Defense rules the day again for the Redskins, but there are a lot more options being linked to Washington this week.
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
If Washington wants to repeat last year?s division title, the defense has to improve. That process starts up front. Billings can make plays all over the field, whether behind the line of scrimmage or 10-20 yards away.
Redskins GM Scot McCloughan is trying to build a tough, physical team, similar to what he had in San Francisco.
Billings has a rare combination of power and athleticism, making him an ideal replacement for departed Terrence Knighton.
Washington gets a young, athletic nose tackle who can give the Skins some continuity at the position.
In terms of just pure power, Billings is one of the top prospects in the draft, and Washington nabs someone who can play a little nosetackle for them, absolutely blow up the pocket at any three positions along the front and rush the passer more than he's given credit for. He's not winning many foot races, but inside a phone booth? He'll create a ton of havoc.
A true Scot McCloughan draft pick, Andrew Billings is a stout space-eater at nose tackle and quick enough to chase outside the hashes.
GM Scot McCloughan opted not to re-sign veteran NT Terrance Knighton, perfectly reasonable given the depth of D-line talent available this year. Billings is a younger, more explosive athlete than Knighton and allows McCloughan to continue building his team from the inside out.
Washington's 26th ranked run defense gave up over 122 yards per game last year, and that was with the Terrance Knighton who recently left for New England. The Redskins are pretty well set at defensive end with Chris Baker, Ricky Jean-Francois and Kendall Reyes, but finding a nose tackle to replace Knighton could be on their minds when they select 21st overall. We value Billings more than most, seeing on tape an interior lineman with elite functional strength and an NFL-ready anchor which will allow him to play the zero or one technique right away. Although Billings would profile as a nose tackle for Washington, he's also an underrated athlete who can get upfield and make plays as a one-gap tackle when needed.
After Washington drafted a guard in the top 5 a year ago, don't be surprised if GM Scot McCloughan drafts relatively safe once again. He understands the value of hitting on early-round picks in a rebuild project, and defensive tackles are as safe as they come. Billings is not a great pass rusher and relies too much on his upper half strength. But he does possess nose tackle upside with obvious run-defending three-technique play and could be an instant starter for the Redskins.
Big, stout nose tackle with upside. GM Scot McCloughan keeps building through the trenches.
Jarran Reed, DL, Alabama
Washington went after physical trench players in the 2015 draft, and Reed would be a continuation of that trend. There isn't a better defender against the run, and Reed is ready to get on the field for pretty much any team.
Round 1 (21): Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Round 2 (53): Jihad Ward, DE, Illinois
Round 3 (84): Jordan Payton, WR, UCLA
Analysis: The Redskins allowed 4.8 yards per carry last season (31st in the NFL), which I tried to address with my first two picks here. Reed is the most dominant interior run-stuffer in the 2016 class, with the toughness to hold his ground and fight through double-teams. Ward's outstanding combination of height, bulk and arm length gives him a lot of upside as a run defender. Pierre Garcon is set to turn 30 before the season begins, so it makes sense to add a player like Payton, who has the skill set to develop into a No. 2 WR.
The Redskins land one of the draft's most physical players for the second year in a row.
Losing Terrance Knighton hurts Washington's front line. Reed will even collapse the pocket more often on pass plays than "Pot Roast" did.
This D-line class is loaded, and Reed is the most polished run defender of the group. He reads the game exceptionally well and can move his man and make the play with fantastic regularity.
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: Nick Martin, C, Notre Dame
One of the better run-stuffing defensive linemen in this year's draft class, Reed has the versatility to play multiple spots along the defensive line. Meanwhile, defensive linemen Terrance Knighton signed a one-year deal with the Patriots, Jason Hatcher is a free agent and Chris Baker and Kedric Golston will both be free agents after the 2016 season so boosting defensive line depth would make sense.
Drafting Reed would go a long way in solving Washington's talent issues up front on defense. They lost Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher this offseason, and Reed is a player who can play inside and out in a three-man front.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
This will be a difficult selection for Washington. The Redskins will have options at DT, but Robinson is a space eater with some pass-rush skills. A WR is also a consideration here.
A'Shawn Robinson, while a polarizing prospect in draft rooms, has undeniable athletic talent. He is a full-grown man who, at the very least, will be a two-down run-stuffer in the NFL. The debate lies in whether or not he has the motor and the lateral agility to rush the passer. Regardless, he would help the Redskins run defense that allowed 4.8 ypc in 2015 and almost 5.5 ypc on first down late in the season.
