Mel Kiper, Jr. released Mock Draft 4.0 on E$PN IN$IDER today, and he has given the Redskins a different OLB option. Randy Gregory was the choice in Mock 1.0 and Mock 2.0, and then Shane Ray was the pick in Mock 3.0 after Gregory dropped for various reasons. Now Florida OLB Dante Fowler, Jr. is the Redskins pick at #5. In his previous mock, Kiper had Fowler making a huge jump from #13 to #3, but Marcus Mariota has jumped back into the Top 5(#2) and pushed Fowler down to the Redskins. This is the kind of scenario the Redskins want to see happen in 3 weeks. If Mariota goes in the top 4, one of the best defensive prospects will fall to them. If Mariota falls to #5, it gives them an excellent trade chip, or possibly even a franchise QB for themselves. Recent draft rumors have put WRs Amari Cooper and Kevin White as possible trade targets, but Mariota could elicit the biggest trade offers.
Now back to this mock draft. Kiper has the Top 4 going the way many people have predicted for months. Winston, Mariota, Williams, Cooper all come off the board before the Redskins pick. This leaves every top OLB and OL option on the board for Scot McCloughan to choose from. There has been a lot of debate about who is the best OLB prospect in the draft, especially with the Redskins expected to draft one in the 1st round. Vic Beasley, Shane Ray, Randy Gregory, and Dante Fowler, Jr. all have their supporters and have all been projected to go high in this year's draft. Kiper has all four gone by pick #13 in this order: Fowler(#5), Beasley(#8), Ray(#9), Gregory(#13). He also has Bud Dupree going #16 to the Houston Texans.
Analysis: Fowler's combine really sealed his status as a top-10 pick, not because he was a total freak, but because the outstanding performance there backed up plenty of good tape. While I think he could actually be more productive, you did see consistent flashes of a player who, were he able to add more elements to his game as a pass-rusher in particular, has star potential. Fowler was also asked to move around a lot, which is another reason the sack totals are good instead of eye-popping. That said, Fowler doesn't have to be a sack machine to be a really good player, and I do think the pass rush will continue to get better, which is what the Redskins desperately need as they continue to build this defense into a more formidable unit. Better secondary play typically starts up front.
For the people that want the Redskins to draft offensive line early and often, the first OL off the board in Kiper's mock was Brandon Scherff to the Jets at #6. The next OL off the board doesn't come until #23, with La'el Collins going to the Lions. The remaining first round OL: D.J. Humphries(#25), Cam Erving(#28), Andrus Peat(#29). Is Brandon Scherff the only Top 10 OL in this year's draft class, and should the Redskins consider him at #5?