Redskins: Top 3 positions to watch at the NFL Combine
WASHINGTON (ABC7) —
The NFL Combine. The final appetizer for the last football meal that is the NFL Draft.
The annual gathering of NFL coaches, scouts and front office personnel to watch the next wave of football talent perform is underway. Players began reporting in at Lucas Oil stadium in Indianapolis for measurements Wednesday with a weekend filled with highly scrutinized drills ahead of them. The Washington Redskins' long-standing quarterback drama has subsided, provided they do not franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins and let him depart in free agency. The blockbuster trade for Alex Smith gives Washington stability at the position for the next few years, giving them the opportunity to focus on more immediate needs this offseason.
The Redskins' season ended the same way it has for the last two years: with the team watching at home and holes on both sides of the ball. Here are the players Jay Gruden and company could target to help keep pace with a division that includes the reigning Super Bowl Champions.
The Redskins could take this pick in a few directions. Kendall Fuller's departure via trade leaves an opening for a new cornerback. Ohio State's Denzel Ward and Iowa's Josh Jackson are projected as the two top corners in this class, each with differing skill sets. Ward only stands 5' 10" but experts say his coverage abilities should allow him to lineup inside or outside. Jackson has the prototypical body of an NFL corner at 6' 1" and 192 pounds and demonstrated the play-making skills one would expect from a former wide receiver, notching eight interceptions during his final year with the Hawkeyes.
The uncertainty surrounding Su'a Cravens could also steer them towards a dynamic safety like Derwin James of Florida State. James was widely regarded as a blue chip prospect before a disappointing 2017 season and many predict he will test off the charts at the combine.
Washington finished dead last when it came to stopping the run last year and this year's draft class is being praised for the talent of its interior defensive linemen. Washington's Vita Vea is massive but is expected to demonstrate a quickness in Indianapolis that has helped him draw comparisons to Haloti Ngata. The team could also look to double-dip in Tuscaloosa and look at 2017 first round pick Jonathan Allen's linemates Da'Shawn Hand and Da'Ron Payne.
Surprise! The quarterback conundrum in D.C. has been solved for now but Alex Smith is 33 and has not really been anyone's first choice since...2005. The top-tier signal callers like Sam Darnold and Josh Allen will be under the microscope this week and the Redskins are (probably) unlikely to make a move for one of them on the first day of the draft (probably). But there are plenty of intriguing developmental quarterbacks they could very well look to groom that will be available in the middle rounds. Cousins himself was, after all, a fourth round pick.
Richmond's Kyle Lauletta and Mike White of Western Kentucky both performed under the spotlight at the senior bowl and will look to keep that momentum going. Memphis's Riley Ferguson and Washington State's Luke Falk are guys that put up big-time numbers in college who will look to demonstrate that they have the physical attributes to translate their skills to NFL offenses.