Skip to content

Need to Know: Five possible Redskins first-round draft targets

Jan 22, 2016, 5:58 AM EDT

Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015  Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports Dec 31, 2015; Arlington, TX, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide linebacker Reggie Ragland (19) during the game against the Michigan State Spartans in the 2015 Cotton Bowl at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 22, 33 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five possible Redskins first-round draft targets

As I noted here yesterday, it’s too early to go in depth into the draft. But it’s not to early to peruse some prospect rankings and mock drafts and talk about some players the Redskins would consider with pick No. 21. So let’s do that.

Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama—A versatile player can play inside in a 3-4 or (should the Redskins decide to change schemes at some point) in the middle in the 4-3. The inside linebacker spot isn’t one of terrible weakness for the Redskins but they lack an impact player there. Ragland could quickly develop into that guy.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State—Could he be the dynamic, all-around back that the Redskins are looking for? You never know but he has all the tools. Will Scot McCloughan view his comments ripping the play calling after the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan as indicative of a “me-first” attitude or as a sign of passion for the game? That could determine whether or not he will consider him.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss—The Redskins need a big, productive receiver and Treadwell could be the guy. What he makes up in terms of raw speed he compensates for with smooth route running and a great ability to use his body to wall off defenders. The medical reports on the broken leg and dislocated ankle he suffered in a game on November 1, 2014 will be important. McCloughan would have strongly considered Amari Cooper if he had been there at No. 5 last year so there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t look at a receiver at No. 21.

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson—Alexander has been linked to the Redskins in a few prominent mock drafts even though at 5-10, 195 he is a bit smaller than the Legion of Boom sized corners that McCloughan is said to prefer. But toughness and athleticism could move him up a few notches in the GM’s eyes.

Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville—Jason Hatcher could be gone, either through retirement or as a cap casualty. Rankins could take his spot and offer better run stopping ability and, after he has some time to develop it, strong pass rushing skills. The line needs a major injection of youth and Rankins, who will turn 22 a few weeks before draft day, could be the guy to provide it.


—The Redskins last played a game 12 days ago. It will be about 233 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 33; NFL free agency starts 47; 2016 NFL draft 97

In case you missed it

  1. troylok - Jan 22, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    McGloughin chose to fill holes on the defensive line through free agency last year so I don’t expect a first round pick to be expended there. I can’t see them going with offense in the first round unless a quality center is available. My bet is the number one pick will be a linebacker or a safety. Since there are no safeties in that slot, I think Ragland might be a good choice.

    The thing about play at inside linebacker is we don’t know what we are missing. The current group of guys are solid but not flashy. You do have to wonder that if we can plug in a guy like Foster and he can be successful, what could a blue chip player do at that spot? I’d like to find out.

    • Lex - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:42 AM

      No safties worth taking in rd 1 well take a OL or DL. Were thin at CB so if a top tier cb is on the board like mackenzie alexander or white from lsu well take them.

      • troylok - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:18 AM

        I think Alexander is a great cornerback but what the Redskins need is safety help. I think the trend in the league is for bigger corners and I would pass. Could you imagine Alexander covering big receivers in our division like Dez Bryant, Riley Cooper or Jordan Matthews? If Apple was available, I’d pull the trigger. There’s not going to be a center drafted in the first round and that is the only OL position I would consider worth a first rounder.

        • robert herrera - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:25 PM

          Two great safeties are available in the middle rounds. Jeremy cash and Karl Joseph who is a hard hitting safety. Check out their profiles.

    • sidepull - Jan 22, 2016 at 2:40 PM

      Yu saw last year Scot load up on the D so by the time draft day rolled around he was comfortable enough to draft the BS even though the DT was sitting there. I mean no Leonard Williams, no Danny Shelton, he took Brandon and that was that. He needed to upgrade the O line. So I guess it will depend on what players he signs in FA before we have any real indication on who they may draft and who actually may be available at 21, provided they stay there.
      I think we will get a surprise player this year that is already on the team, somebody who will step up like Moses did and help solidify a much needed spot. Man I would like to see that TE we got from the Bills work out, or Reiter the late round C, I am hoping Galette can go. But after the smoke clears, and all is said and done, I want to see a real Center on this team.

