You know what I was thinking we haven't talked about in a while? Our draft picks. Let's solve that right away! I figured I would take a shot at projecting what, if any, first-year impacts each of our draft picks will make. And no...this is not an excuse to write about the impact of a 7th round kicker.
(SPOILER ALERT: If you don't want to know what happens in 2014 with our rookies, do not read any further. The following material contains spoilers for the 2014 season.)
1. Trent Murphy, DE/DL/ILB/OLB/"Captain Nasty" -- Stanford (2nd Round, 47 Overall)
Alright, so I am not really clearing up where he will play for us in 2014, but it says here that Trent Murphy will be on the field early and often (likely as an OLB for the most part). If I know Haslett like I think I do,
he will invite us right in for tea and strumpets he will do his dead-level best to get Murphy on the field in positions where he can generate some havoc. There are few things more important to a defense than getting to the quarterback, and Murphy has shown a knack for just that. In his first year for the Redskins, I expect Murphy to make a notable, material contribution. He was honored two years in a row for his "exceptional performance and unheralded efforts" as the recipient of the Jack Huston Award at Stanford--an award voted on by his peers. Put simply, this is the kind of player you want chasing the quarterback on Sundays for your team. Barring catastrophe, this player will get his share of cheers in 2014 as he stands over downed quarterbacks. Don't get hung up on who comes off the field when Murphy comes on--Jim Haslett has been known to get creative with certain blitz packages, and I absolutely expect to see plays where Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Murphy all pin their ears back and attack the passer. As our top pick, he is expected to have an impact in his first year, and it says here he will meet those expectations.
2. Morgan Moses, OT -- Virginia (3rd Round, 66 Overall)
I spent the last year BEGGING for a right tackle out of this draft that could come in and contribute early for a revamped offensive line. As much as this pick made me happy, let's not confuse Moses with a blue-chip, sure-fire, can't miss kind of draft pick. He is not one. There is a reason he was available for us in the third round, although part of that reason has to do with other loaded positions in the 2014 draft and how teams attacked their own needs. Moses was considered a first-round talent by at least one talking head (Todd McShay), and while he slipped a couple rounds off of that, let's not forget that he is likely an upgrade for the Redskins. I am not going to pencil Moses in as a day one starter, because I think there will be a spirited competition for the right tackle spot in training camp, and we simply can't sleep on Tom Compton at this point. That said, even if he doesn't win the job in camp, I see him as our "playing with a chip on his shoulder" guy. Every draft has a ton of these players--you know, the guys who are "out to prove every team wrong that passed on them?" Whether it is injury-related or competition-related, I feel pretty confident that Moses will play in 2014...and when he does, he won't be coming off the field. Granted, this is tough talk from a proponent of changing things on our offensive line for the sake of changing things on our offensive line. Still, I do believe this player will perform at an above average level before the year is out, making his first-year impact greater than many of our recent third round picks.
3. Spencer Long, OG -- Nebraska (3rd Round, 78 Overall)
After the Redskins drafted their second offensive lineman in the third round of the draft, this was my order at the tavern : "Change of shorts at table five, please!" I was a little excited. Instead of the same positive, rosy outlooks you got in #1 and #2 though, let's start hitchhiking up Reality Avenue. Not all of our draft picks are going to make huge impacts in their first year. As much as I would love to plug our new toy in at guard and tout the turnover along the line, there are still a number of warm bodies that might serve the team better in Long's first year. (It is at least a reasonable assumption.) I am not throwing in the towel just quite yet on Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis, mostly because I am always interested in seeing what kind of performance a player comes up with when his back is against the wall. Chris Chester and Shawn Lauvao would look like your week one starters at this point if LeRibeus or Gettis can't knock one of them out. It stands to reason that only one of the pair of Gettis and LeRibeus would make the final 53-man roster, so we can hope for a very intense training camp in the trenches. As for Spencer Long, it would appear he would have to leapfrog quite a few players to crack the starting lineup which feels unlikely. The silver lining is that his presence puts the offensive line group in a real numbers crunch, leading to the aforementioned training camp battle. This isn't a terrible way to make an impact on a new team.
