The Josh Norman signing is a few hours behind us. Like it or not, he's a Redskin. This was a smart move for a couple reasons: 1) we get an All-Pro corner in his prime; 2) we help shore up a secondary that has been a mess in recent years, and 3) we get to watch him face Beckham twice a year!
Now, let's talk about how this signing affects the draft next Thursday and Friday evenings.
First, let's remove the top corners in this year's draft from our big board. No Eli Apple. No McKenzie Alexander. No Williams Jackson III. No Kendall Fuller. No Artie Burns. We will not be taking a corner with our first two picks. The addition of Norman gives the Redskins one of the best cornerback tandems in the league, and when you factor in a return of Chris Culliver, and the maturation of Quinton Dunbar, you can make a case that there is not a deeper, more talent position group in the league.
With the four previously mentioned players at CB, this also helps at safety. Solid CB play is a safeties best friend, and vice-versa. Solid coverage on the outside allows the safety to play a bit more true, as they shouldn't have to help their counterparts as much as they did in the past. It could also free up guys like Everett and Jarrett from having to flip-flop around, instead allowing them to focus on just safety.
This is not saying a safety will not be taken in the first two rounds; just it minimizes the need of having that individual come in and immediately be thrown into a high-pressure situation.
This move will also help the big guys up front, just as the big guys up front can also help the back-end. The hope is, with Norman, Breeland and Culliver in the secondary, that the coverage will improve, and may result in the quarterback having to hold onto the ball and extra second or two, which could give our defensive linemen that extra step to force pressure or get a big sack.
The Norman signing by no means eliminates the need for an impact defensive tackle. It just helps to take some pressure off the front 3 or 4.
With so much cap space now being tied up in Cousins and Norman, the ability to replace both Garcon and Jackson next year with new free agent acquisitions becomes slim. Good number one receivers usually cost over 10 million/year, and with some money needed to re-sign Jordan Reed, we won't be able to break the bank on a new free agent WR. We need to be proactive and prepare for the departure of Jackson and Garcon by selecting at least one WR in the draft this year, and likely another next season.
Having said this, here is a look at how my Big Board at pick 21 would shape up.
Big Board for the 1st Round:
Jarran Reed - I have moved the Alabama defensive tackle to the top of my big board after talking with a friend at Alabama in detail about him. He eliminated some of the concerns I had about Reed not being able to push the pocket, and create pressure and sacks. We already know he's the best run-stopping DT in the class, and the Redskins desperately need that.
Andrew Billings - Billings hasn't slipped in my mind. It's just that Reed has risen. Billings once sat atop my big board for the DT position, and he's still a 1b next to Reed's 1a. He's powerful, disruptive, has a great motor, and can play the 1 or 3 technique.
Laquon Treadwell - The need for a top receiver in this class may have risen with the signing of Norman. The Redskins have two high priced, under performing vets on the roster, and neither is likely to be back next year. With the cap money going towards Norman and Cousins, we may not have the room for a big free agent signing at WR in 2017 to replace the departed Garcon and Jackson. It would be wise to invest in a receiver this year, and next, in the draft.
Darron Lee - Lee probably won't make it past pick 15, but I still include him on my board in case he slips some. Could you imagine how athletic our defense would look with him running around our there with all these other athletes?
Chris Jones - Jones has been steadily rising up draft boards lately, and he would be an excellent fit as a 3-4 DE in the Redskins scheme.
Robert Nkemdiche - Nkemdiche's rare athleticism allows him to play almost anywhere across the defensive front. We have a good veteran presence on our team, and that is what Nkemdiche needs. If it weren't for off-field concerns, he'd be ranked higher.
Reggie Ragland - Ragland is making his debut on my big board. My Alabama contact did answer some questions I had about Ragland, but we still both shared the same concerns. The Norman signing affects my mentality a bit too here. With a strong back end, and what I expect to be a lot of zone defense being played, Ragland may be OK in this defense.
Ryan Kelly - I'm still not sold on taking Kelly this high, but with the added help to the defense in free agency, I wouldn't be opposed to it either. He would shore up the line from day one, and could make Lauvao and Licht post June 1st cuts.