Well, I will state right off that I know a fraction of what Mel Kiper does with regard to the college prospects coming into the draft. But I do know what I like and I have a feel for at least what I think the Redskins need. With that in mind, here is my first ever Big Board for the Washington Redskins. This board is designed as if the Redskins have every pick. So each pick assumes that the Redskins are on the clock and the players selected prior to that pick are off the board. Essentially, each pick answers the question: Who should the Redskins pick at this spot assuming the players above were off the board? (And obviously, each pick assumes that I am in charge of the pick.) Today's Ten Yard Fight gets us started with 10 players - with input from everyone out there we will build it out in the days ahead. I am not going to overload you on individual stats for each guy...in the rarified air of the Top 10, there is little quibbling that these guys are 1st round material. Mel Kiper, eat your heart out.
Ten Yard Fight - 10 Chances To Make One Good Point
1. Ndamukong Suh, DT, Nebraska - This was hard to do given the glaring need to upgrade the offensive line. But in my opinion, to bypass a talent like Suh would be criminal. Game-changing defensive tackles are rarely available once the dust has settled after the top-half of the 1st round. While there are exceptions, truly elite defensive tackles are rarely unearthed beyond the 1st round. At 6'4", 300 lbs, Suh could play a number of positions along the defensive line, in any number of defensive formations. I would not consider myself a "best player available" kind of general manager - I think you have to consider what your team needs are and weigh them heavily in your draft decision. That said, we were 4-12 last year everyone. Even though our defense is largely considered the strength of our team, a guy like Suh could still come in and make it better. Imagine a defensive front that consisted of some combination of Haynesworth, Suh, Jarmon, Carter, and Orakpo. If you think you can't control a game with an all-universe defensive line, you are sorely mistaken. The addition of Suh could very well accomplish that. As for the defensive stylings of Jim Haslett and where each man would line up...I have said it before and I will say it again, "Good coaches get their best players on the field and put them in positions to succeed." I have no reason to believe Haslett would refuse to build a defensive philosophy around a group of linemen like this that would scorch the earth.
2. Russell Okung, OT, Oklahoma State - I could use the same argument I just employed for the drafting of Suh to make the case for Gerald McCoy, but if I can't get Suh, I want Okung. At 6'5", 300 lbs, Okung has the footwork and strength necessary to play either tackle position in the NFL. It appears we may need a right and a left tackle, so bringing in a guy who could lock down either side for the next 10 years makes a lot of sense to me. Look around the various mock drafts and scouting services. There are not a lot of negative things to read about him out there (as Kevin pointed out yesterday.) Okung is a premier prospect at a position of undeniable need.
3. Gerald McCoy, DT, Oklahoma - Wow...three straight Big 12 horses right off the bat. If you are looking for big, strong linemen to play on either side of the ball, you can do a lot worse than fishing in Lake Big 12. As I noted above, adding a guy that would instantly cement our defensive line for years to come (3 guys in their 1st or 2nd year + Haynesworth = DOMINANT) is a no-brainer.
4. Anthony Davis, OT, Rutgers - This guy is even bigger than Okung (6'6", 325 lbs) but is apparently a bit more raw. He most likely projects as an Opening Day Right Tackle, but when he hits training camp, who knows what he can turn into? He is strong and athletic and is precisely the kind of offensive line prospect deserving of a roll of the dice this high in the first round...especially for a team that is desperate for OL talent.
5. Eric Berry, S, Tennessee - I have been heard saying that I would not cry in my beer if we took Eric Berry before any of the above linemen. The guy seems to be a consensus "can't miss" defensive back that teams have been waiting for two years for the chance to draft. In a league that has gone out of its way to feature the pass, Berry's skills are tailor made. He has a nose for the ball, and when he gets it, he has the ability to take it to the house. That is precisely why he is compared favorably to Ed Reed by everyone and while I generally frown on such comparisons, I would not frown on adding this possibility to the Washington roster.
