The Washington Redskins are finally set at quarterback for the next few seasons following the Alex Smith trade. Following the trade, Washington was quiet in free agency. The most notable moves were signing cornerback Orlando Scandrick, wide receiver Paul Richardson and re-signing linebacker Zach Brown. Washington also exercised a fifth-year option on Pro Bowl guard Brandon Scherff.
Washington has a number of needs heading into the draft most notably on the defensive line and in the secondary. With a solid draft, a return to the postseason could be within grasp. The NFL draft is just days away so here is a complete mock draft for the club.
1st Round (13th overall): Da’Ron Payne, Defensive Tackle, Alabama
Washington gave up a league-worst 134 rushing yards per game. Washington lost last years first round pick defensive end Jonathan Allen early in the year. Prior to his injury, Washington was giving up 88 rushing yards per game, the eighth-best in the NFL. If the Redskins want to compete with the NFL elite like the Eagles then they must improve up front.
Six foot two 311-pound behemoth Da’Ron Payne will immediately upgrade the Redskins defensive line. Payne is an elite run stuffer who is exceptionally strong. He could bench 400 pounds in high school and has only gotten stronger since. Payne is also an athlete who has improved dramatically as a pass rusher during his time at Alabama. Payne dominated against Clemson in the 2018 College Football Playoff and even caught a touchdown pass. Chris Trapasso, a CBS NFL Draft analyst, put in perfectly when describing Payne’s performance against Clemson.
Just don’t forget about the all-time performance put on by defensive tackle Da’Ron Payne. The former top recruit set up camp in Georgia’s backfield for the duration of the game. He was a force against the run, which is always the case, and more important for his draft stock, he got after quarterback Jake Fromm often.
Selecting first-round defensive lineman in consecutive drafts is not flashy, but is necessary to emerge from the rugged NFC East. Selecting Payne would solidify the defensive line for years to come.
2nd Round (44th overall): Frank Ragnow, Center/Guard, Arkansas
Frank Ragnow has first-round talent but may fall due to concerns over a high-ankle sprain that ended his collegiate career midway through last year. In 2,603 snaps at Arkansas Ragnow did not surrender a sack. Ragnow is a good pass blocker, but his ability in the run game sets him apart. He will rarely pancake a defender into the ground, but he effectively holds his block and rarely loses a matchup. He has been historically dominate in college according to Pro Football Focus.
His hand strength is exceptional and helps him to recover when he overcommits on a play. The former Razorback is not ostentatious by any means. He simply gets the job done. Ragnow could be the missing link on the Redskins offensive line. He has the versatility to play guard or center and could fit in nicely as the Redskins right guard.
4th Round (109th overall): Nyheim Hines, Running Back, NC State
Nyheim Hines has explosive speed and ran a 4.38 40-yard dash at the combine. His speed means that he is a threat to take it to the end zone each time he touches the ball. Last season Hines had five runs of 45-plus yards. Hines uses his electric speed to make game changing plays.
He models his game after Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey. He also compares himself with versatile playmaker Tyreek Hill. Hines is not as explosive as Hill, but he does not have the same character issues that Hill did. Expecting Hines to make the impact that Kamara did as a rookie is unfair. Hines is no slouch though.
He is a versatile playmaker that can contribute as a kickoff and punt returner. Hines would be a great compliment to the Redskins current stable of running backs. He is not the type of player who can take 25-30 carries a game, but he can make an immediate impact in the passing game. Washington would be wise to learn from the two teams that played in the Super Bowl. The Eagles and Patriots both have a number of running backs that can make a big impact. Hines would give an instant jolt to the Redskins offense and special teams.
5th Round (142nd overall): Jaleel Scott, Wide Receiver, New Mexico State
The 6’5″215-pound wide receiver had arguably the catch of the year last season against Arizona State.
Jaleel Scott was a first team all-conference player finishing the year with 76 catches for 1,079 yards and nine touchdowns. He has outstanding ball skills to go along with an incredible catch radius. He does not mind contact off the line of scrimmage and does a great job of throwing off cornerbacks with his route running. The biggest weakness in his game is that he has average speed. He also needs to improve his blocking. Scott would provide depth to the wide receiver position with the potential to be an impact player down the line.
5th Round (163rd overall): Siran Neal, Safety, Jacksonville State
NFL coaches will love Siran Neal because of his versatility. In college, he played safety, slot corner, boundary corner, and even linebacker. He can also play on special teams. Versatility is key for players picked later on in the draft and Neal has it in abundance. Neal received first-team All-Ohio Valley Conference accolades the past two seasons. He started out as a defensive back during his first two collegiate seasons. Neal made 80 tackles (11.5 for loss), one interception and four pass break-ups as a linebacker in 2016. He was moved to safety for his senior year recording 39 tackles, one interception, and a team-high 11 pass break-ups.
Neal is attempting to make the transition to cornerback in the NFL. He excels at using at using his physicality to slow receiver’s routes off the line of scrimmage. He is a solid tackler who does a good job of peeling off his man coverage responsibilities to assist in run support. He can match up well in coverage with tight ends, which will be important if the Redskins ever want to slow down Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. Neal has plenty of room to improve namely his instincts and anticipation skills, but he can make an immediate contribution with the potential to be a starter at some point.
6th Round (188th overall): Genard Avery, Linebacker, Memphis
Genard Avery earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors as a senior at Memphis. He finished the season with 80 tackles, 22 for loss, 8.5 sacks, two pass breakups and two forced fumbles. Avery was productive throughout his time at Memphis leading the Tigers in sacks with five as a true freshman. He is a big, athletic linebacker who has the versatility to play inside or outside linebacker and on special teams.
Avery is a player that takes well to coaching. Prior to his senior year at Memphis, he worked on his pass rushing moves with former Atlanta Falcons All-Pro defensive end Chuck Smith. Avery has all the tools to be an important contributor to a defensive. His weaknesses that include his hand usage and his ability to diagnose plays can be improved with solid coaching and experience. Avery would immediately help the Redskins on special teams and could become a starting linebacker a few years down the road.
7th Round (231st overall): Michael Joseph, Cornerback, Dubuque
The biggest knock against Michael Joseph is that he attempting to transition from a Division III school to the NFL. The transition certainly can be made. Former Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon went to Division III school Mount Union and went onto lead the NFL in catches in 2013. According to the Chicago Tribune, the cornerback that Joseph respects the most is Redskins All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman.
Joseph has all the tools to succeed at the next level. His combination of height at 6’1″ and speed are a great start. Joseph has the versatility to play in different coverage schemes. He has good instincts and has wide receiver ball skills. He can make an immediate impact on special teams with the potential to be an impact player on defense down the line.
7th Round (241st overall): Jordan Mailata, Tackle, South Sydney
Jordan Mailata is a 6’8″ 346-pound mammoth that played professional rugby in Australia for the South Sydney Rabbitohs. Check out his rugby highlights here. He is working at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida to sharpen his skills as he looks to transition to an NFL football player. The Sydney man of Samoan origin had incredible numbers at his pro day. Most notably was his 40-yard dash of 5.12 seconds. That would have put him in the top 10 for an offensive tackle at the combine. Mailata played in a sport that requires excellent change of direction and lateral movement skills. Mailata is a freak athlete who could transition into a good player with a few years of development. He is fantastic value this late in the draft.