WASHINGTON — The NFL Draft kicks off in just 17 days, which means it’s time to examine some mock drafts.
Here’s a roundup of who analysts around the league have the Redskins taking with the 17th overall pick, as well as a few mock drafts that include a second-round prediction. And we’re off.
Reuben Foster, the inside linebacker from Alabama who made headlines following an incident at the Scouting Combine, is the choice for Washington in a player-high three mock drafts. Todd McShay has the Redskins picking him in his latest for ESPN, as does Dan Kadar in his latest installment for Mocking The Draft. Rob Rang also has Washington drafting Foster in his most recent CBS Sports mock draft.
Rang: “The Redskins surrendered an average of nearly 120 yards per game on the ground in 2016 and only three teams (the Chargers, Bills and 49ers) allowed more than their 19 rushing touchdowns. Foster was kicked out of the Combine after a run-in with medical personnel but his talent is undeniable. Possessing remarkable closing speed and the physicality to intimidate, he could prove a steal at this point in the draft.”
Washington’s starting inside linebackers last year, for the most part, were Mason Foster and Will Compton. The team signed Zach Brown, one of the top remaining free agents, who is expected to start at one of the spots. If the Redskins snag Foster with the 17th pick, they’ll presumably have a brand new starting duo at inside linebacker, whole moving both of last year’s starters to the bench, dramatically improving the depth at the position.
The Redskins are projected to draft defensive lineman Malik McDowell in the latest mock drafts of both Dane Brugler and Ryan Wilson, both of CBS Sports. McDowell excelled at Michigan State, but there are some concerns about his motor — he was knocked at times for giving up on plays (and games), and his production dropped considerably from 2015 to 2016.
McDowell would help shore up a defensive line that frequently struggled in 2016, and while the Redskins made a few minor moves to beef up the line in the offseason, there are still needs.
“McDowell, who is only 20, could be a truly special player and might be tough to pass up here,” Wilson says.
This is a curious case. Caleb Brantley is a defensive lineman who recorded 5.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for a loss in his final two collegiate seasons. He fits best on the interior of the line, though he could possibly move outside if he slimmed down a bit, and is projected by most to be drafted around the end of the first or the first half of the second round.
Mel Kiper has the Redskins drafting Brantley with their second-round pick, 49th overall. That’s about in line with his perceived draft stock at this point.
However, this is where the added wrinkle comes in. Former Redskins GM Charley Casserly has the Redskins drafting Brantley … in the first round. Granted, he notes that Washington could trade back to get him, but regardless. There is a chance Brantley would be around when the Redskins draft in the second round, but drafting him in the top 20 would be considered a significant reach.
Others — Defense
The other mock drafts used for this Roundup have the Redskins taking the following defensive players:
Jeremiah: “Reddick can play off the line of scrimmage on run downs and rush off the edge on passing downs. He is an elite athlete who has really helped himself during the postseason.”
Zierlein: “This is probably earlier than I would go with Peppers, but with Deangelo Hall on the back end, Peppers would be allowed to play in space and be deployed all over the field like he was at Michigan.”
Others — Offense
And here are the offensive players going to Washington in this round.
Kiper: “I could see McCaffrey jumping into the top 10 after his combine performance (4.48 40 and 37½-inch vertical) proved his athleticism. For now I’m leaving him here, where he’d play some running back and slot receiver and return kicks and punts.”
Brinson: “Surprise! With the Kirk Cousins situation hardly resolved, the Redskins snag a quarterback in the middle of the first round who gives them some leverage. They can strike a deal to trade Cousins now or let him walk and still have a quarterback. It?s actually a pretty smart solution.”
Prisco: “They can still use help inside on their offensive line. I would expect them to address it in this draft.”
Of the second-round picks made in this Roundup, we’ve covered one already in Brantley. The other two are interesting in their own right, though for very different reasons.
Kadar has the Redskins selecting Washington safety Budda Baker, a rangy but undersized player who would likely be a top-20 pick if he was a few inches taller. That would make a lot of sense for the Redskins, especially if they add a front-seven player in the first round, as the defense would look much improved from a year ago.
McShay, on the other hand, has the Redskins drafting the most controversial player in this draft class: running back Joe Mixon. Mixon has a glaring red flag (to say the least) after he was caught on video punching a woman in the face while he was in college at Oklahoma. Talent-wise, Mixon is an exceptional prospect and he could certainly emerge as one of the top running backs from this class.
But whichever team drafts Mixon, assuming he gets drafted, will take a huge PR blow. Whether the Redskins decide he is worth it or not is anybody’s guess, but at a time in which the team needs as much positive PR as ever, it’s hard to imagine the backlash if they draft Mixon.