6. Trent Williams, OT, Oklahoma - You are noticing a theme in my picks by now I hope. I care deeply about rebuilding the offensive line here in D.C. and have no qualms about picking one of the top Tackle prospects a few picks higher than some folks have them pegged. My theory (which I will undoubtedly pound into the ground in the coming weeks) is that unless you have worked out a deal to gain additional picks in any given round, your next pick is 31 spots down the road - stay with me. So instead of worrying about drafting a guy three or four picks too high, you should consider that if this is a player you want, now is your chance to get him since he will be gone the next time you select. Trent Williams will not go off the board at #6 in the draft in April, I can assure you. But if I was making the pick here, and he was available, I would pluck him because I would be thinking, "There is not a Trent Williams available in the 2nd round...and I need a stud offensive lineman."
7. Rolando McClain, LB, Alabama - Here is the guy I am predicting is going to explode up draft boards between now and April. He is the Mario Williams of this class - the guy that every team in the Top 5 will consider taking ahead of whomever they already have at the top of their draft board. He is already cemented in the middle of the first round. To be fair, he is a known quantity. He is not coming out of nowhere. But I look at Rolando McClain and see a guy that is very capable of putting himself into Ndamukong Suh territory. Like Mario Williams did in the 2006 draft, McClain will percolate in the minds of general managers for the next month. Visions of him destroying opposing running backs in the middle of the field and his reputation for game study and coachability are going to dance in the hearts and minds of coaches around the league. This guy is for real. If I am picking at #7, I am not letting McClain get past me.
8. Derrick Morgan, LB, Georgia Tech - The ACC's Defensive Player of the Year is another guy that will start on Opening Day for a pro team and make game changing plays immediately. He plays both the run and the pass exceptionally well and time and again has proven to possess that "it" factor on the field when the game is on the line. Looking around, you will see him ranked above McClain in a lot of places on the web. As I noted above, I think it will be McClain that shines the brightest between now and the draft, but Derrick Morgan is no consolation prize. He is going to be good for a long time.
9. Bryan Bulaga, OT, Iowa - I have one more offensive lineman that I would take in the Top 10 if the above players are gone. Bulaga is a run-blocking fiend that was the Big Ten's Offensive Lineman of the Year - which goes a long way in my book. I'll never forget running into Barry Alvarez (former head coach at Wisconsin) at my high school during my junior year. He was there recruiting one of my classmates for a spot on the Wisconsin offensive line (Alvarez won three Big Ten titles and three Rose Bowls.) It got me paying attention to the Big Ten and their offensive line traditions. If you are the Offensive Lineman of the Year in the Big Ten, that tells me you can kick it in the NFL. I have read he struggles slightly with some of the speedier DE's, and he has a thyroid condition that needs to be fully investigated, but it appears he has the size and the tools to succeed at the pro level. (**This pick is dependent of course on the outcome of the thyroid investigation as well as a comfort level with his ability to handle a speed rush.)
10. C.J. Spiller, RB, Clemson- There are other linemen that will go in the first round (Bruce Campbell, Mike Iupati to name a couple), but at this point I am confident that I can come back and get a player at the top of the second round with similar talent to the guys who will be selected before I draft again. And I covet C.J. Spiller. The player he is compared to favorably right now is Marshall Faulk. Not too shabby. I feel like people are going to worry about his size, but he is bigger than you think. He is listed at 5'11", 195 lbs which is most likely a little bit generous, but he runs up the gut with legitimate power. He excels in space and he has amazing hands. If Clinton Portis and Ladell Betts can shoulder their fair share of the load, Spiller could function as a Reggie Bush type of weapon on offense. Given our reluctance to cross the goal line in recent years, I am thinking Spiller's presence would be a welcome addition. Is he a better prospect than Percy Harvin? I would love to get that debate heated up.
There you have it. I reserve the right to change my mind on any one of these between now and the draft, and don't think it was easy for me to not list Dan LeFevour at #10. Watch how he creeps into the 2nd round in the next few weeks.