Wednesday, June 22, 2011

KD's NFL Draft Grades - Washington Redskins

Mike Shanahan, GM Bruce Allen, and the Washington Redskins needed to add a lot of talent. The Redskins responded by trading down out of the 10th spot, to Jacksonville, and proceeded to trade multiple times throughout the Draft, landing 12 picks in total. Of the 12 picks, however, 8 of them came after the 4th round. The Redskins have holes at a lot of positions, and are still trying to infuse talent into their new 3-4 defense. Years of bad drafting and bad free agent contracts (DeAngelo Hall, Albert Haynesworth, etc.) have left the Redskins devoid of talent, so the multiple draft picks strategy works to a degree. However, the Redskins haven't fully addressed what they'll do with Donovan McNabb and the rest of the quarterback position. Here's what they did with their abundance of picks.

1st round, 16th overall) Ryan Kerrigan - LB - Purdue
Brian Orakpo burst onto the scened as a rookie with 11 sacks. In 15 games last year, he added another 8.5 sacks. The problem being, no one else added much, and as such, guys like Andre Carter probably won't be back. Enter Ryan Kerrigan, a talented DE at Purdue, he racked up 37.5 sacks and 55.5 tackles for loss over his career. Playing in 48 games, he brings a wealth of experience in the 4-3, so it remains to be seen how he'll transition to a 3-4.

How he fits in: Given the Redskins dismal OLB depth chart after Brian Orakpo, Kerrigan should figure to start early at the strongside position. He's something of a cross between Matt Roth and Mike Vrabel, that comes out looking like a version of the Rams DE Chris Long, if you can follow all that. Kerrigan is 6'3" 267lbs, and has a non-stop motor. He's not as athletic as you'd like and didn't do a whole lot form a two-point stance for the Boilermakers. That said, he's got absolutely violent hands, has a vast array of pass-rush moves, and can run the arc surprisingly well. Jim Haslett runs a pretty aggressive defense, so it's not likely Kerrigan will have to drop into coverage too often, as he's very unproven in that regard.

Outlook: Kerrigan will have to transition to a 3-4 OLB spot, but he'll have some opportunities to put his hand in the dirt in nickel and dime situations. He should be able to stop the run pretty well, as he did at Purdue, but it's his pass-rushing abilities across from Orakpo that will be scrutinized the most. Depending on how Haslett uses Kerrigan, he should have every opportunity to show what he can do. Matt Roth, a 4-3 DE out of Iowa, struggled for thre seasons in Miami before they moved him to OLB. He continued that success last year Cleveland, and is now squarely on the Patriots radar. If someone as unathletic as Roth can be an edge-setting menace, Kerrigan can certainly do it, and what he gives the Redskins as a pass-rusher is a bonus.

2nd round, 41st overall) Jarvis Jenkins - DE - Clemson
The Redskins defensive front is a collection of aging veterans like Phillip Daniels and Vonnie Holliday, retreads from other teams like Adam Carriker and Darrion Scott, and some young players like Kedric Golston and Jeremy Jarmon. Of that group, only Vonnie Holliday and Kedric Golston have had much success over their careers, and the Redskins figure to dump some of those names and contracts. Jenkins possesses prototypical size at 6'4" 310lbs and is a very good bull-rusher. He didn't get many press-clippings due to a lack of sacks, but he's good against the run. He doesn't have a nice repertoire of pass-rush moves, but he's good in pursuit and moving down the line against the run, but he has a tendency to play too tall at times. Jenkins should make the Redskins 2/2 in picking defensive starters in this draft class though.

3rd round, 79th overall) Leonard Hankerson - WR - Miami
When your top two receivers are Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong, you're in some trouble. Santana Moss is still good and is pretty underrated, but he's starting to get up their in years. Armstrong is a deep threat, but he's inconsistent. Enter Hankerson who brings size, terrific hands, and some good route-running ability to the Redskins offense. "Hank" is 6'1" 209lbs and brings a 16.1 ypc average along with 23 career TDs to Kyle Shanahan's offense. Hankerson had an 1,156 yard season as a senior, and should profile as a nice number two option opposite Santana Moss. He'll eventually be phased into a starter's role at some point this season, and gets the Redskins to three starters in this draft class; good for a team that needs a lot of help.

