Earlier today, we looked at how the Redskins plan to deploy their supplemental draft choice, Adonis Alexander. Now let’s take a look at notes from several other east division clubs, starting with more out of Washington:
The Redskins‘ lack of a consistent running game in the Jay Gruden era is the byproduct of a number of factors, as John Keim of ESPN.com observes. While the offensive line is generally a good one (when healthy), the team has struggled mightily in short-yardage situations over the last few years, and some question whether Washington is committed enough to the run, as it ranks 27th in the league in total carries since 2014. But, as Keim points out, the Redskins rank 10th in first-down carries over that same span; the problem is that they rank 30th in yards per carry on first down. So, as one scout suggests, the issue is not running more, it’s running more effectively. The addition of Derrius Guice should help, as would a healthy season from the starters on the O-line and more effective blocking from receivers and tight ends. If Washington is going to push for a playoff spot, it will need an effective ground game to help out Alex Smith and the passing attack.
The Redskins sacrificed a sixth-round pick in next year’s draft by selecting Adonis Alexander in this year’s supplemental draft. That certainly seems like a risk worth taking, given that Alexander has the ability of a first- or second-round prospect and given that Washington has two other sixth-round choices in the 2019 draft anyway.
The general assumption around the league is that Alexander, who played both safety and cornerback at the collegiate level, will play cornerback for the Redskins. Rich Tandler of NBCSports.com, though, says no firm decision in that regard will be made until the team has had the opportunity to evaluate him at both positions. Although Washington is currently leaning towards deploying him as a CB, Tandler says Alexander’s makeup could make him a quality safety as well.
Either way, Alexander will have an excellent shot not only of making the roster, but of earning significant playing time right away. The top two corners on Washington’s roster, veterans Josh Norman and Orlando Scandrick, are locked into starting roles in 2019, but the depth chart looks pretty open behind that. Quinton Dunbar is currently penciled in as the team’s No. 3 CB, but Alexander certainly has the potential to push him for snaps, and Alexander has higher upside than second-year players Joshua Holsey and Fabian Moreau. Moreau, a 2017 third-rounder, is likely not going anywhere this season, but Tandler says that if Alexander makes the team, Holsey or 2018 seventh-rounder Greg Stroman — Alexander’s former Virginia Tech teammate — could be squeezed out.
For his part, Alexander predictably believes that he could line up anywhere in the defensive backfield (and the Redskins could certainly utilize his 6-3, 207-pound frame in a number of roles if they so choose). He said, “At safety, I feel like my strength is just being an instinctive player. Being physical would definitely be my strength in playing safety, coming down to tackle and stuff.” He added, “As for corner, my competitiveness, instincts, like I said, would definitely be a strength at corner because as far as playing corner, it’s a one-on-one thing with you and the receiver. I’ve definitely tried to win everyone at a one-on-one battle.”
Since Alexander missed offseason practices, he will have some catching up to do when training camp opens. But even if he starts a little behind the learning curve, one has to think that he will be given every opportunity to secure a spot on the 53-man roster, regardless of the position he winds up playing.
The Redskins have signed Adonis Alexander to his rookie contract. As with typical draft picks, it’s a four-year deal, so Alexander is under club control through the 2021 season.
On Wednesday, the Redskins used a sixth-round pick in the supplemental draft to select the Virginia Tech cornerback. They’ll forfeit a sixth-round pick in the 2019 NFL Draft as a result, but they’re getting a high-upside player to help them immediately rather than waiting. The Redskins still have two other sixth-round picks in next year’s draft thanks to the compensatory formula, so they’re only taking a mild risk by bringing Alexander into the fold.
Blessed with size and ball skills, the Redskins believe they can turn Alexander into a contributor at the pro level. Teams had some maturity concerns about Alexander after academic trouble cost him a spot with the Hokies, but his one-time defensive backs coach Torrian Gray is in D.C. and Redskins feel that Gray can help him stay on track.
The Redskins have reason to believe that Alexander can shine, warts and all, thanks to the presence of defensive backs coach Torrian Gray. Gray coached Alexander during his freshman All-American season at Virginia Tech in 2015 and has seen what he can do at his best. Paylor also has some optimism about Alexander thanks to the veteran leadership of D.J. Swearinger. If Alexander can contribute in 2018, he’ll help to offset the loss of corners Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason.
Here’s more out of D.C.:
Alexander’s potential upside outweighed the risk for the Redskins, Rich Tandler of CSNWashington.com writes. The Redskins tend to steer away from red flags, but Alexander has been honest about his academic troubles at Virginia Tech. It’s also worth noting that the Redskins had three sixth-round picks heading into the supplemental draft, so they still have plenty of late-round ammo for 2019.
Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson are the only running backs that are locks for the Redskins’ roster, Tandler writes. After that, he classifies Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley as being “on the bubble.” It would be a surprise to see Perine, a 2017 fourth-round pick, on the outs, but Tandler says he must learn to follow his blocks in order to be a contributor for the club. Kelley, meanwhile, is a favorite of coach Jay Gruden, but injuries limited him to just seven games and 194 yards last year. If Kelley doesn’t look strong this summer, it’s possible that he could be leapfrogged by Byron Marshall or Kapri Bibbs as the fourth RB on the roster.
