Rick Osentoski - USA Today

Redskins Mock Draft Roundup: Is Defense the Consensus?

Last year, most pundits believed Washington would draft to sure up a suspect defensive unit. They seem to believe the same in 2017.

We are currently in an evaluation period post-Senior Bowl week, a staple on the draft evaluation circuit, and pre-Combine. At least for now, the Washington Redskins hold the 17th pick. We take a look around for the latest thoughts on how the Burgundy and Gold are predicted in invest their first round pick in year three of the Scot McCloughan era.

Redskins reminder: Depending on what happens in free agency, there are definitely plenty of areas to address, namely defensive line, middle linebacker, safety and perhaps wide receiver. Here's our guide to general manager Scot McCloughan's documented draft trends. Feel free to check out our own insider's Ben Standig's mock draft special here.

Todd McShay, ESPN - Jabrill Peppers, S, Michigan

"Peppers is a polarizing prospect in scouting circles. He needs to be protected from deep zone coverage, and he did not have much ball production at Michigan, with just one career interception. But he is a special athlete with elite speed and a unique knack for keeping blockers off his pads. His electrifying return ability will also be an asset in the NFL."

BB: We know that Su'a Cravens will be playing safety in 2017, but don't rule out Washington investing in another playmaker on the defensive side of the ball. Peppers is a raw player but has the make up to be a good one in the NFL. The Redskins could teach Peppers at the same time as Cravens during the offseason and they could wind up with two dynamite players on the back end of their defense for years to come.

Rob Rang, CBS Sports - Zach Cunningham, ILB, Vanderbilt

"The Redskins surrendered an average of nearly 120 yards per game on the ground in 2016, and only three teams (Chargers, Bills and 49ers) allowed more than their 19 rushing touchdowns. Cunningham, the SEC's leading tackler in 2016 and a two-time first-team all-conference selection, possesses the speed and instincts to help shore up Washington's run defense."

BB: Starter Mason Foster is under contract and it may be a safe bet that restricted free agent Will Compton returns as well, but the Redskins could certainly use some more pop from the position. Cunningham is a sound tackler, which Washington did not have enough of in recent seasons, and faced off against some of the best teams in the SEC in college.

Charley Casserly, NFL.com - Solomon Thomas, DE, Stanford

"Thomas is a solid run defender who can give you an inside pass rush as well."

BB: Similar to last year when the majority of experts believed Washington would address the defensive line, it will likely be a common theme this time around as well. With multiple defensive linemen set to become impending free agents, including Chris Baker, will McCloughan address the defense for the first time in the first round during his time in DC? My opinion is he would be best doing so.

Chris Burke, Sports Illustrated - Derek Barnett, DE/OLB, Tennessee

"There is more of a need in Washington for help between the tackles than another edge presence. Barnett, though, is strong enough and active enough to play hand in the dirt up front at times, which would max out how many athletes the Redskins can get on the field in their front seven."

BB: With Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy, Preston Smith, and reportedly Junior Galette already penciled in at the defensive end and outside linebacker positions on the depth chart, drafting Barnett may be questionable to some. However, 32 sacks and 52 tackles for loss in three years in the SEC say otherwise. Listed at 265 pounds, Washington could put him on the same track that Murphy used to be on last offseason and get him to the true fighting weight of a defensive end.

Previous Mock Draft Editions:

  • January 16: Malik McDowell, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Solomon Thomas, Chris Wormley, Reuben Foster.
  • January 30: Malik McDowell, Solomon Thomas, Zach Cunningham, Chris Wormley, Reuben Foster

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