This offseason has probably been one of the most boring on record for any Redskins fans…and it seems like a majority of fans don’t to mind very much. We understand the cap situation, understand our needs, and are still waiting for the market to settle. That being said, without being very active in free agency, it puts a premium on every draft choice we make. This draft has some familiar faces from the previous two mock drafts I’ve done and some new ones, but I think this is a slightly more balanced approached than the other two have been.
2nd Round.) Jamar Taylor, CB, Boise State
I think this pick is a good combo of the best available player on the board and addressing a need. I previously mocked Jamar Taylor in the fifth round, but that was probably too low, as most positional rankings have him grade him with a 2nd to 3rd round grade. So I split the difference and had him going in the bottom half of the second.
Taylor is an athletic, physical cornerback who excels in man coverage. He displays really good instincts and ball skills; he just needs a little work on his technique in zone coverage, and with looking back and tracking the ball; some of the plays he made in college will be called pass interference in the NFL if he doesn’t learn to do so with more consistency. But, with some work on these points, and a little bit of finesse on his technique in the run game, Taylor can be a very solid outside corner for the Redskins going forward.
3rd Round.) Baccari Rambo, FS, Georgia
Baccari Rambo reappears in my mock draft. Rambo, in my mind, is the best pure free safety in this draft. The Redskins live mostly in Cover 1 and Cover 3 on defense, which means you need a free safety who is instinctive, has great range and closing speed, and who can tackle. Rambo, in my personal opinion, can do all of those things. He’s good at diagnosing what the play us and being in the right spot to make a play and rarely gets looked off. Rambo’s main issue is consistency; he (like a certain recently released corner) will occasionally go for the big play instead of the smart play, which can lead to an offense getting more yards than necessary. However, he is rarely toasted in coverage, and when he’s on, he’s very, very on.
4th Round.) Andre Ellington, RB, Clemson
The Redskins need a guy change of pace back for Alfred Morris who can also carry the load in a pinch. Alfred Morris is an awesome runner, but lacks that extra gear to break the big one; FroMo is awesome, but he also left some potential TDs on the board. Ideally, what the Redskins want is a punisher like Morris to working the inside and turning the opponent’s d-line into mush, and then speed back that can work the outside and take advantage of a tired defense.
Andre Ellington has the kind of speed we’re looking for, is great at making jump cuts, and has good vision, though it’s inconsistent. He catches the ball out of the backfield well and even though he’s not a big back, he’s not afraid to lower his shoulder and he runs though contact. He’s not a great pass protector, but he is a willing pass protector, which means that his skills in that area can be improved with time. Adding Ellington gives us a solid one-two punch in the backfield while Cousins is in he game and an even more explosive attack when Robert comes back.
5th Round.) A.J Klein, ILB, Iowa State
The loss of Lorenzo Alexander creates a hole in our linebacker depth. Not only do we need to continue to improve that depth, we also need a guy who will hustle on special teams and who can continue to learn under London Fletcher. A.J Klein gives you all out effort on every play; he’s not the fastest linebacker, he’s not the most athletic, but, like Ryan Kerrigan, his effort is what makes him a great football player. He needs to work on his coverage a little bit, and he needs to bring down his pad level so he can become a more consistent tackler in addition to being a little bit to get bigger, but in time Klein could be a big time player for us.
5th Round.) Conner Vernon, WR, Duke
The Redskins are pretty deep at wide receiver, but this is a case of me going for the best available player on my board. Connor Vernon is a route running monster; he’s smooth in and out of his cuts, and he’s got football speed that can’t be matched in a 40-yard dash. He catches every ball thrown his way, and he racks of a lot of YAC. He’s also a receiver that’s not afraid to dive for that deep ball or go across the middle and take a big hit. He’s not an explosive athlete and he might not wow people with pure athleticism, but he knows how to get open, he can run the whole route tree, he’s shifty enough to play in the slot, and, since Brandon Banks is gone, he can also return punts. This is the kind of guy you get in the late round who can contribute on special teams and with some development and time, will surprise you on offense.
6th Round.) D.J Hayden, CB, Houston
To steal something my friend Justin has said, this is the kind of pick you make and the laugh your way all the way to the bank. Hayden is a great draft prospect that was unfortunately hampered by a nearly fatal heart injury. Hayden suffered a freak injury to his inferior vera cara during practice; had he not gotten to the hospital, it’s possible he could’ve died. Before Hayden’s injury, he was enjoying a great season playing for Houston and there was a huge buzz about his potential.
Hayden has fantastic technique and instincts in man coverage, knowing when to break on routes and when t just cover. He’s not a big corner or overly strong, but I think he wins with his technique, his fluid hips and his instincts; he picked off 4 passes this season, and it could’ve been more with better hands. He disengages off guys in the run game and isn’t afraid to come up in run support, and though he didn’t do much of it, he could probably return kicks and punts on special teams, especially considering the 4.33 time he posted on his pro day.
His road back to being ready to play might not be easy, but this guy has every bit of potential to be another one of those “where did he come from” gems Mike Shanahan seems to unearth, only this one will be on defense.
7th Round.) Matt Furstenberg, TE, Maryland
Yup; I’m not changing this pick. He didn’t have a whole lot of production at Maryland, but the guy’s physical attributes are just impossible for me to pass up. Fred will likely be back on a year deal, and we do have Logan, but we need depth at the position. Furstenberg provides us some depth, and some clay for Sean McVay to mold into a potential star, if he can put the physical attributes and the solid Combine performance together on a football field.
Priority Undrafted Free Agents
1.) Jordan Rodgers, QB, Vanderbilt — This isn’t about the fact that Jordan Rodgers happens to be the little brother of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. On his own, Rodgers impresses me with his physical attributes and his leadership qualities. Rodgers led the Commodores to their first Bowl win since 2008, and he finished with a solid completion percentage, 15 touchdowns and 5 interceptions. He even ran some elements of the read-option and operated out of the pistol.
The Redskins appear poised to bring back Rex Grossman on another one year deal to be a third quarterback option, but we need to groom another quarterback for the eventuality that Kirk Cousins moves on so we’re not left without a back-up.
2.) T.J Moe, WR, Missouri — Primarily a slot receiver, he had a 1,000 yard season with Blaine Gabbert throwing the football. He hasn’t had much in the way of quarterbacks sense. Good hands and a potential punt returner.
3.) Onterio McCalebb, RB, Auburn — A potential scat back option in the pistol and another person who can compete for the job of returning punts.