John Keim breaks down the Washington Redskins' 2017 draft class.
Round 1, No. 17 overall: Jonathan Allen, DT, Alabama
My take: This couldn’t have worked out better for Washington. Landing Allen was the Redskins’ dream scenario, and they knew there was a chance he might slide because of his shoulder issues. It helped that there was a run on offensive players early, pushing down some talented defenders. But the Redskins finally grabbed a young lineman they can build around. He should pair nicely with newcomers Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain. They have an intriguing second-year end in Anthony Lanier, but he was an undrafted free agent and still is inexperienced. So they needed a jolt of high-end young talent.
Allen’s ability to push the pocket will be welcomed. He also can rush from various spots along the front. That versatility must be used. The Redskins will be able to pair him in speed packages as an inside rusher. His ability to run will help the nickel run defense, a major problem area. He’s a steal for Washington.
Medical issues: Allen said he feels better than he has in four years and said every team cleared him medically. So he obviously does not think his shoulders will be a concern, nor do the Redskins. In 2015, they passed on defensive end Leonard Williams in part because of medical issues. It helps that the Redskins are familiar with Allen. Director of college scouting Scott Campbell knows Alabama well, having attended practices and games there for years. He has a good relationship with the staff there, so his intel must be strong. And Allen played high school ball at Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Redskins broadcaster Chris Cooley has known Allen for a few years because of a connection at the high school.
Building blocks: With Allen, the Redskins now have four likely starters on defense under 25 years old. Safeties Su'a Cravens and D.J. Swearinger and linebacker Preston Smith are the others. They can help provide energy, enthusiasm and speed. There are questions with each player in this group, but if they pay off they’ll provide the Redskins excellent building blocks on defense. That’s something they haven’t had in a while. In two years, if the Redskins lose quarterback Kirk Cousins, perhaps they can finally rely on their defense.
Round 2, No. 49: Ryan Anderson, OLB, Alabama
My take: The Redskins wanted to improve their pass rush -- it’s not just about sacks, but rather applying consistent pressure. Anderson should help them do so. He does not have elite skills, so he’s going to have to win in other ways. His hands are considered excellent. He also displays a lot of passion and was firm in the belief that while he might not be, in his words, a “workout warrior,” he is the “ultimate football player.”
The Redskins have players with good skills who have not produced. It’s not bad to add someone who produces and works a certain way and clearly displays a high level of passion. Anderson was considered a leader at Alabama and a player with high football intelligence. All of that matters. He also plays with a lot of energy and relentlessness. Now he just has to produce.
The Redskins will have a rather young defensive core for the first time in a while after selecting Anderson's Alabama teammate, Jonathan Allen, in the first round.
How he fits: The Redskins have multiple edge rushers who have started in the NFL, but Anderson is their man for the future. He’s the third edge rusher selected in the second round by Washington since 2014. But the others have question marks: Trent Murphy is suspended for the first four games and is a pending free agent, Junior Galette is coming off two missed seasons and Preston Smith hasn’t developed the way the Redskins hoped. But with Anderson, the Redskins have someone they can build around. He and Smith can both help this year and in the future. Smith’s ability to play inside on nickel and dime packages provides the Redskins great flexibility and versatility.
Anderson will provide immediate help as a pass-rusher, something the Redskins desperately wanted.
Round 3, No. 81: Fabian Moreau, CB, UCLA
My take: This was a pick for the future. Moreau is coming off a torn pec and might not be ready to open the season. However, he fits with what Washington wants to do defensively. The Redskins want their corners to be more aggressive, and Moreau is considered a physical player who excels in press coverage. At 6-foot, he has good length, plus he ran a 4.35 in the 40-yard dash. So his speed is excellent, too. He made the switch from running back early in his career at UCLA.
The Redskins did a good job of adding parts for their defense, selecting having Alabama’s Jonathan Allen and Ryan Anderson in the first two rounds. The goal was to impact third downs, and each player they selected can do so -- now and in the future. The Redskins finally have legitimate young building blocks on defense, with 10 key players 25 or younger.
How he fits: Moreau won’t be taking anyone’s job anytime soon, thanks to his torn pec. But clearly the Redskins like him for the long term, and that’s where someone like Bashaud Breeland should be a little worried. Breeland is entering the final year of his contract, and you have to wonder if the Redskins will pay to keep him around. After all, they also drafted Kendall Fuller last season. And they have Quinton Dunbar, another young corner who keeps developing. Moreau doesn’t need to be anything other than a fifth corner this season. Breeland won’t be challenged by Moreau this year and must focus just on the present and not how it impacts his future. He worried about too many things he couldn’t control last season.
Round 4, No. 114: Samaje Perine, RB, Oklahoma
My take: The Redskins wanted a dynamic back, but that's not what Perine is. However, he does give the Redskins another physical back capable of helping their short-yardage and red zone runs, if nothing else. At 233 pounds, he can run with power and create yards after contact. That will help Washington's offense. The Redskins needed more depth at running back, which Perine will provide. He doesn't have the speed Washington was hoping to add, but he can be effective between the tackles.
How he fits: Perine becomes instant competition to be the starting running back, along with Rob Kelley. Both offer similar skills, though Perine obviously will enter with a stronger college resume. Coach Jay Gruden likes Kelley but has been clear that he wanted to add another back. The odd man out probably will be Matt Jones, a third-round pick in 2015 who has been plagued by fumbling issues. Jones improved in that area last season, but was inactive for nine games after getting hurt and losing his job.
