NFL Wire News

Redskins leave draft with 10 players


The Sports Xchange

ASHBURN, Va. — After trades with the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints during the draft, the Washington Redskins ended up with 10 picks, which could prove important to a franchise that went 4-12 last season while finishing in the NFC East cellar for the sixth time in seven years.

“You can never have too many big guys that can move the pile,” coach Jay Gruden said. “We don’t have the luxury of sitting back and trading a bunch of our picks away. The extra picks are very beneficial for us. We picked up some pretty good players late.”

–Jon Jansen, Washington’s stalwart right tackle from 1999 to 2008 (skipping 2007 when he tore an Achilles in the season opener), sees a lot of himself in Iowa offensive tackle Brandon Scherff, whom the Redskins chose fifth overall this year.

Jansen was a second-round selection from a Big Ten school (Michigan) who preferred power football to athleticism. He and Scherff are from Midwestern small towns (Clawson, Mich., and Denison, Iowa, respectively) and both love to hunt and fish.

“He’s a great kid and a tough SOB,” said Jansen, who covered some of Scherff’s games for the Big Ten Network. “He’s fun to watch, plays the game the way it’s supposed to be played. (There are) not a lot of players like that anymore.”

–Second-round linebacker Preston Smith played inside at Mississippi State but will begin his Redskins career outside, so it’s helpful that he already has dropped 15 pounds from the 270 he weighed last season.

“I probably may have to lose a few pounds, (but) I’m already in a great weight range at 255,” said Smith, who will compete with 2014 second-rounder Trent Murphy to start opposite top pass rusher Ryan Kerrigan. “I’m usually around 270, but this process may cause you to be a little bit nervous and stress out. Now that it’s over, I’m not going to pig out, but I’m going to start to eat right now.”

–Evan Spencer, the last of Washington’s three sixth-round selections, found out he was drafted with a call from his brother Cole, a Redskins scout.

“I didn’t know how to react,” Spencer said. “I didn’t even know what I said. My mom’s sitting here still shaking (with happiness).”

Spencer’s father, Tim, is Tampa Bay’s running backs coach. The Redskins visit the Buccaneers on Oct. 25.

–Fourth-rounder Arie Kouandjio graduated from DeMatha High School, just seven miles from FedEx Field. The 6-foot-5, 310-pound guard started the past two seasons for the powerhouse Crimson Tide after undergoing multiple knee surgeries early in his college career. Kouandjio’s older brother, Cyrus, is a tackle for Buffalo.

“It’s just so awesome to go back home,” said Kouandjio, the first Alabama player drafted by Washington since six-time Pro Bowl tackle Chris Samuels in 2000.

Veteran Redskins guards Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester struggled in 2014. Backups Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long have very little experience.

–Third-rounder Matt Jones believes that his solid senior season proved he’s over the torn meniscus that ended his 2013 season after just five games.

“I (was) laying in my hospital bed just thinking about how much I really loved playing the game,” said Jones, who, at 6 feet 2 and 231 pounds, will tower over 5-10, 218-pound Pro Bowl back Alfred Morris. “And then after that, I was a new man. I had a great season. I think I showed everybody what I could do off my injury.”

A closer look at the Redskins’ picks:

Round 1/5 — Brandon Scherff, T, 6-5, 320, Iowa

USC defensive end Leonard Williams, considered by some to be the draft’s best player, was there for the taking; but, after adding defensive linemen Ricky Jean Francois, Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea in free agency, the Redskins opted to address the other side of the line. Washington believes that Scherff, who’s penciled in at right tackle, will help them return to the glory days of the famed Hogs, who helped power them to four NFC titles and three Super Bowls from 1982 to 1991.

Round 2/38 — Preston Smith, LB, 6-5, 271, Mississippi State

As a senior defensive end, Smith recorded a tackle for a loss in 12 of the Bulldogs’ 13 games and became the only player in SEC history to be named the conference’s top defensive lineman three straight weeks. Smith led Mississippi State with 15 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries and nine sacks while adding two interceptions (one returned for a touchdown), two forced fumbles and two blocked kicks. He’ll begin his Redskins career at outside linebacker.

Round 3/112 — Matt Jones, RB, 6-2, 231, Florida

In 28 games at Florida, Jones carried 297 times for 1,431 yards (4.8-yard average) and 11 touchdowns. He posted three games with more than 150 yards. After his junior year ended after five games with a torn meniscus, Jones returned to start 10 of 11 games as a senior. Washington sees the sturdy Jones as a powerful, downhill runner who could replace Alfred Morris if the Pro Bowl back doesn’t return after his contract expires next year.

Round 4/104 — Jamison Crowder, WR, 5-8, 185, Duke

A first-team All-ACC receiver the past two seasons, Crowder was second in the conference with 85 catches while also returning two punts for touchdowns as a senior. Crowder led the ACC with 108 catches while producing 1,360 yards and eight touchdowns in 2013 while returning two punts for touchdowns. The Redskins have top receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but third receiver Andre Roberts had a disappointing 2014 season. Roberts was also underwhelming on special teams, with averages of 7.4 yards on punt returns and 23.7 yards on kickoff returns.

Round 4/112 — Arie Kouandjio, G, 6-5, 310, Alabama

He started the past two seasons for the powerhouse Crimson Tide after undergoing knee surgeries early in his college career. Kouandjio’s older brother, Cyrus, is a tackle for Buffalo. Veteran guards Shawn Lauvao and Chris Chester struggled in 2014. Backups Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long have very little experience.

Round 5/141 — Martrell Spaight, LB, 6-0, 236, Arkansas

The All-SEC weak-side linebacker led the Razorbacks with 128 tackles last season and probably will move inside. He was a two-time junior college All-American at Coffeyville (Kansas) CC.

Round 6/181 — Kyshoen Jarrett, S, 5-10, 200, Virginia Tech

A versatile three-year starter who loves playing special teams, Jarrett was the Hokies’ top punt return man in 2012 and 2013. With their mother working full-time, Jarrett and his brothers helped care for their brother Daishawn, a legally blind triplegic with cerebral palsy who struggles cognitively and uses a wheelchair.

Round 6/182 — Tevin Mitchel, CB, 6-0, 190, Arkansas

Started at least seven games during each of his four seasons. Father Eric was a wishbone quarterback at Oklahoma and was chosen in the sixth round by New England in 1989. A teammate of Spaight the past two seasons, he tries to play like Cleveland Pro Bowl corner Joe Haden.

Round 6/187 — Evan Spencer, WR, 6-2, 208, Ohio State

He is the son of Tampa Bay running backs coach Tim Spencer and brother of Redskins scout Cole Spencer. He caught 15 passes for the Buckeyes’ talent-laden national champions in 2014 after catching 22 in 2013, but he threw a touchdown pass in the Sugar Bowl upset of Alabama.

Round 7/222 — Austin Reiter, C, 6-3, 296, South Florida

Reiter started 36 straight games for the Bulls and was a candidate the past two seasons for the Rimington Award given to the nation’s top center. Best shot as a rookie might be the practice squad.

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