Sunday, May 3, 2015

Grading the Redskins draft

The 2015 Draft is in the books, and early responses for Redskins' new GM Scot McLoughan are largely positive. My take is less so. While not an utter failure, I think a number of the team's picks managed to fall short on both need AND value, which is never promising. To take into account the way trades and multiple picks work, I will grade both by round, accounting for everything that happened in that round, and by pick, with a total grade at the end.

Round 1

Pick 5: Brandon Scherff, OL (6'5, 319 lbs.)
Pick grade: C+

I like Scherff a lot. He's a good blocker, and I have been pounding the table to get Polombus (and, for that matter, Chester) replaced for years, so it's hard for me to be too disappointed at a pick aimed at accomplishing just that. That said, I have to assume there were no good offers for trading down, because the value isn't great. Though he'll start at RT, a lot of people think he profiles better as a guard because of unimpressive arm length and first step, and a spotty track record against real speed edge rushers in college. Of course, guard or tackle, he gives the Redskins OL and offense a big boost, but it's a little hard to swallow any lineman but a LT that high, and this pick's grade particularly suffers because DL Leonard Williams was still on the board, and I think drafting him would have been a coup. Definitely fills a need, like the player, but you really need to get great value from either a positional value (read: drafting a QB) or a BPA standpoint when picking that high, and I'm not sure the Redskins did.

Round 1 Grade: C+

Round 2

Pick 38: Preston Smith, OLB/DE (6'5, 271)
Pick Grade: C

On its face, this seems like a really good pick. Preston Smith is a big, versatile player with NFL starter upside, and OLB is a need in the wake of Orakpo's departure for Tennessee. Looking more closely, however, what the Skins really need is a pure pass rusher. Kerrigan is well-rounded and last year's second-rounder Trent Murphy excels more at setting the edge against the run than getting to the QB. Smith's strength? Using his size to stop the run, rushing from the interior. Weakness? Middling first step, only okay as an edge rusher. The position may have been a need, but the role really isn't, particularly when Nate Orchard (51st overall to Houston), Randy Gregory (60th to Dallas), Owa Odighizuwa (74th to NYG), Eli Harold (79th to San Fransisco) were all still on the board as more accomplished or promising pass rushers. My guess is that Smith's selection might hint at a significant more from the 3-4 to a more hybrid 3-4/4-3 front because he makes sense as someone who can move between OLB and DE. Still, with the aforementioned pass rushers, ILB Eric Kendricks, CBs like Jalen Collins, Eric Rowe, and Ronald Darby, and NTs Jordan Phillips and Eddie Goldman available, I once again have a hard time giving great marks in value or need.

Round 2 Grade: C

Round 3

The Skins originally held pick 69, but in exchange for moving down to the end of the 3rd, old McLoughan buddy John Schneider coughed up an additional 4th, 5th, and 6th round pick. For a team with a new GM in need of significant re-tooling, that was a great haul, and largely saves the round's grade.

Pick 95: Matt Jones, RB (6'2, 231):  
Pick Grade: F

Unfortunately, once the team actually took a player in the third round, they went with Matt Jones. The Redskins had (and, really, have) a need at halfback in the shape of Roy Helu, as both a capable backup to Morris and a third down back, when Morris' utter lack of receiving skills keep him off the field. Helu's versatility and speed made him a fantastic partner, but Jones is a somewhat speed-deficient bruiser with a very limited passing-game resume. This lack of fit could be forgiven if he were a great talent that had fallen to the team, but he managed to also be something of a reach, with a number of more talented runners available, like Jay Ajayi and Jeremy Langford. Additionally, I would've much preferred to address running back a few rounds later and take any number of other players like LB Paul Dawson, S James Sample or Ibraheim Campble, OT TJ Clemmings, OG Tre Jackson, or (somewhat Preston Smith-esque) DE Trey Flowers, any of whom would have given us better value and filled more of a need. As is, I'm left hoping Chris Thompson proves himself ready to handle third downs this off-season. This pick is truly a head-scratcher.

Round 3 Grade: C- 

Round 4

Here we begin to see dividends from the round 4 trade, with the Skins able to select 2 players in the first half of the round.  Round four marks the time when my philosophy switches from getting good players to placing value on players who will either contribute at an undervalued spot (like FB or specialist positions) or hold a more risk and potential reward. I would prefer a 25% chance of a 1st-round-caliber player in the late rounds to an 80% chance at a supremely replaceable career backup, and most of the guys who are likely to be very good players are gone by this point.

Pick 105: Jamison Crowder, WR/KR (5'8, 185)
Pick Grade: C-

Small and lacking amazing speed, Crowder has quick-twitch acceleration and agility that should enable him to return kicks and punts, which is probably what he was drafted to do. I'm okay with that, but I would've preferred a return-man with more upside, or one of the players mentioned in the above Matt Jones write-up, most of whom were still available 10 picks later. I think it's hard to say no to TJ Clemmings or Trey Jackson, who profile as likely day 1 starters on the OL, for a returner that would likely have been available later.

