Needs: Washington has so many needs. A shocking number of needs. They are, as listed (for clarity’s sake): Pretty much every kind of defensive lineman, a cornerback to play in the slot or opposite Josh Norman, a depth linebacker to replace Su’a Cravens, who is moving full-time to safety, a game-breaking wide receiver, a three-down running back, and a guard.
That doesn’t even factor in the possible need for a quarterback, should the team not come to a new deal with Kirk Cousins.
Luckily, the Redskins have 10 picks to help fill all of those needs, though that might not be enough, as only three are in the top 100 and four are after pick 200. This is going to be a trying draft for Washington — the Redskins need to nail it and a trade of pick No. 17 could go a long way to helping make that happen.
Picks: First round (17), Second round (49), Third round (81), Fourth round (114, 123), Fifth round (154), Sixth round (201, 209), Seventh round (220, 235).
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Malik McDowell, DT, Michigan State
If McDowell needs to be selected in the first round, so be it — Washington needs a defensive lineman in this draft who can play multiple techniques, and McDowell might be the most versatile lineman in the class. He’s a project, no doubt, but he’s built like a power forward and at times looked unstoppable at Michigan State. He’s a three-down player on a team that has a shocking dearth of those on the defensive side of the ball. If Washington can trade down, acquire more picks and land McDowell, who is a bit of a tweener (an advantage in a defensive scheme that could be best described as a 2-4) in the early second round, that would be ideal, but the Redskins can’t afford to miss out on a player like McDowell in this draft.
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Chidobe Awuzie, CB, Colorado
Washington is paying Josh Norman a lot of money to lock down one side of the field, and for the most part, he does that. And while Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, he was picked on often last year. And in the slot — let’s not discuss who is covering the slot. Washington needs a cornerback, or two, in this draft and while Awuzie could find himself being drafted at the bottom of the first round, he should be Washington’s top priority at cornerback in this draft, as he’s a starting slot corner from Day 1 and is not an outside guy who might slide inside. If anything, Awuzie could slide outside, should the need presents itself. This is another reason to move down from 17 — it gives Washington a chance to land two fringe first-round players in Awuzie and McDowell.
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Joe Mixon, RB, Oklahoma
People aren’t going to like it, and they’re right to be outraged. But Mixon is arguably the best back in this class and if Washington is willing to take the PR fallout (and at this point, what’s another PR issue for Redskins owner Dan Snyder?) he would be a great value for Washington.
No one is out of line to define Mixon by his disgusting act, but he has also been mature and open in discussing the time at Oklahoma when he punched a woman, Amelia Molitor, resulting in several facial fractures and dramatically and negatively altering the course of her life. I don’t know how teams will balance talent and morality, or if it should be a balancing act at all, but if Washington is willing to have Mixon on its team, he would be the three-down, game-breaking back the Redskins need, and they could possibly get him with two picks already on the board.
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Mack Hollins, WR, North Carolina
He’s a straight-line receiver who was incredibly productive at UNC, catching 20 touchdowns in his career there, with 15 coming on deep passes. He’s 6-foot-4 with 4.54-speed that, while it doesn’t manifest quickly, is uncatchable if he beats press coverage (which he can do as well as any receiver in this draft.) It would not be shocking if Hollins is drafted on the second day — perhaps even in the second round — but Washington, which needs to replace DeSean Jackson as a deep-threat receiver (a major component of Washington’s offense last year, and, in turn, Kirk Cousins' strong season) should find a way to position itself to select the second-best take-the-top-off outside receiver (behind John Ross, who could go top-10) in this draft.
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Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, DT, USC
Tu’ikolovatu is a one-trick pony, but boy is it a valuable trick — this dude stops the run. He peaked late in the season for USC, having a monster game in the Rose Bowl, and is the best value nose tackle in the draft, despite his clear inability to help in the pass rush. Again, Washington’s defensive scheme is going to be different — possibly unique — and so while the Redskins will look more like a 4-3, they could well use a two-gap nose tackle as part of their base. Tu’ikolovatu is a two-down player who had a 12.6 stop percentage (second in this draft), a number which would allow Washington to be aggressive on outside blitzes with a level of impunity. Not bad for a third-day pick.