Round 2: S'ua Cravens, LB, USC
Nose tackle Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots, and Washington cut 33-year-old defensive end Jason Hatcher, so they need to find some youth along the line. A'Shawn Robinson may be the best run-stopping defensive tackle in the class and fits the physical brand of football that GM Scot McCloughan seeks. The 6-4, 307-pound junior anchored the middle of the Crimson Tide's championship defense and used his power to shed blockers and get to opposing running backs. Robinson still needs to develop a pass rush, but his run-stuffing ability should be enough to earn him a starting role as a rookie. He can replace Knighton at nose tackle or Hatcher at five-technique.
Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan subscribes to the theory that you can never have too many young players with dominant physical traits. McCloughan is also well aware that Washington's run defense was a real problem up the middle last year. Robinson would help that issue right awayâhe has experience as a two-gap monster who occupies blocks and slips off to spike run plays. And if you go back to Robinson's 2013 tape, you'll see him penetrating and pursuing more as a one-gap attacker. An underrated potential three-down guy, Robinson is the right scheme away from really turning it on.
Chris Jones, DL, Mississippi St
The Redskins want to get younger and more athletic on their defensive front. Jones could play a variety of techniques for them on the defensive line. However, my concern with this pick is that Jones' lack of maturity and passion for the game could rule him out for a Washington front office that weighs those things heavily.
The 6-foot-5, 310-pounder has the ability to play defensive end and tackle. He has a great combination of size, speed, length and athleticism. Team sources say that Jones has one of the best skill sets of any defensive lineman in this draft class, but they do have questions about his maturity and passion for the game. Sources also don't like that Jones underachieved and didn't produce as much as he should have in college given his skill set. Thus, Jones panning out could depend on him landing with the right team that will keep him motivated.
Jones had 44 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and four passes broken up in 2015. The year before, he recorded 26 tackles with three sacks and two passes batted. Jones commanded a lot of blocking attention in 2014, and that helped free up teammates Preston Smith and Caleb Eulls. Jones showed some serious potential as a true freshman in 2013, totaling 32 tackles with seven tackles for a loss, three sacks and three passes broken up.
2nd Round: Hassan Ridgeway, DT, Texas
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots, but the Redskins wanted a better, long-term option anyway, so here it is. I've been mocking Kendall Fuller here for quite some time, but he's likely to be chosen in Round 2 now, given the concerns of his Combine medical (as first reported by Charlie Campbell in the NFL Draft Rumor Mill page.)
2nd Round: Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech
Jonathan Bullard, DL, Florida
An upfield disruptor who can play virtually any alignment in specific situations and is also an outstanding athlete? I think Scot McCloughan will like what he sees in Bullard and continue to build the front seven. I loved Preston Smith last year, and there's a lot to like about Bullard's game. I could see Washington doubling up at the position in the top two rounds.
Round 2 (53): Jordan Howard, RB, Indiana
Round 3 (84): Austin Johnson, DT, Penn State
Round 4 (120): Jack Allen, C, Michigan State
Round 5 (158): James Bradberry, CB, Samford
Round 6 (187): Rashard Higgins, WR, Colorado State
Round 7 (232): Tyler Matakevich, ILB, Temple
Round 7 (242): Cody Kessler, QB, USC
Kevin Dodd, DE, Clemson
Somehow Washington made the playoffs by winning the NFC East last season despite finishing 31st in the NFL against the run. Adding one of the premier defensive linemen should go a long way towards shoring up what had become a porous front.
Eli Apple, CB, Ohio St.
They will take the best defensive player on the board. Alternative pick: defensive tackles Jarran Reed or Sheldon Rankins.
Corner is a major position of need. They have to get help there. Apple is a talented player who could step in and start right away.
Apple was a highly-touted prospect going into the Combine, but he took advantage of the setting to wow scouts and see his projected draft position move upward. He would be a solid addition to the Redskins' secondary and likely would be asked to contribute 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.
Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Redskins figure to go defense here with the most likely options being a corner or one of the top interior defensive linemen. While the latter option is possible, Alexander has the chance to be a very good corner and he'd be tough to pass up. Also given the DL depth it's likely the Redskins find a talented option in RD 2 or 3.
2nd Round: Chris Jones, DT, Mississippi State
Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
The Washington Redskins defense will be the focal point early on for the overhaul, and a good place to start is the secondary which is suffering serious age and talent concerns. Safety is perhaps the most troubling of the two positions with no definitive leader or playmaker on the back end. That is a big reason why they've continued to struggle stopping teams.
