Continuing our look at areas the Washington Redskins can address in the draft, while delving into general manager Scot McCloughan's background drafting at this position. Today: Receivers.
Scot McCloughan’s history: He drafted eight receivers, but one of them the 49ers converted right away to tight end (Delanie Walker). Of the remaining seven, two played quarterback in college and one, Michael Robinson, was eventually switched to fullback. So McCloughan is not averse to taking good athletes who project to another position. The other, Richard Marshall, was a fifth-round pick who never developed at receiver. McCloughan drafted three receivers in rounds 1-3, with Michael Crabtree the 10th overall pick in 2009. Of the six players he drafted who stayed at receiver, only two are still active -- Crabtree and ex-Redskin Josh Morgan. The other four combined for 80 career receptions, with 78 coming from ex-third round pick Jason Hill.
The blueprint: McCloughan opted as much for size as speed in these picks. But of the five pure receivers he drafted (those who played the position in college), four were at least 6-feet tall and the fifth, 5-foot-9 receiver Brandon Williams, was more of a returner. Speed was important, but most of them were not blazers. Of the group of eight, only two ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds. But I like that McCloughan was willing to try and take a guy from another position and convert him: it worked for Michael Robinson, who became a solid fullback after missing as a wideout, and Delanie Walker, who is a quality tight end.
Why they need one: The Redskins don’t have an immediate need thanks to Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. So drafting one at No. 5 wouldn’t make as much sense -- even though I love the guys available there -- as trading back, adding picks and taking the best player at position of need. Still, there is good depth in this draft and that's something the Redskins lack. Ryan Grant runs good routes, but can he be productive? Even if the answer is yes, they still need another one. And it’s always good to have guys ready, because what isn’t a need now could be one later. It just takes one injury.
Round 1: I’m not going to go through all the potential draft picks in the first round, because there are quite a few. I really like West Virginia’s Kevin White and Alabama’s Amari Cooper. Both can hurt teams after the catch. Both have excellent intangibles and work ethics. Cooper is a terrific route-runner -- he sells fakes well and is good at changing speeds on routes, getting cornerbacks off-balance. Both should be excellent in the NFL. Louisville’s DeVante Parker is excellent, and two players I like who likely are late first-round picks include USC’s Nelson Agholor and Miami’s Phillip Dorsett. I like Agholor’s vision and his decisiveness running after the catch. Dorsett is fast, and for a smaller receiver (only 5-foot-9), he’s a very willing blocker. I like his on-field attitude.
Rounds 2-4: Though there is a lot of Round 1 talent, my guess is they draft a wideout in this range. There are too many to name, so I’ll give you a few. Michigan’s Devin Funchess is intriguing; most teams project him as a receiver, though he played tight end in college. He’s not a burner at 4.7 seconds in the 40-yard dash, but he has excellent size and versatility. Auburn’s Sammie Coates has size and speed, but his ball skills have been questioned. Kansas State’s Tyler Lockett lacks the typical McCloughan size (5-foot-9), but his acceleration makes him dangerous at receiver and in the return game. Nebraska’s Kenny Bell is a good combination of size and speed and runs well after the catch, especially on short throws; plus he knows how to play with quarterbacks who like off-schedule plays. Maryland’s Stefon Diggs is another who has measurables McCloughan likes and who runs well after the catch. If the Redskins want to help Robert Griffin III more, having more targets who can help turn short passes into longer gains is helpful. William & Mary’s Tre McBride stood out at the Senior Bowl; he’s fast (4.4) and has good size (6-feet, 210 pounds).
Later rounds: Again, too many to go through more than a few. If you want a quarterback-turned-receiver project, there’s Michigan’s Devin Gardner. No idea if he can make it work there, but McCloughan’s past shows that he’s not afraid to try to make it work. Utah’s Dres Anderson, son of ex-NFLer Willie "Flipper" Anderson -- runs well after the catch and competes. Arizona’s Austin Hill tore his ACL in 2013 and analysts say he had not regained all his speed last season. He’s not a burner anyway (4.55 in the 40), but he might provide good value since he will be a year further removed from surgery and has good size (6-foot-2).