Oct 30, 2016; London, United Kingdom; Washington Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan reacts during game 17 of the NFL International Series at Wembley Stadium. The Redskins and Bengals tied 27-27. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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The Washington Redskins have already played this week, so it is time to have a look at what players could be available for them in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The NFL Draft is one of the best events in sports. All of the excitement surrounding the teams as they look to quickly improve and get to the playoffs is electric. The NFL is one of the few leagues where one good offseason can propel you to being a contender, and the 2017 offseason could be a big one for the Washington Redskins.
The Redskins appear to have their quarterback of the future in Kirk Cousins, and they will have a chance to add some quality pieces around him. In the 2017 draft alone, they will have nine picks. They will look to address some of their key weaknesses, and they have the resources to do so.
To see what the Redskins might do, I ran a mock draft simulation using Fanspeak’s On The Clock Simulator. I made all of the Redskins picks, and these were the results I came up with.
Oct 22, 2016; Tuscaloosa, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (93) returns a fumble for a touchdown against the Texas A&M Aggies during the third quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports
Round 1, Pick 24: DL Jonathan Allen, Alabama
The simulator had the Redskins picking at 24th overall, which bodes well for their chances of making the playoffs. That said, when I saw that they were picking 24th, I thought there was little chance of them landing one of the best defensive line prospects in this draft.
Jonathan Allen has proven to be one of the top interior rushers in college football over the past two seasons. During his senior season, the defensive lineman has seven sacks and has posted a career high in tackles with 46. He is improving as a player and should address a position that was a major weakness for the Redskins.
The Redskins defensive line has been poor this year, and they have minimal talent outside of Chris Baker. Allen would be an immediate starter at the left end position, and he should be an ideal fit for the 3-4 scheme that the team runs. It is also worth noting that Baker is a free agent, so adding Allen would give them some much needed protection.
With all of that said, I think that Allen will not be available with the 24th pick. He simply is too talented to go that late. Scot McCloughan would have to move up in the draft to get him, which could be an option given the amount of assets the team has in this year’s draft.
Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers guard Josh Boutte (76) and center Ethan Pocic (77) and quarterback Danny Etling (16) in action during the game against the Florida Gators at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Round 2, Pick 24: C Ethan Pocic, LSU
As well as Spencer Long has played at the center position this season, I think that the Redskins need to add some help along the offensive line. Ethan Pocic would qualify as he is arguably the best center in this draft class.
Pocic is a massive man with a 6-foot-7, 309 pound frame. His length allows him to play with athleticism and he has been a very strong run blocker. He has helped to pave the way for Leonard Fournette, and he should be able to do the same at the NFL level.
Pocic’s frame also will give him versatility along the offensive line. He should be able to play guard positions as well as center, and in a worst case scenario, he could probably man right tackle. The Redskins would be happy to land a lineman like him.
If I were the Redskins front office, I would add Pocic and make him the starting center. The team could then move Long to left guard and use Shawn Lauvao as a backup. That would strengthen the offensive line and that could be a difference maker for the team.
Oct 8, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; Texas A&M Aggies defensive back Justin Evans (14) celebrates the win over the Tennessee Volunteers during the second overtime at Kyle Field. The Aggies defeated the Volunteers 45-38 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Round 3, Pick 24: S Justin Evans, Texas A&M
One of the biggest weaknesses on the Redskins defense is their play at the safety position. They have some decent veterans manning the positions, but they could use an injection of young talent to improve the unit. If Justin Evans is available in the third round, they will jump on him early.
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Evans has been a terrific ballhawking safety for the Aggies during his senior season. He has four interceptions, two of which came in the season opener against UCLA and their stellar quarterback, Josh Rosen. Over the course of the season, Evans has showed great instincts as well, and has a career high five tackles for loss.
The Redskins could utilize Evans at the free safety position and move their veterans into backup roles. The team could hold and open competition for the other safety position between DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton, and anyone else the team could try to bring in. Adding Evans would definitely be an upgrade for the team though.
Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Florida Gators defensive lineman Caleb Brantley (57) celebrates after a stop during the second half against the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Round 4, Pick 5: DL Caleb Brantley, Florida
I wanted the Redskins to double up on the defensive line in this draft, and I was shocked that Caleb Brantley was available in the fourth round. Brantley is considered by many to be a second to early third round prospect, so getting him in the fourth round could be a steal.
Brantley has not put up massive numbers during his college career, but he has been very consistent. He has played across the defensive line at Florida, but he is at his best as an interior player. He has put up a total of 4.5 sacks combined over the past couple of seasons, and he has been able to break through the line and shut down the opposing running games.
The Redskins could use Brantley in a similar role to Allen, or they could even consider using him as a nose tackle. Brantley has a 6-foot-2, 314 pound frame so he could have the size to play in the middle of the defense. Regardless, the team would be able to find a spot for him and he could be a major improvement on the defensive line.