All the great defenses have at least one safety who gets it done. Scot McCloughan knows this well, and he will see just how good Karl Joseph is. Yes, there are concerns about his size and ability to withstand the NFL punishment but his ability to impact games as a playmaker and a leader are evident every time he steps on the field. He plays the run well, can tackle, hits and shows the speed and range to handle himself well in coverage. Some might say it's too early to risk taking him, but if he pans out there is multiple Pro Bowls in his future.
The Redskins moved on from Terrance Knighton. Whether they add more veteran help or not, the defensive line lacks youth and Pro Bowl potential. So why go safety in round 1? Joseph doles out punishment one slobber-knocking hit at a time. He's also no one-trick pony; Joseph was leading FBS with five interceptions before suffering a knee injury. That's what held him out of most first-round mocks until recently. No projected trades in this mock, but the Redskins could ponder moving down a few spots and still get their guy unless Joseph's stock is truly soaring. It's clear the buzz is growing for such an imposing element at safety. Washington should have strong defensive line choices in round two.
2nd Round: Jonathan Bullard, DE, Florida
The Redskins have been awful at the backend of the secondary and this was one of the main reasons they let Dashon Goldson go. Joseph is the best safety in the draft and provides a solution for a problem that hasn't been addressed in years. Aggressive, tough and explosive, Joseph improves the Redskins defense immediately.
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.
While there are questions about his ability to hold up in coverage, Ragland is an impact run defender who adds a physical presence to the middle of the Redskins defense.
Physical, smart thumper who can produce sacks from the middle linebacker position, Ragland would upgrade the Redskins' defensive front with physical and mental capabilities and run it for the foreseeable future. Maybe this is the guy Scot McCloughan?s eying.
Ragland is simply too good of a fit for me to consider plugging anyone else in here. Washington boasts good boundary players as pressure defenders but the addition of a high end ILB (even if he's likely best served as a 2 down player) makes the defense better.
Ragland may never be a star, but concerns about him not being able to play the pass are overblown.
Darron Lee, ILB, Ohio State
Colossal mistake leaving Lee out of the last mock draft. I've apologized to his family. The Redskins need DB help and could use a DT, but their interior linebackers need an upgrade, too. Lee (4.43 40-yard dash) is a heat seeking missile.
Ryan Kelly, C, Alabama
*TRADE: Cincinatti Bengals trade for #21, Redskins pick at #24*
This year's class of center prospects is solid, but Alabama's Ryan Kelly stands above the rest as a potential first-round pick. Washington's biggest need happens to be at that position, so don't be surprised if it follows in the footsteps of its NFC East Rivals, doing just what the Cowboys did when they surprised many by taking Travis Frederick in the first round of the 2013 draft.
Frederick has made the Pro Bowl the last two years, and Kelly is the kind of player who could make the same kind of immediate impact. His combination of athleticism and intelligence would make him an instant upgrade in front of quarterback Kirk Cousins, helping improve the running game and pass protection.
Taking a center this high might seem crazy to some, but it's arguably the safest pick in the entire round. If Washington is able to move back a few spots, pick up an extra pick or two and still land its guy, all the better.
Ryan Kelly is one of the more impressive center prospects in a long time. He's an immediate starter and has the ability to play any of the three interior offensive line positions. Overall, he's the top interior offensive lineman in the class.
The Washington Redskins took guard Brandon Scherff historically high in last year's draft class, and with living legend offensive line coach Bill Callahan on staff, it's evident that the team is putting a priority on the big uglies up front. The addition of Kelly can give Washington its version of Travis Frederick, and with young linemen like Trent Williams, Scherff and Morgan Moses already on the roster, the team is set for the future.
If Kirk Cousins is your starting quarterback, you may need to invest some significant money on receivers and offensive linemen. This is a step toward that goal.
The Redskins offensive line is an impressive unit, but upgrading the center position should be a priority. Washington has other needs, but Kelly is NFL-ready and has the ability to play in zone or gap schemes with equal dominance.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
The Redskins need to find young WR1 to help Kirk Cousins grow as a playmaker.
Did Treadwell blow anyone away with his pedestrian 40 time at his pro day? No. However, my guess is that Jay Gruden and company will absolutely love his ball skills and highly competitive nature. Treadwell can come in and start right away.
What better way to gauge whether Kirk Cousins is worthy of a long-term contract than to hand him another weapon? Treadwell, Baylor's Corey Coleman or Notre Dame's Will Fuller will probably be the top wideout off the board, though it might not take this long.
Corey Coleman, WR, Baylor
Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama