Photo by Ed Sheahin for The Sports Capitol

Redskins Draft plan: Three paths for all seven rounds

BY BEN STANDIG | APRIL 23 , 2018

Time for speculation is almost over. The three-day NFL Draft kicks off with Thursday’s first round. New players are coming. This draft exercise focuses on the “who” potential and the “why” plan.

For the second time we offer three different scenarios for the Redskins, pick by pick. These choices are based on a combination of conversations with league sources, homework and intuition plus remaining needs.

It’s not enough to say the Redskins should select a certain player or position, especially entering a draft with several needs. Only left guard counts as a gaping hole, but plenty of areas need more. Washington could justify tabbing anything other than offensive tackle, probably wide receiver and, in theory, quarterback without critics railing. Yet taking this or that in those coveted early rounds means not addressing units “X” or “Y.” Trade-offs exist. For a second and final time, let’s examine.

PATH 1

First Round, Pick No. 13: Derwin James, S, Florida State

The Redskins will have the opportunity to select from the group of defensive tackles (Vita Vea, Da’Ron Payne), inside linebackers (Roquan Smith, Terrell Edmunds) and stud defensive backs if they stay at 13. If James or Minkah Fitzpatrick slip, Washington should pounce even if safety is not the top need. The 6-foot-3 James checks box after box. Freak athlete. Great size. Highly productive. Team leader. Can play the hybrid linebacker/safety role Washington envisioned for Su’a Cravens. This is not a great safety class overall.

Second Round, Pick No. 44: Ronald Jones, RB, USC

Doug Williams keeps saying the Redskins will upgrade their backfield. That has not happened in free agency. If they wait for the draft and want a real impact back, they can trade up for Saquon Barkley (too costly), reach at 13 for Derrius Guice (not happening, per source, despite numerous mock drafts projecting otherwise) or tap into the deep pool of running backs on Day 2. Jones offers a true home run threat and the local team has kicked those tires. One of the two Georgia backs, the playmaking Sony Michel or the bruising Nick Chubb, also work if available.

Fourth Round, Pick No. 109: Wyatt Teller, G, Virginia Tech

The Redskins can stick to their plan along the offensive line if they want – spend light at left guard and center considering expenses elsewhere along the line – but they still need options. Also they can lock in their future left guard with a rookie contract for the next four years this way. Teller received first-team All-ACC honors in 2017.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 142: Micah Kiser, ILB, Virginia

The productive linebacker from Baltimore finished 2017 with 145 tackles and five sacks, leading to All-ACC and third-team AP All-American honors. Kiser met with Washington during the Redskins’ local pro day, per source.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 163: Poona Ford, DL, Texas

The Combine snub wowed at his Pro Day, showing off impressive athletic ability that rivaled most of his peers who were in Indianapolis. That Ford is 5-foot-11 limits his draft stock. The Big 12 defensive lineman of the year made plays throughout the season and at the Senior Bowl. Redskins reps attended the Texas Pro Day and showed interest, per source.

Sixth Round, Pick No. 188: Will Dissly, TE, Washington

Rising second-year TE Jeremy Sprinkle may become the Redskins’ primary blocking tight end in 2018. If the organization is not ready to anoint him, adding a prospect like the 267-pound Dissly in the later rounds becomes a good approach on Day 3.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 231: Javon Wims, WR, Georgia

The final 2-3 receiver spots are not exactly settled. The 6-foot-4 Wims was a podium talker at the Combine, but his stock dropped into the late Day 3 range. The former JUCO standout averaged 16 yards on 45 receptions last season with the Bulldogs.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 241: McKay Murphy, DE, Weber State

The son of former Major League Baseball star Dale Murphy is a sneaky hot prospect for the later rounds because of his potential versatility. Teams are reportedly considering him for roles on both sides of the ball. Washington views the 295-pounder, who ran a 4.8 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, as a defensive end, per source.

