Predicting Each Washington Redskins 2015 Draft Pick
With an atrocious 4-win season now in the rear view mirror, Jon Gruden and the Redskins have a lot of rebuilding work to do. While most NFC East offseason headlines have revolved around Chip Kelly and the Eagles, there are some major question marks that are yet to be resolved in Washington.
The main concern remains at quarterback where Robert Griffin III failed to remain healthy for yet another season dislocating his ankle early in the year. Controversy then ensued when former fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins led the team to victory as Griffin’s replacement and proceeded to throw for over 400 yards in his next start. Things only worsened from there for Redskin’s quarterbacks as Cousins was benched in week 7 for third string Colt McCoy while trade rumors continued to circulate and the doubts surrounding Griffin reached an all-time high.
Things weren’t much better on the other side of the ball with the defense surrendering the 2nd highest point average in the league but the team is in a nice position for the draft defensively after a productive offseason. Even though injury-ridden Brian Orakpo leaves for Tennessee, the line backing core led by Ryan Kerrigan remains exceptional with youngsters Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley, and Trent Murphy returning in 2015. Newcomers Stephen Paea and Terance Knighton join as much needed signings solidifying the defensive tackle position while Chris Culliver is the newest addition to a soft secondary that finished 20th in overall pass defense.
Both the offense and the defense have significant holes but improving the pass rush and secondary remain high priorities while strengthening the offensive line follows right behind in importance.
After losing their first round selection last year in the RGIII trade with St Louis, Washington finds themselves at an interesting No. 5 selection very early in the draft. Should they trade down, they may be able to secure a later pick in the first round with the potential of adding both a second and a third, however I will play out this mock simply with only 7 selections without speculating trade value.
Round 1, Brandon Scherff, tackle, Iowa
The Redskin’s defense requires incredible versatility, switching frequently between 3-4 and 4-3 which is why I expect they trade down their first round pick for a team eager to take Mariota (or Cooper if he slips by Oakland). The two best pass rushers available will most likely be Vic Beasley and Shane Ray who are both incredibly skilled but might not have the size to stick their hand in the ground as a base 4-3 end. Scherff is the best offensive lineman in this draft and would be an instant upgrade at either the right tackle or guard position. Even though quarterback production may be questionable, Alfred Morris will certainly be pounding away and it would help if it were behind the likes of Scherff whose strength and grit project him to be a productive starter right away.
Round 2, Arik Armstead, defensive end/defensive tackle, Oregon
At 6’7” and almost 300 pounds, Armstead has the size and explosiveness to function in Washington’s high pressure blitzing defense. A long and explosive run stopper, Armstead would be able to fill a huge hole opposite Jason Hatcher while allowing the Skins’ to trade down in the first round and collect a large yield instead.
Round 3, Alex Carter, cornerback, Stanford
One of the many physical corners in the draft, Carter would join Culliver in a secondary desperate for playmakers. In terms of production, Carter was able to aggressively compete with NFL-caliber receivers like Jaelen Strong, Nelson Agholor, and even managed to secure a rare Marcus Mariota interception. The Redskins might also be especially intrigued with Carter as his patience and downhill tackling abilities are transferable to the safety position, a major hole in their defense. In any capacity, Carter could be an instant contributor to secondary that needs him.
Round 4, Chris Conley, receiver, Georgia
Desean Jackson and Pierre Garcon combine to make one of the more lethal receiving duos in the league but beyond Andre Roberts, Aldrick Robertson and Leonord Hankerson have found work on other teams leaving some room for depth at the position. Conley has all the makings of a playmaker with smooth routes and an acceleration burst after separation that makes him a deadly deep threat. Along with one of the faster 40 times and sure feet in the endzone, Conley also has the intangibles and work ethic that should make him a productive NFL player and future leader.
Round 5, Ibraheim Campbell, safety, Northwestern
With last year’s starters Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather on the way out, the Redskins were able to acquire safeties Jeron Johnson and Dashon Goldson. The signings provide some breathing room at the position but Johnson has only started a single game in his career while the veteran Goldson has a lot to prove as he ages. Taking Campbell gives the team another physical safety whose 7 turnovers display incredible production in addition to multiple accounts attesting to his character and leadership. Even though he may begin his NFL career primarily as a special teamer, the new safety signings eliminate any immediacy giving Campbell time to develop.
Round 6, Andy Gallik, center, Boston College
The Skins took two offensive linemen in the third round of last year in Spencer Long and Morgan Moses but continuing to add depth is paramount to protect whoever is throwing the ball. The team experienced firsthand the repercussions of quarterback personnel inconsistencies with all of the weight ending up on the defense. Gallik is an effective power blocker and a competitor with quick feet, strong blocking angles, and the intelligence to protect against the blitz. He could also provide a long term solution for the center position temporarily filled by Korey Lichtensteiger who was brought in to replace Will Montgomery.
Round 7, Jermauria Rasco, defensive end, LSU
Pass rush gets the last say in the Redskins draft with a steal in Rasco who falls due to a lackluster combine performance. Rasco has impressive footage sniffing out play action and screens displaying pro level anticipation and deliberation. Effective use of a rip move and flexible upper body makes him an ideal fit for the changing scenery of the Washington defense and shows the acceleration to blitz from a standup.