2017 NFL Draft: Washington Redskins 5 Best Options – February Edition

Sep 17, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Dedrick Mills (26) scores a rushing touchdown against Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) in the third quarter of their game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets won 38-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 17, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets running back Dedrick Mills (26) scores a rushing touchdown against Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) in the third quarter of their game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The Yellow Jackets won 38-7. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins have to make sure that they land an impact player in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Any of these players would do the trick for the team.

In 2016, the Washington Redskins did not get a whole lot of production from their rookies. They lost their first round pick, Josh Doctson, for the majority of the season as he dealt with an Achilles injury. Su’a Cravens was the only rookie draft pick who had a positive impact, and Scot McCloughan had to be disappointed with the effort put forth by his young players.

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With that said, it seems likely that McCloughan will put a lot of work in during the 2017 offseason to strengthen the team’s roster. One of the most important things for the team will be selecting a quality prospect in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. They are picking No. 17 overall, and they should have a chance to land some quality players.

As of right now, it remains unclear who the team is targeting. With the draft over two months away, here is a look at five players who should be their top targets as the draft draws nearer.

Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 30, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Florida State Seminoles running back Dalvin Cook (4) runs the ball in the first quarter against the Michigan Wolverines at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

5. RB Dalvin Cook

I mocked Dalvin Cook to the Redskins in my first mock draft of 2017, and got a lot of criticism for giving the Redskins an offensive player. While the team does need far more help on the defensive side of the ball, I find it hard to believe that they would pass up taking Cook if he is available in the first frame. I had the following to say about Cook’s skill set in a piece from earlier in the year:

Cook is undoubtedly the second best running back in this class behind Leonard Fournette. The speedy back played his college ball at Florida State and he looks to be a sure fire success in the NFL.

In each of the last two seasons, Cook was the offensive leader for the Seminoles and produced at an extremely high rate. During those two years, he recorded 3,456 yards and a ridiculous 38 touchdowns. He also has maintained an average of 6.5 yards per carry, which is a huge number for the college level. He truly is a transcendent player that could greatly impact the Redskins.

Drafting Cook would also allow Rob Kelley to move into a backup role. That would suit him a whole lot better and he could end up being an excellent short yardage specialist.

It would be hard for the Redskins to pass up a playmaker of Cook’s caliber. He simply has the speed and strength to become a featured back in the NFL. He may not make it to their pick but if he does, expect the team to take him.

Nov 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive back Adoree Jackson (2) hurdles Notre Dame Fighting Irish place kicker John Chereson (43) on a 97-yard touchdown kickoff return in the third quarter during a NCAA football game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 26, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans defensive back Adoree Jackson (2) hurdles Notre Dame Fighting Irish place kicker John Chereson (43) on a 97-yard touchdown kickoff return in the third quarter during a NCAA football game against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

4. CB Adoree Jackson

Adoree Jackson is a player that has not gotten much buzz in recent weeks. After he suffered an injury in the Rose Bowl, it was widely considered that he may fall in the lead up to the 2017 NFL Draft. However, it seems that Jackson is staying stead as a potential top 20 pick, and he will almost certainly be a first round pick.

Jackson is a dynamic playmaker who had a huge impact during his time at USC. Functioning as a cornerback, return man, and offensive weapon, Jackson using his game-breaking speed to make numerous terrific plays. It seemed that he would always come up clutch when the Trojans need him. His athleticism and coverage skills should allow him to have success in the NFL and he is certainly in play for the Redskins.

If Washington were to take Jackson, that could allow them to move Bashaud Breeland to safety, which is a move that could greatly benefit the team. At the very least, adding Jackson would give them quality depth and strengthen their secondary. Jackson is probably the dark horse possibility right now, but do not be surprised to see him gain more traction as time goes on.

Nov 5, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) runs the ball in the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 5, 2016; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines linebacker Jabrill Peppers (5) runs the ball in the first half against the Maryland Terrapins at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

3. S/LB Jabrill Peppers

It is no secret that the Redskins need help at the safety position. That is why Jabrill Peppers has been identified as a potential target of the Redskins for the better half of the last six months. Our own Josh Landis thinks that Peppers would be a great option for the team and said the following of him.

Peppers is arguably the most athletic and explosive player in the 2017 NFL draft class. His instincts and closing speed make him a dangerous defensive player. Peppers has played practically every position at Michigan from linebacker, cornerback, safety, punt returner, kick returner, running back, and the list goes on. His versatility and athleticism are in a class of its own.

At 6-foot-1, 205 pounds, it is obvious Peppers will not fill the role at linebacker in the NFL. He has a lot of similar attributes to our own Su’a Cravens. His talents, like Cravens, would fit best at the safety position in the NFL.

Peppers collegiate awards are impressive. For the 2016 season as a junior he was named to the All-American team, he was a Heisman Award finalist, the Big 10 defensive player of the year, Big 10 linebacker of the year, and Big 10 return specialist of the year.

Peppers has an impressive resume and great athletic ability. If he can improve his ball skills, he will be a great NFL player. For now, he is a versatile option who should be considered with the No. 17 pick.

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Chris Wormley (43) rushes the passer against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 29, 2016; East Lansing, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines defensive end Chris Wormley (43) rushes the passer against the Michigan State Spartans during the second half at Spartan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

2. DL Chris Wormley

There is seemingly no player that works harder than Chris Wormley. Throughout the 2016 college football season, he was consistently one of the best players on the field for Michigan. He continued his success in the Senior Bowl and really looks to be a great fit at the five technique in the NFL.

Considering that the Redskins have a glaring need on the defensive line, selecting Wormley would make a whole lot of sense. He would start across from Chris Baker, provided that he re-signs, and would be much better than the ragtag bunch that the Redskins had opposite their star lineman last season. Wormley also has scheme versatility, so he could play in a hybrid scheme if needed.

Wormley’s stock is currently a mid-late first round pick. Selecting him at No. 17 would not necessarily be a reach, but it would not be the best value for the Redskins. Still, if Wormley impresses at the Combine, teams will be excited by work ethic and skill set. That could cause his stock to rise.

Nov 12, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Damarea Crockett (16) runs the ball and is tackled by Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 12, 2016; Columbia, MO, USA; Missouri Tigers running back Damarea Crockett (16) runs the ball and is tackled by Vanderbilt Commodores linebacker Zach Cunningham (41) during the second half at Faurot Field. Missouri won 26-17. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

1. LB Zach Cunningham

One of the biggest weaknesses on the Redskins defense for the past decade has been their lack of a true three down linebacker. They need to look to fix that this offseason, and they should have a chance to do that during the draft.

In fact, there first round may be their best chance to do that. There are a couple of very solid prospects that will be available in the first round, but Zach Cunningham of Vanderbilt could be the favorite for the No. 17 overall pick. Just a couple of weeks ago, I said the following about Cunningham.

Cunningham is a big bodied, tackling machine who should be an excellent NFL player. Cunningham has fantastic instincts and racked up a whopping 125 tackles during this past season. He has posted 30.5 tackles for loss over the course of the last two years and looks to be a true three down linebacker at the next level.

Cunningham’s unique blend of size and athleticism should make him the top target for the Redskins in 2017. If he does well at the Combine, he will solidify himself as a top 20 pick and become an impact player for whichever team drafts him.

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