Nov 24, 2016; College Station, TX, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Malachi Dupre (15) makes a touchdown reception during the second quarter against the Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports
Round 4, Pick 24: WR Malachi Dupre, LSU
Malachi Dupre is a player who should be more productive than his numbers have indicated. The talented receiver has had some issues producing at LSU because of the poor quarterback play. Perhaps under new head coach Ed Orgeron, the Tigers will be able to land a more productive quarterback.
Unfortunately for Dupre, that figures to be too little too late. The junior could leave for the NFL after this season, and he will probably end up being a day two pick. In this simulation, he fell to the fourth round, likely due to his production, but the only way he would be available here is if he does not test well in the Combine.
Still, Dupree could be a big get for the Redskins. The team has a couple of free agent wide-outs in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, and if they lose one they should look to get some extra depth. Dupre would give the team a solid depth receiver who could use his size to create jump ball situations. He has some athleticism, but his real claim to fame is his size.
If Dupre is available this late, he will be too good for the team to pass up. He could give Kirk Cousins another weapon and really move the needle on offense.
Oct 15, 2016; Clemson, SC, USA; Clemson Tigers linebacker Ben Boulware (10) during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Clemson Memorial Stadium. Tigers won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
Round 5, Pick 10: LB Ben Boulware, Clemson
One of the most productive players in college football over the past couple of seasons is Ben Boulware. Playing in the Clemson defense, Boulware has put up some solid numbers but NFL scouts have not been particularly impressed with him, according to WalterFootball.com’s Charlie Campbell.
Boulware had 82 tackles with 3.5 sacks, seven passes broken up, and two interceptions as a junior. The 6-foot, 240-pounder is expected to be the leader of the Clemson defense this season. Sources say that in preseason study, Boulware has not impressed them in terms of his athleticism and speed. They feel he is similar to Max Bullough, a linebacker from Michigan State who went undrafted in 2014.
That said, Boulware has a chance of being drafted and the Redskins could be willing to take a chance on him. The team has a couple of decent starts and a high upside rookie in Su’a Cravens, but they could stand to upgrade their backups. Boulware could come in and be a solid special teams player at the worst, and possibly play in some early down packages.
At this point in the draft, there is not much risk in taking a player based off of his production. At the worst, Boulware will fizzle out and be nothing more than a special teams player. Best case scenario is that he proves to be more athletic than expected and he can become a quality role player.
Sep 10, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Russell Gage (39) is congratulated by safety Rickey Jefferson (9) after a tackle against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks during the second half at Tiger Stadium. LSU defeated Jacksonville State 34-13. Mandatory Credit: Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports
Round 6, Pick 22: S Rickey Jefferson, LSU
Rickey Jefferson was having a good senior season for the LSU Tigers. Then, he broke his ankle in October and was forced to miss the rest of the season. It was an unfortunate injury for the starter, but he still has a chance to make it in the NFL.
Prior to his injury, Jefferson had posted 23 tackles and one interception. He had looked good playing next to fellow prospect Jamal Adams. He looks like a quality backup in the NFL, and the Redskins could use a guy like him.
Donte Whitner and Duke Ihenacho are both slated to be free agents after this season, and it remains to be seen if the team will keep either. Whitner will likely be gone while Ihenacho may be too injury prone to stick around. Jefferson could come in as a deep backup, and be given some recovery time. The team could even opt to put him on injured reserve if he is not recovered through training camp. This pick would give the team options, which will be beneficial when the roster crunch comes around.
This season, De’Veon Smith has emerged as a big time contributor at Michigan. The team has been great this season and part of that has been thanks to the performance of their running game.
Smith has produced a career high 5.2 yards per carry and has posted a career high 10 touchdowns. He has good size to be a rotational back and offers a bit of explosion as well. He has a future in the NFL, and the Redskins could be interested in adding him.
Robert Kelley has emerged as a lead back for the team, but they do not have a true backup. Matt Jones has been inactive for the past few weeks while Chris Thompson is better suited as a receiving back. Smith could come in and be the perfect complement for Kelley and afford the team another option as opposed to running Kelley 20-plus times every week. At this stage in the draft, adding a high upside player is important.
Oct 29, 2016; College Station, TX, USA : Texas A&M Aggies wide receiver Ricky Seals-Jones (9) warms up before playing against New Mexico State Aggies at Kyle Field. Mandatory Credit: Thomas B. Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Round 7, Pick 24: WR Ricky Seals-Jones, Texas A&M
I know the Redskins do not need multiple receivers, but Ricky Seals-Jones was too good to pass up at this point. Seals-Jones was once considered to be a top prospect in the draft, but he has fallen off due to injuries and lack of production. Still, he has a massive 6-foot-5 frame and could become a red zone weapon.
Seals-Jones would likely start as a practice squad player for the Redskins, but he would offer significantly more upside than almost any other player left on the board. If he can put everything together and stay healthy, then he could end up being a weapon for the team. Even if they just bring him in during red zone possessions, it could be worth it for the team.
With that, the nine picks have been made for the Redskins. They doubled up at a lot of positions, but I believe that if they had this type of draft, they would be happy at the start of training camp.