Round 4, No. 123: Montae Nicholson, S, Michigan State
My take: Nicholson certainly looks the part at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds and with a 40-yard dash time of 4.42 seconds. But given those measurables, Nicholson was not so productive in college with only four interceptions. He's considered better closer to the line of scrimmage but has the speed to play deep -- if secondary coach Torrian Gray can develop him. Nicholson is big and physical, good traits to work with for any coach. But he's another injured player drafted by Washington; Nicholson is coming off a torn labrum but should be ready for training camp.
How he fits: The Redskins wanted a young safety to develop; they feel much better about the position than outsiders do, but they still needed more young players to groom. The projected starters are D.J. Swearinger and Su’a Cravens, both 25 years old or younger. Will Blackmon would be the third safety at worst, and he turns 33 during the season. DeAngelo Hall, who is 33, has missed 31 of the past 48 games, and there's no guarantee he'll be on the roster.
Round 5, No. 154: Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, Arkansas
My take: Sprinkle gives the Redskins a young tight end to possibly develop, though there's clearly no hurry for him to contribute. He can help on special teams, something he did at Arkansas. Sprinkle was considered a stronger receiver than blocker. He caught 33 passes for 380 yards and six touchdowns last season. Sprinkle has excellent size at 6-foot-5, 252 pounds. He's bigger than Washington's top four tight ends and has the base to be an effective blocker.
How he fits: The Redskins have four tight ends capable of playing: Jordan Reed, Vernon Davis, Niles Paul and Derek Carrier. They re-signed Davis, coming off a productive season. Paul has missed 24 games the past two years because of injuries. Carrier would be the fourth tight end among this group. It's a good group, but there's room for a young player. For Sprinkle to stick, though, either Paul or Carrier would have to go.
Round 6, No. 199: Chase Roullier, C, Wyoming
My take: Roullier has a mechanical engineering degree, so learning the playbook and reading defenses won't be a problem. He moved from guard to tackle at Wyoming and played well at both spots. At 6-foot-4, 312 pounds, Roullier has good size and is considered physical. There are questions about arm length and how that translates to the NFL. But playing inside alleviates those concerns. If nothing else, he can develop into a quality backup.
How he fits: The Redskins needed interior offensive line depth, especially because they have no set backup center behind starter Spencer Long. The Redskins must make a decision on Long, who will be an unrestricted free agent next offseason. Even if he's re-signed, having a quality backup is a must. But Roullier also can play guard; the top backup guard is Arie Kouandjio. Left guard Shawn Lauvao will be a free agent in 2018, so unless he's re-signed, the Redskins need more options. Long also can play guard.
Round 6, No. 209, Robert Davis, WR, Georgia State
My take: Davis gives the Redskins a big, young receiver with good speed whom they can try and develop -- he's 6-foot-3, 219 pounds and ran a 4.44 in the 40-yard dash. Because the Redskins have solid depth at receiver, they can take their time with their sixth-round choice. He'll need to work on sharpening his route running, but he's a former high school basketball player and is considered a good athlete. He gives the Redskins someone who, if developed, can be a solid backup.
How he fits: The Redskins didn't need to draft a receiver high because they're set at the top -- for this season, at least -- with Jamison Crowder, Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson. Beyond that, however, are question marks. The coaches love Ryan Grant, but he hasn't produced enough when given chances. Maurice Harris can play inside or outside and has excellent hands, but he's a former undrafted free agent entering his second year. And the Redskins also have Brian Quick, a disappointment with the Rams.
Round 7, No. 230, Josh Harvey-Clemons, S/LB, Louisville
My take: The Redskins wanted to add speed and players who can cover, helping them on third downs. That's what they hope they get from Harvey-Clemons. He played safety at Louisville but probably will be a nickel/dime linebacker with Washington. At 6-foot-4, 217 pounds, he has good size, though he could probably add a few pounds to help the transition. It's concerning that he was kicked out of Georgia after two suspensions for smoking marijuana.
How he fits: The Redskins tried to turn Su'a Cravens into a nickel linebacker last year but discovered his best spot moving forward would be safety. Washington doesn't have anyone else who can fill this role, as most of their linebackers struggle in coverage. Zach Brown runs well and Mason Foster improved in coverage last year, but the team needs more help. If Harvey-Clemons contributes as a rookie, it'll be in this role -- and on special teams.
Round 7, No. 235, Joshua Holsey, CB, Auburn
My take: The Redskins need slot help, and Holsey can help provide some -- they hope. He is another Redskins draft pick with medical questions, having torn his left ACL twice early in his college career. Holsey played well last season, though, and is considered a leader. He started his career as a safety but played corner his final two seasons. He ran a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash at the Auburn pro day.
How he fits: The Redskins need to develop slot corners. They have good choices on the outside, with Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Kendall Fuller, Quinton Dunbar and third-round pick Fabian Moreau. But they need help inside. Breeland can play there, so he's always an option. But that's where Holsey will have a chance to contribute. Fuller struggled in the slot as a rookie, but Holsey played there some in college. At 5-foot-10, he's a bit small for what Washington would want on the outside.