After a tumultuous start to the NFL offseason, the Washington Redskins were able to get their act together by signing ILB Zach Brown, S DJ Swearinger, and DTs Terrell Mcclain and Stacey McGee. While these signings all improved the defense, the team still has a long way to go.
Given their current needs and history of drafting, the Redskins will, most likely, be selected either be an inside linebacker, defensive lineman, safety, quarterback, or running back. While there is a plethora of options and talent at each position, a few prospects have risen to the top of my big board. Here is my breakdown of each possible Redskins selection, starting with the players I like most.
Reuben Foster, ILB, Alabama
Measurables: 6’0 229 lbs *Did not participate in combine*
When watching Reuben Foster’s tape, the first thing that jumps out is his explosiveness. He’s a vicious hitter that always seems to be involved in the tackle due to his elite lateral speed and smooth hips. He is a consistent tackler that always stays low and strikes the ball carrier with his strength. In coverage, the All-SEC backer is above average, again displaying why he is the most complete LB in the draft.
One area in which Foster struggles is his hand usage versus bigger opponents. Also, multiple scouts have expressed worries about his football IQ and instincts, does his elite athleticism allow him to make mental mistakes?
Haason Reddick, ILB, Temple
Measurables: 6’1 237 lb 4.52 40 YD Dash 36.5 Vert
Hasson Reddick could help the Redskins in various facets of defense. He was recruited as a CB, played DE, and is now viewed as an ILB in the Redskins’ 3-4 defense. While Reddick is technically a “tweener”, that identification should be viewed as a positive rather than a negative.
The Temple alum is a pure athlete with fluid hip movement and can change direction without hesitation. One of his best qualities is how twitched up he is, and how instinctive he plays. As a pass rusher, he has elite bend around the edge and pursues ball carriers well. While he had 21.5 TFLs in his senior season, with greater hand usage he could raise his pass rushing skills to another level.
I love his potential at linebacker because he excels at avoiding blockers at the 2nd level, finishing tackles, and instinctively hitting gaps to make a tackle in the backfield. Against Memphis, he played as a standing up DE and a 7 tech and racked up 11 tackles, and 2 sacks.
Jonathan Allen, DE, Alabama
Measurables: 6’3 286lb 5.00 40 YD Dash
Straight out of the DMV, Jonathan Allen made a forceful impact for Alabama with 28.5 sacks and 44.5 TFLs in his career. While Allen started out the draft season as a consensus top 5 pick, concerns about shoulder injuries have caused his stock to fall to a mid round 1 range.
While his combine numbers may not match those of other d-linemen like Malik McDowell or Solomon Thomas, he does have very intriguing traits. Allen is versatile on the line and moves his hips feet and hands all in a fluid strong motion.
A product of Herndon VA, he not only plays with above average strength, but he can also make plays in space. He can redirect offensive linemen at his point of attack by using his strong legs and precise hand placement. While tackling, he drives his hips and gets to the ball with an elite ability to close.
He has a high football IQ, which allows him to break down the play quickly. Alongside that, his teammates regard him as a good leader.
In the Redskins scheme, he would be a great fit as a 3-4 DE.
If you asked me prior to free agency if I thought the Redskins should draft an RB in the first round, I would’ve shut down the idea immediately. Now, after signing both Zach Brown and DJ Swearinger, and moving Sua Cravens to safety, I’m feeling more comfortable with the defense. With that said, I still would take Reddick, Allen, or Foster without hesitation over any RB in the draft.
Most likely the pick will either be Christian Mccaffrey of Stanford, or Dalvin Cook of FSU.
Cook has great footwork that allows him to change direction or gear up/down in a flash and pairs those qualities with great vision. Allen might stray away from him due to his issues with fumbling.
Mccaffery is extremely versatile, as he could be a threat as a slot receiver and halfback. He is elite in the open field, as he forced 64 missed tackles in his senior season.
Jabrill Peppers, FS, Michigan
Measurables: 5’11 213lb 4.46 40 YD Dash 19 bench reps
Jabrill Peppers may be the most polarizing defensive prospect of the NFL draft in the past decade. Some view Peppers as a versatile athletic safety that can play inside the box, while others see him as an overhyped return man with no clear positional fit in the NFL.
I gear towards the latter. While Peppers certainly generated enough headlines throughout the season to gain a round 1 grade, his tape showed a 2nd round prospect… at best.
Before my criticism, I want to highlight the positives in Peppers’ tape. The Michigan alum is fluid in space and shows good instincts and acceleration all over the field. Alongside that, he can make downhill tackles and utilizes a solid closing burst to bring down ball carriers.
With that said, there are far too many negatives associated with Peppers to warrant a selection at 17. First off, he does not fit a single position in the NFL. While a prospect like Sua Cravens last year proved he could excel as both ILB and as an FS, Peppers does not fit the bill and is more of a tweener than a “jack of all trades” prospect.
The most worrisome quality about Peppers is the complete lack of ball skills or skills in coverage in general. Though he played 12 games over his senior season, he managed to defend just one pass, a ball that was tipped by a teammate that fell into his hands.
Best case scenario, he struggles in his rookie season much like Landon Collins and develops into a decent starter at safety down the road.
Malik Mcdowell, DT, Michigan State
Measurables: 6’6 295 lbs 4.85 40 YD Dash
Malik McDowell is an athletic freak, and also a very intriguing late round 1 pick. He is extremely long and uses quick and strong hands to displace offensive linemen off the snap. A native of Detroit, he pursues ball carriers efficiently with lateral movement and is explosive as a tackler.
In order to get around offensive linemen, he displays great bend and also utilizes a strong bull rushes versus weaker linemen.
While he possesses many traits that could cause him to develop into an elite defensive lineman, he will need time to be coached up. Another knock on McDowell is his attitude. Scouts and writers have questioned his work ethic on more than a few occasions. A weak or questionable work ethic is extremely worrisome, especially for a “project” pick like McDowell.
As a football player, he was out of balance at times, and his narrow stance causes him to get pushed out of his gaps occasionally.
In the Redskins’ defense, he would be a 3-4 DE.
The Redskins could go one of three directions at 17 if they wanted to select a QB with either Patrick Mahomes, Mitch Truibisky, or DaShaun Watson. Bruce Allen should select none of these prospects.
Bring back Kirk Cousins on a long term contract is absolutely imperative to the success of the Redskins. Not the time to get fancy, Bruce. Get the deal done.