      • Todd - Jan 23, 2016 at 1:51 AM

        I’d like to see Niles Paul return to the former he was at capably replacing Reed who was recovering from his concussion. Would give us the top TE tandem in the league and would give defensive coordinators nightmares about matchups.

  2. ericstylezz - Jan 22, 2016 at 8:01 AM

    I’ve had enough of the 3-4 experiment, all it seems to do is determine the type of players we have to draft but we never really dominate. Knighton isn’t gonna get any better and then we’ll have to find another dominant NT, I’m just like what’s the point

    • skinsgame - Jan 22, 2016 at 8:27 AM

      The 3-4 is fine, situationally. It’s never really worked out in Washington and I’d be glad to see them go back to the 4-3.

      • bigblackanvil - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:09 AM

        We were a perennial top 10 defense with the 4-3 scheme. why we switched is still a mystery.

        • troylok - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:21 AM

          I remember at the time it was said that it is easier to find players for the 3-4. The philosophy was that there are a lot of “tweeners” coming out of college that are too big for linebacker in a 4-3 and too small to play defensive end in a 4-3, so those guys could be scooped up to play OLB in a 3-4 defense. Frankly, I think that might be true with OLB’s, but then you end up having to give up the farm for a NT, which is a far rarer commodity than a 4-3 defensive tackle.

          What Barry employs throws a lot of 4-3 elements into it. I see an OLB on the line of scrimmage with his hand in the dirt a lot of times which for all intents and purposes makes him a defensive end. I look at what Pittsburgh does as a true 3-4 defense and we don’t run that.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:23 AM

          Well stated Troy! That’s exactly how I recall the need for the switch to 3-4. You are dead on about the challenge with 3-4 in finding an elite NT. The pendulum in college has since changed. Many teams switched defensive schemes so now most defenses are 4-3 and the best talent in recent years on the line have been at defense end/tackle (less edge rusher talent at OLB). So a move back to a 4-3 is possible and Barry has a defense that could make that shift less painful.

        • ET - Jan 22, 2016 at 2:40 PM

          I get the frustration with the 3-4, but if Barry is already running a hybridized 3-4 / 4-3, does it make sense to move back to 4-3?

          (I don’t have an answer myself—I’m uncertain about it.)

        • sidepull - Jan 22, 2016 at 2:47 PM

          I thought it really stunk when they converted. If it works don’t fix it. Trying, it looked like, to replicate the Pittsburgh Steelers but without ever having a real NT to anchor. They have tried to run it wout a NT and has always been a point of contention. Orakpo with his hand in the dirt may have been better fit for the Redskins.

        • bangkokben - Jan 22, 2016 at 4:03 PM

          The move to the 3-4 was because it was tougher to run against – especially the zone scheme Shanahan used – and it was going to create more turnovers – which the top ten defenses of the Redskins (in yards) struggled to do. Until this year, it was pretty good against the run but never really helped in the turnover department except for the 2012 playoff season. Turnovers improved this year but the run defense suffered. Change of a two-gap to a one-gap schemer, personnel, or both?

        • Trey Gregory - Jan 22, 2016 at 6:08 PM

          I personally love the 1 gap 3-4 over the 2 gap. However, it does make sense that run defense would be affected. More of a focus on getting sacks than clogging running lanes.

          Also, you don’t need stud personnel to just clog a hole and basically hug two offensive linemen. If you’re going to 1 gap, you need to have some decent and athletic linemen to get in the backfield. So there could be some growing pains while we find all the right guys. I know I’m over simplifying all this, just saying it makes sense.

          Now, I can’t really figure out how changing from a two gap to one gap would affect turnovers all that much; unless we’re talking strip sacks. But I guess more pressure on the QB from the interior would cause him to get rid of the ball quicker and make him throw some more pics. But only if you’re getting that pressure.

    • Trey Gregory - Jan 22, 2016 at 1:59 PM

      I have no problem with the 3-4. There are ther teams who employ it just fine, with great results (Denver comes to mind). Saying it has never worked in Washington or that we had a top10 defense every year until we switched is kind of irrelevant. Different players, different coaches, basically a different team. There isn’t some sort of magical “only 4-3 defensive schemes will work” looming over FedEx field. There are also teams that play 4-3 and aren’t very good. The team in general has been bad. Look at the roster, that’s why the defense hasn’t been good.

