Todd McShay believes this draft has a lot of depth at the D-Line and quarterback positions, and the Redskins can benefit into the later rounds because of it.
In other NFL drafts, having the 21st selection wouldn't necessarily guarantee a star, or even a starting, player. But 2016, as many draft experts and pundits agree, is loaded with depth, specifically at the quarterback and defensive line positions.
Those both happen to be areas of interest for the Redskins as they continue to conduct interviews and read test results at this week's NFL Scouting Combine. It's been widely believed Washington will look for a defensive upgrade with their first round pick – and with some questions marks on the defensive line as they relate to free agency (Terrance Knighton) and retirement (Jason Hatcher) – a defensive tackle appears to be a priority.
That might mean taking Alabama defensive tackle Jarran Reed, who, according to Todd McShay, has an ability to clog up the running lanes, as a strong nose tackle should.
"With Reed, I think he's one of the better pure run stuffers," McShay told Redskins.com. "And he's really good on a straight line when he gets off a block and can go make plays. Not a great pass rusher. But with Washington, the potential for to unrestricted free agents at the nose tackle position, it would seem to make sense."
McShay admitted that he has 16 defensive linemen in his Top 100 overall college players – "it's a loaded position" – insinuating that the Redskins should be fine if Reed gets taken before them. There are plenty of other options, and ones they can sacrifice taking in later rounds, too.
"It's not just Reed," he said. "It's A'Shawn Robinson, also from Alabama. It's Chris Jones, who's a freak of nature from Mississippi State, a little bit inconsistent, but still learning. But he's as talented as any of these defensive tackles."
Another position that general manager Scot McCloughan has admitted he's keeping an eye on is at quarterback. Regardless of what happens with Kirk Cousins (it’s believed to be probable at this point that Cousins will be with the team in 2016), there's a lot of depth at quarterback that should be tempting considering the Redskins won't have anyone on the books in a backup role starting March 9.
Aside from Carson Wentz, Jared Goff and Paxton Lynch, players McShay believes are all potential starters, the draft could see quarterbacks dropping as far back as the sixth round – again, not an indication of their value shrinking, but just the amount available.
McShay likes Mississippi State's Dak Prescott ("some great mobility, great leadership"), N.C. State product Jacoby Brisset ("a guy that extends plays and creates when the initial play breaks down, but needs to be more consistent, but has size and strong physical [attributes]"), and Kevin Hogan, of Stanford ("one of the more underrated quarterbacks in this draft, does not have the big time arm, has a long delivery, very accurate, 36-10 as a starter").
"There's a lot of guys on Day 3," McShay said. "If Cousins is your starter and you're looking for a backup, I think you'll be able to find one."
Check out the sights from Day 2 of Redskins.com's coverage of the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine from Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016.
McCloughan, who reiterated in his interview with media this week that he wants "football players," a general term that, the more time you spend with McCloughan you know means somebody tough, physical and a motivated team player, will choose somebody in that mold.
That's what impressed McShay about last year's draft. Five rookies stepped up and took on major roles throughout the season, especially as veterans went down with injury, fulfilling the promise that McCloughan had made to the organization and fans when he was hired.
"I thought they nailed it," McShay said. "I thought they nailed it at the time, and then looking at it now, it's easy to say they got off to a good start. But the thing, most importantly to me that stood out is they had a vision for the organization and what they wanted to be as a football team. That's so important. What do you want to be? Do you want to spread it out? Do you want to be a fast paced team? Well then go find players that fit that. Clearly Washington made a determination that they want to be a physical football team that lines up, pounds the ball, bigger backs, bigger offensive line."
Referencing Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith and Matt Jones, and how their skillsets fit what head coach Jay Gruden wanted to accomplish, McShay was impressed with their commitment.
"All of those guys fit that vision and philosophy," McShay said, "and it has worked out so far."