The Washington Redskins enter the 2017 NFL Draft with a number of needs most notably on defense. The club could use reinforcements at every level on defense after giving up the fifth-most yards last season. Team president Bruce Allen has 10 picks at his disposal. Here is a complete mock draft for the club.
Round 1 (17 overall): S Malik Hooker, Ohio State
The Redskins could use help for their front seven, but the top players such as Myles Garrett, Solomon Thomas, and Jonathan Allen will be gone. The top safety in the class Jamal Adams will almost certainly be a top ten pick. The Redskins select Malik Hooker the best player available who slips a bit because of his inexperience and tackling ability.
Hooker is a natural center fielder with incredible athleticism and awareness. Hooker’s speed allows him to cover a lot of ground. His instincts, vision and range make him a great playmaking safety. Last season at Ohio State, Hooker had seven interceptions and returned three of them for touchdowns. The Redskins have not had a play-making safety since the tragic loss of Sean Taylor in 2007. Hooker is not the hitter or tackler that Taylor was, but he is great in coverage. The Washington Redskins get their most reliable safety in years.
Round 2 (49 overall): DT Caleb Brantley, Forida
The Washington Redskins added Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee in free agency, but they could still use a talented young defensive lineman. Caleb Brantley is a strong defensive tackle who plays with incredible passion. His quickness and strength allows him to work off blocks and make plays. Brantley is a versatile player with the ability to play any position along the defensive line. NFL.com compares Brantley to Los Angeles Rams All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Brantley has first round talent, but may slide due to concerns about his performance and interview at the combine. The former Florida Gator would be a great addition to the Redskins defensive line and will immediately become a pest to opposing quarterbacks.
Round 3 (81 overall): DE Derek Rivers, Youngstown State
The Redskins enter 2017 with question marks at pass rusher. Trent Murphy has a four game suspension and Junior Galette has not seen any regular season action since 2014 due to back-to-back Achilles injuries. Derek Rivers is a talented pass rusher who finished 2016 with 14 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. Rivers has the strength and athleticism to be a talented pass rusher at the next level. He has a great motor and plays hard every snap refusing to take snaps off. He did not face elite competition in college and needs coaching, but he has the potential to be a great pass rusher.
Round 4 (114 overall): RB Wayne Gallman, Clemson
When you think about Clemson and their run to the national championship the first two names that come to mind are Deshaun Watson and Mike Williams. An unheralded member of that team is Wayne Gallman. Clemson played in 15 games last season. Gallman scored a touchdown in 13 of those games. He has rushed for 2647 yards and 30 touchdowns the last two years.
Redskins starting running back Robert Kelley is a bruiser, but he is a bit slow. Gallman is more of a play-making back with the speed and athleticism to be a threat to take the ball to the house on every touch. He would be a great addition to the running back crew that currently features Kelley and Chris Thompson.
Round 4 (124 overall): QB Nathan Peterman, Pittsburgh
The Redskins continue to have long-term questions at quarterback due to the uncertainty surrounding starting quarterback Kirk Cousins. Washington hopes to keep Cousins for years to come, but must have a backup plan.
Nathan Peterman is a poised passer who does not panic if things go awry. He does a great job of going through his progressions to find the open man. Peterman shows great anticipation with his throws allowing his receivers to run onto the ball. Clemson lost one game last year, which was to Pittsburgh. Peterman threw for 308 yards 5 touchdowns and zero interceptions against one of the college footballs best defenses. He has room to improve specifically on his throwing base and the touch that is required on some throws. He would be under no pressure to start right away. Ironically, NFL.com compares Peterman to Kirk Cousins. So why not get a Cousins clone?
Round 5 (154 overall): CB Damontae Kazee, San Diego State
Damontae Kazee is a relatively unknown name, but you wouldn’t know it from his performance on the field. Kazee is the two-time Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year. He has 15 interceptions during his final two collegiate seasons. Kazee has made plays his entire year even going back to his freshman year when he forced 4 fumbles (most in the Mountain West) despite not starting a game.
Kazee has fantastic awareness and instincts. He does a great job of anticipating wide receiver routes. He is a solid tackler who is willing to help out in run support. Kazee’s main weakness is his lack of top end speed. He is also not the tallest cornerback at 5’10” and has to improve his fundamentals. Kazee is good enough that he could challenge immediately to play in nickel and dime packages.
Round 6 (201 overall): TE Jeremy Sprinkle, Arkansas
Jeremy Sprinkle certainly has the physique to succeed in the NFL at 6’5”, 252 pounds. Sprinkle is a solid blocker with long arms. There is not one area that will blow you away, which is why he may be available this late in the draft. The former Razorback has the ability to contribute on all three downs. He is a big target with good hands that can give quarterbacks a security blanket. Sprinkle is a reliable red zone target, which is an area that the Redskins struggled in last season. He needs to get in the weight room to improve his upper body strength and must refine his route running. Both of those areas can be improved through hard work and coaching. Sprinkle would add solid depth and could eventually replace Vernon Davis as the number backup tight end.
Round 6 (209 overall): WR Chad Williams, Grambling State
Late in the NFL Draft you are looking for guys with the potential to develop into solid players. Chad Williams led Grambling State to a Southwestern Athletic Conference (SWAC) championship. He finished his senior year with 90 catches for 1,337 yards and 11 touchdowns. Williams proved that he could post big numbers against good competition when he caught 13 balls for 152 yards against Arizona early last season. He has good hands and does a great job of snatching the ball out of the air away from his body. Williams is a physical receiver who is not easy to bring down.
Williams will be available late in the draft due to concerns about him facing lesser competition and his legal troubles. Before his senior year he was charged with marijuana possession and possession of firearms. Williams has room to grow both as a person and as a football player. He is budding with potential though. He was not invited to the combine, but he ran a 4.40 40-yard dash, which was faster than all but two receivers at the combine. Playing for a small school should not deter the Redskins. After all their former receiver Pierre Garcon was a sixth-round pick from Division III Mount Union by the Indianapolis Colts.
Round 7 (220 overall): S Lorenzo Jerome, St. Francis (PA)
According to Bleacher Report’s Matt Milller: “The last time St. Francis had a player drafted, it was 1944 and the U.S. was about to land on a place called Normandy.” That may change later this month. Lorenzo Jerome was named a first-team FCS All-American by the Associated Press. He was also a first-team All-Northeast Conference selection all four years. Jerome’s biggest strength is his instincts. James has tremendous ball skills finishing his collegiate career with 18 interceptions. He was a high school quarterback so he reads the game well. James is aggressive in run support and can also contribute as a dangerous kick off or punt returner. One scout said (via NFL.com) “he was easily the most instinctive safety at the Senior Bowl.” Jerome can contribute immediately on special teams and has the potential to be a starter at some point down the line.
Round 7 (235 overall): DT Grover Stewart, Albany State (GA)
This late in the draft NFL scouts are looking for potential. Grover Stewart has the potential to be a solid contributor within a few years. Stewart is a 6’5” 295 pound man with good upper body strength. At his pro day he showed off impressive straight-line speed. His blend of athleticism and power is what makes him an intriguing prospect. Stewart needs time to adjust to the speed of the NFL, which will be a huge jump in terms of competition. He is very raw and must improve on his technique and fundamentals. With some time and good coaching Stewart could develop into a key part of the defensive line rotation.