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NFL Mock Draft Roundup: Vita Vea is the clear favorite for the Redskins

Defense, and Vita Vea, reign supreme for the Redskins

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NCAA Football: Washington at Colorado Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Nine more days until 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas begins! The projections for the Redskins options on offense are down to two this week, and one of them comes after a trade. Center Frank Ragnow makes his debut as an option for the Redskins, even with reports that the Redskins are looking to go cheap for guard/center depth. RB Derrius Guice also gets another nod this week, but the Redskins might not be interested at #13.

The mock draft professionals are still leaning heavily toward defense in the first round(29 out of 31). Washington DT Vita Vea is the clear favorite, and has been the player projected to the Redskins the most all year, and he has almost a third of the votes this week. SB Nation’s mock draft database has him getting even more at 41%. Who has been the best mock drafter over the last few years? Check out the Huddle’s rankings here.

Derrius Guice, RB, LSU

This is a little early for Guice to be picked, but the Redskins lack a dynamic presence at RB and he would be a perfect fit in this offense.

Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas

Pro Football Focus

[Trade details: Washington sends their Round 1 pick (No. 13 overall) & their Round 4 pick (No. 109 overall) in exchange for New England’s Round 1 pick (No. 23 overall) and Round 2 pick (No. 43 overall).]

Ragnow has been the top-graded college center the past two seasons and posted the fifth-highest overall grade last year among all draft-eligible players with a 93.7 overall grade. The three-year starter from Arkansas, who didn’t allow a single sack during his college career, is the second ranked interior offensive lineman, which is the key to this pick. Ragnow provides Washington with flexibility to immediately slide into either of the current soft spots at left guard or center to put together the best unit instead of plugging a position hole.

Round 2, #43: Rashaad Penny, RB, SDSU

Washington ball-carriers collectively graded second-worst last season as a unit and Penny has too many accolades to fully account for. He leads a strong running back draft class in breakaway percentage, percent not tackled on first contact (42.8 percent), and missed tackles forced on carries (80). The San Diego State product also can add value returning both kicks and punts, as he returned eight for touchdowns in his college career.

Round 2, #44: Ronnie Harrison, S, Alabama

Harrison has great range and brings the thunder against both the run and underneath passing plays. His impressive run-defense grade of 85.1 in his last season at Alabama will be a much-needed injection to a defensive unit that really struggled to stop the ground game last season. He also adds depth in coverage, as he allowed a passer rating of just 38.9 into his coverage while also knocking away two passes and intercepting three balls in 2017.

Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio

NFL Draft Geek

He didn’t play against the greatest competition, so his tape is a little over-hyped. But his physical attributes and athleticism make him worthy of a top-15 spot, and the Skins could definitely need some future help setting the edge.

Round 2: DeShon Elliott, S, Texas

Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College

Pro Football Weekly(Arkush)

With Preston Smith entering a contract year and Trent Murphy now in Washington, Greg Manusky needs another dynamic closer off the flanks, and Landry, depending on which person you talk to, is the top remaining option.

Vita Vea, DT, Washington


The Redskins have invested a number of picks in their front five, yet they still need plenty of help. Vea could lock down the interior and instantly improve the run defense. That’s his floor. I question how consistently disruptive he can be game to game, but others do not. I’m not naive enough to think my evaluation is the only one that matters.

CBS Sports(White)

The Redskins should be hoping Vea is available when they pick at No. 13. Ziggy Hood graded out poorly against the run last year, which is not what you want to see out of your nose tackle. Vea could replace him immediately, but he also has the skill to play defensive end in Washington’s 3-4 scheme. Either way, he’d be a big addition to the team’s defensive front.

CBS Sports(Brinson)

The Redskins need to keep investing in the defensive front, despite grabbing Jonathan Allen in the first round last year. They could also go cornerback here as well.

Pro Football Weekly(Edholm)

Passing on Roquan Smith might be a regret down the line, but there’s no run stopper who could help them immediately up front in the mold of Vea. That would give them an excellent front in a division that could end up with some really good RB talent (especially if my Giants pick goes as I project). Vea and Jonathan Allen could manhandle a few teams.