UDFA: Rico Gafford, CB, Wyoming

LSU’s Donte Jackson ran the official fastest 40-time (4.32) among defensive backs at the 2018 Combine. Gafford clocked between 4.19-4.27 at his Pro Day. Staggering. Had four interceptions in 13 games last season. Take a look, right?

UDFA: Teo Redding, WR, Bowling Green

This sleeper only caught 94 passes during his four seasons. NFL teams are starting to wake up after getting a closer look at the 6-foot-1 target. One league source said he would bet good money Redding makes an NFL roster in 2018.

PATH 2

First Round, Pick No. 13: Da’Ron Payne, DT, Alabama

Adding more push and power inside tops Washington’s needs list. Public opinion generally favors the 347-pound Vita Vea, who offers the most upside of the two interior lineman. Sources seems split with perhaps a slight nod to Payne. Where Vea’s productivity and effort fluctuated in college, Payne offers more consistent force. Good chance both are available at 13. Blatantly obvious Redskins need more help up front. Should they pass, do not automatically freak out. Though last in run defense during 2017, Washington allowed only 88 yards per game on the ground in five games with Jonathan Allen.

Second Round, Pick No. 44: Billy Price, C/G, Ohio State

The two-time All-American — 2016 at guard, 2017 at center — received first round hype before suffering a partially torn pectoral muscle at the NFL Combine. If that’s why he falls into the middle of the second round, good news for a certain team needing more for the middle of the offensive line. Oh, Price did not miss a game during his four seasons with the Buckeyes. Sturdy and talented works.

Fourth Round, Pick No. 109: Equanimeous St. Brown, WR, Notre Dame

Wide receiver should not rank among the high priorities after signing free agent Paul Richardson to join Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. Some pre-draft projections suggest otherwise. The 6-foot-5 St. Brown posted impressive stats in 2016 with former Irish quarterback DeShone Kizer. Selecting the lengthy target with a unique family background would provide Washington with another red-zone target and media members with interesting feature stories.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 142: Nick Nelson, CB, Wisconsin

The first-team All-Big Ten performer — and District Heights native — suffered a meniscus injury during a pre-draft workout. That likely leads to draft slide. Perhaps it leads to Washington following the same approach it went with in 2017 when Fabian Moreau fell to the third round after experiencing a chest injury during his UCLA Pro Day. The 5-foot-11 Nelson has starter upside.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 163: Akram Wadley, RB, Iowa

How the Redskins upgrade their backfield remains unclear. One consideration is simply adding more committee-level talent to the core of Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. The shifty Wadley rushed for over 1,000 yards in each of the last two seasons and caught a combined 64 passes. Averaged 30.1 yards on nine kick returns last season.

Sixth Round, Pick No. 188: Troy Apke, FS, Penn State

The D.J. Swearinger-Montae Nicholson combo is the best Redskins safety pair in years. Yet Washington needs more depth behind them especially after injuries knocked Nicholson out of the lineup for half of his rookie season. Apke’s 4.34 40-time topped all safeties at the Combine. He had 55 tackles in his lone season as a starter.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 231: Riley Ferguson, QB, Memphis

On paper the Redskins are set at quarterback for 2018 with Alex Smith, Colt McCoy and Kevin Hogan. Then again, McCoy’s contract ends after this season and Washington’s top two quarterbacks are over 30. Perhaps Ferguson, who met with the Redskins at least twice during the draft process, per source, becomes a practice squad stash. Perhaps Hogan elevates to the primary backup and Washington releases McCoy and saves $3 million on the 2018 cap. The 6-foot-4 Ferguson finished with 70 touchdowns and 19 interceptions during his two seasons with the Tigers.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 241: Davin Bellamy, OLB, Georgia
Five sacks in each of the last two seasons for the 245-pound backer. Strength concerns drop Bellamy into the deep Day-3 range.

