ASHBURN (CBSDC) — The Redskins went into Day 3 of the 2017 NFL Draft with seven picks remaining as they stockpiled backend selections. Here are the players they went with.
Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
4th round, No. 114 overall
Put up big numbers at Oklahoma despite splitting time with the dynamic Joe Mixon, who was chosen in the second round, No. 48 overall. Perine topped 1,000 rushing yards three years in a row for the Sooners. He finished with 4,122 yards and 49 touchdowns. He averaged six yards per carry.
Less of a threat in the passing game with 40 catches for 321 yards and two touchdowns. But this is a big running back who can move at 5-foot-11, 233 pounds.
“Definitely a downhill runner,” Perine said. “I’ve been working on making people miss throughout this whole process, so I’ve gotten better at that. I’d much prefer to go through you than around you.”
Perine had 685 carries in three years before declaring for the draft. Mixon was suspended for that first season in 2014. When he returned he cut into some of that work with 300 snaps total.
“I just kept my head down and continued to work hard,” Perine said. “I know nothing is going to be given to me. Never will, never has been, so that’s all I can do is work and when my name gets called just make the most of it.”
He joins a running back group that includes starter Rob Kelley, third-down back Chris Thompson, promising third-year pro Mack Brown and Matt Jones, a third-round pick in 2015 who was benched the second half of last year.
Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State
4th round, No. 123 overall
The Redskins came into the draft hoping to upgrade at safety, but a run on that deep position group –- and defensive end Jonathan Allen falling into their lap in the first round –- left them with limited realistic options on Day 3 once most of the top prospects went early in the second round.
Nicholson has the height-weight-speed thing down. At 4.42 seconds, he had the third-fastest 40-yard dash of any safety at the Combine in March. He has the size you want, too, at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds. He’ll be able to keep up in coverage and is physical enough to play in the box, but missed tackles are a concern.
Despite his speed, Nicholson was credited with eight passes defended over his sophomore and junior seasons. He did have four interceptions over that time, but his aggressiveness has been questioned. Here’s some insight from NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks:
“The thing about Nicholson, he has the qualities you look for — height, weight, speed, 6’2″, 212, 4.42 40 time. The thing is in this draft class, you are looking for guys that are a little more dynamic, meaning either they are smashers against the run game, or they make a number of plays as centerfielder types. When you look at his production, four interceptions in 25 games, not necessarily a play-maker in the passing game. He can come down and make tackles. I don’t believe there’s a high value in that. Maybe somewhere in Day 3 he comes off the board, but I don’t think he is in that tier 1 or tier group of the safeties in this class.”
Nicholson had surgery two days after the NFL Combine to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder and, much like third-round pick Fabian Moreau, won’t be ready to play until training camp, at best.
“They said I’m ahead of schedule and said it’s looking good,” Nicholson said. “I’m just excited to just keep doing rehab, get down there and start getting to work.”
Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
5th round, 154th overall
A combination tight end who is known for his blocking, but has made strides as a pass catcher while at Arkansas. Sprinkle had a nice season with 33 catches for 380 yards and four touchdowns. He had 11 touchdown catches in his career.
Sprinkle’s career ended on a sour note after he was charged with shoplifting during the week of the Belk Bowl and suspended for that game.
“I feel like it was a big disappointment for everyone around me,” Sprinkle said. “Obviously it was something that was out of my character. I just learned that, you know, you just have to be the same person whether you think someone’s watching or not. And, you know, just moving past it, I’ve done everything I’ve needed to do as far as the legal process of getting that over with, having the charges dropped and, you know, just trying to move past it.”
For a tight end his size, Sprinkle can run a little better than expected and is tough to bring down. Fought through an ankle injury during his final season at Arkansas and showed some struggles to create separation with better SEC linebackers and safeties. He joins a Redskins tight end group that includes Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis plus a returning Niles Paul, whose job he’d be most likely a fit for.
“If you’re gonna play for Brett Bielema at Arkansas as a tight end, you’re going to block,” NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said. “He’s a big guy that can run, I think he’ll develop as a pass catcher.”
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