2014 NFL DRAFT TEAM SPOTLIGHTS: ARI | ATL | BAL | BUF | CAR | CHI | CIN | CLE | DAL | DEN | DET | GB | HOU | IND | JAC | KC | MIA | MIN | NE | NO | NYG | NYJ | OAK | PHI | PIT | SD | SF | SEA | STL | TB | TEN | WAS
This is the eighth of a team-by-team series, analyzing five prospects that each team should consider in the 2014 NFL Draft.
The RGIII trade two years ago doesn't look as appealing as it did a year ago, and that fact will be especially true on draft day when Washington will watch St. Louis draft a potential impact player with the No. 2 overall selection -- a pick the Redskins rightfully earned after last year's disastrous 4-12 outcome.
But the poor finish means the rest of the Redskins' picks will be earlier in each round and Washington will be the second team to pick on day two of the draft when the second and third rounds get started.
With the addition of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, the Redskins' offense suddenly looks a lot more complete and will allow the front office to focus on improving the defense early in this year's draft. Depth at cornerback, safety, defensive line and both linebacker spots could be addressed and in a deep draft like this, an impact player could slip to Washington with the 34th overall pick.
Washington Redskins' 2014 draft picks: 34, 66, 102, 142, 178, 217
Primary Needs: OT, CB, DE, ILB, OLB
General Manager: Bruce Allen, 5th season
Head Coach: Jay Gruden, 1st season
Five draft picks that clicked:
• TE Jordan Reed, 85th overall, 2013
• QB Robert Griffin, 2nd overall, 2012
• RB Alfred Morris, 173rd overall, 2012
• DE Ryan Kerrigan, 16th overall, 2011
• DE Brian Orakpo, 13th overall, 2009
Five players who should be on Washington's draft radar:
(overall rating, position rating)
DT Ra'Shede Hageman, Minnesota (32, 4): The Redskins paid Jason Hatcher big-time money to be an impact defensive end in their three-man front, but could use more depth at the position. Many don't believe that he will be around in the second round, but if Hageman slips to pick No. 34, it would be tough for Washington to pass. The Minnesota product lined up all over the defensive line in college, but his best NFL position is five-technique end, making him a great fit with the Redskins. Hageman leaves you wanting more, but has the versatile athletic upside and physical traits desired at the position.
OT Jack Mewhort, Ohio State (91, 9): Former first rounder Trent Williams has the left tackle job locked up, but Tyler Polumbus at right tackle is a different story. Washington considered bringing in free agent Donald Penn so they're clearly looking for some tackle depth and with Polumbus entering a contract year, the right tackle of the future might come out of this draft. Mewhort was tabbed by Urban Meyer as Ohio State's “best offensive player” and projects as a starting right tackle in the NFL. He is a big-bodied edge blocker that lacks elite athleticism for the position, but has just enough quickness and understands body angles to dominate in one-on-one opportunities.
CB Walt Aikens, Liberty (146, 21): The Redskins drafted cornerback David Amerson with their top draft pick last year, but DeAngelo Hall isn't getting any younger and more depth is needed in the secondary. Aikens is unpolished in several areas and will need time to adjust to the NFL game, but is a gifted athlete for his size, also playing basketball and track at Liberty. He is experienced at free safety and cornerback, playing mostly press, off-man and zone coverage in college. A surprise NFL Combine snub, Aikens has workable traits and appears to have considerable room before he hits his football ceiling – a possible target with the 102nd pick.
ILB Jordan Zumwalt, UCLA (115, 11): Washington re-signed Perry Riley last month to a three-year deal, but the inside linebacker spot next to him is a bit unsettled. Zumwalt plays fast, active and aggressive, but also stiff and is more of a straight-line athlete who struggles to easily redirect. He has an intense on-field demeanor and to describe him as “violent” would be an understatement, but he also comes with durability concerns due to his physical play style. Zumwalt projects as a versatile part-time player who can cut his teeth on special teams while fighting for a starting inside linebacker job.
TE Anthony Denham, Utah (533, 29): With the Redskins signing DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed emerging as a go-to threat, Washington's receiving group is in much better shape than a year ago. But they could still use some size and height to help convert third downs and make a difference in red zone situations. Denham is an impressive-looking specimen on the hoof and looks more like a well-built wide receiver than traditional tight end. He lacks the ideal physical nature for the position and appears allergic to blocking so his ability to get stronger and get his nose dirty in the trenches are essential to his development. A later round pick, Denham is still very raw and lacks the resume you want, but there is some untapped potential there if he stays focused, projecting as a hybrid target and red zone threat.