Although the Redskins’ season has been an epic disappointment, for draft geeks this is the time of year that we start to dream about which big time prospect will be the next star on the team. As it stands, the Redskins are slated to have the 2nd overall pick and are in line for a top Top 5 selection, regardless of the outcome versus Cowboys in their season finale.
This is an early look. The underclassman have until January 20th to decide if they’ll declare for the 2020 NFL Draft or stay in school. The Redskins have multiple spots on their roster to fill, and although Edge Rusher is low on the list of needs, OSU’s Chase Young would be hard to pass up if he declares. Some will notice QB’s, RB’s, Edge rushers and other high ceiling interior defensive lineman missing from the list. This is just an early look based on projected positions of need with the listed prospects likely to be selected anywhere from Round 1 to Round 2.
The top 10 on this list could all be selected if the Redskins stand pat in the top 5, but the other 15 mentioned are realistic selections in a trade back scenario. Again, this is just an early look at some prospects who have tremendous upside with the Senior Bowl, Pro Days and the highly coveted NFL Combine yet to take place.
Chase Young 6’6″ 265 lbs Edge OSU
After the selection of Montez Sweat in the previous draft, Edge Rusher isn’t an immediate need for the Redskins. Chase Young could be a generational talent and his game tape backs it up. The Buckeye was a Heisman finalist and was equally dynamic against the run & pass. Although he’s been typecast as a DE, he shows the athletic ability to play anywhere on the front line and that’s exactly how an innovative defensive coordinator should use Young on the next level. Young’s muscular frame adds to the intrigue with his instilled work ethic and dedication to improving his cardiovascular ability prior to the 2019 season. What’s intriguing about Young is that he seems to just be scratching the surface of his ability and has the ceiling of an All Pro pass rusher. Washington has more pressing needs at LT, CB, TE and WR, but passing up on young if available could be a decision that haunts the Redskins for decades.
Jeffrey Okudah 6’1″ 200 lbs CB OSU
Make no mistake, Jeffrey Okudah is the next shutdown NFL corner and could be the best OSU defensive back over the last decade. He is proficient in man coverage but is also scheme versatile and should be covering the offense’s best receiver on every snap. He understands route concepts and knows how to knock receivers off their routes without get handsy and drawing penalties. This will pay off in the NFL which is flag happy when it comes to PI and holding calls. The best attribute for the Buckyee might just be his range with his ability to gather himself and use his speed to recover if out of position. If not for Young garnering national attention, Okudah might have drawn more attention and praise amongst evaluators. The Redskins gave up a ton of yards in 2019 and DB’s often looked out of position. The Buckeye doesn’t only offer elite coverage ability, but also could be the leader in a defensive backfield that has been extremely inconsistent.
Jerry Jeudy 6’1″ 192 lbs WR Alabama
As far as this year’s deep receiver class goes, it’s Jerry Jeudy and the rest. By his own account, he is one of the best route runners ever to play for HC Nick Saban. Jeudy’s ability to get in and out of his breaks using pure speed is impressive. His double move is the best I’ve evaluated and will give NFL defensive backs headaches trying to game plan for. Jeudy shows soft hands, rarely body catching, and should draw double coverage even as a rookie. Although some might believe that Washington shouldn’t go WR so early because of the success of McLaurin, Jeudy could be the perfect compliment and could help make up for potential off target balls from Dwayne Haskins with his natural ability to redirect his momentum with the ball in the air.
Andrew Thomas 6’5″ 320 lbs OT UGA
The Bulldog blind side protector is a force in the run and pass game. Although, at times, Andrew Thomas struggles with smaller speed rushers, his ability to recover and knock pass rushers off the ball with an effective punch is second to none. He displays a fluid kick-slide and knows how to use his hands without grabbing. Although Thomas needs more coaching on the next level with recognizing angles and pulling in the run game, his ability to correct issues were on display from his freshman season to his last. The power run game is where Thomas shines, but it seems he should able to have a seamless transition to zone blocking schemes as well. With Trent Williams’ unlikely return to Washington, this is arguably the top need on the roster. Thomas shows the fire and aggressiveness to be a day 1 starter at LT.