4. Bashaud Breeland, CB -- Clemson (4th Round, 102 Overall)
It is hard to suggest that the Redskins had any bigger needs than the ones they had (still have) in the secondary. The biggest position of need may still be at safety, but you won't see me upset at the selection of the young corner out of Clemson. Breeland was rated as high as a second-round talent by Mike Mayock, whom I trust implicitly. Mayock mentioned that he felt another year of school would have polished him into a first-round talent. This all means little at this point, as he is in the league now. DeAngelo Hall is not getting any younger and behind him, the future of our cornerback corps is in the hands of young and inexperienced players. Breeland fits right in there! He is regarded as a smooth athlete with "loose hips." I am guessing they mean something different than what it means when I suggest that Kevin Ewoldt has "loose hips." It is hard to see Breeland leapfrogging Tracy Porter and Richard Crawford at this point, but injuries have pushed raw defensive backs onto the field for us many times in recent memory. This means he has a chance to make an impact in his first year. If and when he finds the field, I am sure of one thing: the opposing quarterback is going to throw the ball his way. Typically, this does not bode well for the Redskins. I am prepared to say that he is better equipped to hold down the fort at corner with assistance from guys like Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather than some of the guys who have been tossed to the wolves in recent years. Still...I am struggling to make a case that he will make a big first-year impact for us at corner. Perhaps a realistic hope is that he learns enough along the way this year to not be solely responsible for giving up big plays if and when he gets on the field. He has 2015 written all over him.
5. Ryan Grant, WR -- Tulane (5th Round, 142 Overall)
Nobody among us was prepared to believe that Jay Gruden was NOT going to draft a wide receiver. Right? Even after signing DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the team was probably always looking for a guy in this draft they could develop. Assuming for the moment that he is one of the roughly six wide receivers the team is sure to keep, you have to expect that he will get some snaps along the way. As far as first-year impacts go, Ryan Grant might make the biggest splash by simply not making any waves--meaning he catches the very few balls that get thrown his way and hones his already highly-regarded route-running abilities. If the Redskins are lucky and there are no major injuries to top-line receivers, one would think that a player like Ryan Grant would be groomed to be ready when spots open up in one or two years.
6. Lache Seastrunk, RB -- Baylor (6th Round, 186 Overall)
I wrote about him yesterday. I think he is the kind of guy we will fall in love with in the preseason, but if we are lucky, we won't need to rely on him in 2014. Seastrunk's first-year impact is likely to be minimal. My guess is that Jay Gruden will also fall in love with his abilities and find ways to use him, but he will be too smart to create a significant distraction from what should be a solid 1-2 punch of Alfred Morris and Roy Helu.
7. Ted Bolser, TE -- Indiana (7th Round, 217 Overall)
I struggle to see ol' Teddy making this team, making it difficult for him to provide any kind of impact at all. Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul are going to be hard to unseat. Unless Bolser is the next Lorenzo Alexander on special teams (a point I could make about countless guys who aren't likely to make the team), he is either waiver wire or practice squad material.
8. Zach Hocker, K -- Arkansas (7th Round, 228 Overall)
Ahhhhhhhh, yes...the famous seventh-round kicker. No offense, Zach, but I just don't see myself building a strong case for any impact at this point in time. As a kicker who took criticism for "weakening" leg strength in his college career (Nolan Nawrocki's words, not mine), I don't know how he would be a lock to even be a kickoff specialist. I don't understand this draft pick, but I also don't mind it. Yes, there were other players out there who could have been optically better for us to draft, but the truth is that we are thin on genuine opportunities for seventh-round players at most positions. Worst-case scenario: Bruce Allen found a guy with his last pick to create some competition for a young guy on the roster who might have otherwise felt like his roster spot was being given to him. If Kai Forbath has a great season in 2014, maybe--just maybe--it will be because he pushed himself just a little bit harder this summer to be ready. A stretch? Probably...but there you go Zach! I will take that kind of impact on my special teams any day!