ASHBURN, Va. -- A wrap-up of the Washington Redskins' draft.
Best move: Focusing on the offensive line. While edge rusher was a big need -- and they did add another outside linebacker in Preston Smith -- the Redskins needed more competition along the offensive line. They found a Day 1 starter in Brandon Scherff; they view him as a right tackle. A coach from another team said of Scherff: "Good right tackle; Pro Bowl guard." Regardless, he'll be a forceful blocker in the run game, something the Redskins needed. I'm not sold on guard Arie Kouandjio because of medical concerns, but I like that the Redskins also drafted center Austin Reiter in the seventh round. Again, I don't know if he can play and perhaps only one of these three pans out. But at least the Redskins addressed an area that needed to be strengthened. They want to become a tough, physical team and each of these three gives them a chance to accomplish that goal. This isn't just about adding protection for the quarterbacks, it's about establishing a mindset in the ground game.
Riskiest move: The Redskins have two of them, both because of durability concerns. Of course, general manager Scot McCloughan once took a chance on running back Frank Gore, who had his own medical concerns, and that seemed to work out rather well. But running back Matt Jones, picked in the third round, had two surgeries on his knee. Some teams even placed him way down on their draft board because of medical issues. If Jones comes through, he could provide the Redskins with a big, power back for a while. Perhaps he'll be limited to backup duty, helping in short yardage and goal-line situations. But if you draft a running back in the third round you expect more. And that means his knees must hold up. Then there's Kouandjio, who has had multiple knee surgeries. If he's right, then he'd be considered good value in the third round. If he's not, then the Redskins might have wasted another valuable pick.
Most surprising move: Not trading back in the first round once they lost out on linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. Had he been available, or even receiver Amari Cooper, then there would be no thought to a trade. But with Leonard Williams falling to them at No. 5, the thinking was that another team would be tempted to trade up and draft him. However, some teams had definite concerns about medical issues with Williams. Also, the Redskins liked Scherff enough that they did not want to risk losing him. So really, this was only a mild surprise. But this was not a draft in which they had any major surprises.
File it away: The Redskins' special teams will be improved. I know: You've heard that before. But they did draft players in this class who can and should provide immediate help in this area. Fourth-rounder Jamison Crowder will help in the return game; safety Kyshoen Jarrett (sixth round) can help the coverage units, as can linebacker Martrell Spaight (fifth round) and receiver Evan Spencer (sixth round). There was a clear emphasis on finding players who could develop into core special-teamers if nothing else.
My take: This wasn't a spectacular class. But as ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Bill Polian said earlier this month: McCloughan will have a "meat and potatoes" draft. The Redskins found players who can help from scrimmage early and others who should help special teams late. Any draft takes time to accurately assess, but it was a solid start for McCloughan. Thumbs up