WASHINGTON — In our first Mock Draft Roundup since Free Agency’s initial wave, the players projected to the Redskins at No. 17 are starting to fall into one of a few categories. This is a stark change from our last go-round, when confusion overwhelmed consensus.
Make no mistake: There is still no consensus. Of the 15 mock drafts used in this Roundup, 10 different players were slotted in at No. 17. But we’re starting to see a pattern emerge, one that has a wide range of linebacker-type players donning the burgundy and gold in 2017.
The player most frequently mocked to the Redskins in this Roundup is linebacker-safety hybrid Jabrill Peppers, who goes to Washington in the latest mock drafts by Daniel Jeremiah, Chad Reuter and Lance Zierlein, all of NFL.com.
“Peppers is a unique athlete, with the ability to excel at the nickel position as well as play as a high safety. He will also be a major difference-maker on special teams,” Jeremiah says of the Michigan star.
Zach Cunningham could play either inside or outside linebacker at the pro level. Chris Burke of SI and Jared Dubin of CBS Sports both have the Vanderbilt standout going to the Redskins in the first round, with Burke specifically mentioning his fit as an inside linebacker in Washington’s scheme. (For what it’s worth, Burke previously had the Redskins taking quarterback Deshaun Watson at No. 17.)
“Washington smartly added Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee to the defensive line, so the need for a middle linebacker elevates,” Kadar says. “Foster can be the leader of Washington’s defense with his range and ability playing from the middle.”
“Possessing remarkable closing speed and the physicality to intimidate, he could prove a steal at this point in the draft,” Rang adds of Foster.
The only genuine edge rusher projected to the Redskins in this edition of the Roundup is Temple’s Haason Reddick, via CBS Sports’ Will Brinson. Reddick has seen his stock skyrocket throughout the draft process thanks to an incredible Combine showing — 4.52 40-yard dash, 36.5-inch vertical jump, 133-inch broad jump — and an ability to play a more traditional linebacker role. Zierlein, who had Reddick going 22nd before the Combine, says the following of Reddick: “Reddick’s speed and athleticism might give him a greater shot at impacting the game as a 3-4 inside linebacker or a 4-3 WILL rather than trying to bulk up and play the edge.”
Two defensive linemen are slotted in at No. 17 this time around: Malik McDowell, via CBS Sports’ Dane Brugler, and Caleb Brantley, via NFL.com’s Charley Casserly. The Redskins have already shown they’re intent on improving the defensive line by adding free agents Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee. It remains to be seen if they now consider the line to be fixed, or if they’re still interested in retooling there.
That’s the extent of the defensive picks in this Roundup. We then move to the other side of the ball, where three draft experts have the Redskins opting for a running back in the first round, including both of ESPN’s analysts.
Mel Kiper has the Redskins choosing Stanford star Christian McCaffrey, who Kiper notes could be a versatile weapon for a team that just lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon.
“The Redskins like Rob Kelley, but McCaffrey brings a different element to the offense as a runner and receiver, and he can be a return man, too. McCaffrey’s 4.48 40 and 37.5-inch vertical at the combine eliminated any doubts about his athleticism,” Kiper notes.
Todd McShay and NFL.com’s Bucky Brooks each have the Redskins instead opting for explosive Florida State running back Dalvin Cook, who Kiper has falling all the way down to No. 29. Cook had a pedestrian Combine, running a 4.49 40-yard dash, 30.5-inch vertical jump and 116-inch broad jump.
As for other offensive prospects, Pete Prisco of CBS Sports has the Redskins selecting Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp, while his colleague Ryan Wilson has the Redskins going with lightning-fast Washington receiver John Ross.
That’s 10 defensive players, all of which play in the front seven except for arguably Jabrill Peppers, compared to five offensive players. Of those five offensive players, three are running backs.