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Filling holes on the Redskins roster

Seven picks remaining on Saturday

Two weeks ago I published an article that looked at the Redskins depth chart ahead of the draft in an effort to glean some idea of what the front office strategy might be.

Here’s a re-print of that depth chart, with some names added.

In the past 14 days, the Redskins have added 4 players; each of them filled in a space marked in yellow on my pre-draft depth chart:

  • G/C Tony Bergstrom
  • QB Dwayne Haskins
  • Edge Montez Sweat
  • WR Terry McLaurin

Left Guard/backup center

Tony Bergstrom

NFL: Washington Redskins at New England Patriots Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

Bergstrom has actually been with the Redskins as a backup interior offensive lineman since mid-2017, and because of the number of injuries the ‘Skins have had to deal with, he’s actually seen a lot of playing time, starting 11 out of 22 possible games with the team, and seeing action at both Guard and Center.

He played 509 snaps (49.9%) last season — Roullier played 1,020, Morgan Moses 965, and Trent Williams 792 — so Bergstrom had the 4th highest snap count among the fourteen offensive linemen to appear in one or more Redskins regular season games last year.

Despite being new to the team, and active for only 9 games in 2017, he lined up for over 19% of the offensive snaps in his inaugural season with the team.

PFF gave him a grade of 48.8 for the 2018 season, ranking him 68th among offensive guards.

Although Bergstrom is only backup quality and was a late re-signing, his familiarity with the team and his flexibility to play all three interior line positions make him a good candidate to survive and make the 53-man roster.

The Redskins might still draft an interior lineman to threaten him, but Bergstrom won’t be easy to unseat.

One player who is still available in the draft that seems to have the potential to send Bergstrom packing is Michael Jordon.

Michael Jordan, Ohio State

For the past year, every defensive player that ever made it to the NFL from Alabama seemed to be welcome at the Redskins.

This season, the Washington offense seems to be taking on a distinctive “Buckeye” flavor, meaning that Michael Jordan looks to be a slam-dunk for the Redskins’ next pick in the draft.

NFL.com considers him a possible NFL starter:

Jordan is just 21 years old, 6’7” and 312 pounds. There are reports that the Giants and Lions have both shown interest in him. The Redskins have the 10th pick in the 4th round, with the Giants picking 6th and the Lions 9th, so he may not still be available for the ‘Skins front office when they are on the clock.

Our own Hogs Haven profile was enthusiastic about Jordan as a prospect, and projected him as a third round pick.

Jordan could be exactly what the team is looking for in that he could start from day one and may not cost the team more than a third round pick to secure his services. He’s still young and has room to develop, but he has plenty of starting experience and valuable versatility should injuries start to pile up again. Grabbing him in the third would allow the team to address other needs with their first couple of selections, while still adding a starter in the process. Should he be on the board when the Skins are on the clock in the third, Bruce may want to pull the trigger on this guy.

Quarterback

Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What did Jay Gruden have to say about Haskins late Thursday night?

We are excited obviously to get Dwayne. A quarterback that has performed like he has in one year of playing football is quite astonishing really. He has all of the tools to be an exceptional quarterback in pro football.

I don’t know what to expect from him yet. I have to get him in here. It’s just a matter of getting him in the building, getting him taught up on the offense, and just going slow with him. I don’t mean slow, I mean patient so to speak, but we have to figure out the reps.

We have a quarterback competition going out the ying-yang right now. We have Case [Keenum] here; we are very happy that we have him. He is an experienced quarterback who’s done it. Colt’s [McCoy] been a guy who has been in our system for a long time. He is trying to come back from that injury. Now we have Dwayne [Haskins], so we have three quarterbacks in the building we feel good about. So, it’s just a matter of getting them all in the room. Throw the ball out there, let them throw, and we will continue to progress and let guys have an opportunity to play.

I think [Haskins] is a big, strong guy. He can maneuver in the pocket. There are a lot of quarterbacks that are not necessarily scramblers so to speak. You have to maneuver in the pocket, whether it is a six-inch step, a step up, a lateral step, what have you, to buy some time, and he can buy time with his size and strength – people bounce off of him.

