ESPN’s McShay ponders the Redskins’ draft
The Senior Bowl is going on down in Mobile, Ala., this week, which has thrust the NFL Draft hype machine into overdrive. Personally, I love this stuff, so hopefully we can have some fun in the coming months dissecting what promises to be an intriguing first draft for the Redskins’ new decision makers.
Washington has the fourth- and 37th-overall picks and more needs than those picks could satisfy. The preeminent debate, of course, is whether they will draft an offensive lineman or quarterback with their first-round pick.
Todd McShay, the director of college football scouting for ESPN Scouts Inc., offered some of his thoughts on the matter this evening. In a teleconference, he backed off his Jan. 4 prediction that Washington would draft Oklahoma QB Sam Bradford in the first round. While many pundits have projected Bradford to the Redskins in their early mock drafts, McShay changed his outlook.
"Washington seems like the best fit [for Bradford] at No. 4, but something tells me they’re going to wind up going in a different position," he said. "They can’t afford with that first pick of the new regime to make a mistake, and Bradford has enough red flags that they may pass."
Bradford, you’ll recall, decided to stay at Oklahoma for his redshirt junior season and suffered a season-ending right (throwing) shoulder injury that required surgery. Some believed the former Heisman Trophy winner would have been the best QB in last year’s draft. He went back to school, though, and the misfortune he encountered appears to have damaged his draft stock.
He won’t throw at the NFL scouting combine next month, although he will attend it to meet with teams and go through some of the medical tests. He will wait until Oklahoma’s pro day to actually throw for scouts.
With that in mind, McShay acknowledged a sizeable risk-reward to drafting Bradford.
"It’s going to be an interesting decision for a team to make," McShay said. "I really like Sam Bradford. I think he has everything you look for in a quarterback that you need at the next level, from the intelligence to the competitiveness, the leadership and the accuracy. Those are the most important traits, and he has them.
"But he also played in an offense that was wide open, that doesn’t translate that well to the NFL game. He was always well protected and had HUGE passing windows to throw into. And he’s coming off an injury and didn’t really play much this year. There are a few tough questions that are going to have to be answered in the war room. And if you miss on him, as we’ve seen, it can set you back five, six, seven years as an organization. I do think he’ll be the first quarterback taken. I think he should be. But it’s going to be a real interesting debate as we get closer to April."
That sums up the debate quite nicely, without noting how badly Washington needs an influx of talent on the offensive line. If the Redskins don’t take Bradford, they’ll likely have their pick of offensive linemen. Asked which tackle new coach Mike Shanahan would want at No. 4, McShay ventured away from Oklahoma St. LT Russell Okung, who many believe is the top tackle in this draft class, and offered up Rutgers junior OT Anthony Davis.
"Shanahan might like an Anthony Davis a little bit more when you look at just the athleticism," McShay said. "It’s a deep class of tackles, but it’s interesting because each one of the "elite first-rounders" has something you point to that you’re not wild about.
"I don’t think Trent Williams at Oklahoma played real well this year. He was dinged up and moved from right to left tackle. Okung, he’s physical at times but not always. And then with Davis, there are some questions, I guess, maturity and injuries, some different things. But I think Davis would fit with what they’re looking to do a little bit more in terms of the athleticism and getting out and moving. I think we’re going to see Anthony Davis really move up the board. I don’t want to say it’s a lock, but I think there’s a really good chance he’s a top 10 pick."
If the Redskins ultimately decide to draft Bradford with their first pick, their extensive needs on the offensive line demand they take a lineman at No. 37. This draft class is a fairly deep one for offensive linemen, and McShay believes there could be some quality players available when Washington goes back on the clock early in the second round.
He specifically mentioned USC OT Charles Brown and UMass OT Vlad Ducasse.
"[Brown] didn’t have the best season this year, but he certainly shows enough footwork and enough quickness that he’s got to get stronger and more physical at the point of attack. I think he’ll be an early second-round pick. And I think he would fit well in terms of what they want to do offensively in moving around and athletic offensive lineman.
"I think Ducasse, the offensive tackle from UMass, he struggled this week [in Senior Bowl practices]. I was a little bit surprised. He’s Haitian-born, and English is his second language. He played at the FCS level. So I think a lot was working against him in terms of the leap he had to make this week in the coaching and understanding everything. But physically, I do think he has the tools to become a starter down the road. It wouldn’t surprise me if he’s a second-round pick."
So there you have one man’s opinion out of a supply that promises to flow steadily until the draft on April 22-24. Good stuff, for sure.
Now I’m interested in hearing your take. Should the Redskins take Bradford at No. 4? Or should they draft an offensive lineman? Don’t hesitate to drop some names, either. Shoot me an email, post a comment or get at me on Twitter @Rich_Campbell.