4th round, 105th overall) Roy Helu - RB - Nebraska
With Clinton Portis hitting free agency this year, the Redskins needed to add a talented back in the Draft as their roster reads Ryan Torain and Keiland Williams as the top two returning backs from last year. Portis has said he's opening to a return to D.C., but the cost will have to be right for the Redskins. Mike and Kyle Shanahan's system has featured a one-cut runner for ages, and has produced the likes of Terrell Davis, Mike Anderson, Olandis Gary, and Clinton Portis with 1,000 yard seasons. Roy Helu's a decently sized back at 5'11" 219lbs, and has good speed. He led college football in runs over 30 yards last year, but has been nagged by injuries throughout his career. If he can stay healthy, he should be a really good fit in the Redskins offense, and he's shown to be a capable receiver out of the backfield as well. He should get plenty of carries as a rookie, but Washington will probably look to bring back Portis or add another back in free agency.

5th round, 146th overall) DeJon Gomes - S - Nebraska
Gomes played a hybrid positon of safety-linebacker for Bo Pelini's Blackshirts in Nebraska. He'll be a full-time safety in the NFL, as he goes 5'11" 208lbs, and he should be able to carve out a role for himself as a rookie. As an in-the-box type of SS, he should find a niche in Jim Haslett's nickel and dime packages as a blitzer or someone who covers TEs. He certainly won't unseat LaRon Landry, but he's got more talent that a lot of the other options the Redskins have at S like Reed Doughty, Kareem Moore, and Macho Harris. Gomes should find himself playing in some particular packages and will be a force on special teams. He's a bit limited athletically with what he can do, but has a nose for finding the football as he racked up 99 tackles, 3INTs and 4PBUs as a senior for the Huskers.

5th round, 155th overall) Niles Paul - WR - Nebraska
Paul makes it three straight Huskers heading to D.C. and he too should find a nice niche role like Gomes. Paul, a big receiver at 6'0" 224lbs, has good bloodlines as his uncle is former NFL RB Ahman Green. Paul's built like a running back as he has very short arms and unbelievably small hands for someone his size. Paul is versatile as he can return kicks and punts, and he's experience with 46 games under his belt. In those games he hauled in 103 passes for over 1,500 yards and 5TDs. Paul is more of a deep threat than a possession receiver who comes from a very conservative offensive system. He should earn a roster spot as a 4th or 5th receiver and kick returner.

6th round, 177th overall) Evan Royster - RB - Penn State
The Redskins drafted a second big back here, who also is a decent one-cut back. Royster comes from the Penn State program where he was the main running threat for most of his career toting the rock 686 times. He's 5'11' 212lbs, but looks like he's 225lbs and plays bigger as well. He does a lot of things well, he just lacks speed and athleticism. Royster hasn't been the best redzone running back, but he can churn out yardage between the 20's. Royster could find a home in the Redskins backfield, and he could be cut outright in camp. Depending on how quickly he grasps the system and what the Redskins do with Portis, or another free agent, Royster could earn a spot. But that spot might not come through his own doing.

6th round, 178th overall) Aldrick Robinson - WR - SMU
As I mentioned with Greg Salas in the Rams review, Aldrick Robinson is another of the June Jones offense recievers. Robinson is a little different than Davone Bess and Emmanuel Sanders however, as he possesses the speed to get deep. At 5'9" 184lbs, he's probably direct competition for Anthony Armstrong down the line, and he can return punts, though he didn't do that at SMU as he was too valuable to the offense there. His lowest YPC average came as a freshman with a 16.8 clip, and he registered two 1,000 yard seasons as a sophomore and again as a senior. He was very productive with 181 catches for over 3,300 yards and 30TDs. So, you know you're getting someone with good hands, and he's got nice speed. He'll have to adapt to running NFL-style routes in the slot, but he's a great value pick here for Washington.

