Redskins Draft Needs and Prospects To Watch
This article was written by Drew Ellis.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt been gearing up for the upcoming NFL Draft for weeks now. The hype for the draft generally begins the moment the Super Bowl ends (if not before) and by now ESPN is essentially doing ‘round-the-clock draft speculation and analysis with a few baseball highlights thrown in. Consider the fact that this year we even have the Kevin Costner film Draft Day adding extra hype by presenting an entirely fictionalized (and ridiculous, but still sort of fun) look at how front offices approach the event, and hype may just be at an all-time high. But in Washington, all that noise boils down to two simple questions that (hopefully) have the same answer: what do the Redskins need, and who will they pick?
Luckily enough, one of the biggest needs—that of a wide receiver with the talent to match and supplement Robert Griffin III at his best—was filled in one of the more dramatic NFL offseason acquisitions in recent memory. In fact, if you recall the DeSean Jackson sweepstakes from a month ago resembling a high-stakes poker game played out across the NFL with Jackson as the gleaming, towering, chip stack, you’re probably not alone. The online gaming hub Betfair even had a temporary special posted in its attached sports betting section allowing fans to wager on just where Jackson might end up. And off-field drama be damned, the Redskins managed to sweep in and grab him.
So that’s one need theoretically addressed. Jackson will provide RGIII with the kind of target he’s never had previously and the implications for the Washington offense are potentially enormous. But with this first major offseason hurdle cleared, here’s an overview of some other steps that may be taken.
Many would agree that one of the Redskins’ greatest needs is at CB, where DeAngelo Hall only has so much more run in him. As a lingering result of the RGIII trade, the ‘Skins won’t pick until 34th overall, at which point some real strength at the CB position may still be available. Pairing an exciting young talent with 2013 pick David Amerson will certainly be tempting if the Washington front office likes what’s on the board at this point, and the primary target has to be Jason Verrett out of TCU. Verrett looks like a fringe first/second-round pick, and would deliver elite speed (if perhaps less than ideal size) to the Washington secondary. Fansided has Verrett landing in Washington in its latest mock but Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller and Ohio State’s Bradley Roby are also CBs worth keeping an eye on.
The other position at which no one would argue with Washington’s need is OT, which incidentally is one at which the 2014 draft is somewhat top-heavy: four of Mel Kiper’s top 10 prospects play the position. This is one reason the Redskins may be likely to go for a corner with their first pick—the talent pool may simply be greater—but don’t discount the OT options that could be available at pick 66, the second pick for Washington. Specifically, the name to watch appears to be Jack Mewhort out of Ohio State. CBS Sports lists him as a player the Redskins could target and Kiper has him ranked at 64. While rankings don’t translate directly to draft order by any means, he could be in play for the Redskins at 66. Mewhort can ultimately take over for Tyler Polumbus at right tackle and was viewed as a very smart and capable OT while at Ohio State. He’s a beast, but could improve his athleticism.
Washington’s third pick will be at 102, where things naturally get trickier to predict. Some have pointed to TE as a team need, but with Jordan Reed looking like a real player in the team’s offense, this pick could still go toward the defense. A DL isn’t out of the question with a late pick but at 102 the Redskins may be target an ILB to play alongside Perry Riley, where there’s currently no one who looks guaranteed to start. Preston Brown out of Louisville may be the best option and has some real natural ability, though he would require development.
For the early rounds, these seem to be the likeliest target areas and prospects of interest, with the one possible change being that the Redskins may also pursue a safety. The team added Ryan Clark at S, but because he’s already 34 years old, the idea of drafting a younger talent for the position could be appealing. Deone Bucannon (Washington State) and Jimmie Ward (Northern Illinois) are the names to watch if Washington decides to go for a S with its first pick at 34. At 66, Terrence Brooks (Florida State) could be a very strong pick. As for 102 and beyond, we’re likely looking at Brock Vereen (Minnesota), Craig Loston (LSU), or a lower-level prospect. The potential S pick is something of a wildcard for the Redskins, as the position looks decent for 2014 but could certainly stand to be shored up for the future.
We’ll have to wait and see how things unfold on Draft Day, but for now these are some positional needs and prospects to consider.