Isaiah Simmons 6’4″ 230 lbs LB Clemson
Isaiah Simmons was built to face modern day NFL offenses who are increasingly adopting more NFL schemes. A team facing a dual threat signal caller such as Ravens Lamar Jackson, would be wise to invest a high pick on the Clemson linebacker. In addition to playing linebacker, Simmons also lined up at safety and nickel corner. If that wasn’t enough, he was also deployed off the edge as a blitzer making him the type of hybrid defender that never has to come off the field. Simmons’ ability to transition in his back pedal and open up his hips in coverage make him one of the most athletic defenders in this year’s class. Some might believe that selecting a linebacker might be a luxury for Washington, but his versatility to rush the passer, be deployed as a spy and drop into coverage make him an intriguing prospect on the next level.
CeeDee Lamb 6’2″ 189 lbs WR Oklahoma
If Jeudy is the draft’s top receiver, CeeDee Lamb is 1B. The Sooner’s ability to avoid jams at the line give him a leg up when transitioning to the NFL. Lamb’s innate ability to come down with the ball in traffic make him a receiver that can be moved all over the field. What excites scouts is his willingness and ability to block in space, which isn’t emphasised by most college programs. The combine will answer more questions regarding his pure speed. Some believe Lamb will run in the mid 4.5 sec range, as opposed to his real-time display of 4.4. Regardless, Lamb is the type of receiver that could pair with Terry McLaurin and form a duo of hard nosed pass catchers who thrive in the run game while making big plays downfield.
Tristan Wirfs 6’5″ 322 lbs OT Iowa
Georgia’s LT Thomas has received most of the love during the scouting evaluation process, mainly due to the other tackles being projected as interior lineman on the next level. In Tristan Wirfs‘ case, he played RT for most of his time at Iowa. Wirfs is the most athletic offensive lineman in this year’s class. His ability to block in space and pull are the best in the class. He understands technique and leverage when facing speed rushers with effective counter moves. He has the strength and length to be effective in the run game, but needs to work on his hand usage at times when going downhill. Although Wirfs could start his NFL career on the right side, I envision the Hawkeye eventually making the switch to the left side and becoming a franchise left tackle for years to come.
Grant Delpit 6’3″ 201 lbs S LSU
Grant Delpit is the versatile safety that Washington has needed since signing Landon Collins. Current starting FS Montae Nicholson has been inconsistent and off-the-field issues bring into question his level of maturity. Delpit excels when put in the box as a blitzing DB, but also impresses with his range in zone coverage. Although the LSU DB is still a work in progress, his ability to make game changing plays while the ball is in the air is undeniable. Having the luxury of lining Delpit up with NFL tight ends makes him the clear cut top safety in the class.
Laviska Shenault Jr. 6’2″ 220 lbs WR Colorado
The Colorado receiver is the prototypical “do it all” offensive weapon who’s even lined up as an H-Back and QB from the Wildcat in some of the Buffalo’s offensive sets. In ’18 he led the nation in catches per game and yards from scrimmage. What stands out his his NFL ready frame and his unwillingness to go down after initial contact. Many scouts have other receivers ahead of Laviska Shenault Jr, but his ability to contribute in multiple run and pass packages make it hard to take him off the field. The prototypical hybrid prospect could be just what the Redskins need to compliment McLaurin and help Haskins during his maturation process.
Tee Higgins 6’4″ 215 lbs WR Clemson
Similar to Alabama, Clemson continues to churn out NFL talent and this is another Tiger added to the top 25 for Washington. Tee Higgins utilizes his 6’4″height advantage to be one of the best 50/50 ball receivers in the class. Clemson’s offense has had a lot of success with Higgins being the feature receiver. The Clemson receiver consistently puts his body on the line, frequently laying out to make the tough catch. Many evaluators want to see more from a blocking standpoint and he needs to get better with hand usage to disengage from press coverage. Higgins could be the receiver Washington hoped former 1st rounder Josh Doctson would be, but offers more upside as a red zone receiving threat.
Henry Ruggs III 6’0″ 190 lbs WR Alabama
Jeudy’s partner in crime, Henry Ruggs III, is the speedy receiver teams covet. Scouts believe he’ll run in the 4.2 second range at the combine and could have a legit impact on the next level. A concern among scouts is his lack of ability to beat press coverage and he is viewed as a “1 trick pony” as far as route running goes. Refining his route tree ability should be Ruggs’ pre-draft priority. The film shows an explosive receiver that might not be a #1 on the next level, but still has the ability to be a game changer from the slot.
