Defense continues to dominate the projections for the Washington Redskins 1st round pick(21st overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft. Baylor DT Andrew Billings has emerged as a new favorite for the Redskins, but Alabama DT Jarran Reed continues to be a top pick for Washington at #21. If the Redskins don't go defensive line early, there are a few top CB prospects that pop up. Ken Meringolo's favorite player, Alabama center Ryan Kelly, gets a nod as an alternate, and a possible pick. Reggie Ragland anyone? And then there are the wide receivers rounding out the Redskins picks.
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
Washington's defense quietly has a nice pass rush with Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy on the outside, but has to get better against the run. Billings is a natural nose tackle who would go a long way in improving the league's 26th ranked run defense.
As is becoming the norm with draft prospects, it's difficult to pin one specific role on Billings. Calling him a "nose tackle" brings to mind visions of a hulking, space-eating presence with limited mobility. Billings hardly fits that description. He can stand up to blockers, but his main selling points are in his penetrating quickness and his effective efforts going side to side.
His strength is the first thing that gets talked about, but don't underestimate his athleticism. Washington will be happy to utilize both in the middle of its defense.
Coming off a strong pro day - it included a sub 5-second 40-yard dash for the 6-1, 311-pounder - Billings could be a wrecking ball as the nose man in Washington, which needs a new one with Terrance Knighton unsigned. And GM Scot McCloughan has a penchant for picking linemen early.
The Redskins have nobody at defensive tackle. Billings can come in an make an immediate impact.
Andrew Billings is a strong, versatile prospect who can be an immediate starter at virtually any spot in any scheme. The former high school weightlifting champion has good size at 6-0 5/8 and 311 pounds and has a good mix of speed and power. He can replace Knighton at nose tackle or Hatcher at five-technique.
Billings has a shorter frame (6-foot-1), but his outstanding combination of quickness, athleticism and power helps him wreak havoc on the interior. This is a dominant and versatile run-defender who would give the Redskins more depth along the defensive front. Additionally, with a need at center, I wouldn't be surprised if Scot McCloughan considered Alabama's Ryan Kelly here.
2nd Round Pick: Michael Thomas, WR, Ohio State
After letting go of Terrance Knighton, the Redskins need a big body who can step in and cause disruption the moment the ball is snapped. That's exactly what Billings can do. He already has NFL size and the elite power needed to dominate single blockers at the point of attack. The Redskins have a need in the secondary, but I don't think the value here would be good to select a safety. Billings is an absolute run stuffer and improving pass rusher with significant closing speed. I would not be surprised if he carves out a career similar to Chiefs nose tackle Dontari Poe.
After their 26th ranked run defense gave up over 122 yards per game on the ground last year, the defensive line is a high priority for the Redskins. Terrance Knighton played pretty well last year but remains unsigned to this point. If the 'Skins don't retain him, Baylor's Andrew Billings would be an excellent replacement. As one of the strongest overall players in the draft, Billings is an anchor at the point of attack and could replace Knighton at nose tackle. Even if Knighton stays, however, Billings is more than just a run plugger. We value Billings more than most, seeing on tape an interior lineman with elite functional strength plus the athleticism to get upfield and be a playmaker at the five technique.
Jarran Reed DT, Alabama
The Redskins are in need of a run-stuffing defensive tackle. Reed fills that void.
The run-stuffing Reed was the pick at 21 in the previous three mocks. No reason for a change after the motoring lineman chased down runners and shed blockers throughout Senior Bowl week. That said, would GM Scot McCloughan target a projected nose tackle in round one? Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson and Baylor's Andrew Billings provide different looks on the line. Don't ignore the possibility of targeting another position altogether considering the ample DL depth on Day 2. Another Alabama product, Reggie Ragland, would address concerns at inside linebacker. Defensive backfield concerns put the likes of Ohio State CB Eli Apple in play.
2nd Round Pick: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
Washington went with a big, bruising offensive lineman early in last year's draft. This year, they go for a big, bruising defensive tackle to help make up for the probable loss of Terrance Knighton in free agency.
There may be no better run defender in the draft than Alabama's Jarran Reed, whose stock seems to be suffering as much because people don't know quite what to do with him. Reed can play in multiple positions across Washington's defensive line and will upgrade their run defense in all of them, but he can also influence the passing game with five batted passes in 2015 and 20 total pressures. He finds the ball well and reads the game better than most linemen.
In this scenario, the Redskins' balance of value and need meets in the trenches on defense, where they grab arguably the best run-stuffer in the draft: Alabama's Jarran Reed.
Washington surrendered 123 yards per game on the ground - 26th in the NFL - during the regular season. They didn't improve against Green Bay during a wild-card loss. Reed was the heart and soul of the Crimson Tide's vaunted defensive line. He was a big part of the reason Leonard Fournette only managed 31 rushing yards against the Tide.
2nd Round: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Reed is the best run-stuffing defensive lineman in this draft and seemingly fits for this defense better than any other DL in this draft class. He's not a great pass-rusher, but he can be a solid pocket-pushing interior player. The good news, if there's any choosing at No. 21, is that the Redskins should have their pick of interior defenders. With all the names still on this board, Reed's versatility and explosiveness make him the right pick.
