First to worst is not a nice narrative to bring into the 2014 offseason for the Washington Redskins, but that narrative can quickly change by how well they handle free agency and the draft. Since the 2014 free agency cycle doesn’t start for a couple of months, we can at least get a good feel for how the Redskins should approach the 2014 NFL draft.
Some positions, regardless of scheme have obvious and blatant signs of a lack of talent and inexperience on the roster. So let’s address some of those immediate concerns in the first two rounds of the Redskins in this 2014 NFL mock draft.
Round 2, Pick 1: Ethan Westbrooks, DE, Winston-Salem
Brian Orakpo is the biggest free agent this offseason, but if the Redskins switch to a 4-3, he will be a risky proposition for a payday. You will never really know how Orakpo will translate as a hand in the dirt rusher and run stopper in a 4-3. As was clear with DeMarcus Ware of the Cowboys, the transition doesn’t suit everyone. Paying Orakpo top flight money to play a position he may not translate to very well is not smart. However, cutting bait and investing that money into other positions like getting a veteran cornerback is a better strategy.
This strategy will call for drafting a defensive end better suited for Orakpo’s position, and I can’t think of any defensive end prospect at this point of the draft that’s better than Ethan Westbrooks. At 6-4, 275 pounds with lightning quickness and a motor that would make J.J. Watt blush, this guy has it all. With his only sin due to playing at West Texas A&M. Westbrooks is an incredible prospect who will likely fall to the second-round with the concerns about level of competition. But watch this guy play and find a reason to not trust your eyeballs.
Round 3, Pick 2: Jordan Zumwalt, LB, UCLA
London Fletcher continues to fight in his late thirties, but his phenomenal career must come to an end at 38 years old. There will be a large void to fill on defense, but Jordan Zumwalt can soften the blow. The 6’3, 235 pound, Bruins star can provide phenomenal athleticism, surefire tackling and leadership skills for the middle linebacker position. Zumwalt is intense, to say the least. He lets his presence known and will make sure you’ve heard about him on the field.
Now there will inevitably be people angry about not addressing the offensive line, or wide receiver, or…however, you only have two picks. Every need won’t be addressed in one draft, but Westbrooks and Zumwalt are the type of dynamic playmakers on defense to start turning things around quickly. To take some of the pressure off the offense having to score on every possession. And there are a lot of late gems later in the draft to be taken.
But I want to hear from you. How do you want the Redskins to approach this draft? Offense? Defense? Or something in between?
James Cobern is a Division Leader and can be contacted at email@example.com or on twitter @Jmcobern1