He can do a good job in the pocket. I’ve seen him do it at Ohio State, I’ve seen him get outside the pocket and make throws for touchdowns in the red zone and other areas of the field.

There are some things that he can work on, and there are some things he has to work on. He can work on everything as every quarterback can. A lot of people think he is a big, long delivery guy with slow feet. But at the Pro Day, he had quick feet, and quick out the drop, and quick out the release, which is exciting — and he is very accurate.

Dwayne is the type of guy that I think is very excited about getting into a building and working, and that is what drew us to him.

I think if you look at [the Ohio State] system this past year they really did a good job. They have a drop back system, and they have some RPO’s. They do a lot of things that NFL teams are doing, really.

They do an excellent job with their drop back passing game. He was a big part of it, getting the team in the right protection. You watch him at the line of scrimmage, changing protections, which is critical at this stage in his career, and obviously at the next level — he understands pressure looks and how to protect himself, which is critical. And then obviously going through progressions and reading defenses.

The biggest challenge for a quarterback coming into the NFL is his speed, the speed of his receivers, the speed of the defense, the speed of blitzes coming after him and how everything happens so fast. He has been doing things at an ultra-fast level at Ohio State with the no huddle and adjusting his protections and routes. For playing only one year, to put up the numbers that he put up is really incredible, so we feel like there is such an upside with him that we couldn’t pass him up.

If Dwayne had got picked early, we had a couple other options there obviously, but we were hoping Dwayne would fall to us, and he did. Fortunately we got him. Bruce did a great job; [so did], obviously, Kyle Smith. Dan [Snyder] was in the room for sure, and everybody was on board.

We’re excited to have him. Great kid, great player, and very smart. I had a chance to talk to him at the Combine. We flew him in here, had a long talk with him, went to dinner with him, and spent a lot of time with him. We feel really good about where he is as a player and where he’s going.

Edge Rusher/OLB

Montez Sweat, Ohio State

NFL: NFL Draft Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

What did Jay Gruden have to say about the Mississippi State defensive player drafted in the first round?

I think when you watched him as a player throughout his college career, and then you watched him at the Senior Bowl and Combine, the measurables are second to none as far as an edge rusher/outside linebacker-type player. If you’re 6-foot-6, run a 4.41 forty, and you have the production he had at Mississippi State, and you performed like he did at the Senior Bowl, it just is a perfect fit for us, [especially after] losing Preston Smith.

You know, obviously, there were some [health] concerns, but Dr. Casolaro, Larry Hess and we have done our due diligence on this, and we feel very strongly that he is a strong, healthy young man that is six foot six and a half, I think, with a large wing span, who runs a 4.41 I think. So we feel good about his health.

[We had Sweat rated] very high. Like I said he was part of our discussions at 15, after we didn’t think we’d get him at 15, and [then] he fell to us later. Obviously, [we needed] another pass rusher after losing Preston [Smith]. Preston, say what you want, he played a lot of football for us; he was very productive for us, so we needed to replace him.

We’re going to have competition at every position. But when you have guys on the edge, nowadays, on the bubble screens, jet sweeps and all that stuff that can run and get after the quarterback, it’s critical.

We’re going to have to sub some guys in I think. To ask somebody to play 70-80 plays a game on defense over a 16-game season is tough. You want to have fresh bodies in there.

When you throw [Ryan] Anderson in there for a little while and he gets winded, you [can] throw in a guy that’s 6-foot 6 that runs a 4.4 40. You’ve got [Ryan] Kerrigan, you got Cassanova [McKinzy] in there for third downs, so we feel good about the rotations that we might have.

What did Montez Sweat have to say about his draft experience and being selected by the Redskins?

I’ve got a great relationship with Preston Smith. We actually went to the same high school, [and] the same college. I actually saw him on one of my top 30 visits back in Green Bay, and he just told me to keep my head up, keep grinding, and just keep on going.

I’m not very familiar with the Redskins coaching staff, but I’m going to get real familiar with them – Ryan Kerrigan, that’s the pass rusher, the defensive end. It’s going to be a blessing playing on the other side of him, most definitely.

I talked to everybody from the team, from the linebacker’s coach all the way to the owner. They were fired up to have me. I was just talking to them, talking to everybody. It means a lot. It means that they trust in me. It means that they believe in me. I want to give the same respect back to them and just give my all. That’s all that means to me.