General manager Scot McCloughan values safe, NFL-ready picks, and he'll likely go that route in 2016. With nose tackle a need for the long term, adding Reed gives the Redskins an experienced player and a 310-pound athlete who can really move.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
Without Terrance Knighton, who remains a free agent, in the middle, the Redskins could look to add a rock-solid run stopper to the lineup.
Scot McCloughan's been focused on bringing big body guys in via the draft and his move here is no different as the Redskins get more physical up front on defense.
Last week, I was between Ragland and A'Shawn Robinson, but this week, Ragland is off the board. I think the Redskins would prefer to go with a defensive lineman as they want to get younger and more athletic on their defensive front. Robinson could play a variety of techniques for Washington on the defensive line.
Sources say that Robinson is a tremendous athlete who they like him off the field. They feel that with his freakish speed/strength combination, he would be a contender for the No. 1-overall pick if he were more consistent. Aside from the consistency, teams say that Robinson is a decent kid, but they wonder about his passion for football. Robinson has the flexibility to play nose tackle or end in a 3-4 defense. He also could play nose tackle or three technique in a 4-3. Robinson has a ton of athletic upside.
In 2015, Robinson recorded 46 tackles with seven for a loss and three sacks. He is a stout defender at the point of attack who can get after the quarterback. The 6-foot-3, 307-pounder recorded 49 tackles with 7.5 tackles for a loss, one forced fumble and two passes batted in his sophomore season. In 2013 as a freshman, he was too good to keep on the sideline. Robinson was an impressive defender for the Crimson Tide with 38 tackles, eight tackles for a loss and 5.5 sacks.
Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi St.
Big and talented with questions about his work ethic, Jones has the upside that could make him one of the 10 best players to come out of this draft, but only if he's committed every practice and every snap. A recent arrest for driving with a suspended license shouldn't hurt his stock.
Noah Spence, DL, Eastern Kentucky
Scot McCloughan wants talented, physical players and he's willing to gamble Spence's troubles are behind him.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Redskins have had good luck drafting cornerbacks out of Clemson (Bashaud Breeland) and if Alexander falls to No. 21, I don't think he'll be around at pick No. 22.
I can see why a lot of people like Alexander. In fact, many love his game. Hate it or love it, corner is now a position of size and stature. It can be difficult to find sub 5'10" corner who successfully plays the ball in contested situations. Jason Verrett was one, and Alexander needs to follow that path. I am unaware if the Redskins use size thresholds for the position, and if so it would likely eliminate Alexander.
The Redskins will take best-player-available on defense in Round 1. In this case, they decide they want a pair of Clemson Tigers as their starting CBs for the next few years and select Mackenzie Alexander. I'm sure everyone knows this by now, but Alexander didn't have a single INT in his college career. However, he was a lockdown corner and was seldom thrown at in 2015. He isn't tall, but he is built like a running back and is a fiery competitor with swagger for days. NFL team personnel are also impressed with Mack's intelligence in the film room. He will start the year as the third CB and kick Bashaud Breeland inside in nickel situations.
Vernon Hargreaves III, CB, Florida
They have to get better outside in coverage and this is a player who excels in man coverage. He would step in and start right away.
William Jackson III, CB, Houston
Running a 4.37 40-yard dash at the NFL combine is a good place to start, and his 6-0 height doesn't hurt, either. There is no question that Jackson has a lot to learn â he looks very vulnerable to double moves at the next level, and relies too much on his speed to make up for his mistakes, which is something that will get him in trouble at the next level. But while I don't think Jackson is ready to be left on an island in his first NFL year, he is gifted enough to be selected on the first day. I would love to see what cornerback whisperers like Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll or Mike Zimmer could do with him.
Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
The Redskins have needed help at cornerback for quite some time now. Perhaps they'll finally fix the position in the 2016 NFL Draft, beginning with this pick. Kendall Fuller is a very talented cornerback, but is being pushed down by an injury. A healthy Fuller would be a top-10 choice, so the Redskins are getting great value here.
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio State
Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan is searching for big corners for Washington's secondary and Apple has the size, length and speed that fits the bill.
They have issues at corner and Apple is a player who can come in and contribute right away. He would be a nice player in a division with Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.
Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
Washington surrendered an average of 4.8 yards per carry last season (31st in the NFL) and was even worse in the wild-card loss to the Packers, allowing 5.5 yards per attempt. While serving as general manager of the San Francisco 49ers, GM Scot McCloughan plucked Patrick Willis out of the SEC (Mississippi) and saw him emerge as one of the leaders of a formidable defense. Ragland isn't in Willis' class athletically, but he's instinctive, strong and a physical, reliable tackler.
With Ragland still on the board this time around, Washington happily snaps up a quarterback for the middle of its defense.
Washington would be a solid fit for Ragland if the team just lets him be a run-stopper. He can be exposed when he has to play in space, but few players in this draft are better at stuffing the inside running game.
Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
If the Redskins believe in Kirk Cousins like they say, then you need to protect him. Kelly has played in a pro-style system and is a stout player. He will solidify the middle of that line.
Josh Doctson, WR, TCU
Finding another receiving threat for Kirk Cousins is a must. Doctson's big-play ability is too good to pass up.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor