2014 NFL Draft Prospects Who Could Be Instant Starters for Redskins
The first step in restoring the Redskins following a disappointing 3-13 season has already been completed—Jay Gruden was hired as head coach to lead a new regime in Washington.
After free agency, the next step will be in early May when general manager Bruce Allen and Co. travel to Radio City Music Hall to help overhaul the Redskins roster via the draft.
While the Redskins can't fix everything with just six picks and no first-round selection, they still have a chance to find value. And if a rookie can immediately contribute, said value grows.
Check out some of the draft prospects who may pop up on the Redskins' radar and who would have a chance to start come early September.
Despite drafting two safeties last year, the Redskins secondary remains in need of reinforcement. And who better to fill the void than the violent missile of a safety more commonly referred to as Calvin Pryor?
Although it's unlikely Pryor makes it out of the first round, the Redskins would be there with the No. 34 pick to catch the junior safety if he were to slip.
Pryor is a versatile safety in that he can efficiently cover a deep zone yet strike down to make bone-crushing hits on ball-carriers, demonstrating aggressiveness, natural instincts and explosiveness.
In an effort to provide Robert Griffin III with more protection, expect the Redskins to address the offensive line, especially throughout the interior.
As Matt Miller describes in the clip above, Clemson's Brandon Thomas isn't the most physically gifted athlete, but he has raw power and he knows how to play in a majority of spots up front.
If the Redskins were taking my advice, it'd include moving current left guard Kory Lichtensteiger over to center and plugging in a guy like Thomas between 'Steiger and left tackle Trent Williams.
Replacing the retiring London Fletcher will be no easy task, but a guy like Connecticut's Yawin Smallwood would help fill the gap left at inside linebacker.
Smallwood is a long (6'3", 236 pounds) and athletic inside linebacker who can effectively rush the passer. He also has demonstrated the ability to drop into coverage—a trait the Redskins have lacked.
Possessing great awareness and game discipline, Smallwood would benefit alongside a reliable tackler in a 3-4 scheme and he'd help provide the coordinator with more versatile play-calling opportunities.
Not to write off the talent the Redskins currently have at tight end, but I believe Jay Gruden addresses the position at some point this offseason, whether it be through the draft or through free agency.
Sticking with the draft, a guy like Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins is a prospect the Redskins could see still around at No. 34. Although his size and athleticism warrant first-round grades (and he'll get them), other tight end prospects like Eric Ebron and Jace Amaro seem to be more likely to land in the top 32.
In addition to his 6'6", 276-pound frame, ASJ is a natural pass-catcher and clearly a favorite in most contested situations. But perhaps what teams will appreciate most is ASJ's blocking ability, which pairs perfectly with what he offers as a receiving type.
Imagine a tight end tandem that pairs Jordan Reed and ASJ. Nothing but size, athleticism and playmaking ability.
We've all heard the saying, "He can be as good as he wants to be." And when it comes to Miami tackle Seantrel Henderson, the expression couldn't be more true.
Standing at a massive 6'8", 345 pounds, Henderson possesses all the physical tools to be a top-notch right tackle in the NFL. His work ethic and inconsistent effort, however, could convince scouts to pass, which would ultimately push Henderson down the board.
I've been a proponent of Henderson for a while now, but only at the right value. While I still believe having him in the fourth round holds value, the beginning of the fifth would feel more like winning on a scratch-off ticket.
In addition to taking well to professional coaching at the next level, Henderson's landing spot will play a huge role in his development. The (hopefully) open battle for right tackle in Washington should give Henderson plenty of motivation as a rookie, while strong leadership personalities on offense like Alfred Morris, Pierre Garcon, Trent Williams and Robert Griffin III would help encourage Henderson's transition to fulfilling his potential and becoming a Pro Bowl offensive lineman.
Despite being touted as one of the draft's better pass-rushers (and possessing the tape to prove it), Christian Jones has just as bright a future in the NFL as a 3-4 inside linebacker.
Jones has a unique combination of athleticism, length and natural football instinct, making him a versatile linebacker who will have no trouble cutting his teeth at the next level. But positional consistency—something he didn't see at Florida State—will play the largest role in Jones' development.
While Jones' speed and ability to get after the quarterback are attractive, having that same type effectively drop into coverage will go even further. Jones' awareness and instinctive play mean so much to his game, and he'd thrive taking over for London Fletcher.
In case you couldn't tell already, I've fallen pretty hard for Christian Jones. Check out my entire scouting report on him.
Sticking with the belief that Gruden will address the position this offseason, Iowa's C.J. Fiedorowicz is a versatile tight end with underrated receiving ability. His immense frame and strong blocking ability would pair well with Jordan Reed, who has more fluid athleticism and playmaking ability.
There's no doubt Fiedorowicz's blocking is starting caliber, even as a rookie. Sprinkle in passing targets as his first season progresses and he's a legitimate and respected threat come his sophomore campaign.
After dominating as a left tackle at North Dakota State, Billy Turner best projects as a guard at the next level. At 6'6", 314 pounds, he's extremely athletic for his size yet powerful enough to control defenders off the line.
Aside from Trent Williams, nearly every player along the Redskins offensive line is replaceable following their play last season. Turner would help to shore up the interior, and he'd be able to do so after a strong rookie training camp.
It may sound like harping when it comes to talking about the Redskins offensive line and the dire need of an upgrade, but when you're talking about the same unit that protects a quarterback who costed your franchise the farm, it's a unit that can't be discussed enough.
Morgan Moses is a large and strong tackle who'd fit perfectly on the Redskins' right side, replacing the struggling Tyler Polumbus. He's effective as a pass-blocker, utilizing his athleticism and footwork, while also contributing as a run-blocker with speed and strength.
While I do believe Moses projects well at the next level, he'd cost the Redskins their first pick of the draft—and that's assuming he even makes it that far.
The Redskins need to upgrade their receiving corps, and adding a guy with size would be ideal.
While a sizable target like Florida State's Kelvin Benjamin may still be around at No. 34, Washington could wait a round or two longer and look at a guy like Donte Moncrief from Ole Miss.
Although Moncrief doesn't necessarily possess the fluid athleticism or explosiveness that pops on tape, he's an experienced receiver with good route-running skills and reliable hands. At 6'3", 226 pounds, Moncrief is a tough matchup for cornerbacks and he has a strong ability to earn yards after the catch.
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