ASHBURN, Va. (AP) The offensive line was an area of concern for the Washington Redskins when they finished at the bottom of the NFC East last year for the sixth time in seven seasons. So Washington took Alabama guard Arie Kouandjio in the fourth round and South Florida center Austin Reiter in the seventh on the final day of the draft after selecting Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff with the fifth overall pick to start.
The physical 6-foot-5, 310-pound Kouandjio, a graduate of DeMatha High School just seven miles from FedEx Field, started the past two seasons after undergoing multiple knee surgeries early in his college career. Kouandjio’s older brother, Cyrus, is a tackle for the Buffalo Bills.
”It’s just so awesome to go back home,” Kouandjio said on Saturday.
Article continues below ...
Starting guards Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester struggled in 2014. Backups Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long have very little experience.
”You can never have too many big guys that can move the pile,” coach Jay Gruden said after the Redskins took the last of their 10 picks. ”We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and trading a bunch of our picks away. The extra picks are very beneficial for us. We picked up some pretty good players late.”
Washington chose playmaking Arkansas All-SEC linebacker Martrell Spaight in the fifth round. The 6-foot, 236-pound Spaight, who led the Razorbacks with 128 tackles last season from the weak side, will probably move inside for the Redskins.
After a trade down with New Orleans, the Redskins wound up with three sixth-rounders. They drafted undersized but tough Virginia Tech safety Kyshoen Jarrett, a three-year starter, athletic Arkansas cornerback Tevin Mitchel, who started 29 games over four years, and Ohio State receiver Evan Spencer, whose brother, Cole, is a Redskins scout. Their father, Tim, is Tampa Bay’s running backs coach. The teams meet in Week 7 at FedEx Field.
”I didn’t know how to react,” Spencer said of receiving the call from Cole telling him that he had been drafted by Washington.
”He brings a different type of mentality to the receivers’ room,” Gruden said. ”He’s a physical player . a demon on special teams.”
The Redskins had taken Scherff, Mississippi State outside linebacker Preston Smith and Florida running back Matt Jones during the first two days of the draft as part of new general manager Scot McCloughan’s plan for Washington to bulk up and get stronger.
Although he’s 6-5, 320, Scherff played tennis and baseball while also throwing the shot and discus as a high school freshman. The 6-5 Smith, a defensive end in college, has lost 15 pounds down to 255 since the end of his senior season.
At 6-2, 231, Jones, who rebounded from a torn meniscus in 2013 to start last season, hopes to be a larger complement to 5-10, 218-pound Pro Bowl back Alfred Morris.
However, the Redskins started the final day of the draft by going small, choosing Jamison Crowder, a 5-8, 185-pound receiver/return man from Duke.
A first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference receiver the past two seasons, Crowder was second in the conference with 85 catches while also returning two punts for touchdowns as a senior. In 2013, Crowder led the ACC with 108 catches while producing 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns.
”We liked his big-play ability,” Gruden said.
The Redskins have top receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but third receiver Andre Roberts had a disappointing 2014 season. Roberts was also underwhelming on special teams with averages of 7.4 yards on punt returns and 23.7 yards on kickoff returns.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and AP NFL Twitter feed: www.twitter.com/AP-NFL