The NFL Draft is a little more than a month away with the Redskins holding the 21st pick in the first round. It’s actually kind of strange to see the Redskins picking in this area as over the last decade they’ve either drafted incredibly high or not at all as they’ve traded picks away.
Coming off a 9-7 season, the Redskins surprised many by winning a weak NFC East behind the quarterback play of Kirk Cousins, the emergence of tight end Jason Reid and a solid, if not unspectacular, defense. The Redskins were so lightly regarded last season that none of the top betting sites even mentioned them for any kind of team or individual success (via Gambling.com).
As the Wild Card loss to Green Bay showed, the Redskins still have room for improvement and that will likely come at this year’s draft as they look to fill some important holes.
So where will the Redskins look? Here’s what a few main outlets are saying.
Chris Rolling’s latest mock draft has the Redskins taking Mississippi wide receiver Laquon Treadwell (via Bleacher Report). This pick makes sense in a lot of ways, especially given that the team needs depth at this position.
While Desean Jackson features all-world speed, he is frequently injured and is more of a home run threat than a guy who can move the chains. Pierre Garcon broke out in 2013 with a 1,300-yard campaign, but he has posted back-to-back disappointing campaigns. It’s starting to look like 2013 was an aberration and his time in Washington appears limited.
In getting Treadwell, who led the SEC in receiving, the Redskins would receive a physical playmaker capable of complementing Jackson’s speed. While not a great route runner, Treadwell has plenty of room to improve himself, but could be a perfect fit. The only question may be is if he actually lasts that long in the draft.
Another option, of course, is defense, and a big defensive tackle such as Andrew Billings out of Baylor (via NFL Spin Zone). The Redskins brought in Terrance Knighton on a one-year deal last season in hopes he could plug the middle of the line, but Knighton was a disappointment.
Billings brings a high motor and an ability to disrupt plays in the backfield. He also fits general manager Scot McCloughan’s philosophy of building from the inside out. The Redskins’ run defense was passable last season, but as they look to take the next step toward Super Bowl contender they will need more playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. Another option along the same lines could be Alabama’s A’Shawn Robinson.
Finally, the Redskins may look for an upgrade at running back. Alfred Morris was disappointing last year and the Redskins’ running game failed to support Cousins and the passing game. Coach Jay Gruden was known for power running offenses in Cincinnati, so a potential stud running back could be an option.
While teams have gone away from drafting running backs in the first round, top-tier talent such as Todd Gurley last season will still get picked high. The two top options for Washington will be Ohio State’s Ezekiel Elliott and Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry. Both would give Washington a skilled playmaker in the backfield that can also contribute to the passing game.
The Redskins have invested heavily in the offensive line in recent years, so getting a workhorse running back behind them seems like a logical fit as well. While the Redskins made a lot of progress last season, the right pick on draft day could mean a transition from being happy to make the playoffs to actually making some noise once there.