It's the time of year where everybody and their mothers are putting together mock drafts. I thought I'd try a little something different with this mock draft, a hypothetical trade back scenario. I'm working with the idea that the top defensive backs have already been selected, and maybe a quarterback has fallen further than expected. A little optimistically, I gave the Redskins an extra third and fourth round pick in exchange for the 51st overall pick. That gives the Redskins two picks in the third, fourth and fifth rounds in a very deep draft class. Here's what I came away with.
Third Round: Darius Slay, Cornerback, Mississippi State.
Teammate Johnthan Banks has caused Slay to go slightly under the radar during this draft process, but Slay might end up being a better corner. He stands at 6'0", 192 pounds but has long arms that he uses to his full advantage. His length enables him to disturb receivers in press coverage, while also allowing him to challenge for the ball effectively when thrown his way. Slay has an impressive knack for getting disrupting passes either by getting his hands on the football or his arm in the way of the receiver, which is obviously a good habit to have. He's a solid special teams player and won't be a liability in run support.
Third Round: Ryan Swope, Wide Receiver, Texas A&M.
I've written about Swope before, and people doubt that he falls to the third, but I still have a hard time projecting him as an X or Z receiver in the NFL. If he's seen as just a slot receiver, there's no way he's taken before the third round. However, with his history as a running back in high school, and experience taking screen passes he could be a perfect fit in a 'Percy Harvin' type role in the Redskins offense. Even if that fails, Swope will probably be one of the most productive players in this draft as his route running and reliable hands make him a quality slot receiver.
Fourth Round: Brian Schwenke, Center, California.
Schwenke is the only hold-over from my previous mock draft, but the interior lineman is such a perfect fit in a zone blocking system, that I can't resist picking him up again. He's an excellent run blocker, but I'm even more impressed with his ability to stonewall defenders who have 30-plus pounds on him. He's too quick for defenders to get to his edge and sets a brilliant anchor to stop a defender in their tracks. I like him best as a Center, but he needs a lot of work on his shotgun snapping, frequently snapping the ball low. Schwenke can also play left guard and could challenge last year's third round pick Josh LeRibeus for the starting job there should Kory Lichtensteiger be let go.
Fourth Round: Duke Williams, Safety, Nevada.
Williams is a little bit of a project at the free safety position and is someone you probably wouldn't want him starting day one in an ideal world. He's raw and a little undersized (6'0", 190 pounds) but he has tremendous range which is probably the most important trait of a top free safety, at least for my money anyway. He's able to close on routes and running backs quickly and is more than willing to take on bigger backs in run defense. He can be a little overaggressive at times, leading to him getting sucked in on play-action, but he has a lot to work with and could easily develop into a starter down the road.
Fifth Round: Kevin Riddick, Linebacker, North Carolina.
Riddick has had an impressive draft process to date, catching the eye at both the Senior Bowl and the NFL Combine. At 6'1", 243 pounds he has a good body to play inside linebacker in the 3-4 scheme. He has great instincts as a run defender, flying to the football and laying down some big hits on running backs. But he doesn't freelance, he sticks to his assignments and reads the play well. He struggles in coverage and lacks the speed required to recover against quicker backs and tight ends, meaning he's likely limited to just two downs during his early years in the NFL. However, in the Redskins 3-4, he could be subbed out for a corner in nickle packages and passing situations, limiting his exposure to coverage responsibilities.
Fifth Round: Reid Fragel, Offensive Tackle, Ohio State.
Offensive tackle is a position in this draft where I think, if you can't get a guy in the first two rounds, you're probably looking at getting a project guy. Fragel is exactly that. The former tight end carries an athletic 6'8", 308 pound frame, ideal for a tackle in a zone blocking scheme. He's still raw technically from his transition to tackle, but he flashes excellent quickness which allows him to meet speed rushers and ride them around the edge. He displays solid run blocking strength, but still has plenty of room to grow and maybe add some more weight for extra power. I realize the Redskins already have a project tackle prospect in Tom Compton, but with very little depth at tackle, a guy with big upside like Fragel could be the best the Redskins can do in this draft.
Sixth Round: Justice Cunningham, Tight End, South Carolina.
Cunningham was a guy I hadn't even heard of this time last week. I happened to be watching safety Eric Reid against South Carolina and Cunningham caught my eye. He made some pretty impressive catches and picked up good yards after the catch. But Cunningham's best aspect is without doubt his blocking. He played as practically a third offensive tackle at times, frequently being left to block a defensive end or blitzing linebacker on his own in obvious passing situations. He lands a heavy punch, disrupting pass rushers rhythm, and uses that advantage to set an anchor and contain the block. Against the run, he does a good job of turning the shoulder of a defender to either seal the edge or create a cutback lane. While he was mainly used as a blocker, he flashed some nifty moves to get himself open and has above average hands. His long arms combined with his big frame offer a big catching radius. However, Cunningham isn't a freak athlete that jumps off the charts. He ran a slow 40 at the combine and probably won't run away from anybody in the NFL.
Seventh Round: MarQuies Gray, Quaterback/Wide Receiver, Minnesota.
Gray was another name I had on a list of Harvin alternatives and could be worth a flyer in the seventh round. He's holding his pro day at Minnesota today (with Redskins representatives present) and is working out at quarterback, wide receiver and even some tight end. Gray moved between quarterback and receiver in college, displaying a strong arm and ball handling skills as a quarterback and good hands and yards after the catch ability as a receiver. His versatility could make him an interesting weapon and his running ability could be used in the Pistol option game.
There you have it, my second mock of the year. Critique away!