Draft Corner: Russ Lande

Lande, who spent three years as a scout for the Cleveland Browns, is the publisher of GM Jr., which produces an annual draft guide. He also contributes to the Sporting News. To order the guide, or for more information, visit gmjr.com.

Q: Overall, how would you assess the Redskins' draft?

A: They did a good job. I wouldn't be jumping for joy, but they got two good receivers. Both can't start, but both will get playing time. Thomas will help as a kickoff return guy, but I like them both. I'm not sold on Fred Davis in the second round. I don't know if he's going to be what you want because he'll be a backup and I don't know how he'll handle being a backup and if he'll put in the time necessary to be productive, as a guy who will be used in a variety of ways. I liked the offensive lineman Rinehart. He has the chance to become a starter. He'll surprise people with how good he is. I think a lot of people sort of liked him during the season and then he went to the Senior Bowl and he was outstanding. He was one of the two or three best linemen all week down there. Everybody I spoke to said this kid is really good. He had a real strong week there. That's what got him in to the third round. Before that he was viewed as a late-round guy; I saw him as more of an athlete and he needed work on his consistency. But he really shined. If I remember, he played a lot of guard down there.

Q: What position do you think Chad projects to?

A: He can play right tackle or guard. I think he's best suited to guard. He may have to add weight, but he's a strong kid, a competitive kid. He used his hands tremendously at the Senior Bowl. He was really impressive to me.

Q: Who do you look at as a potential steal?

A: Tryon the cornerback has a chance to be a starter. When I watched him on film, I liked him and called others to find out what they thought and they all agreed he wsa one of the two or three most explosive, athletic corners on the West Coast. He's short, but he's quick-footed, athletic, instinctive. He's just short, but he'll be a good player. The kid from Nicholls State is a big kid and athletic, but really raw. He'll need to develop, that's probably the best word. He might be a guy you keep as the last DB or put him on the practice squad. He's a ways away. I won't say he doesn't have the talent, but he just needs to develop that ability. He's not a polished kid. He plays physical all the time, when he's off the ball or in zone, he's not as consistently productive. I love the pick of Colt Brennan in the sixth round. You get a guy who if you ask teams in December, they would have said best case second round, worst case third round. Everyone thought on the field he was a really good player. At the Senior Bowl, he weighed 187 pounds and looked like a high school quarterback in terms of size. He didn't show the arm strength and written off there. He threw better at the Combine, but teams had made up their mind. I wouldn't be shocked if two years from now he's 220 pounds and he's still the backup but he does well in the preseason when he's filling in that they could end up trading him for a third. In two or three years someone may be interested in him as a starter.

Q: How can the receivers help the offense?

A: Devin Thomas needs work because he's a raw kid. He's not real polished. He's a legit high 4.4s guy, but not a 4.40 guy. He can run through arm tackles and he can make plays in the open field when he has the ball. He's a legit big-play guy with natural hands who plucks the ball easily. He just needs refinement on the small stuff like route-running and setting up defenders, driving off the ball at the snap. In terms of physical gifts there's not much he doesn't have. Kelly is the other way. He doesn't have the explosiveness that Thomas does but when you look at just his natural football skills he knows how to catch the ball. He knows how to use his body and shield guys to get space when he needs space. He's a competitive runner after the catch, but he's not an explosive home run hitter. And he's the most competitive blocker I've ever graded. There were times I'd see him get a guy and he body slams him. He's a great blocker. So I wouldn't be surprised if he plays earlier than Thomas. Thomas will play here and there but Kelly's ability as a blocker could get him out there quick. His routes are so-so, but he has great hands and knows what he's doing a little more than Thomas, who is a more physically gifted raw kid. Kelly dropped because of a bad 40 time and then he didn't respond correctly, but two different guys told me he was a top-20 pick when they graded him on film.

Q: What were you disappointed in?

A: Well, Fred Davis to me, I don't understand why they took him in the second round. You have Cooley and you're not dumping or benching him. Unless you have a guy who's a perfect H-back and I don't think this guy can be. Part of being an H-back is that you have to block somebody. I don't know if he'll work hard enough to learn different things to play there. You have to be really involved and I don't know if he'll work hard enough to learn different things. If you're not a mature hard-working kid, tight end is a bad position to play. I love Rinehart. I'm never of taking a punter or kicker in the draft, but [Brooks] is a good punter. He should make it. When you look at Kareem Moore and Rob Jackson and Chris Horton, all three should help on special teams. While they may not be good enough to start, they're the type whose intensity and passion and competitiveness will lhelp them be good teams guys and if they have to start for a game or two, you can probably get by because they do all the fundamental things to be OK. They'll be the fourtn end, the fourth safety, who makes plays on special teams and who does everything in practice. It's a solid draft. It wasn't great, it wasn't terrible. I look at Dallas and they had less picks, but they might come out with more players who will end up being good in the long run.

Q: Did they make a major mistake not taking a defensive end?

A: It probably came down to they get to their pick and saying no one is here that they love. When you look at their defense and Phillip Daniels, there were guys like Phillip Merling and Calais Campbell, but they fit the mold of a Daniels. They wanted more of an edge speed guy. There were a few of those guys in this year's draft. Jacksonville flew up and got Harvey and I can understand if they didn't want to use a high pick on Quentin Groves because of off-field concerns. After those two, who else is left. You could gamble and reach on a guy and take Cliff Avril in the third round. He's an athlete, but he's not a good player. Or do you say you'll draft the best players and fill every other need and try to get by with someone you'll sign who's a veteran out there. They didn't want to reach.

Read Russ Lande's column in each issue of Warpath Newspaper. Subscribe online at www.warpathstore.com


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