A lone offensive player(and it's not a center) makes the final mock draft round up before Thursday's draft.
Reggie Ragland, LB, Alabama
One way or another, Jay Gruden's team has to get better on run defense. Washington finished 31st in the league with 4.8 yards per carry allowed, then got gouged by the Packers on the ground in the playoffs. Ragland is a physical, aggressive presence at inside linebacker, and he'd add a stout tackler to Washington's second line of defense. A defensive tackle like Baylor's Andrew Billings or Alabama's A'Shawn Robinson makes plenty of sense in upgrading the run defense as well.
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.
Physical, tough-nosed linebacker who also doubles as a guy capable of picking up sacks, he's a very nice fit for Scot McCloughan's continued rebuild of this roster.
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.
Washington has a major need at the inside linebacker position, and Ragland can be plugged inside to alleviate that. I enjoy watching him play. He ran a 4.7 40 and possesses plenty of athleticism to make plays as a rusher or in coverage, and I love the way he can wiggle in and out of holes to make run stops. He's a run-stuffer, plain and simple, which makes him a better fit than the other linebacker who could come off the board in this range, Darron Lee of Ohio State, who is much more of a speed/cover linebacker.
Washington ranked in the bottom five in total defense last season and recently signed free-agent cornerback Josh Norman to a five-year deal. Ranked 26th in rush defense last season, Washington ranked 31st in the league in yards per carry allowed (4.8 YPC). The SEC Defensive Player of the Year, Ragland led the national champions with 102 tackles in 2015 and he'd help to shore up Washington's leaky rush defense.
A'Shawn Robinson, DT, Alabama
The Redskins will reportedly look at other positions beyond the defensive line with their first round pick UNLESS a versatile DE/DT is available. Because of this, I believe that Jarran Reed and Andrew Billings are probably out of consideration for this pick as the Redskins want a player who can stop the run while also adding a boost on passing downs. While A'Shawn Robinson didn't have much of a chance to rush the passer in 2014 or 2015, if you take a look at his 2013 tape when he was allowed to rush the passer, you see glimpses of his enormous upside. Robinson would likely be used either at 3-4 DE or NT on rushing downs and would slide in as the 3-technique in sub-situations.
I had the Redskins going with William Jackson III prior to the Josh Norman signing. I felt safe with that pick, but obviously the Norman signing changes everything. The Redskins want to get younger and more athletic on their defensive front. Robinson definitely could fit that, and if they can motivate him to play consistently they could have a tremendous lineman.
Sources say that Robinson is a tremendous athlete who has a freakish speed/strength combination. He has the flexibility to play nose tackle or end in a 3-4 defense. Robinson also could play nose tackle or three-technique in a 4-3. He is a stout defender at the point of attack yet can get after the quarterback.
Robinson would be a contender for the No. 1-overall pick if he had been more consistent for the Crimson Tide. Aside from the consistency, teams say that Robinson is a decent kid, but they wonder about his passion for football. That, in combination with his interviewing poorly at the combine, could cause him to slide in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Nose tackle Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots, and Jason Hatcher retired at the age of 33, so Washington needs 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
Let's boost the talent level on the Washington line. A'Shawn Robinson just turned 21 and is so huge and sculpted that he looks like one of the Guardians of the Galaxy. He's a block of concrete on wheels on the interior defensive line. Coordinator Joe Barry can shuffle him all around, mixing and matching him with Stephen Paea, Reyes and Golston to keep blockers away from his pass-rushing linebackers.
This isn't a flashy pick. But this franchise is usually at its best when it's at its least flashy. And yes, that's why fans felt that strange dull ache in their bellies while celebrating the Josh Norman signing.
Second Round (53): Michael Thomas, wide receiver, Ohio State
The Redskins pluck a big-bodied space eater to plug in at nose tackle.
Jarran Reed, DT, Alabama
Losing Terrance Knighton hurts Washington's front line. Reed will even collapse the pocket more often on pass plays than "Pot Roast" did.
Helps improve the Redskins' run defense.
Reed is a tremendous run stopper, and I believe he will keep getting better as an inside pass rusher and help Washington deal with Dallas' great offensive line and heavy running attack.
Terrance Knighton signed with the Patriots, but the Redskins wanted a better, long-term option anyway, so here it is. There's a decent chance Jarran Reed will be available for Washington, and if so, the front office may just pull the trigger.
Washington's needs changed a little bit with the big-money signing of cornerback Josh Norman. That pushes a run-stopping defensive tackle to the top of the needs list, if it wasn't there already. Reed is arguably the best run stopper in the draft this year and has experience in a 3-4.
Andrew Billings, DT, Baylor
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.
With the size and athleticism to play anywhere on the Washington defensive line and fill any number of rolls for them, Billings is an impact player in the making for a team that didn't make as many impact plays in the front seven as they would've liked to last season.
Robert Nkemdiche, DL, Ole Miss
Rolling the dice on a talent with issues.
Kenny Clark, DT, UCLA
You could have penciled in a corner for the Redskins before the Josh Norman deal but the Redskins continue to struggle against the run. Terrance Knighton did not make the impact the team thought he would after signing a one year deal last spring. He recently moved on to New England. Kedric Golston returns but has started only eight games in five years. Chris Baker and the newly signed Kendall Reyes are active five techniques. Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois were both signed in the 2015 offseason but both will be pushed into backup roles after disappointing seasons. The versatile and productive Clark will have a chance to start on the nose and can play the five technique as needed. Junior entry and captain from San Bernardino, CA. Started 29 consecutive games for the Bruins over two plus years. Second leading tackler on the team as a defensive tackle. Third team All-America and first team All-Pac 12.
An inside run stuffer who is disruptive and draws double teams. Has a thick lower body, good strength, balance, and leverage. Gets upfield push. Played in the Bruins' defense as a nose tackle and one technique defensive tackle. A flexible athlete who can win the leverage battle. Has quick, heavy, and fast hands along with light feet. Plays square down the line of scrimmage filling the running lanes. Good short area quickness. Quick to change directions. Productive and active in his play. Has a bag of tricks that keep him from getting blocked and disengaging quickly. Big strong hands. He has a good combination of quickness and power.
Vernon Butler, DT, Louisiana Tech
A developmental prospect, and a very big man (6-3½, 323) with the ability not just to stuff the run but to power his way into the backfield, and more athletic than he first appearsâhe runs a 5.15 time in the 40. Some will say GM Scot McCloughan is reaching here. McCloughan would say: I don't care what you think.
Karl Joseph, S, West Virginia
I'm a big Joseph fan, and he would provide versatility, toughness and playmaking in the back end.
Reggie Ragland seems ideal for need and tone, but he's gone here so we look elsewhere. Speaking of elsewhere, the Redskins moved on from Terrance Knighton and Jason Hatcher. 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 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.
Interesting pick, McShay. I'll make an interesting one of my own, getting a safety who is rising on boards. Joseph can make plays all over the field, and he is a fearless tackler. He fits a need here.
Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi
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.