Xavier McKinney 6’1″ 200 lbs S Alabama
The Draft Network believes Xavier McKinney is this year’s version of former Alabama standout and current Pittsburgh Steeler defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. That’s high praise for McKinney, but the attributes are there with his ability to play corner and safety. The Bama safety is just the type of defensive back you want in a centerfielder and last line of defense. He might not have elite speed, but his knowledge of angles and ability to jump routes could make him an ideal FS in the NFL. McKinney is an effective blitzer off the edge and could be used in a variety of ways by NFL coordinators. Current FS Montae Nicholson is not the answer and if the Redskins trade back into the latter part of Round 1, McKinney could be a big step towards improving the Redskins’ secondary.
DeVonta Smith 6’1″ 175 lbs WR Alabama
DeVonta Smith is a polished receiver who excels in the short area passing game with the ability to take screen passes to the house any time he touches the ball. The sure handed receiver was part of the three headed receiving core at Alabama and could end up having early success. A primary knock by some evaluators has been Smith’s lean frame, which shouldn’t be a concerning given he’s had no durability issues. Smith can play any of the three primary WR positions in Washington and could help the next Washington OC design a high octane passing game.
Jedrick Wills 6’5″ 320 lbs OT Alabama
Similar to Wirfs, Jedrick Wills hasn’t generated the Thomas-like buzz. But one thing that’s unmistakable about Willis is his pure strength and that he looks like an absolute monster when blocking in space. The film shows a talented lineman who could project better inside, as opposed to tackle in the NFL. His run blocking ability is undeniable, but his ceiling in pass pro is a legitimate question if your a team looking for a bookend franchise tackle. The right side could be where Willis ends up, but his ability to slide inside make him an intriguing prospect.
Austin Jackson 6’6″ 310 lbs OT USC
What stood out when evaluating Austin Jackson was his fluid kick slide, his ability to pull and how fast he gets out in space. Watching him in the screen game is a thing of beauty and could be essential in an age of innovative NFL offenses which are employing more college concepts. In saying that, Jackson needs a lot of work with his technique and stance. Many will ask why draft a tackle on Day 1 if he needs time. The simple answer is, players like Trent Williams don’t grown on trees and a scenario in which Washington trades back late in Round 1 could make Jackson a must have addition.
Trevon Diggs 6’2″ 207 lbs CB Alabama
Trevon Diggs is at his best in press coverage and impresses with ball tracking ability. Playing offense helped refine Diggs’ game before he settled in at DB, so his route tree recognition is a huge plus. The film shows a corner who also shows promise in zone alignments and is well versed in the various pro coverage concepts. Communication is a strength of the Tide defensive back, but he needs to refine his technique on the next level if he wants to live up to his potential. Washington will need a replacement for Josh Norman who has been a massive, overpriced, disappointment and could be a valuable addition if the Redskins trade back into the late stages of Round 1.
Paulson Adebo 6’1″ 190 lbs CB
Similar to Redskins Cornerback Dunbar, Paulson Adebo is also a former wide receiver that has displayed excellent athleticism in coverage. The Stanford defensive back shows explosiveness out of his back pedal and proficient route recognition ability. Adebo can be over aggressive at times, but this could be an asset for a Washington backend that has given up far too many passing yards and missed tackles.
Alex Leatherwood 6’6″ 310 lbs OT Alabama
Yes, another Alabama prospect! There’s a reason for this though. Saban continues to churn out early round prospects because he always has five star recruits waiting in the wings. Alex Leatherwood has played inside, but had a seamless transition to tackle this season. Although his technique needs refinement, he’d instantly be the best tackle on Washington’s roster. His athletic ability fits best in a zone heavy scheme, but with time he can be an asset as a blind side protector.
C.J. Henderson 6’1″ 202 lbs CB Florida
CJ Henderson is still raw in a few areas, but makes up for it with long arms and soft hands. The Gator corner was often used in blitz packages, but it’s clear Florida didn’t spend enough time refining his technique. Henderson is a willing tackler and is at his best when playing off coverage. The quick twitch defensive back has a ton of ability and could just be scratching the surface as a cover corner. As a run defender, he’s willing to mix it up and can be an asset in an aggressive scheme.