I’m more motivated than ever. I’ve always played with a chip on my shoulder and I guess it’s safe to say, it’s probably the biggest that it’s ever been. I feel like I need to work on all aspects of my game. What you’re going to see from me is just a relentless football player that’s going to keep on working to better his craft.

Wide Receiver

Terry McLaurin, Ohio State

Big Ten Championship - Northwestern v Ohio State Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Hogs Haven’s very own Gabe Ward watched film of Terry McLaurin pre-draft and came away impressed.

I’ve watched at least six Ohio State games this season, and I knew McLaurin was underrated, but after digging in and focusing solely on him rather than the OSU offense as a whole, I came away even more impressed.

If he wasn’t so big, I would have compared him to Brandon Cooks as that’s who he really reminds me of in terms of playing style.

A slightly undersized but tough receiver who can be featured in offenses and work all over the field, he has the skills to take the top off (he says he can run the 40 in 4.35) and checks all the boxes as far as technical ability.

While his teammates Campbell and Hill rightfully get their shine, could that be that it’s just because McLaurin got the mouse’s share in that offense? Every time I watch him, I lean [a little more] towards that sentiment, as I think there is a solid argument that McLaurin is better than both of them, overall.

How could the Redskins not need a player like this?

Speed, hands, athleticism, consistency, leadership and more.

Hell, I would suggest trading Paul Richardson and drafting McLaurin to replace him. That’s not likely to happen. but McLaurin is well worth the 2nd round pick price, and worth the effort to incorporate him into the offense if he proves he can play as well as the vets, which shouldn’t be hard.

Reading a variety of sources in the hours after the Redskins drafted him, I’m getting the impression that MaLaurin is better than his production indicates:

  • He blocks, adding to the production of other players in the offense
  • He is unselfish, and a leader among his teammates
  • He plays special teams (apparently he is a talented gunner on the punt team)

What did Jay Gruden have to say about the team’s newest wideout?

Well, we were obviously looking to add to our receiving core a little bit, and he gives us a nice blend, with a combination of speed and toughness. He’s actually our special teams number one player on the board as far as what he does in that unit – covering kicks, flyer on punt.

But really, it’s all about his receiving skills. He averaged about twenty yards a catch last year. He’s a very explosive player. He can run. I think he can do a little bit of everything – inside, outside. But he gives us a dimension, another added dimension, with that great speed and toughness that he brings to the table in the run game and the vertical pass game.

I’d probably start with him outside right now. I think he is a very smart and intelligent player and works extremely hard, so he is going to be a guy that learns all three and be able to move around and provide us with depth at every position and obviously provide us with some juice, and [then] eventually be a starter, without a doubt, once he gets in here. Obviously, he already has a great rapport with Dwayne [Haskins], so it is a natural pick for us.

I didn’t hear from Dwayne, but I know they get along great. I was at the Pro Day this year, and you could see them just communicating. The work that Terry puts in — he runs every route like it’s his last route. He works extremely hard. Obviously, Dwayne has a lot of confidence in him, and he has a lot of confidence in Dwayne. It’s a good natural fit.

He’s obviously got the potential, and that’s what we’re looking for. But really, you’re talking about an all-around player, and that’s why we liked him so much. He’s a guy that’s been great in the locker room; he’s been a captain, a leader and sets the standard as far as work ethic is concerned.

I got a lot out of [the Ohio State Pro Day] just watching Dwayne throwing the ball, and how he interacted with his teammates, and the accuracy that he possessed at that Pro Day, and the quickness [with which] he gets the ball out. Watching Terry [McLaurin] run around — when you watch him on tape, you don’t necessarily see that blazing speed — but watching him in person you feel it. He can run.

Like I said, he was taking every route. Parris Campbell [Ohio State Wide Receiver] went down in that Pro Day early, so they kind of got a little flustered with who was going to run what. Terry jumped in and ran extra routes for him, and never batted an eye. Two great guys, and two great players.

It tells you a lot about a guy — not to mention his blocking outside in the perimeter and bubble screens. He may not be getting the ball and getting the credit for it, but he’s the one making them work. Parris Campbell had so many yards after the catch, a lot of those because [McLaurin was] leading the way for them, blocking the perimeters, safeties, corners, or what have you.

