is ready for the start of the new season.
So far so good, but did the Redskins need a corner, especially this high? Frankly, it's tough to justify it.
After all, this team is already well-stocked thanks to starters Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland, one of the better cornerbacks tandems in the NFL. Meanwhile, depth is also strong with Quinton Dunbar and Kendall Fuller. There are also veterans such as Will Blackmon and DeAngelo Hall still on the roster.
The latter pair are potential candidates to start at free safety, but given Su'a Cravens is converting to safety full time and D.J. Swearinger was signed during free agency, it's just as likely Hall and Blackmon remain at their natural position.
If so, it would make using a third-round pick on a cornerback needing to rehab from a recent injury a curious move.
Round 4, Pick 114: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
So the Redskins finally went running back, and right at the spot yours truly thought they would. As previously mentioned, Samaje Perine will give Washington's offense a true pounder between the tackles.
He's got a compact lower body, a powerful upper frame and runs with a low and consistent pad level. All of this adds up to a back not many defenders will relish having to tackle.
Perine can become the reliable chain-mover the Redskins have lacked offensively since Alfred Morris was putting together three straight 1,000-yard seasons from 2012 to 2014.
The drawbacks to Perine are obvious. He's not going to get to the edge and show pursuit his heels. However, he will cope with a ton of carries and be a demon at the goal line.
It's clear the Burgundy and Gold are high on Perine, with Grant Paulsen of 106.7 The Fan detailing how highly he figured on the team's board. Meanwhile, one implication from this pick for the roster is the likelihood of fumble-happy 2015 third-rounder Matt Jones being traded, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Round 4, Pick 123: Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State
One pick after finally adding talent at running back, the Redskins wisely took a safety off the board. Michigan State's Montae Nicholson will join a crowded rotation, but it's one full of question marks.
Su'a Cravens is ready to play safety full-time, but he is coming off an average rookie season during which he spent time at linebacker and battled injuries. Veteran addition D.J. Swearinger may make the free safety berth his own, even though the 25-year-old has played for three teams already and lacks range in coverage.
Perhaps converted cornerbacks Will Blackmon and DeAngelo Hall could partner Cravens on the back end. However, Hall hasn't registered an interception since 2013.
A rotation this suspect only increases Nicholson's chances of playing in year one, although Mike Jones of the Washington Post has described how special teams value has influenced this pick.
If Nicholson is going to push beyond a role in football's third phase, he'll need to add a knack for getting his hands on the ball, after just one interception and two pass breakups for the Spartans in 2016, per cfbstats. Nicholson could tackle with more force for a player standing 6'2" and weighing 212 pounds.
He is also coming off shoulder surgery, according to Jones.
Overall, though, the Redskins should be commended for adding another body to a perennially weak position.
Round 5, Pick 154: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
Trying to fathom the logic of late-round picks is always tough, and many may feel the same way about the Redskins' decision to add tight end Jeremy Sprinkle in the fifth round.
After all, the former Arkansas product will be joining the most talent-loaded position group on the roster. Washington already boasts all-world playmaker Jordan Reed and still-effective veteran Vernon Davis. They are backed up by Derek Carrier and Niles Paul.
So where exactly does Sprinkle fit? Perhaps as the most obvious in-line blocker in the rotation. It's a skill a tight end standing 6'5" and tipping the scales at 252 pounds should be able to manage, at least on the surface.
However, Pro Football Focus has raised questions about Sprinkle's game in this area: "While his grading improved in 2016 as his pass protection snaps doubled in back-to-back seasons, over the last three years Sprinkle has averaged the 95th-ranked per-snap pass-blocking grade among draft tight ends. 13th-lowest run-blocking grade per snap, last three years, versus draft tight ends."
Sprinkle does possess reliable hands and some solid move skills. Yet given the talent in front of him, he makes a curious choice at this point.
Round 6, Pick 199: Chase Roullier, C, Wyoming
The Redskins executed their first trade of this draft when they exchanged a sixth- and seventh-round choice with the Minnesota Vikings, per Mike Jones of the Washington Post, for the 199th selection overall. Washington's newly acquired pick was used on Wyoming center Chase Roullier.
Obviously, center was a need entering this draft after Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan joined the Los Angeles Rams in free agency. Sullivan went to work with former Redskins offensive coordinator Sean McVay with the Rams, leaving Spencer Long as the de facto starter in the middle for the new season.
Long, a converted guard is a steady pro with some skills, but Roullier has a good chance to muscle his way into the rotation. He's 6'4" and 312 pounds, so he boasts good size for the position, while his short arms needn't be a hindrance over the ball.
If the Redskins felt they had to move up to get him, it means lauded line coach Bill Callahan sees something he likes. Either way, adding another pivotman was a smart move.
Round 6, Pick 209: Robert Davis, WR, Georgia State
Washington found some excellent value late on by selecting Georgia State wide receiver Robert Davis with the team's second pick in the sixth round.
In the process, the Redskins added a tall and stocky target with vertical speed and big-play potential in the passing game. Davis boasts good hands and a loping stride at 6'3" and 219 pounds.
More important, he'll also enter the NFL with a nuanced and refined game in terms of route running, according to CBSSports.com: "He was asked to run a variety of pro-style routes in this offense, showing the awareness and body control to set up defenders with effective double-moves."
The Redskins have gone big at wide receiver this offseason, signing 6'4" Terrelle Pryor and 6'3" Brian Quick during free agency. Drafting Davis continues the trend, and he has the core skills to earn some targets in the offense as a rookie.
Round 7, Pick 230: Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, Louisville
More safety depth came with the first of Washington's two picks in the seventh and final round of the 2017 NFL draft. Josh Harvey-Clemons came off the board at 230, and the former Louisville product has enticing dimensions at 6'4" and 217 pounds.
Such a build makes Harvey-Clemons look like an obvious fit at strong safety. It's a spot already loaded with Su'a Cravens, while D.J. Swearinger has the size and temperament to play downhill from the box.
It seems more likely Harvey-Clemons will vie for the proverbial spot on special teams, at least initially. Yet there are other reasons why he's still available in the last round.
Specifically, Harvey-Clemons was dismissed from Georgia's program for twice testing positive for marijuana use, per Lance Zierlein of the league's official site. Still, the Redskins entered the draft needing to add bodies at safety.
It's exactly what they've done.
Round 7, Pick 235: Joshua Holsey, CB, Auburn
Yet more secondary depth was added to the Redskins' roster after the team used its final pick in the 2017 NFL draft to select Auburn cornerback Joshua Holsey 235th overall.
Holsey displayed a decent flair for getting his hands on the ball in 2016, intercepting three passes and breaking up 10 more, according to cfbstats. However, two ACL tears during his collegiate days naturally sent Holsey tumbling down the boards over draft weekend.
Still, the Redskins will likely be happy to have added another body at the cornerback rotation. Holsey's form and ball skills when healthy certainly make him worth the minimal risk of a final-round pick.
Overall, Washington's decision-makers score points for staying committed to a focus on bolstering the defense in this draft. As the sixth defensive player selected from the team's 10 picks, Holsey is part of the trend.