UDFA: Jacob Tuioti-Mariner, DE, UCLA

Played in 36 games over the last three seasons for the Bruins. Finished 2017 with 7.5 sacks and 52 tackles. The Redskins have shown interest.

UDFA: Cam Sergine, TE, Wake Forest

In the scenario where the Redskins do not draft a tight end they must add bodies for the offseason. Sergine, another local pro day participant, might not just be practice fodder. The 245-pound TE had nine touchdowns last season for the Demon Deacons.

PATH 3

First Round, Pick No. 13: Tremaine Edmunds, ILB, Virginia Tech

The Redskins kept their starting inside linebacker pairing together. The Zach Brown-Mason Foster reunion might only last one season. Either way, the middle of the defense lacks a true athletic presence like Edmunds, who at 19 is all upside. Whether he gets past the Bears at eight and the Raiders at 10 is the question.

Second Round, Pick No. 44: Sam Hubbard, DE, Ohio State

The saying goes teams can never have enough pass rushing. Washington needs more options off the edge even with Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith. The 265-pound Hubbard recorded seven sacks for the Buckeyes last season. Better suited for a 4-3 scheme, but the Redskins use four-down linemen more than they don’t.

Fourth Round, Pick No. 109: Chris Herndon, TE, Miami

There should be more discussion on the need for another tight end – if not a possible starter. There is Jordan Reed’s injury history, Vernon Davis’ age and Niles Paul’s geography. That’s enough concern that selecting a tight end in the second round like Penn State’s Mike Gesicki should be explored. The class viability dries up after Day 2 with a raw, but heavy-upside prospect like Herndon among the most interesting remaining.

Fifth Round, Pick No. 142: Josh Adams, RB, Notre Dame

Here’s a nod toward the idea of Washington selecting an early-down back. Draft profiles focus on Adams’ physical look and running style. Rushed for 1,430 yards and nine touchdown last season with the Irish, averaging 6.9 yards per carry. By the way, are we 100 percent sure Samaje Perine can’t become the Redskins lead runner if the offensive line avoids so many injuries?

Fifth Round, Pick No. 163: Cole Madison, T/G, Washington State

Washington brought Madison in for a visit. The 6-foot-5, 308-pound lineman projects a guard in the NFL after playing right tackle for the Cougars. Madison was named second-team All-Pac 12 last season playing in Mike Leach’s pass-heavy spread offense.

Sixth Round, Pick No. 188: Trayvon Henderson, SS, Hawaii

Deshazor Everett and Fish Smithson are the current safety backups. Good work at the Senior Bowl pushes Henderson higher onto draft radars.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 231: John Atkins, DT, Georgia

If Phil Taylor counts as a potential nose tackle option despite not playing since 2014, why not a 321-pound lineman who played in 14 of 15 games last season for the national finalists.

Seventh Round, Pick No. 241: Bradley Bozeman, C, Alabama

Doubling up on interior offensive linemen in this scenario after not selecting one in the early rounds. Washington found success with Chase Roullier in the sixth round last year. Bozeman started at center the last two seasons for the Crimson Tide.

UDFA: Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech

One of the top returners in the draft. Stroman averaged 11.3 yards on 35 returns last season while snagging four interceptions.

UDFA: Jacob Martin, DE, Temple

Developmental pass rusher. Older brother Josh plays for the Jets. Some teams will look to mold the raw, but exceptional athlete.

UDFA: Rick Leonard, OT, Florida State

The Redskins met with the Western Maryland native at the Combine. Adding tackle depth simply for off-season workouts is key with Trent Williams and Morgan Moses recovering from injuries. Ty Nsekhe might only be around for another season.

Ben Standig is a host, writer and co-founder of The Sports Capitol. This D.C. area native grew up rooting for all the local squads and dabbled in the professional media world after college before making a full shift to sports writing in 2005. Since, Ben has covered every team and big event in town for several outlets including the Associated Press, NBCWashington.com and Scout.com.

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