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Our resident draft guys Steve and Tiller have both posted their latest Redskins mock draft efforts, so I thought I may as well join in and put one of my own together. I won't do an entire mock offseason like Tiller did, because I have no clue when it comes to salary cap. I will simply say that I do believe the Redskins will find a way to get at least one fairly big name in the door, potentially by pushing his cap hit into next season and beyond. I'm also going to work on the premise that the Redskins let Fred Davis and Chris Cooley walk. Here we go.
Second Round: DJ Swearinger, Safety, South Carolina.
I've seen a lot of people put Swearinger in the third round, but ultimately I think he has too much to offer to not find his way into the second, if not higher. Every time I watch him, I find myself impressed with his versatility. He found himself playing corner against some good receivers for large spells this year due to injuries on the South Carolina defense, but he did a very good job there. Swearinger displays good mirror ability when covering receivers one on one, which is a valuable skill for a safety in a defense that likes to call Cover-0 blitzes. But he can also anticipate throws when sat in coverage and break on them well. He's a solid tackler, which shouldn't be under-valued on a Redskins unit that has had its fair share of poor tacklers. I also like his potential as a run defender in the box, even though I prefer him as a free safety to a strong safety. I think he's versatile enough to play either position and even as a slot corner in nickel packages.
Third Round: Jordan Reed, Tight End, Florida.
I know, I know, a tight end in the third round? What is he thinking? Remember I'm working on the premise that Cooley and Davis are gone, leaving us with just Paulsen at tight end. Reed is more of a 'joker' tight end than a traditional inline tight end, think Aaron Hernandez. Standing at an athletic 6'3", 240 pounds, Reed lined up as a wide receiver, slot receiver, split tight end, inline tight end, H-Back and even took some snaps as a running back. That kind of versatility would be a huge threat in this Redskins offense. Reed runs solid routes and has big yards after the catch ability flashing wide receiver quality elusiveness. I think that kind of a weapon justifies the third round selection over perhaps bigger needs.
Fourth Round: B.W. Webb, Cornerback, William & Mary.
Webb is a small school corner coming off a really good senior bowl week. He did an excellent job against some of the top receivers in the draft in one on one drills, displaying good mirror ability and enough speed to keep in stride with the likes of Baylor's Terrance Williams on vertical routes. Webb proved this week that he wasn't just a big fish in a small pond at William & Mary, but that he could compete against the best receivers in this draft. That should help put his name on the map and will bring into the third or fourth round range. He's not the tallest corner at 5'10", but I think his play makes up for that and he could contribute early on in nickel packages.
Fifth Round: Xavier Nixon, Offensive Tackle, Florida.
Nixon is a long, athletic tackle that can use his frame to keep edge rushers at a distance when he gets everything together. He has been pretty inconsistent with his footwork and balance, leading to him reaching for defenders and getting beat. But that's technique that can be worked on. One of Nixon's biggest strengths is his hand power. He plays with heavy hands that if he lands them on a defender, almost always wins him the block. In the run game, his punch is very strong, and that sometimes makes up for other technical issues in his play. He's certainly athletic enough for the zone blocking scheme, and as a fifth rounder, wouldn't necessarily have to start right away. He could compete with last year's late round pick Tom Compton and any potential free agents for the starting position, and is at worst another developmental project.
Fifth Round: Brian Schwenke, Center, California.
Center isn't a big need given how well Will Montgomery played last year and the versatility of 2012 draft picks Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis. But on a team that is so centered around the run, offensive line depth is always a solid pick. Schwenke is purely a zone-blocking center, which allows LeRibeus and Gettis to focus on their more natural positions at left and right guard respectively. Schwenke was a stand out performer for me during Senior Bowl practices this week, stonewalling just about every defender he faced. He was incredibly quick to the edge and never allowed a defender to get level with his hip. Once he won the position, he would anchor nicely and the play was over. It was incredibly good technique from a 6'4", 300 pound center taking on defensive tackles that were, at times, 30 pounds heavier than him. The chance to sit Schwenke behind Montgomery for a couple of years and develop him while giving us excellent depth would be huge for the Redskins offense so heavily based on the running game.
Sixth Round: Michael Williams, Tight End, Alabama.
Another tight end?? This is crazy! I know, but hear me out. Williams is a big body at 6'5", 272 pounds, which almost makes him closer to an offensive lineman than a tight end. He's one of the better blocking tight ends in the draft and would fill a big role for the Redskins as almost a sixth offensive lineman. He's also a solid pass protector and can help double-team pass rushers or pick up an extra blitzer. The Redskins could use him as a blocking tight end and in the H-Back role that has made it's way into the Pistol offense. His red-zone threat is obvious at his size, but could be developed to use his added size and weight to create separation and become an above average receiving threat as well.
Seventh Round: Zach Line, Running Back, SMU.
What would a Mike Shanahan draft be without a running back or an SMU player? Line draws a lot of similarities to last years sixth rounder Alfred Morris. He's very much a one-cut downhill kind of runner which fits the zone scheme perfectly. Much like Morris, he doesn't have break-away speed, but his legs never stop working to pick up extra yards. He's versatile enough to play some fullback and H-Back rather than just a pure running back which helps him find a roster spot. His pass protection skills and hands are better than that of Morris, making him a potential third down and obvious passing situations candidate.
That was slightly longer that I thought it would turn out, so apologies for that. Let me know your thoughts and which prospects you might prefer.