Some leftover material from NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock on defensive players in the upcoming draft:
Safety Landon Collins: Mayock compared him to a player I enjoyed watching when studying Arizona last year: Deone Bucannon. And I loved how the Arizona Cardinals used him, as a speedy linebacker in nickel situations. It provided the Cards with versatility and it's something the Washington Redskins could not do. Bucannon was big enough to take on the run and fast enough to help through the air. "That's what I see with Landon Collins," Mayock said. He's not an option at No. 5, but if they traded down he has to be.
Linebacker Dante Fowler: I just watched his tape last week and saw a player who has the right size and a quick first step, but someone who needs more coaching at the position. I wouldn't call him raw, but I will say he needs refinement and he also needs work in the run game, mostly from a technique standpoint (easy to fix). Mayock said he had him as the No. 1 edge rusher. "He reminds me a little bit of a Justin Houston. I think he's going to be 255 to 260, where I'm interested to see what [Randy] Gregory and Shane Ray and [Vic] Beasley are. They've all been kind of quoted anywhere between 225 and 240. Fowler is going to be 15 or 20 pounds heavier than any of them, and I think just as explosive."
And there's more on why he likes Fowler: "... coming off the edge, first and foremost, you have to be a great pass-rusher or have the ability to become a great pass-rusher. I think when you look at Fowler, Gregory and Ray, all three of them can. The second thing is you've got to be tough enough and big enough to set a physical edge. That's why I get nervous a little bit about Gregory, Ray, Vic Beasley. Let's see what they weigh and what their body types look like. Because in the NFL, you've got to be able to play the run game and go up against those big tackles and guards and hold your own. You get a little nervous."
Linebacker Shane Ray: I absolutely agree with this Mayock assessment on Ray: "Shane Ray has got the best first step I've seen ... His get-off is just immediate. He's really gifted that way. They even kick him inside on occasion like they used to do with Aldon Smith. He's so quick at the snap. I just don't like in the run game, it's not like he's not -- I'm not trying to say he's not a tough guy or anything like that.
"I'm just saying at 235 or whatever he weighs, 240 pounds, he has trouble disengaging from big bodies, and that's typical for an undersized edge rusher. So you've got a 320-pound tackle pushing on you in the run game, how do you disengage if you're not more powerful? And that's what he has to learn, hand placement. He's got to get stronger. He's got to find weapons to deal with those big bodies who are pushing him around in the run game."
Keep in mind if the Redskins drafted Ray or Gregory, and I don't know if they would, they can limit them to a pass-rush role (my guess is they'll play nickel quite a bit) because Trent Murphy can play the run. That would enable them to focus on their area of strength while also getting stronger and developing into an all-around linebacker.
Linebacker Randy Gregory: I haven't studied him yet, but Mayock said Gregory is "totally intriguing. I'm not sure if he's Jason Taylor on the plus side or is he going to be the kid Miami took a couple years ago at No. 3 on the negative side, Dion Jordan. He's a long, lean guy."
More on Gregory: "Now if you put the Miami tape on, I thought Ereck Flowers, the left tackle from Miami, handled him really well in the first quarter. They actually flipped him over in the two sacks he got against Miami were against the right tackle and the running back. So a quality left tackle did a pretty good job against him. However, at 6-6", 240, I would hope that he can put another 15 or 20 pounds on in the next couple of years. You'd love to see him at 260 or so, so he can be a little more physical. He needs to be a little more physical in the attack and run game, but he's got everything you want as a potential pass-rushing maniac at the next level. He's got hips, he's got speed, he's got quickness. He can flip his hips and come up and under. And I love the length, length and explosion are the differences for him as a pass-rusher."