The NFL Draft comes nearly two months after free agency began on March 9. At this rate, the Redskins will add far more players over three days in April then the proceeding weeks even if general manager Scot McCloughan doesn't land his desired 12 picks. On this track, those picks won't just be about building for the future, but also addressing immediate needs.
At this point I'm up to NFL Mock Draft 6.0 for CSNmidatlantic.com, but the latest version is the first with two full rounds. Obviously team needs are considered with each mock, but immediate concerns start becoming more important than long-term hopes and dreams as the draft nears. It's not about taking the best player available, but doing so at a position of need. For example, outside linebackers Leonard Floyd or Noah Spence would really, really have to be special in the eyes of McCloughan to justify selecting either considering there isn't much playing time available behind the triumvirate of Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith and Junior Galette.
On some level the definition of "immediate" could mean 2017 especially when the Redskins have several key players on one-year deals including Kirk Cousins, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Chris Baker and Galette. Based on all that, my current list of need areas for the Redskins looks like:
- Defensive tackle
- Running back
- Inside linebacker
- Defensive end
- Wide receiver
- Offensive line depth
Any of these areas could be addressed in the first two rounds. As of this moment, the defensive line MUST be addressed. With Baker, Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean Francois, Kendall Reyes and Kedric Golston, the Redskins essentially have the unit filled out in terms of bodies. Baker is coming off a breakout season and Francois is helpful, but otherwise there's not much worth getting excited over, though Paea is a rebound candidate. Beyond 2016 concerns, there are no young building blocks and only Paea and Francois are under contract beyond this season.
All of this leads to the aforementioned two-round mock. Washington currently owns the 21st and 53rd overall picks. My selections and rationale for each:
21) Washington: Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama, Sr.
Needs: DL, S, RB. The run-stuffing Reed was the pick at 21 in the previous three mocks. No reason for a change after the motoring lineman chased down runners and shed blockers throughout Senior Bowl week. That said, would GM Scot McCloughan target a projected nose tackle in round one? Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson and Baylor's Andrew Billings provide different looks on the line. Don't ignore the possibility of targeting another position altogether considering the ample DL depth on Day 2. Another Alabama product, Reggie Ragland, would address concerns at inside linebacker. Defensive backfield concerns put the likes of Ohio State CB Eli Apple in play.
The most important note involves the positional depth. McCloughan may feel there are enough options on Day Two to justify focusing on other needs. (Yet another Alabama prospect, center Ryan Kelly, is an option.) That said, a stout defensive line trumps all and boosts the other units more than the other way. Factor in the need for building blocks and taking one of these young linemen should be the plan outside of trading out of the first round altogether. Reed and Robinson are more run stuffers while Billings, who NFL.com compares to Baker, offers more athleticism and pass-rush potential.
53) Washington: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida, Sr
Back to back defensive linemen? Sure, why not, especially with Jason Hatcher and Terrance Knighton exiting, and Chris Baker an unrestricted free agent in 2017. The 285-pound Bullard is more run stuffer than pass rush whether as a 3-4 end or 4-3 tackle, but had 6.5 sacks during his senior season. Boise State safety Darian Thompson is one to watch.
We'll see if Bullard is available that deep or not -- some consider him a possible first round selection. If not, Penn State's Austin Johnson, Ohio State's Adolphus Washington and Mississippi State's Chris Jones are additional lineman targets. West Virginia safety Karl Joseph, guard Cody Whitehair and Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas are others worth considering if available.
Regardless of the veterans on the roster, going with two defensive linemen early.
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