The Redskins Haul
by Chris Russell
May 12, 2014 -- 7:16pm

The Redskins 2014 draft class is an interesting one, to say the least. They started with six picks and wound up with eight selections after trading the # 34 pick to the Dallas Cowboys...The Redskins switched spots in the 2nd round with Dallas and picked up an extra third round pick in the process.

Washington also traded in the sixth round with Tennessee to pick up an extra seventh round selection while moving back in the sixth.  The Redskins wisely chose trade partners that did not make the playoffs last year, so they didn't have to move down terribly far while accumulating extra picks.

They went from # 34 overall to # 47 overall in the second round, while picking up the Cowboys # 78 overall selection in the third round.

On Saturday, Bruce Allen swung another deal. This time with the Tennessee Titans as the Redskins picked up an extra seventh round selection while moving from # 178 to #186 in the sixth round. The Redskins picks up the Titans # 228 overall pick an selected Zach Hocker from Arkansas, which made me happy for reasons that are hard to explain.

Overall, to go from six to eight picks and to increase your chances of finding a cheap, controllable diamond in the rough prospect is always a plan I would be in favor of.

So how did they do?

Best Pick: Trent Murphy - OLB - Stanford

Most pundits are slamming this selection, which means it will likely turn out to be the Redskins best choice three years down the road. The notion that Trent Murphy is never going to start is quite ridiculous. Murphy might lack the "explosion" as Redskins Head Coach Jay Gruden noted correctly on Friday night, but he is a much better all-around player than Jeremiah Attaochu, who the Redskins also had some interest in. Because Marcus Smith went off the board slightly earlier than expected to division rival Philadelphia and because the Redskins were in need of adding draft picks - Bruce Allen and Gruden had to choose the best overall scenario.

Reach for a pass rusher at 34, which is exactly what the Cowboys did with Demarcus Lawrence or take an offensive lineman that was projected (and I agree) to be a starter for a long time at a few positions. Or they could do what they did by trading down and picking up an extra pick in the 3rd round and hoping that they were right and the Cowboys were wrong on Lawrence.

I think they made the right decision. Murphy has a variety of pass rushing moves and can line up in multiple places. He's better standing up and moving around. When you don't have that natural first step burst, you better be able to do something and Murphy does that well.

He also drops well into coverage in the games that I've seen him. I wrote about his performance and my evaluation of him in Stanford's Rose Bowl Game against Michigan State & the other pass rushers that were in contention for the Redskins. 

On Monday afternoon, I asked ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. for his thoughts on why it seemed like Murphy's selection was getting knocked & if he saw a versatile player. "I like Trent. I had him on the Top 25 big board (earlier this year). I thought he went where he should have gone," Kiper said via tele-conference.

"He has size, ability to bat down passes, he moves better than you think. He plays with an enthusiasm, but knows how to play the game," Kiper said. "He had a really good career."

Worst Pick - Ryan Grant - WR - Tulane - I struggle to say this is the Redskins worst pick, but the reason why I put it there is because of the amount of wide receivers they have that have a legitimate chance to make the team. For right now, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson, Nick Williams and Cody Hoffman are are all on the current roster. The Redskins released David Gettis on Monday.

Clearly, not everyone will make it because of performance or injury, but nine receivers including Grant will have to be pared down to probably no more than six. It means you have good competition, but they can go very slow with Hankerson or even possibly trade Robinson or the former Miami Hurricane who is coming off a ACL injury. Did anybody say Cleveland??

Grant was somewhat inconsistent during Senior Bowl week, but according to John Harris of TheSidelineView.com, "he snatched the ball out of the air, caught the ball away from his body," Harris wrote.  "He beat DB's (defensive backs) down field and can get open."

I noticed that Grant had some nice routes and a perfect skill set (outside of size) to be a good red zone threat.

Rotoworld.com wrote that Grant was good at finding  "soft areas in coverage and his first step off the line is difficult to slow down. Grant also understands stemming his opposition, forcing them to flip their hips which allows for the receiver to break off his route."

When I was able to watch the one game tape posted on DraftBreakdown.com, I noticed a consistently good effort from Grant in blocking downfield. He seems physical and feisty. In this game vs. Louisiana Lafayette in the New Orleans bowl, Grant ran a lot of similar routes. Often he was from the inside slot and worked underneath hook and comeback routes. Grant did go long a couple of times and made a few nice catches, one a leaping, twisting catch on an out-and-up.

I also saw Grant used as the throwing option in a pitch reverse option play. He took the ball and heaved it 35 plus yards in the air. Ultimately, the ball was intercepted but should have been called for a defensive pass interference penalty.

One thing that jumped out to me was how Grant caught the ball. He attacked the football, with his hands and away from his face or body. I asked Jay Gruden if he saw the same thing about Grant on Saturday night, "He’s great hands catcher. He’s a good route runner. He can play inside and outside. We’re surprised that he was there," Gruden told reporters.

"We had a little bit higher of a grade on him, obviously, and he was sitting there and we took him."

Value Pick - Bashaud Breeland - CB - Clemson: Breeland entered the draft as a junior eligible. It's believed that the Redskins got a first round talent in next year's draft at a fourth round price tag. Bottom-line is he can play corner or safety, inside or outside and has pretty good size at just under six feet.

Jay Gruden mentioned on Saturday night that Clemson coaches thought he would be a borderline first round pick next year and Mike Mayock of NFL Network mostly concurred according to Gruden, who added "we are very excited about that pick up, not only for special teams but we feel like he’s a technician at corner," Gruden told reporters.  

The knock against Breeland? Speed. "We knocked him down to our rounds because he probably didn’t run the greatest 40 time at combine, but he’s a heck of a football player and I like guys that are physical tackling machines and that’s what he is.” In some ways, he reminded me of a bigger Captain Munnerlyn from the Panthers, but I am terrible at projections and NFL comparables.

Scouting Analyst Josh Liskiewitz from GM JR and RussLande.com told ESPN 980  Breeland was "in my top 15 overall - could be a big time press corner, also instantly improves the run defense. He could even play some safety."

Surprise Pick - Zach Hocker - PK - Arkansas - Sure Kai Forbath finished strong in the field goal department last year, but his first half was a disaster and Ben Kotwicka and Jay Gruden have every right to at least have some level of doubt.

Forbath was (18-22) with two blocks last year. If memory serves, Mike Shanahan faulted Forbath for the two blocks for a low trajectory. Forbath did not miss a field goal after the Redskins last win of the year on November 3rd. However in a touchback driven league, Forbath had 41-of-57 kickoffs returned.

Did the Redskins need to use a draft pick on Hocker? No. However, they clearly identified him as somebody they wanted and instead of battling with 31 other teams, they secured his services until at least early September.

It doesn't make much sense on the surface, but if you dig a little deeper - I think this will be a very interesting training camp battle.

Last thought for now: Mel Kiper Jr. on an ESPN conference call Monday afternoon. "I thought (3rd round pick, Spencer) Long was a reach..I'm not as big on (3rd round pick, Morgan) Moses as others are."


Chris Russell - SFTheRooster@Yahoo.com - www.twitter.com/russellmania980



Return to: Chris Russell Blog



INSIDE ESPN 980