      Also, as you guys know, so many teams are doing this hybrid scheme now. There aren’t as many true 4-3 or 3-4 teams as there once was.

      I just look at our talent at OLB, the contract Kerrigan has and the probable contract Galette is going to get. I don’t know that they can play DE at the same level. It would be kind of hard to hit reset on all of that.

      Also, am I wrong? I thought another big reason for the switch to 3-4 was because the league was transitiong away from the run into more of a passing league. So put an extra linebacker (or two) in coverage with the 3-4 scheme.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 22, 2016 at 8:12 AM

    Assuming his medical is acceptable to teams, Treadwell will most likely be gone before we pick.

    Michael Thomas from OSU is a big WR who might still be there.

    • Mr.moneylover - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:46 AM

      Don’t like that pick either he’s just another Ryan grant to me…WR josh docton from TCU is a way better pick he can catch short passes and big a big deep threat…he injured his wrist but expected to be ready to go at the combine

      • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 22, 2016 at 12:29 PM

        Nah, Ryan Grant was a 5th round pick. Good hands, good route-runner, the questions on him were intensity and physicality.

        Michael Thomas is 3 inches taller, and has shown his intensity and physicality with his play in big college football. (E.g., against Trae Waynes, a Vikings 1st round pick (11 overall) last year.

        P.S. I’m not going overboard on the concept that we need to draft a WR, or Michael Thomas in particular.

        It’s just there’s a better chance he’ll be around when we pick, and he’s almost sure to be a 1st-rounder.

  4. austrianhttrfan - Jan 22, 2016 at 8:31 AM

    I think WR might be a very possible pick…as Jackson and Garcon enter their final year of their contract one of them will be for sure gone, so having elite raw talent at that position in the back will be crucial.

    I still think D-line is the most important need, especially now with Hatcher probably gone, Jean was brought here with the intention of being a good back up to come in, he is not a good full time starter, so they need some people there now, because Scott will not again invest to much money into the D-line I guess!

  5. garg8050 - Jan 22, 2016 at 8:49 AM

    Too many needs on defense to go RB with the 1st round pick. If there’s a stud big WR available, then maybe. Otherwise best defensive player available…

  6. smotion55 - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:13 AM

    I like 4 of those guys, but not the corner that early. Way to many in the draft to pick early. I still think Dunbar is going to be a real good 1. DL has several good early that would upgrade fairly quickly.

  7. renhoekk2 - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:25 AM

    Not sure I like the idea of going WR or RB in the first round. WR in the 20-32 range are not “Can’t miss prospects”. The three that were drafted 20th or later last season none of them had an impact for their team. Agholor for PHI had 23 receptions 283 yds and 1 TD. Perriman for BAL ended up on IR before the season and Dorsett for IND had 18 rec 225 yds and 1 TD. No thanks. With the defense far from being even good, and the running game a work in progress, the offense can’t afford that kind of hit in production from the passing game. If they want to get rid of Garcon then I’d rather they go sign R Randle from the NYG. If they want to move on from DJax then go get T Benjamin from the CLE. Both are young and have proven they can produce at the NFL level. As far as RB you can find a good one later in the draft. First two rounds have to be defense. That is the weak link of the team.

    • Bryan - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:01 AM

      Don’t get rid of garçon for Randell. He is average at best and has bun knees. Garçon is the one I’d keep. He does all the dirty work. The way we use Jackson he is a one trick pony, but I’d keep both and draft defense and then 1st round we next year if need be.

      • renhoekk2 - Jan 22, 2016 at 11:09 AM

        I was not saying to get rid of anyone, rather if they plan on doing it, there are young guys in FA that have proven NFL production. Marvin Jones is another young WR that is available instead of Randle. The passing offense is what carried the team last season. It wasn’t the running game or defense. Until they fix those two areas they can’t really afford to take a step back in the passing game. That’s my concern. That”s why I don’t want to replace Garcon or Jackson with guys that are unproven.