7th round, 213th overall) Brandyn Thompson - CB - Boise State
If there's one position on the Redskins defense that's got some depth to it, it's at CB. DeAngelo Hall is a riverboat gambler who lives and dies by the big play, but he's starting to really figure things out. Carlos Rogers play has slipped a bit, but he's been serviceable since he was drafted in 2005. However, he's a free agent that will command some nice coin in free agency after guys like Nnamdi Asomugha and Jonathan Joseph are signed. Thompson won't supplant anyone as a starter right off the bat, but he can fill a hole lower on the depth chart if Rogers doesn't come back. He's shown a nose for the football with 13INTs over his career in Boise, and as a three-year starter, he's got good game experience. He could find his way onto the field in nickel and dime packages, but like most late round picks, he'll have to show something on special teams to stick on the roster.

7th round, 217th overall) Maurice Hurt - G - Florida
A depth pick here for the Redskins. Hurt played mostly LG for the Gators and benefitted by playing next to each of the Pouncey twins throughout his career. He got some experience at RG and RT in 2010, but for the most part, he's bounced between a starter and a top backup while in Gainesville. Hurt's got decent NFL size at 6'2" 318lbs, but he's not mobile, and will have to play RG. The Redskins don't have much on either side of veteran C Casey Rabach. However, with his presence and getting to play next to either Trent Williams or Jammal Brown, if Hurt has to play, he'll be sandwiched between guys with experience. He'll have to compete with backups Xavier Fulton, Selvish Capers, and former 2nd overall pick Mike Williams for time, as Artis Hicks figures to hold down one of the G spots. He could be an interesting developmental prospect and could be destined for the practice squad.

7th round, 224th overall) Markus White - LB - Florida State
The Redskins added some more depth to their OLB corp with the selection of Markus White at this juncture. Like Kerrigan and Orakpo before him, White's a convert 4-3 DE prospect. He played three seasons in Tallahassee after coming over from the JUCO ranks. He started seeing significant time for the Noles as a junior and became a two-year starter. He really turned it on as a senior registerin 12.5 TFLs and 8 sacks. Despite having a nice build at 6'4" 266lbs, he's not very quick or athletic. He'll also take some time to develop into something of use in a 3-4, so he too could be headed to the practice squad.

7th round, 253rd overall) Chris Neild - NT - West Virginia
With a 4th pick in the 7th round, the Redskins took a developmental NT prospect as insurance in case they decided to finally unload Albert Haynesworth who is extremely miscast in their 3-4 defense and wants out of town badly. Neild's got good size at 6'1" 319lbs, and was a 3-year starter for the Mountaineers. However, that experience at NT came in a 3-3-5 system, which isn't quite the same as playing in a 3-4 defense as a 0 technique. Neild's a stump in the middle and is decent against the run, but he's going to have to really impress against NFL level competition to stay on the roster.

Overall Grade: B+
I'm pretty tempted to give the Redskins an A- here, but they failed to address the QB position, and had a surefire shot at Blaine Gabbert at the 10th spot. However, they traded that pick to Jacksonville to recoup more picks. I like what they did with their early rounders as Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins, Leonard Hankerson, and Roy Helu should all see significant action as rookies, and all 4 could end up starting in 2011. DeJon Gomes, Niles Paul, Aldrick Robinson, and Brandyn Thompson should all be able to carve out roles for themselves as well and could see some nice time. I'm not sure where Evan Royster fits in, and they've got a few developmental prospects at the back end of the 7th round. However, when you consider that they could get 3 opening day starters and an additional 5 role players seeing the field out of this class in week one, you've got appreciate that draft haul. It remains to be seen how they'll address the QB position, and I think they could've done some more on the O-line, but all things considered, this is a good, deep draft class that will pay some early dividends.

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