Sporting News(Galko)

The Redskins will likely use multiple mid-round picks on offensive players, but bolstering their front seven early in the draft is the best way for them to get back into the playoff hunt. Vea can play at the nose or five-technique in their defense.


Some picks every year just feel locked in. Last year, Gareon Conley was locked in pretty early to the Raiders and it happened. This year that pairing seems to be Vea to Washington. Don’t let Vea’s 347-pound frame fool you. He has quick feet and good movement skill for a big defensive lineman.

Vea is huge (6-4, 347 pounds) and the Redskins need a dominant presence on the interior of the defensive line. Vea has that potential.

USA Today

There’s no question the NFL’s last-ranked run defense needs reinforcements. At 6-4 and 347 pounds, Vea can clog lanes in the early going while he learns to build on his impressive movement skills.

EDS Football

Drawing comparisons to Haloti Ngata, Vea is a freak athlete for a man his size. No team allowed more rushing yards than Washington last season, but Vea would go a long way in shoring up Washington’s leaky run defense.

Round 2: Lorenzo Carter, OLB, Georgia

A former five-star recruit, Carter may have never lived up to high expectations and he was certainly overshadowed by fellow linebacker Roquan Smith. That said, Carter is extremely athletic (4.50 forty at 250 pounds) and was the 2017 recipient of the Charley Trippi award, given to Georgia’s most versatile defensive player.

Houston Chronicle(Wilson)

Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama


The Redskins looked completely helpless trying to stop Alfred Morris in a must-win game the week after Thanksgiving. They need to bolster their defensive front, and Da’Ron Payne happens to be one of the best players available.

Round 2: Connor Williams, G/OT, Texas

The Redskins have a solid offensive line when everyone’s healthy, but there’s a hole at left guard that should be addressed.

Connor Williams is seen by many as a tackle, but some NFL personnel believe he’ll have to play guard even though he’s not really strong enough to play guard.


I think the Redskins are hoping that Minkah Fitzpatrick or Da’Ron Payne slide to them, and they would be fortunate if one of them makes it to their pick. Reuniting Payne and Jonathan Allen could be nasty for the Redskins’ defense.

Payne dominated at the point of attack in 2017, stuffing runs while showcasing his freakish speed and athleticism. On the year, he totaled 53 tackles, two half-sacks, three passes batted, an interception and a touchdown reception. I heard general managers and scouts raving about Payne all season.

Scouts were already raving about Payne’s potential in the preseason. He was the Crimson Tide’s best defensive lineman in 2017, following Jonathan Allen’s moving on to the NFL. Payne (6-2, 311) is a run plugger with a lot of potential to grow. When given the opportunity to rush the passer in 2016 and 2017, Payne was impressive, and sources have said that he helped set up sacks for numerous Alabama defenders, including Jonathan Allen, Tim Williams, Ryan Anderson and Rashaan Evans, over the past two seasons.

Round 2: Ronald Jones II, RB, USC

CBS Sports(Dubin)

Washington would probably prefer Vea, who is a slightly better run defender, but Payne will do in a pinch.

The Redskins’ woes vs. the run -- the run defense ranked 32nd in the league last season -- could prompt the team to add an athletic run stopper to the lineup.


With Vea off the board the Skins take the next best interior defensive lineman, and they won’t be disappointed. A potential surprise pick at this spot is Leighton Vander Esch.

Round 2: Isaiah Oliver, CB, Colorado

The Huddle

Washington needs to get bigger and more dominant in the middle. Defensive help is the biggest priority, unless Washington’s front office is enamored with a big-play receiver.

Round 2: Donte Jackson, DB, LSU

Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia

CBS Sports(Trapasso)

With Zach Brown and Smith, the Redskins will have two highly athlete linebackers to rack up big tackle numbers behind one of the more underrated defensive lines in the NFC.

Pro Football Weekly(Arkush)

Best player on board fills Washington’s biggest need.

Houston Chronicle(McClain)

Derwin James, S, Florida State

SEC Country

Washington has its quarterback of the near future with Alex Smith. Now, look for the Redskins to take a player such as James, who is 95 percent the player that Fitzpatrick is and could go even higher than this.