So, [Terry’s a] very unselfish player, and that goes a long way in this day and age in football because it’s going to be hard to cater to one guy all the time in this offense. We try to spread the ball around, and unselfishness is a very important part of being on this football team – got to do your job, and he does his job extremely well.

What did McLaurin have to say for himself after he was drafted by Washington?

I see myself as that deep ball receiver to be able to take that top off of any defense. I see myself just being able to make plays wherever the coaches see that I fit, and I’m just looking forward to that opportunity. Wherever the coaches see me fitting into that offense, I’m going to do that to the best of my ability. But, first and foremost, I see myself as that big play hitter.

I grew up kind of liking DeSean Jackson’s game – his ability to take the top off of the defense, to make big plays — just his ability to make big plays through the air — and that’s kind of someone I always emulated in a certain degree. Then his ability to make plays in the special teams game was also huge.

When I was about to say his name, that’s kind of why I hesitated, [because], at the end of the day, I’m just going to be myself. I’m not coming here to be DeSean Jackson; I’m coming here to be Terry McLaurin, and just try to put my best foot forward

Plugging more holes on Day 3 of the draft

The Redskins have the 10th, 29th, 51st, and 71st picks in Day 3 of the draft (and still one more in the sixth and two more in the seventh round), so they have the opportunity to still add impact players for offense or defense. I talked about the interior offensive line at the beginning of the article; let me talk about a defensive position to end it.

Safety

There’s a possibility that the Redskins’ need for a starting safety may be greater than their ability to fill that need with the remaining draft picks.

Fans should not forget that veteran free agency has not come to an end; in fact, it should see a bit of a resurgence after Tuesday 7 May, when veterans who are signed no longer count towards the compensatory pick formula.

The Redskins, after allowing cap space for the drafted rookies and setting aside a contingency for injury-replacement players in the regular season, should still have around $4.5 or $5 million available in 2019 cap space to put toward veteran free agents. As he proved with the Landon Collins contract, the Redskins’ cap guru, Eric Schaffer, can do a lot with limited cap space; crafting a contract for a free agent safety in May should be a piece of cake for him.

The three names that I would look at in the free agent safety market would be Tre Boston, Eric Berry, and Jahleel Addae.

In the draft, however, the last chance the Redskins may have to fill the hole in their roster may come with the former Iowa Hawkeye safety, Amani Hooker.

Amani Hooker

Gabe Ward profiled Hooker for Hogs Haven but wasn’t sold on his suitability for the Redskins.

Hooker is an interesting prospect because, like most hybrid safety/linebackers, he’s going to have to go to the right defense to shine. I’m not sure the Redskins are the best fit for him.

They haven’t had this role carved out since Su’a Cravens was here, and they still make little use of JHC beyond that. It would take a re-commitment to the hybrid position for Hooker to succeed to the best of his ability in D.C., and I think that only comes with a near complete defensive staff change. As noted in many of our offseason discussions, the Redskins seem to be looking more for ‘do it all’ safeties, leaning toward box guys that are true prototypical FS or SS prospects.

I think Hooker could have some success here, even as a 3rd safety or inside linebacker, but I can’t see how he consistently gets on the field with the team’s current defensive philosophy.

If the front office is going to clean house after 2019 (I doubt it), the selection of Hooker would be a deliberate (hopefully) investment into the defense with the thought in mind that the new defensive staff would make the most use of him. Right now I can’t see him supplanting Landon Collins, playing FS, or getting on the field as a nickel back or ILB.

I can certainly see him as a better fit on other teams such as the Rams, Chargers, or Jags.

Poll

What position will the Redskins draft with their first pick on Saturday?

This poll is closed

  • 23%
    Safety
    (194 votes)
  • 55%
    Offensive Line
    (453 votes)
  • 4%
    Tight end
    (35 votes)
  • 11%
    Wide Receiver
    (97 votes)
  • 2%
    Cornerback
    (18 votes)
  • 1%
    Running back
    (11 votes)
  • 1%
    Something else
    (9 votes)
817 votes total Vote Now