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2014 NFL Draft primer: Washington Redskins

Alabama offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio runs a drill

Alabama offensive lineman Cyrus Kouandjio runs a drill at the NFL football scouting combine in Indianapolis, Saturday, Feb. 22, 2014. Credit: AP / Michael Conroy

This is the penultimate primer in our NFL Draft two-a-days that looks at each team and which potential first-round picks would be a good fit. The draft begins at 8 p.m. Thursday.


2013 record: 3-13

Key offseason acquisitions: WR DeSean Jackson, DT Jason Hatcher, CB Tracy Porter, G Shaun Lauvao, WR Andre Roberts, FS Ryan Clark.

Key offseason departures: TE Fred Davis, CB Josh Wilson.

Biggest holes: Offensive line, safety, defensive line, cornerback, linebacker.

Washington is still paying for the trade up for Robert Griffin III in 2012, which is why the Redskins don't have the second overall pick in this year's draft. That means they'll miss out on a potential franchise player such as Greg Robinson or Sammy Watkins in the first round, but they still can add a quality player at the top of round two.

The Redskins can start by beefing up their offensive line. Under Mike Shanahan, they ran a zone-blocking scheme that called for smaller, quicker linemen. New head coach Jay Gruden used bigger linemen in Cincinnati, so look for him to add a girthy run blocker - most likely a right tackle - at No. 34.

Alabama's Cyrus Kouandjio fits the description pretty well and should be available. Kouandjio checks in at 6-7, 322 pounds and is projected as a power right tackle due to his ability to open holes in the running game, though he's also able to protect a quarterback's blind side. He's still raw technique-wise but has high upside. However, his stock has tumbled since the end of the college football season. He had a very bad showing in the Sugar Bowl, giving up three sacks to Oklahoma sophomore edge rusher Eric Striker. He then struggled mightily at the Combine, and then immediately after the Combine it was reported that teams had major questions about his surgically repaired left knee.

They also could eye Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James. James wasn't the most talked-about player on the Volunteers' line - that distinction went to Antonio "Tiny" Richardson - but that's because James was much more consistent. James is 6-6, 311 pounds and started all 49 career games for Tennessee, including 37 straight at right tackle. He's a balanced blocker who can help in both the running game and in pass protection. He's more fundamentally sound than Kouandjio and would be a good plug-and-play option.

Virginia's Morgan Moses could slip this far as well. Like Kouandjio and James, he has good size at 6-6, 314 pounds. He's a wall in pass protection thanks to his great base and anchor. However, he still needs some work as a run blocker and is better suited for the left side in the pros, where the Redskins start Trent Williams.

The Redskins signed free safety Ryan Clark to a one-year deal, but he is 34 years old and nothing more than a one-year stop-gap. So it wouldn't be surprising if they took someone to pair with Brandon Meriweather, who played well in the box last year before becoming more of a single-high safety toward the end of the season.

There likely won't be too many rangy centerfielder types available at this point, but it's possible that Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward could be the guy if he slips past everyone in the first round. Ward is a versatile defender who can play nickel cornerback, in the box or in centerfield. He has very good ball skills and is aggressive in whatever role he's asked to play.

The Redskins also need to continue bolstering their defensive line after signing ex-Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher. They currently have Hatcher slotted at right end and ex-Giant Barry Cofield at nose tackle, but could use a left end to complete their 3-4 look. Minnesota's Ra'Shede Hageman played mostly defensive tackle in college, but he's versatile enough to swing out to five-technique. He has great size at 6-6 and 310 pounds and had good measurables at the Combine: 32 reps on the bench press and 34 1/4-inch arm length. He's explosive and can use his pure athleticism to get into the backfield. However, he isn't quite NFL-ready, and too often he'll run cold on film and become a non-factor just moments after making a "wow" play.

Possible options in the third round and beyond include Lindenwood CB Pierre Desir, Nebraska CB Stanley Jean-Baptiste, Wisconsin ILB Chris Borland, Stanford ILB Shayne Skov, Michigan OT Michael Schofield, McGill OT Laurent Duvernay-Tardif, Virginia DT Brent Urban and Oregon DE Taylor Hart.


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