Yahoo Sports(Williams)

Washington selects a player that reminds the team of one of the most dominant defenders to ever don their uniform. #RIPSeanTaylor

Minkah Fitzpatrick, CB/S, Alabama

Bleacher Report(Sobleski)

Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick will never be the biggest, fastest or toughest player on the field. His intelligence, dedication and playmaking ability can’t be defined during the predraft process, though, and his slotting reflects some devaluation.

Even so, Fitzpatrick is one of the class’ best pure football players. The reigning Jim Thorpe Award winner fills two holes within the Washington Redskins roster.

Fitzpatrick is most comfortable covering the slot, and Washington traded last year’s nickel corner, Kendall Fuller, to the Kansas City Chiefs as part of the Alex Smith deal. The 21-year-old former Alabama defender can be an interchangeable piece as a safety, cornerback or nickel linebacker.

A prospect’s role doesn’t need to be defined if he can do a little bit of everything.

Mike Hughes, CB, UCF

CBS Sports(Brinson)

The Redskins need to improve the cornerback depth chart for both the long and short term, and adding Hughes gives them someone they don’t need to start right away.

Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville

The Ringer

The Redskins need more depth at cornerback opposite Josh Norman, and the recently signed Orlando Scandrick isn’t a long-term solution in the slot. Alexander could make an early impact: The former Louisville standout boasts elite speed and quickness, and with seven interceptions and 15 pass breakups in his college career, proved he has a nose for the ball, too.

Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State


Through my eyes, the Redskins have 4 major needs. In order of importance, I would rank those needs as follows: DT, RB, CB, OG. One has to maintain a level head, however, when assessing the value of each position. While DT and RB may be more obvious holes for the Redskins, this draft contains tremendous depth at both spots, and possible pairings must be considered. For example, if the Redskins took Vita Vea in the first, they would end up with a CB like Donte Jackson in the second. In that case, you get a raw, two-down DT and a raw nickel CB. If you ask me, I would take the battle-tested CB Denzel Ward first, paired up with a DT like Harrison Phillips or a game-breaking RB like Sony Michel in RD2. Now, while this type of exercise may seem like fantasy football, it isn’t; NFL teams have these debates constantly in their draft prep, and the teams know full-well where they can find value in this draft (get me a TE in the fourth!)

Here, the Redskins land the unquestioned top CB of the draft. Denzel Ward will be the next in the line of Urban Meyer DBs that have success in the NFL, and he should start on the outside right away. In the Redskins’ case, Ward would likely start on the outside opposite Norman and then drop into the slot in sub-packages, a position where he can excel even more than defending the boundary. The first time I ever watched tape of Ward, I was instantly reminded of one of the best inside DBs in the game in Chris Harris Jr., and I expect Ward to be that type of game-changing element in the secondary in Washington for years to come.

2nd Round: Sony Michel, RB, Georgia


Lots of teams in the top 10 really like the smallish Ward, and the Redskins could use him to replace Kendall Fuller.

The Big Lead

Scuttlebutt is that Ward could go as high at 5th. Redskins have needs at WR, DL (last in run defense) but also finding a replacement for Kendall Fuller.

NDT Scouting(Marino)

Washington gets its replacement for Kendall Fuller and arguably the best corner in the draft. With 15 pass breakups and two interceptions this season, Ward has played like a shutdown corner on an outstanding Buckeyes defense.


Who should the Redskins take in the 1st round?

This poll is closed

  • 7%
    Derrius Guice, RB, LSU
    (55 votes)
  • 0%
    Frank Ragnow, C, Arkansas
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Marcus Davenport, DE, UT San Antonio
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Harold Landry, OLB, Boston College
    (1 vote)
  • 46%
    Vita Vea, DT, Washington
    (338 votes)
  • 12%
    Da’Ron Payne, DL, Alabama
    (91 votes)
  • 3%
    Roquan Smith, LB, Georgia
    (26 votes)
  • 11%
    Derwin James, S, Florida State
    (84 votes)
  • 0%
    Mike Hughes, CB, UCF
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Jaire Alexander, CB, Louisville
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Denzel Ward, CB, Ohio State
    (27 votes)
  • 13%
    Minkah Fitzpatrick, S/CB, Alabama
    (101 votes)
732 votes total Vote Now