Pick 112: Arie Kouandjio, OG (6'5, 310)
Pick Grade: A

Here's the first pick I really like. We just missed on Tre Jackson, unfortunately, but Kouandjio is a big, strong guard who can pave holes in the run game. His lack of good quickness and sometimes-inconsistent technique hamper him as a pass blocker, but new OL coach Bill Callaghan should be able to mold Kouandjio well and he could definitely be a starter at some point. He might be a bit too much of a project to start this year, but with Scherff manning right tackle, could compete with former third round guards Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long, third round tackle Morgan Moses, and incumbent Chris Chester (if none of the young guys beat him out, it is a major failure) to fill the hole at RG. From a value standpoint, I think this was the team's best pick of the draft, as he easily could have gone in the 3rd round.

Round 4 Grade: B

Round 5

The fifth round saw another trade-back, but unfortunately all the 5th-rounder netted was a 6th and a 6th in next year's draft. An alright move, but I would have liked to see a 7th this year as well or the 2016 pick to be a 5th.

Pick 141: Martrell Spaight, LB (6'0, 236)
Pick Grade: B

There isn't a ton of upside here, but it's a solid pick. Spaight has good instincts and was a tough tackling machine in college who can make his presence felt in the box. That said, while he's stout for his size, he's small for a thumper at 6', 236, and doesn't have the speed or coverage ability to make a positive impact on passing downs. Still, he will play special teams and might contribute on defense, so that's enough to get out of a fifth round pick.

Round 5 Grade: B+

Round 6

Pick 181: Kyshoen Jarrett, S (5'10, 200) 

Pick Grade: B-

Well, he's a safety, he was pretty productive for Virginia Tech, and he's a good athlete. However, he isn't great in coverage and doesn't have the hips to stick with receivers. If you looked at his 4.5 40, 21 reps on the bench press, and a description of his play, you'd think he was an athletic linebacker, but he's much too small. Getting a project at a need position in the 6th round is no problem, but with promising coverage safeties like Cody Prewitt and Derron Smith still on the board, it's still a bit of a frustrating pick. At least early on, he'll be a tough special teamer, which McLoughan seems to be collecting this draft.

Pick 182: Tevin Mitchel, CB (6'0, 190) 

Pick Grade: C

Mitchel was a promising 4-star recruit coming out of high school, but never really blossomed at Arkansas. He has pretty good size and speed, but his play was uneven and he was relegated primarily to the nickel, which is probably his ceiling in the NFL. His father was also a sixth round pick 28 years earlier by the Bucs, but never saw the field. The team reportedly did a lot of work on Mitchel, so hopefully they're right about his upside, but there were a number of corners still around that seem more promising, including Charles Gaines, JaCorey Shepherd, and, most notably, Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, who might have been a first rounder if not for a severe knee injury. I would have been okay with taking IEO as early as the third round (and would've much preferred him to Matt Jones).

Pick 187: Evan Spencer, WR (6'2, 208)
Pick Grade: D+

Big, tough, athletic receiver of whom Jay Gruden raved "When you watch him play, you look at his stats, you’re like, 'Why would they draft him?'” As that quote would indicate, he produced very little for Ohio State, accruing less than 600 yards total in 4 years, but he is a willing blocker and should excel on special teams (notice a trend here?). Word is he's a great character guy and an unselfish teammate, and his brother is a scout for the Redskins. Once again, improving special teams is great, but drafting a guy who didn't even produce in college over potentially significant contributors who could also play ST is just not an efficient use of resources. Happy to have him with the team, but I have a hard time believing he couldn't have been signed as an undrafted free agent, particularly with the family connection.

Round 6 Grade: C+

Round 7

Pick 222: Austin Reiter, C (6'3, 296)
Pick Grade: C+

Reiter was an effective center for USF, though he may not have the potential to ever make an impact in the NFL. Still, the team could use insurance behind Kory Lichtensteiger, so if they think Reiter is a good candidate for that, then fine. I think better picks could have been made, but it's a 7th rounder, so you don't expect much regardless from a non-specialist.

Round 7 Grade:  C+

Final Grade: C

The Redskins added a lot of size and toughness, and got some contributors up top and a number of special teams players in the later rounds. Still, there were some really questionable values throughout, a pervading lack of dynamism or athleticism, and I question whether the team is really in much better standing in the division and league now than they were before draft. Most of the mid-late round picks profile as depth and special teams help, which is something the team needed, but I think such players were consistently selected over guys who could compete to start or play big roles. Yearning for some of those player led me to a harsh initial reaction that I have since softened, but I was still hoping for a more positive takeaway for the team's first 1st round pick in four seasons than "didn't tank things." McCloughan has an impressive pedigree as a talent evaluator and roster-builder, and has watched a lot more tape of these guys than I have to this point, so he could definitely be more correct about these picks than I am (and I hope he is), but personally, I don't really see it. The roster still appears to have most of the same holes it took into the draft and didn't get a huge influx of prodigious talent, so I'm not comfortable calling his first draft in D.C. a win at this point.

No comments:

Post a Comment