ASHBURN, Va. — The knee is fine, so Robert Griffin III didn’t need to do jumping jacks this year at the annual draft day party inside the Washington Redskins stadium. He jogged to the podium, saluted the fans and had to stop his remarks because they wouldn’t stop chanting “R-G-3!”
When he told the crowd that Jay Gruden is “bringing a great environment to the team,” someone asked him why the new coach wasn’t at the party.
Griffin politely reminded the fan that Gruden was a bit busy.
On the other side of town, the Redskins were adding five players on the draft’s final day.
“We’re gonna get that excitement back. … We’re gonna win,” Griffin said.
While Griffin stole the show last year with his calisthenics — giving fans visual proof that he was well on his way back from a severe knee injury — this week’s draft haul might help keep him upright for the upcoming season and beyond.
The Redskins selected a pair of offensive linemen in the third round on Friday: tackle Morgan Moses of Virginia and guard Spencer Long of Nebraska. They also chose pass-rushing outside linebacker Trent Murphy of Stanford in the second round, on Saturday picked up cornerback Bashaud Breeland from Clemson in the fourth round, receiver Ryan Grant from Tulane in the fifth, running back Lache Seastrunk from Baylor in the sixth, and tight end Ted Bolser from Indiana and kicker Zach Hocker from Arkansas in the seventh.
Combined with the recent additions in free agency, Gruden no longer sees a team that finished 3-13 last season.
“From a talent standpoint,” Gruden said, “I don’t think anybody can question that we have significantly upgraded our football team.”
While the Friday selections might have a significant impact this season, the Saturday choices were more about depth, development and special teams. There’s little pretense about claiming a starting job right away for someone like Breeland, so he talked about learning from Redskins three-time Pro Bowl cornerback DeAngelo Hall.
“D-Hall, he was one of my favorite corners growing up,” Breeland said. “I model his game. He’s a very, very, very interesting player.”
Breeland, the fourth defensive back drafted by the Redskins in two years, had four interceptions for the Tigers last year. He also played on most special teams units, an area of focus for Washington this offseason, and Gruden said Breeland also has the potential to play safety.
At cornerback, Breeland could be an eventual successor to Hall, who turns 31 this fall. In nothing else, he already has some of Hall’s bravado.
Breeland said he decided to declare for the draft a year early in part because he has an 11-month-old daughter and in part because, as he put it: “I just thought I was one of the top corners in the draft.” He said he thought he would be chosen in the second or third round and added that he endured a “tough night” when his name wasn’t called on Friday.
“As long as I get a shot, that’s all I need,” Breeland said.
Grant had 77 receptions for 1,039 yards and nine touchdowns for Tulane last year. He has a reputation for having good hands, but scouts have questioned his intangibles and strength. If he makes the team this year, it will be because he can help on special teams; most of Griffin’s passes are going to DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts.
“I’m going to get behind those guys,” Grant said, “and watch them and follow them and play my part.”
Seastrunk and Griffin were at Baylor together in 2011, but Seatrunk had to sit out that year after transferring from Oregon. He rushed for 1,223 yards with the Bears last season but had no receptions, something he’ll need to work on as he joins a team that could use another pass-catching threat out of the backfield.
“The only weird thing about him is he didn’t catch any balls at Baylor,” Gruden said. “But they just don’t throw to their backs. We feel like he can catch the ball good enough.”
Washington gained an extra seventh round pick by moving down in the sixth in a trade with the Tennessee Titans. The Redskins used it on the kicker Hocker, who will challenge incumbent Kai Forbath in training camp.
(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)