Does Marcus Mariota's Pro Day Help the Redskins?
Marcus Mariota threw at the Combine and is considered the most athletic QB since Robert Griffin III. Is he a lock to go before the Redskins pick, or could he fall to #5 and open up some interesting trade possibilities?
ESPN Draft analyst Todd McShay released his 3rd mock of the draft season this morning, and has made some adjustments to his board based on some of the measurements and athletic testing at this year's Combine. Jameis Winston remains his #1 overall pick for the second mock in a row, and Leonard Williams is still going to become a Tennessee Titan at #2. The changes start at #3 and his OLB rankings have obviously been affected heavily by the Combine. Randy Gregory was mocked to the Jaguars previously, but Dante Fowler, Jr has shot up from #13 to the third overall pick in the draft. The next big jump is WVU WR Kevin White jumping from #10 to #4 overall and becoming an Oakland Raider.
That brings us to the Washington Redskins . In his first two mock drafts, McShay gives DE/OLB Shane Ray, but Ray has dropped to #8 here. He still likes a pass rusher for the Redskins at the top of the draft, but does mention that right tackle is their other top need and Brandon Scherff is an option. He also mentions the trade possibilities that will be there if Mariota falls to them as he does in this mock. But trades aren't projected in this mock, so the Redskins take Nenraska OLB Randy Gregory who Greg Cosell recently called a better athlete than Jadeveon Clowney.
"He's a better athlete than Clowney. He's more flexible. He's more explosive in his movement," Cosell told The Midday 180 radio show in Nashville, Tenn. "Clearly, not as strong. Clowney could get inside and push back, but Clowney did not have the loose hips that this guy does. Gregory's a much more explosive mover, a much looser athlete."
"Gregory's kind of shifty and elusive in his movement. He's a quick-twitch, explosive guy laterally," Cosell said. "Clowney was more straight-line power."
Randy Gregory's measurements(6'4 7/8", 235lbs) raised some issues with his draft stock, and he claims that he was sick and hospitalized the week before which caused his low weight. The low weight is an issue when combined with concerns about his ability to play the run in the NFL. Gregory would be drafted to replace Brian Orakpo, and likely start ahead of last year's 2nd round pick Trent Murphy. Orakpo(6'4", 257 lbs) and Murphy(6'5", 258 lbs) are similar in size, and effective against the run. Gregory knows that he will have to gain weight and strength at the next level, but can he keep that weight on and be effective.
Do the Redskins want to use that first pick on a player that high if there are questions about his strength in the NFL? Redskins GM Scot McCloughan has a lot of work to do in a draft class where most of the top OLBs have big question marks. Trading down seems like the best option, but the deal has to be there. In this scenario, Mariota is the big trade piece and there will be heavy interest in drafting him. Only 63 more days until the draft.
Here is McShay's explanation for the pick:
Analysis: The Redskins' top two needs are right tackle and pass-rusher. They could take Iowa's Brandon Scherff is they're convinced he can play right tackle, but their better option -- unless Mariota slides to this spot and they find a team willing to trade up so they can get some extra picks -- is to go with an edge rusher. Gregory has freakish athleticism for a guy with his length, and he'd be a good fit as a right outside linebacker opposite Ryan Kerrigan. He improved his power and consistency this year, but in order to develop into a complete player, he needs to bulk up to set the edge against the run and add more power as a pass-rusher.
And his explanations in his last two mocks for pick another pass rusher:
Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Analysis: The Redskins need a lot of help on defense, and in particular could use a legit pass-rusher with Brian Orakpo unable to stay healthy and Trent Murphy currently starting opposite Ryan Kerrigan. Ray would help immediately. I studied the Missouri defense on tape a lot during last season's draft process, and it was Ray who jumped out on tape as the most talented player on a front that included Kony Ealy and Michael Sam. He is an absolutely relentless pass-rusher who is tough, aggressive, can bend the end and has an explosive first step. He's also versatile and has improved his ability to convert speed to power.
Shane Ray, DE/OLB, Missouri
Analysis: The Redskins need a pass-rusher -- often-injured ROLB Brian Orakpo is a free agent and not expected to return -- and Ray is a terror off the edge. He is relentless at pressuring the quarterback, combining outstanding first-step quickness, effective hands and impressive redirect skills. He also continues to get stronger versus the run and has bulked up into the 250-pound range. He was incredibly productive at Mizzou, finishing fifth in the FBS with 13 sacks last season. This is another spot where Mariota could come under consideration, but I've got Washington addressing its defense here.