After making the playoffs for the first time in three years, the Washington Redskins still have many holes to fill with the draft. By signing only two players in free agency, thier general manager Scot Mccloughan made it clear that bringing in more youth is the Redskins’ path back to the playoffs.
*Note: This article presents the best case scenario draft for the Redskins. It is not a prediction of what will happen. Also, Scot Mccloughan will most likely trade down at various points during the draft, and I chose not to include any possible trade scenarios.
Round 1: 21st overall
Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville
After losing both Jason Hatcher and Terrance Knighton in free agency, the defensive trenches have become the biggest need for the Redskins. Last season Washington surrendered 4.8 yards per carry, and also were in the bottom ten teams in the league in terms of rushing yards per game. Out of Louisville, Rankins performed extremely well at the Senior Bowl due to his quickness and athleticism. Possessing an especially powerful lower half gives Rankins the ability to take on double teams. The Louisville alum also hustles consistently, which enables him to chase down ball carriers in the backfield. One negative is that Rankins is still developing as a pass rusher. The silver lining is that he still has the potential to blossom into a threat for quarterbacks. Scouts made note of Rankins’ versatility with pass rush moves during the Senior Bowl, which reinforces Rankins extremely high potential.
Round 2: 53rd overall
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
With uncertainty surrounding Chris Culliver’s ability to bounce back from his horrendous 2015 season, an early selection at corner would be a welcome move for the Redskins. With a resumé boasting numerous accolades, this junior out of Virginia Tech would be an extremely valuable acquisition the second round. Fuller excels with the intangibles that often translate well to the NFL. For example, Fuller plays with a high IQ, is physically tough, and also has been regarded as one of college football’s most coachable players. While on the field, his success continues. Agile and athletic, Fuller also comes down with interceptions due to his impeccable ball skills. One area in which he struggles is his press coverage, but even if the former Tech student does get beat, he is quick to recover. Since he plays aggressively, he occasionally gets flagged for pass interference. Furthermore, Fuller is confident playing man to man, and is also a natural playmaker so he should not struggle with his transition to the pressures of the NFL. Pairing Fuller alongside Bashaud Breeland in the following years would be one step in transforming Washington’s defense into an elite defensive unit.
Round 3: 84th overall
Deandre Houston-Carson, FS, William and Mary
Per Scot Mccloughan’s philosophy, Washington did not pursue a clear solution at safety during free agency. Though the Redskins’ cap space remains high, the secondary still represents one of the weakest spots on the team. After Safety Jalen Ramsey, the talent level in the draft drops off considerably so waiting until the end of day two is the best solution. Though Houston-Carson played in the FCS, he has demonstrated he can compete at a higher level. With a 4.54 time in the 40 yard dash, the former William and Mary student also possesses an instinctive ability to change direction, while playing well in zone coverage. He has proven to be very durable as a four-year starter, and his teammate voted him team captain. The FCS competition Carson faced could be a reason to worry, but does not deem him undraftable by any standard. The graduating senior’s love of football as well as his ability to contribute on special teams will also help him transition into a future Pro Bowl safety.
Round 4: 120th overall
Charone Peake, WR, Clemson
With both Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson’s contracts expiring after this season, a mid round selection of a wide receiver would be ideal for the Redskins. Out of Clemson, NFL stars such as Deandre Hopkins, and Sammy Watkins have overshadowed Peake. However, Peake’s impressive performance at his pro day including a 4.37 time in 40 yard dash. With his 6’3 height, he also is a threat with his ability to catch jump balls, and his precisely ran routes are also impactful. Despite a torn ACL in 2013 Peake made a full recovery, and is still able to create deep separation. His personality and work ethic are both well regarded, and Peake does not shy away from contact after the catch. When he doesn’t have the ball, he blocks very well during run plays. The Clemson product has struggled with the consistency of his hands, but scouts agree that he has the talent become a primary receiver in the NFL. Charone Peake would give Washington the big physical receiver, which they have lacked in recent years. Peake has the talent to become a dynamic duo with Kirk Cousins.
Round 5: 158th overall
Antonio Morrison, MLB, Florida
Most front offices believe that one draft selection a year can be used on a prospect with possible off the field liabilities. Morrison was initially projected to go in the late second or early third round. However, his incidents off the field have become increasingly more prevalent. Not attending the NFL combine dropped his stock sharply and he has now fallen to a day three prospect. Though his off the field issues might pose problems, the Florida product has a strong, positive presence in the locker room. In fact, his teammates voted him captain for not one, but two years. Touted as one of the hardest workers in college football, he is also an outstanding tackler and hits holes with high aggression. Though he tore his ACL two years ago, Morrison made a quick recovery and was able to lead Florida’s defense as a senior. With quick closing speed, paired with outstanding lateral quickness Morrison can make plays across the entire field. In man to man pass coverage he can be exploited, and he occasionally over commits with his angels, but most scouts believe the positives in his tape outweigh the negatives by a long shot. If Morrison can clean up his off field behavior, he could become one of the best sleepers in this draft, and be a leader of the Redskins defense in the upcoming years.
Round 6: 187th overall
Graham Glasgow, OG/C, Michigan
For the first time in years, Washington’s offensive line performed generally well this season. One area in which they struggled was their interior where Kory Lichtensteiger struggled, and Shawn Lauvao went down injured. Glasgow would provide versatility and potential to Jay Gruden’s O-line. A three year starter out of Michigan, Glasgow has a strong base to fend off a potential bullrush and also has an aggressive first move in run blocking. Though his hand placement was suspect during his senior, Coach Jim Harbaugh still called Glasgow a leader if the locker room and complimented his consistency. Glasgow has played both guard and center, providing versatility for his future NFL suitor. Finding a future starting offensive lineman in the later rounds of the draft is the equivalent of finding a needle in a haystack, but Glasgow has the talent to become a difference maker in the NFL.
Round 7: 239th overall
Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia
Keith Marshall ran a 4.31 time in 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, which ranked first for all running backs. As an explosive runner with the ability to weave through blocks, Marshall averaged 5.5 yards per carry at Georgia. Even with his talent, he never gained a bell cow role due to the team’s depth at running back. Numerous injuries sustained over his college career, Marshall’s ranks low in the draft, but he could become a breakout player for Washington’s struggling running game.