Who Should Be on Washington Redskins' Short List in Round 2 of 2014 NFL Draft?
Coming off a 3-13 record in 2013, general manager Bruce Allen will have to juggle the long-term needs of the franchise with the increased expectations that owner Daniel Snyder's spending spree has brought about for the 2014 season.
With offensive tackle, defensive end, safety and cornerback standing as the biggest positions of need, let's take a look at Washington's short list of prospects for Round 2.
Bradley Roby, CB
With a secondary that allowed opposing quarterbacks to complete 65.6 percent of their passes last season, Washington would be wise to target a cover man early in the draft.
Newcomer Tracy Porter, on his fourth team in four years, certainly isn't the type of impact player who'll foster much improvement on this front.
Enter Bradley Roby.
Equipped with the size and speed that teams covet from the cornerback position, Roby is a first-round talent but also a first-rate head case.
Already rated to have below-average intangibles by ESPN.com (insider subscription required)—stemming from bouts of immaturity and a battery charge at Ohio State—Roby didn't do himself any favors when he accepted a reduced DUI charge nearly two weeks before the draft, via Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com.
Fully capable of stepping into a role as a nickelback as a rookie, Roby is both an upgrade over Porter and a potential successor to the aging DeAngelo Hall.
Jason Verrett, CB
Fast, physical and productive, the lone trait keeping Jason Verrett from being a sure-fired, first-round pick is size.
Generously listed at 5'9", draft experts like Dane Brugler of CBSSports.com question his ability to cover bigger and stronger receivers at the NFL level.
Asked by Stefan Stevenson of the Star-Telegram about this concern, Verrett downplayed the importance of size.
"My size hasn’t stopped me from making plays, so all I’m going to have to do is get smarter to make plays in the league because there’s going to be more smart receivers,” Verrett said.
Further spouting off about his game, Verrett didn't mince words in an interview on NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk about his accomplishments at TCU:
I mean I shut down a lot of elite receivers. You know Odell Beckham, Kenny Stills, Terrance Williams, Eric Ward. I shut down a lot of receivers and I led the nation in the last two years with 38 passes defended, 30 pass breakups, and 8 interceptions. So I feel like the film speaks more for itself than actually me telling you that I’m a ball hawker or that I tackle well because I feel like I’m showcasing all of that on the football field.
Reminiscent of Asante Samuel in how he jumps routes, Verrett has also been compared to Cortland Finnegan by Nolan Nawrocki of NFL.com, an omen that bodes well for his ability to develop into a No. 2 corner.
Jimmie Ward, S
Plagued by missed tackles and an absence of big plays, Jimmie Ward could be an elixir to what ailed the Redskins' safeties in 2013.
A sure tackler with cornerback-like coverage skills, Ward amassed seven interceptions and 95 tackles in his senior season at Northern Illinois.
Somewhat of a poor man's Earl Thomas, if not for his lack of size, Ward's production and skill set would warrant a selection in the first round.
While the level of competition Ward faced in college could limit his initial impact as a rookie, the presence of veterans like Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark would allow the Redskins to be patient.
Stephon Tuitt, DL
As a unit that just mustered five sacks in 2013, Washington's defensive line is going to need more than Jason Hatcher to improve on this front.
After tallying 21.5 sacks in his collegiate career at Notre Dame, Stephon Tuitt is a player the 'Skins should target to alleviate this problem.
Praised by Rob Rang of CBSSports.com for his "impressive combination of length, power and surprising quickness," you can attribute Tuitt's sliding draft stock to questions about his motor and conditioning.
There's also Tuitt's broken left foot, which was discovered at the NFL combine.
Although he was unable to workout at Notre Dame's pro day as a result of this, a promising sign was Tuitt's weight.
Healthy and in shape, Tuitt would have a real shot at starting opposite Hatcher in the Redskins' 3-4 front.
Cyrus Kouandjio, OT
While the team's 30th-ranked scoring defense last season gets most of the attention, Washington's dismal 3-13 record falls at the feet—or knee, rather—of Robert Griffin III.
Lacking the mobility he had in his rookie campaign, Griffin was forced into becoming more of a pocket passer in 2013.
Playing behind a mediocre line, the results weren't pretty. Almost across the board, Griffin's passing numbers decreased in his sophomore season.
While a return to health should aid Griffin in his development as a passer, Washington would be wise to upgrade the unit it has protecting its franchise quarterback.
After addressing the interior of the offensive line in free agency, the Skins should look to the draft to find an alternative to right tackle Tyler Polumbus.
Compared to former first-round pick D.J. Fluker by Rob Rang of CBSSports.com, Cyrus Kouandjio is a good prospect to start with.
Highly touted coming out of high school, Kouandjio held his own against vaunted SEC defenses in his career at Alabama.
An athletic specimen, technique and durability are all that stand between Kouandjio and a long career as an NFL starter.