A.J. Terrell CB 6’1″ 190 lbs Clemson
A.J. Terrell is another defensive back who’ll make his money as a press coverage corner on the next level. He shows effective technique has no issues opening up his hips and redirecting receivers when needed. Terrell is a route disrupter and is at his best when mirroring receivers on the route, as opposed to playing in space. If you haven’t noticed, next to LT, corner is a huge position of need for the Redskins. Despite Washington’s youngsters showing more late in the season, an aggressive corner such as Terrell could add aggressiveness to Washington’s defensive backfield.
Justin Jefferson 6’3″ 192 lbs WR LSU
Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow didn’t achieve success on his own and LSU’s Justin Jefferson has gone a bit under-the-radar for some talent evaluators. With 14 TD’s and a 13.7 ypc average, the Tiger receiver has displayed the ability to be a playmaker on the next level. Jefferson excels at finding openings in zone coverage and utilizes an effective juke move to beat coverage. Although he needs refinement with his overall route running and technique on the next level, he offers an intriguing size/athleticism combination to have success versus NFC East defensive backs.
Kyle Dugger 6’2″ 220 lbs S Lenoir-Rhyne
It’s been well documented how The Burgundy and Gold Report feels about Kyle Dugger after a previous Q&A session with the budding defensive back. The small school superstar offers the full package with an elite combination of size, speed and range that NFL teams covet. It was noted in a past Burgundy and Gold Report feature on Dugger (article link below) that the Seattle Seahawks’ scouting department were enamored by Dugger’s ability. His unofficial numbers logged by the Seahawks’ scouting department seem straight out of a video game with a 4.41 sec forty time, 40″ vertical leap, 10′ 11″ broad jump with 33 1/8 inch arm length. Adding to his value is the fact that he is a special teams dynamo that is a threat to score any time he gets his hands on the ball. Dugger led the D-II ranks averaging nearly 26.0 yards per punt return. The Senior Bowl is arguably more important for Dugger’s stock compared to others on this list. A good week in Mobile, AL could equate to an invite to the NFL combine.
Hunter Bryant 6’2″ 239 lbs TE Washington
Some scouts are put off by Hunter Bryant’s lack of size for an NFL tight end, but this kid is electrifying with the ball in his hands. He’s the best route running tight end and its not even close. Bryant understands how to beat zone coverage and works convincingly as a decoy in the passing game. He shows the ability to to beat man coverage, which he’ll see less of on the next level as a Flex Tight End. Getting to top speed quickly might be what gets him drafted by creative OCs who utilize pass-heavy schemes. Working on his hands need to be his priority during the pre-draft process, as he lets the ball get into his body too often. In saying that, Bryant is an absolute force with 50/50 balls and could compliment what the new Redskins HC wants to implement with Dwayne Haskins.
Bryce Hall 6’1″ 200 lbs CB Virginia
Bryce Hall led the nation in pass breakups in 2018 with 21 and is viewed as one of the most sure-handed cornerbacks in the class. Hall provides real pop on initial contact and rarely whiffs on a defender. Missed tackles is not something you’ll see from this Cavalier. Hall’s critics believe his ceiling is a zone corner and his primary weakness is exposed in man coverage. Depending on who is the next Redskins’ defensive, coordinator and what scheme is run would factor into his potential fit in Washington’s system. One thing is for sure; Hall is an overachiever with the ability to improve his technique and range with NFL level coaching.
Albert Okwuegbunam 6’5″ 255 lbs TE
Albert Okwuegbunam was at his best when current Denver Broncos QB Drew Lock was his quarterback. The Missouri tight end understands leverage and how to use his size advantage versus linebacker and defensive backs. Similar to the other top tight ends in this year’s class, Okwuegbunam is not a proficient blocker, but is willing and has the ability. What intrigues talent evaluators is his ability to gain additional yards after contact along with his soft hands. Viewed as a receiving tight end, he should have more production as a pro, but must stay healthy and be available to be a threat on the next level, after missing 12 games in three seasons. With the inevitable departure of habitually-injured Jordan Reed, Okwuegbunam could step in as the day 1 starter.
By Adam Aniba
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