2. Trent Murpy, OLB Stanford
3. Morgan Moses, OT Virginia
3. Spencer Long, G Nebraska
4. Bashaud Breeland, CB Clemson
5. Ryan Grant, WR Tulane
6. Lache Seastrunk, RB Baylor
7. Ted Bolser, TE Indiana
7. Zach Hocker, K Arkansas
The Washington Redskins came into the 2014 NFL Draft still paying off the deal for Robert Griffin III. To their credit, they made good use of their picks and were able to get some good value at some big needs. First year head coach Jay Gruden may have found himself with a substantially improved roster that could get a nice amount of immediate impact despite not having a first round pick. Overall, Washington let the board fall to them and were able to work their board effectively.
The first pick Washington made was picking Trent Murphy in the second round. As much as pick lacked sizzle, it had a good amount of reasoning behind it. So many are so down on Murphy as a player but he plays with a nonstop motor and just seems to will production. Personally, I like him more as a defensive end than an outside linebacker, but he has a good amount of burst. With additional strength in his legs, he can get improve a great deal.
Brian Orakpo has been a big player when he has been healthy, but he never gets slightly hurt. He tends to get major injuries, which was a concern coming out of college. They also may not want to pay a ton of money to keep him next season or going into the future. Should he get injured, Murphy is there to play opposite of Ryan Kerrigan. If he stays healthy, they have a talented three man rotation that can keep up the pressure.
If Murphy shows promise and Orakpo is adamant about getting a huge contract, Washington is in position to be financially responsible (for once) and let Orakpo walk. If not, they can go ahead and keep him and just keep that trio together for several years. In terms of attitude, work ethic and motor, Kerrigan and Murphy are eerily similar could wear opponents down over the course of a game. If anyone lets up on either one of them, they could capitalize in a big way. Personally, I graded Murphy as a second round pick, so the value was fine for me, but there were plenty of people that were much tougher on Murphy and thought it was a reach.
The next two picks for Washington were really smart. They took Morgan Moses in round three. There were some projecting Moses in the first round. Washington ended his fall in the third round and may have an immediate starter for their right tackle spot. Moses is big and strong, able to work really well in a phone booth and near the line of scrimmage. He can have some trouble when he gets pulled away from the line and isolated in space, but overall, he does a good job.
Not only is Moses an investment in protecting Griffin, but he also gives them an upgrade in the running game. Moses is a powerful player that can get push and create running lanes for them. He will have to beat out Tyler Polumbus for the job, but if he can do it, Polumbus’s days in Washington could be over.
Still in the third round, they picked up Spencer Long. Much like Moses, Long is a big, strong guy that can operate in a phone booth and gives them push in the running game. The light, athletic zone blocking style is done in Washington. They want big, beefy linemen similar to what Gruden had with the Cincinnati Bengals.
Long will have to compete with Chris Chester to play right guard, but if he can do it, Washington could have two young, talented blockers on the right side and combined with the free agent signing of Shawn Lauvao, the offensive line performs a philosophical 180. Lauvao was not retained in Cleveland, because they wanted to go with purer zone guys and he did not fit that style.
In round four, Washington picked up another player that fell down the draft board a little bit in Basheed Breeland. Still raw, Breeland has shown promise and has great physical tools to be developed. Gruden stepped into a situation with a few defensive backs that could play corner or safety such as David Amerson. Depending on how fast Breeland is able to develop, he could force someone to switch positions or play more than one spot depending on the situation.
For instance, they have Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather as their possible starting safety duo. In a situation where they want more in terms of coverage, they could move Amerson to free safety and put Breeland in at corner to give them a nice combination of size and more potential for causing turnovers.
The other thing Breeland brings is a willing attitude when it comes to defending the run. He has the size and mindset to get downhill and fill against the run, so he could end up projecting to be their strong side corner long term. So much depends on how fast he can pick up the scheme and continue to develop as a player, but Breeland could be a player that helps them now but has significant upside going forward.
Washington opted to dip into the talented wide receiver class in round five when they picked up Ryan Grant. After getting some notice from his early invitation to the Reese’s Senior Bowl, Grant became somewhat of a forgotten man in the draft process. Grant can catch the football and has many of the traits Washington seems to like in their receivers. The one thing Grant lacks is timed speed. He accelerates well, so he can end up playing faster than he times, but his speed is relatively average. Grant can be someone that can compete for one of the depth receiver spots on the roster.
I really like the Lache Seastrunk pick. He is one of the most natural pure runners in the draft with a ton of physical talent. The likely reason he fell as far as he did is over concerns that he lacks third down viability. At Baylor, he only had ten catches in his career and the Bears just did not throw the ball to their running backs; any of them. Seastrunk’s blocking may have been a similar concern for some. If that is the case, it makes it difficult to take him early because they have a difficult time using them.
Seastrunk’s running style is incredibly chaotic. He will take sharp cuts and gamble with the ball in his hands, sometimes running backwards to try to get a bigger gain. His cuts can be so unpredictable, he can confuse his linemen. Nevertheless, that chaotic element can also be incredibly difficult for opponents to defend. There is a double edged sword quality to Seastrunk in that respect.
For a team like Washington that has a back they like in Alfred Morris, the rest of the group is really average. Seastrunk’s outstanding athleticism and strength could allow him to climb the ladder quickly and become the primary change of pace back to Morris. That would give them two extremely different looks and could cause some headaches for opponents. This could end up being a steal.
The pick of Zach Hocker was interesting, because they had a pretty solid kicker in Kai Forbath last year. Whether this is purely a competition thing or if they like Hocker’s leg either to replace or supplement what Forbath does, these two will be going back and forth in camp. Forbath has been a pretty accurate kicker, but he is not someone that has a huge leg and he wore down a little bit as the weather got worse.
Overall, Washington did far better than some might have expected given the fact they were without a first round pick and had a first year head coach in charge. After taking a pass rusher, the rest of their draft seemed to be aimed at helping Griffin stay upright and attacking a weakness in the team’s secondary. They hit needs but they did a great job in getting value at the same time. With Hocker being one of the, Washington could end up getting impact this year from six players. If this draft can be beneficial to them, Washington might be positioned to be a far more competitive team and next year, they will have their full complement of draft picks to use.