The 2016 season was undoubtedly a disappointing one for the Washington Redskins. Failing to make the playoffs after winning the NFC East title the previous season shows that there is still a lot to be done in the nation’s capital if the Redskins are to compete effectively in the postseason. The upcoming draft however, gives the Redskins an opportunity to add strength in depth to certain areas they may be short on.
What do the Redskins need?
Losing wide receivers Desean Jackson and Pierre Garçon in free agency has dominated the headlines during the Redskins offseason thus far. Both Jackson and Garçon had over 1,000 receiving yards last season, but have now moved onto new challenges with the Buccaneers and the 49ers respectively. Despite losing the two receivers, the acquisition of Terelle Pryor from the Cleveland Browns has partly filled the hole for the Redskins. This also gives the 2016 first round pick, Josh Doctson, the opportunity to prove himself in the NFL, after recently recovering from an Achilles injury that kept him out for the majority of his rookie season. The re-signing of tight-end Vernon Davis to play alongside the highly rated Jordan Reed has also fuelled optimism for Redskins fans towards next season on the offensive end.
However, the defense has been an area of concern for the Redskins this past season. The Redskins finished the 2016 season with a record of 8-7-1, with four of those losses ending in one possession games. Had the defense made a few more stops, the outlook of the Redskins season, potentially, may have been very different. With their defensive numbers worse off than the previous season, including a fall in sacks and an increase in yards allowed, additions on the defensive end have been labelled a priority for the Redskins in the upcoming draft. The ongoing issue regarding the uncertainty on quarterback Kirk Cousins could also play a pivotal role in the Redskins draft pick this year.
No.17 Overall Pick
The Redskins currently hold the 17th overall pick in this years NFL draft, along with nine other picks later in the draft. There are many different options the Redskins could explore in this draft that cover different positions. Here are five options below:
Jabrill Peppers, S – Michigan
Peppers has drawn the attention of many teams who are looking to strengthen their defense. Whist playing in Michigan, Peppers has played in a number of different positions which include Safety, Linebacker, Cornerback, Punt returner and Running Back. But after judging his skillset, the versatile 205 pounder has been tipped to succeed as a Safety in the NFL. This pick would resemble the Redskins second round pick of the previous draft with Su’a Cravens, who underwent the transition from a Linebacker to a Safety. Drafting Peppers would give the Redskins arguably the most dynamic safety duo in the league with Cravens partnering the potential first rounder in the back field.
Peppers enjoyed a successful three years in Michigan, with his final year being his most productive, after being named the LOTT Impact Trophy winner as well as a unanimous first-team All-American, and a Heisman Trophy finalist. Peppers finished his time Michigan with 72 tackles, four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble, and also rushed for a career-high three touchdowns. Adding Peppers to their defensive ranks could prove to be a masterstroke from the Redskins, and would certainly add strength to their defense.
Jarrad Davis, LB – Florida
With the possibility of Cravens being moved back to his initial Safety position, there could be an open spot for a linebacker in the Redskins defense, and Jarrad Davis is very much on Washington’s radar. Davis has been labelled as the no.1 linebacker prospect in this years draft, and would have an immediate impact on whichever team he is drafted to. In his last two years at Florida, Davis racked up 154 tackles, 17 of which went for a loss. Davis is a physical linebacker that can hit the gaps before linemen can come out of their stance. In a division stacked with offensive weapons, Davis could play a crucial part in the Redskins chances of making the playoffs in the forthcoming season. (Read our Scouting Report here).
Reuben Foster, LB – Alabama
Reuben Foster has been labelled as a lock for the first round of the 2017 draft. He is a unanimous first-team All-American, and the 2016 winner of the Butkus Award, given annual to college football’s top linebacker. Due to the fact that the teams with the earlier picks in the draft are not in need of a linebacker, this could potentially pave a route for the Redskins to pick up a real defensive threat in the first round.
In his four seasons at Alabama, Foster has collected 211 tackles, 23 of which were for a loss, along with nine passes defended and six sacks. Foster’s impact in the league could be colossal, and could be the linebacker the Redskins are looking for. (Read our Scouting Report here).
Dalvin Cook, RB – Florida State
Cook has been praised for his explosive lower body strength and coordination, similar to the fourth overall pick in last years draft in Ezekiel Elliot, who had an astonishing rookie season with the Dallas Cowboys. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character and issues in pass protection. But nonetheless, he has been described as a “home run hitter”, and has the potential to make an instant impact in the league.
The chances of the Washington Redskins drafting Dalvin Cook may, however, seem a far fetched. With his impressive abilities on display at the combine, the chances of the running back being available for the 17th pick is highly unlikely.
Davis Webb, QB – California
The likelihood of the Redskins drafting a quarterback in this years draft will ultimately depend on the ongoing situation with Kirk Cousins. There have been numerous reports linking Cousins with the San Francisco 49ers which would see him rejoin his former offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan in Santa Clara. But at this very moment, the Redskins have placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins, which mean they will have until the July deadline to sign a deal quarterback.
This year’s draft is not full of outstanding young quarterbacks, with less than five expected to go in the first round. Webb himself has been labelled as a potential second or third round pick. But as we saw with Dak Prescott last year, any quarterback that is drafted can be a threat in the NFL. Webb has been highlighted by scouts for his arm strength. He arguably has the biggest arm of all the quarterbacks in this draft. It allows him to make many throws the other guys can’t and opens up a world of possibilities in the aerial attack. And with the offensive weapons the Redskins have, Webb sure won’t be short on targets downfield.
A lot can change between now and when the Draft comes around on 27th April. It is clear that the Washington Redskins are looking mainly towards strengthening their defense, which has been their downfall over the past number of seasons. Washington still have situations to solve off the field, including the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. But once they are clarified, everything should begin to fall into place for the Washington Redskins.