  8. Mr.moneylover - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:36 AM

    Three of your choices are likely to go way before redskins pick…the kid Alexander mackensie or WR josh docston from TCU will be their around the 21 pick

  9. Mr.moneylover - Jan 22, 2016 at 9:41 AM

    I don’t see scot m. Picking a RB with the 1st pick…its never been his style he will bring in a undrafted RB or a late round RB …Im really thinking we gonna choose a DL…its to clear of a picture like last year when we needed a OL…I really like the kid antwun woods… Idk what round he’s expected to go in but if he’s their when we pick…the redskins should definitely pick him he’s a beast

    • reedo3000 - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:30 AM

      Antwaun Woods is the #8 NT prospect this season, and seen as a 4-6 rd talent, so he very well could be. You need to take a much harder look at Treadwell, he is no Ryan Grant. Having gone to Tulane, I love Ryan Grant, but he is just a guy. Treadwell is legit, and much better than Doctson, who will probably be there in the 2nd or possibly 3rd. He is the type of possession receiver we need, especially if we part ways with Pierre. Not saying I want that to happen mind you, I think we take the best player on the board or trade back. Of these names I like Ragland the best.

  10. captblood3000 - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:03 AM

    Draft the Best Player Available. Assuming the Redskins resign Gallette and resign or franchise Cousins, the Redskins have a plan A for four of the most important positions on the field: LT, QB and rush linebackers. McCloughan and company should have no temptation to reach at these positions. Cornerback seems to be the only position where they might reach.

  11. vtsquirm - Jan 22, 2016 at 10:40 AM

    Need to go D Line, Knighton and Hatcher could both be gone… really any impact defensive player would be helpful with the 1st pick. Best available on defense?

  12. rtcwon - Jan 22, 2016 at 12:57 PM

    I don’t spend any time on college players other than watching a few games a year for entertainment only. To me, the disparity in level of talent is so great, nothing prior to NFL pre-seasons can be used for evaluation.

    So the only time I invest in the draft is merely debating the two strategies of BPA and Draft by Positions of (perceived) Need. My choices, not going to force them on you. Just food for thought.

    I hope GM actually employs BPA this year.

    To make all you Draft by Position guys happy, seems like BPA at 21 will be DL or CB. So we all can happy?

  13. abanig - Jan 22, 2016 at 3:28 PM

    Sua Cravens could be his choice. He could play ILB like Deon Buchanon does got the cards or they could see him as a Kam Chancellor type.

    Other guys who could be the choice:

    Jayron Kearse, SS Clemson
    Jaylon Smith, ILB, ND – if he falls bc of knee
    Johnathan Bullard,3-4, DE Florida
    Adolphis Washington, DE Ohio State
    Darron Lee, 3-4 ILB/4-3 WLB, OSU
    Carl Nassib, 3-4 DE, Penn State

  14. John - Jan 22, 2016 at 3:42 PM

    Draft Treadwell or another receiver with size/speed in round 1 and get a back in round 2 unless Elliott falls in their lap, when the pitch comes up.

    Regarding the receivers drafted last year where we will draft this year is irrelevant. They were drafted there because of who was drafted before them. This is a different year with different players available.

    The really good defensive players will be gone before the Skins pick.

  15. hitmeimopen - Jan 22, 2016 at 4:17 PM

    I hope Galette can rebound from his injury. Think about the motion of bending around an OT and drawing a bead on a QB. That achilles is under such stress that he may not feel right for a long time.

    • Trey Gregory - Jan 22, 2016 at 8:47 PM

      Galette wouldn’t be the first to come back from an Achilles just fine. I think the biggest question comes with speed. If you ever watched him play in New Orleans, he had back to back double digit sack seasons because he has a tremendously fast first step. If he loses that step, he could be in trouble. But while that is obviously physical, there’s a lot of technique and timing involved too.

      I personally have high hopes for Galette next year. Opposing offensive lines can’t mostly focus on eliminating Kerrigan with Galette on the other side. It’s more pick your poison. So while I expect Galette to get at least 10 sacks of his own, I expect Kerrigan to play better with him in too. It could transform our whole defense. The secondary will look a lot better if opposing QBs are always under pressure

  16. Todd - Jan 23, 2016 at 1:33 AM

    I would be alright with Elliott, Ragland, Rankins, or Treadwell. I’m not sold on these little corners with limited tackling ability. That is and has been a major issue with the Redskins for quite awhile. Archives

Follow Us On Twitter