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Grading the Washington Redskins draft

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Grading the Washington Redskins draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we have to dig in a little more to come up with a grade. Here's my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—C+

They came in with the handicap of not having a first-round pick, with that selection going to the Rams as the final payment in the deal to land the rights to Robert Griffin III. There is no way at the time that they thought the pick would be the second overall but it was what it was. We won’t know for a while if the trade will prove to be a good deal but in the short term the fact that the Redskins do have a quarterback in place obviated the need for Redskins Nation to spend the last four months debating the relative merits of Johnny Football and Blake Bortles was a positive.

Because of that deal the Redskins went in with six picks; they ended up with eight. They picked up an additional third by moving back in the second round from the 34th overall pick to the 47th. That deal was with the Cowboys and the Redskins did quite well in the deal. Looking at the draft value chart, such a move back should have netted Washington Dallas’ fourth-round pick. But they were able to take advantage of the Cowboys’ desperation for a pass rusher and they extracted a third-rounder from their division rivals.

A few players the Redskins could have used did go off of the board in between their original pick and the one they traded for. In particular, offensive tackle Joel Bitonio and defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt were players many had connected to the Redskins. It seemed that Washington liked the guy they ended up getting, outside linebacker Trent Murphy. Some saw that pick as a reach but not a crazy one. They took guard Spencer long with the additional third-rounder from the deal.

Late Saturday afternoon they pulled off a similar deal on a smaller scale, dealing with the Titans to move back eight spots in the sixth round, collecting Tennessee’s seventh-round pick in the process. They likely got the same player with the 186th pick as they would have with the 178th, running back Lache Seastrunk of Baylor.

You can debate how wisely the Redskins used that extra seventh as they took a kicker, Zach Hocker of Arkansas. Some say it’s dumb to ever draft a kicker, especially when you have a pretty good one in Kai Forbath. I disagree on the first part, if you like a kicker, take him rather than scramble through the chaotic undrafted free agent process. I do agree that Forbath is a quality kicker and that burning a draft pick to challenge him is not good strategy.

Many thought that the Redskins should have taken a safety somewhere along the line given that Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark are both on the wrong side of 30. Gruden said that they didn’t have the chance to take one who they thought could make the roster. It was generally thought that this was a very weak draft at the position and Gruden’s explanation is quite plausible. Still, it could come back to burn them if Bacarri Rambo and/or Phillip Thomas, the two safeties they drafted last year, can’t develop into starters or at least solid reserves.

Talent/Fit—B

Morgan Moses is the best fit on the Redskins’ board. The team clearly wants to move on from right tackle Tyler Polumbus at some point. Moses is a good candidate to unseat him, perhaps sooner rather than later.

Some question the Murphy fit but those people need to look at Brian Orakpo’s contract. He’s a free agent after this year and the Redskins will have to decide if they want to sign him, franchise him, or let him leave. The first two options will be expensive and the team will have more leverage if they have a replacement for Orakpo on the roster. For this year, Murphy will play a few hundred snaps on defense in addition to being a full special teams contributor.

Spencer Long, the Redskins’ third-round pick, will be a good fit if, as some believe, he can become the team’s starting center. Ryan Grant will have to work to overcome his shortcomings (mainly pedestrian speed) to become a productive receiver. Bashaud Breeland and Lache Seastrunk both left college a year early and could become assets if they mature. Seventh-round tight end Ted Bolser will have to justify the team carrying four tight ends.

Overall—B-

In the lead up to the draft, the Redskins let it be known that they were looking for hard-working, hungry, overachieving players who love playing the game more than they love what the game can get for them. And an ability to play special teams was a major resume enhancer as well.

The players they picked fit the criteria. Not all of them precisely fit, of course, but well enough to where you can say that the draft class has a reasonable chance of developing into a successful group.

In particular, scouting reports on Murphy and Long noted a “first on the field for practice, last one off” mentality. And Murphy, Grant, Breeland, and Bolser played special teams in college and spoke as though they expect to do the same thing in Washington.

They keys to this draft could end up being Breeland and Seastrunk. Breeland could be a starting corner in a year or two if he develops. If Seastrunk can learn to catch out of the backfield his home-run ability could make him a great asset.

If those two and, say, two of the top three picks pan out, this would be quite a successful draft. Anything else would be gravy.

But that’s easier said than done. This franchise has not done a very good job of developing mid- and late-round picks into starters or even key reserves. Bruce Allen noted this failure in last week’s press conference and said that the solution was to focus on high effort players with the belief that they will put in what it takes to grow as a player.

Will it work? We will have to wait and see. For now, we can give Allen and the organization some credit for recognizing the problem, having a plan to fix it, and sticking to that plan.

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Jonathan Allen plans to model his game after two other All-Pro defenders

Jonathan Allen plans to model his game after two other All-Pro defenders

New Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen is looking to pattern his game after two All-Pro linemen. 

"I'm a very versatile player and can do anything. I love watching Geno Atkins and Aaron Donald," Washington’s first-round draft pick told reporters on a conference call.

The Redskins will be very happy if Allen can be as productive as Atkins and Donald. Atkins has played for the Bengals since the 2010 season. He has been durable, playing in 16 games in six of his seven seasons, and effective, producing 52 sacks, a good total for a defensive tackle. 

MORE REDSKINS: A COMPLETE RECAP OF ROUND 1

Donald was a first-round pick of the Rams in 2014. He was a first-team All-Pro in each of the past two seasons, recording a total of 28 sacks in his three seasons. 

Both players combine outstanding physical talent and high motors. Allen has selected two pretty good role models to follow. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN

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Gruden: Redskins have no concerns about Allen's shoulders

Gruden: Redskins have no concerns about Allen's shoulders

Jonathan Allen was the perfect pick for the Redskins, filling a need with a player who clearly was the best on the board.

Allen’s slide from a top-five prospect to the middle of the first round is believed to be because of issues with both of his shoulders. During his time at Alabama he suffered labral tears in both of his shoulders that were surgically repaired and he also suffers from mild arthritis in both of them. That apparently scared some teams off but not the Redskins.

“We didn't have any concerns,” said coach Jay Gruden. “We talked to Dr. [James] Andrews, he gave thumbs up on him. We feel very good about the injuries.”

Then why did a top talent slide all the way back to the Redskins’ pick?

“As far as him falling to us, their were a lot of things that happened in the draft, three quarterbacks went, a couple of receivers went pretty high, a lot of offensive players went that probably not a lot of people expected,” said Gruden. “So, some of these very good defensive players fell to us and we're happy.”

Allen told reporters that the shoulders did not cause him any problems while he was playing.

“I didn’t even wear a brace for the [2016] season,” Allen said. “So, I mean, it doesn’t even affect me. Every team I talked to, shoulders were medically cleared, no problems. Probably the best I’ve felt in the last four years, to be honest.”

Alabama team doctor Lyle Cain’s assessment of Allen’s shoulders align with those of the player and Gruden.

"He's played without any problems," Cain told NFL Media last month. "This is something that a lot of offensive linemen and defensive linemen have, things guys play with their whole careers. It's just a little earlier for him because he got hurt in college."

We will see how this plays out. It’s possible that his injury problems could limit his effectiveness or cut his career short. But clearly the Redskins saw that the Allen’s talent made the injury risk a worthwhile gamble.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.