Day 2 is over and the grades have been rolling in almost immediately after each pick was made. The Redskins picked two players yesterday, but possibly more importantly, they were able to pick up three additional draft picks through a trade with the Seattle Seahawks. The Redskins had to drop to the end of the 3rd to make it happen, but picked up an additional 4th, 5th, and 6th from GM Scot McCloughan's old team in return.
The Redskins got heavy praise for their first pick, Mississippi St DE/OLB Preston Smith, who has been considered underrated during the draft process. He had been rated as high as a late 1st round prospect, but was considered a very solid pick at the top of the 1st. The pick that didn't get as much universal praise was Florida RB Matt Jones, who was considered a Day 3 prospect. Some liked the addition of size, and pass protection, but he doesn't catch the ball much which was considered something Jay Gruden was looking for.
So what are the "experts" saying, and what grade do you give the Redskins for yesterday's haul?
Draft pick: OL Brandon Scherff (No. 5 overall), DE Preston Smith (No. 38 overall), RB Matt Jones (No. 95 overall)
Day 1 grade: C+
Day 2 grade: A-
Overall grade: B
The skinny: GM Scot McCloughan is one of the best evaluators in the league, but Scherff was a big reach, even if he lives up to his potential. Failing to trade down and passing on the best player in the draft (Leonard Williams) is going to be something the team might regret, even if Scherff becomes a top-flight tackle or guard. Smith is a big player who can really get up field and brings some versatility to the line as well. Jones could have a long career in the league; he does all of the little things nicely and will be a nice complement to Alfred Morris.
1 (5). Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
2 (38). Preston Smith, OLB/DE, Mississippi State
3 (95). Matt Jones, RB, Florida
Washington did well with its first two picks, and the choice of Smith is especially savvy. Jones looks like a solid backup, but taking a backup in the third round is puzzling. Washington needs to find some secondary pieces and thus far it has not.
Overall grade: B-
Strengths: Strength, versatility, athleticism
Weaknesses: Pass-rushing moves
Smith is more of a power pass-rusher than the traditional edge player. He is the likely replacement for Brian Orakpo, but he is similar to Trent Murphy, his likely competitor for playing time. Both players can stop the run effectively, but neither is a natural pass-rusher who does all the flashy stuff.
The Redskins are clearly looking for a type of defender at this position. There are better pure athletes on the board (Randy Gregory, for example), but Smith's ability to move around the formation and set the edge makes him valuable.
Strengths: Versatility, solid size-speed package
Weaknesses: Productiivty, lack of signature qualities
The third round is new general manager Scot McCloughan's prime time. This is the round when the talented-yet-troubled (that phrase isn't just for prospects, folks) general manager found a couple of guys named Frank Gore and Russell Wilson on previous stops.
It was also a barren round for the Redskins during the darkest days of Dan Snyder's madness, when mid-round draft picks were deemed worthless in the team's quest for overpaid 30-somethings.
The Redskins skipped the third round altogether from 2005 to 2007, despite making two fine picks (guard Derrick Dockery and tight end Chris Cooley) in 2003 and 2004. Recent third rounds have brought a few useful players like Jordan Reed. Could McCloughan magic strike with this selection?
Jones is a useful all-purpose back who has never rushed for more than 817 yards. His receiving skills are rudimentary, but Jones can pass protect and runs with some speed and power. He's basically a replacement for Roy Helu, though, Helu was a more polished receiver.
Well. McCloughan did trade down. Maybe he's saving up for some fifth-round heroics!
Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
This kid really opened a lot of scouts' eyes as the process played along. He has to play down for Washington, right? They need an edge rusher.
This a bit of a luxury pick for the Redskins. Do they really need another back?
38. Preston Smith, DE/OLB, Mississippi State: B+ Grade
The Redskins lost Brian Orakpo this offseason, so it's not a big surprise that they added an edge rusher early in the 2015 NFL Draft. They selected Trent Murphy last year, but Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan and now Preston Smith can form a stout rotation. Smith was pretty underrated throughout this entire process. He's an athletic edge rusher whom I thought had a chance of sneaking into the first round.
95. Matt Jones, RB, Florida: D Grade
The Redskins needed a third-down running back in the wake of Roy Helu's departure. Matt Jones could fill that role, but the problem with this selection is twofold: First, it's unwise to select "just" a third-down back this early; there were better running backs available. Second, Jones is a reach. He would've made sense in the sixth round, but not here.