Washington Redskins Rookies Forecast

By Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell

Solid Starter

Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State – Round 2
I think Smith’s versatility makes him a great fit to emerge as a solid starter for the Redskins. At Mississippi State, Smith was a quality run-defender who also flashed the ability to get after the quarterback. In the Redskins’ defense under Joe Barry, Smith could play a variety of roles and give Barry a chess piece to move around up front.

The 6-foot-5, 271-pound Smith was a base end for the Bulldogs. He has the athleticism to stand up and play rush linebacker in a 3-4 defense, but he also could add weight to play a 3-4 five-technique defensive end if need be. Barry came up as a linebackers coach with Tampa Bay during the Bucs’ glory years under Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, so Barry has experience coaching the Tampa 2. If Barry decides to use Tampa 2 with the Redskins, Smith will be a great fit as a base end.

As a senior, Smith put together an excellent season with nine sacks, two forced fumbles, two interceptions and 48 tackles. He was an underrated player in the 2015 NFL Draft, and with his ability play a variety of techniques up front, I think he will emerge as a quality starter for the Redskins.

Most Likely To Bust

Matt Jones, RB, Florida – Round 3
This was an easy choice for me. I thought that taking Jones in the third round was a huge reach, and he was the only draft pick by the Redskins who I didn’t like. Jones (6-2, 231) is a one-cut downhill runner who has power and physicality to him, but he also is extremely injury prone. He never played an entire season as the starter or lead back for Florida. The Gators planned their offense to be based around Jones the past two years, but that was a mistake as he couldn’t stay on the field. With the NFL’s bigger, stronger, faster defenders who hit harder, I think the durability issues will prevent Jones from panning out.

Jones ran for 817 yards in 2014, which was his best season for the Gators. As sophomore, he had 339 yards before a season-ending knee injury. Jones had other leg tweaks and an appendectomy that caused him to miss time for Florida. He always seemed to be dinged up and dealing with something.

As a runner, Jones doesn’t have great speed or shiftiness either. He won’t be a threat to break off long runs and doesn’t make tacklers miss. Jones runs through them, but it is harder to run through the bigger and stronger tacklers of the NFL.

The Redskins have a starting back in Alfred Morris. Jones won’t be beat out Morris, and if Morris allowed to leave in free agency after this season with Jones taking over as a starter, I think that will be a regrettable decision for Washington. I think there is a real possibility that Jones will be a bust.

Potential Boom Pick

Brandon Scherff, G, Iowa – Round 1
There were a lot of teams that were really high on Scherff and felt that he was the best offensive lineman in the 2015 NFL Draft. Scherff played left tackle for Iowa, but his struggles with speed rushers make him a better fit at guard or right tackle in the NFL. The Redskins were in serious need of an upgrade on the offensive line, and Scherff is a perfect fit in Jay Gruden’s offense.

Scherff is extremely powerful at the point of attack. The 6-foot-5, 319-pounder can drive block defenders and is a true road-grader in the ground game. There were plays where he drove block defenders down the field with only one arm on the defender. Teams also loved his personal make-up. Other teams said that Scherff is great in the locker room, and in general, teams felt that his character was sterling. Across the board, sources felt that Scherff was ready to start right away, which is huge for a Redskins team that had a lots of offensive-line issues in 2014.

Sources with the Redskins also said that 2014 draft picks Spencer Long and Morgan Moses were showing progress behind the scenes last year. If those two pan out on the right side, that could allow Washington to play Scherff at left guard next to Trent Williams and create a dynamic offensive line. In the immediate future, Scherff should start at right guard or right tackle and be an immediate upgrade for the Redskins. I think that Scherff could end up being one of the best guards in the NFL and a boom pick for Washington.

Future Depth Player

Martrell Spaight, LB, Arkansas – Round 5
The Redskins landed a tough run-defender with Spaight. He had a strong 2014 season for Arkansas and led the SEC in tackles. The 6-foot, 236-pounder has good instincts and is physical. He will be a nice project for Barry to work with. In the short term, Spaight should be a good backup inside linebacker in the Redskins 3-4 and also be a core contributor on special teams.

Walt’s 2015 NFL Draft Grades:

5. Brandon Scherff, G/OT, Iowa: C Grade
Wow… with Leonard Williams available? I know Williams was slightly overrated by the media, but he should be the fifth-overall pick. Not a guard. I like Brandon Scherff a lot, and I think he’ll be a solid player for the Redskins, but guards just don’t have the same impact as a dominant defensive lineman. I’m not going to give the Redskins a “Millen,” or anything, because they had to upgrade Robert Griffin’s pass protection. However, spending the fifth-overall selection on a guard just doesn’t seem like a smart idea. If anything, Washington should’ve moved down a couple of spots and snagged Scherff at No. 7 or 8.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

38. Preston Smith, DE/OLB, Mississippi State: B+ Grade
The Redskins lost Brian Orakpo this offseason, so it’s not a big surprise that they added an edge rusher early in the 2015 NFL Draft. They selected Trent Murphy last year, but Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan and now Preston Smith can form a stout rotation. Smith was pretty underrated throughout this entire process. He’s an athletic edge rusher whom I thought had a chance of sneaking into the first round.

95. Matt Jones, RB, Florida: D Grade
The Redskins needed a third-down running back in the wake of Roy Helu’s departure. Matt Jones could fill that role, but the problem with this selection is twofold: First, it’s unwise to select “just” a third-down back this early; there were better running backs available. Second, Jones is a reach. He would’ve made sense in the sixth round, but not here.

105. Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke: B- Grade
No surprise that the Redskins chose a receiver; Pierre Garcon didn’t fit well into Jay Gruden’s offense, so the front office had to address the position. This is slightly early for Jamison Crowder, but I’m not going to argue the pick too much.

112. Arie Kouandjio, G, Alabama: A- Grade
And here’s the other guard who was “expected” to go undrafted because of a bogus medical report. Arie Kouandjio did drop a bit – some teams viewed him as the third-best guard in the class – so I like this pick for the Redskins from a value perspective. Kouandjio also obviously fills a need.

141. Martrell Spaight, LB, Arkansas: B Grade
The Redskins know they have issues in the secondary, right? I’m concerned for them that they haven’t addressed either position there yet, but Martrell Spaight is a solid choice. He could have gone in the fourth. He’ll contribute on special teams to begin his career and will eventually fight for playing time on defense.

181. Kyshoen Jarrett, S, Virginia Tech: C Grade
The Redskins finally addressed their secondary, but they added a player who struggles to cover. Figures. Kyshoen Jarrett is a quality tackler and should be able to thrive on special teams, but he’ll be a liability against the pass.

182. Tevin Mitchel, CB, Arkansas: C- Grade
Tevin Mitchel’s upside is becoming a nickel corner for the Redskins, but I’m not sure if he’ll make the final roster. I didn’t have him as a draftable prospect.

187. Evan Spencer, WR, Ohio State: C- Grade
I didn’t think Evan Spencer was a draftable player. He didn’t produce much at Ohio State, so he looked like a clear UDFA. He was not in my top 400, so I don’t like this pick.

222. Austin Reiter, C, South Florida: C+ Grade
I didn’t have Austin Reiter as a drafted prospect, but he was on the cusp. He’s an athletic lineman who will have a chance to make Washington’s final roster.

2015 NFL Draft Team Grade: C . Follow Walter @walterfootball for updates.

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