Although the Redskins in May informed Junior Galette that he would not be re-signed, the veteran edge rusher indicated Wednesday that his run in the nation’s capital may not yet have reached its end. “Lol still a chance,” Galette replied on Twitter when asked if a new contact with Washington remained a possibility.
Whether or not Galette’s tweet is any indication of serious interest on the Redskins’ part is unclear, especially given that team executive Doug Williams said in March that the club was “moving in another direction.” Washington is well-stocked along the edge, as starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith are backed up by 2017 second-rounder Ryan Anderson and free agent acquisition Pernell McPhee.
If he were re-signed by the Redskins, Galette probably wouldn’t have much of a role. Other clubs that have expressed interest in Galette, however, do have a clear need at defensive end/outside linebacker: a club like the Rams, who were linked to Galette in March, still has a gaping hole at edge defender, while the Browns could use another end to play opposite Myles Garrett. Galette, who has also drawn interest from the Raiders, has reportedly also considered retirement.
Galette, of course, was once a double-digit sack force with the Saints from 2013-14, but injuries and off-field issues have turned him into more a rotational player. After suffering those aforementioned torn Achilles tendons in both 2015 and 2016, Galette finally got in a full season with the Redskins in 2017, and played extremely well on 37% of the club’s defensive snaps. While he only posted three sacks, Galette managed 25 pressures and graded as the league’s No. 30 edge defender among 106 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
Adonis Alexander has an NFL home. With their pick in the sixth round, the Redskins selected the talented Virginia Tech cornerback.
Alexander’s length, balls skills, and arm size (over 32 inches) caught the attention of evaluators this year. Although he does not come with the same hype as Western Michigan’s Sam Beal, he has the potential to be a contributor in his own right.
At 6’3″ and 207 pounds, Alexander offers tremendous size. He also has experience in zone coverage schemes thanks to his time at Virginia Tech.
As a freshman in 2015, Alexander impressed scouts as he intercepted four passes at the safety position. He followed up with a strong sophomore campaign, but he found himself at odds with coaches in 2017 and was hit with a two-game ban for not living up to the “expectations” of head coach Justin Fuente. He was also held back by a hamstring injury suffered in November.
Had he entered the 2019 NFL draft, Alexander would have had a shot at going in the first two rounds. The Redskins see Alexander as a high-value addition who is well worth the forfeiture of their sixth-round pick next year.
Dez Bryant will end up with the Redskins when he finally signs, predicts Jason Fitzgerald of Overthecap.com (Twitter link). Fitzgerald, a salary cap expert, thinks Bryant “won’t get much” in terms of compensation on whatever deal he signs.
However, the running back position produces annual mid- or late-round surprises — from Devonta Freeman to Jordan Howard to Kareem Hunt — that end up providing immense value to certain teams. The Giants obviously have an incredibly gifted ball-carrier set to take handoffs from Eli Manning, but which of Barkley’s peers is in the best position to challenge him (and the quarterback contingent) for the OROY honor?
The other two first-round RBs look to be less equipped for a strong challenge due to circumstances.
Sony Michel‘s prospects of being an immediate ground producer may have been better on a different team. While the Patriots boast one of the NFL’s best offensive lines, Bill Belichick notoriously finds myriad usages for his backs and involves nearly all of them. Although, Dion Lewis‘ departure after a 180-carry season opens the door for someone to take over as New England’s primary back. And Michel averaged 7.9 yards per carry on 156 totes at Georgia last season. Rashaad Penny looks to be behind Chris Carsonto start the season, and the surprise first-rounder may be given time to develop for a Seattle team that’s struggled on the ground for a few years now.
After Round 1, however, it becomes a bit more interesting. The Buccaneers did not possess a formidable depth chart at running back prior to investing their second-round pick in USC’s Ronald Jones. In 2017, Jones rushed for 1,550 yards and scored 20 total touchdowns. He could well be an early-season starter, with the likes of Jacquizz Rodgers and Peyton Barber in his path toward a first-string role. Chosen just before Jones, Nick Chubb will have to contend with Carlos Hyde in Cleveland this season for the revamped Browns. Chubb, though, notched three 1,000-yard seasons in the nation’s toughest conference.
Kerryon Johnson looks to be set to start in a committee in Detroit, but the Lions have been desperate for a surefire ground producer for years now. And they view Johnson as a three-down back. LeGarrette Blount and Ameer Abdullah reside in the Motor City carries picture, but neither would impede Johnson from a major role if he proves ready from the outset. Derrius Guice could have a quicker path to playing time in Washington. Considered by some the second-best back in this draft, the LSU product fell largely because of character concerns. However, Guice averaged 7.6 yards per carry in 2016 on nearly 200 attempts and is expected to push for the Redskins’ starting job from the start.
Also expected to challenge for an early role: the Broncos’ Royce Freeman. The Oregon-developed talent posted three 1,300-plus-yard seasons with the Ducks, amassing a staggering 947 college carries. With the Broncos having moved on from four-year starter C.J. Anderson, only Devontae Booker (299 rushing yards last season) resides in the third-rounder’s path. Is he a threat to be the 2018 version of Hunt?
As for Barkley, he has the most obvious route to a full-time gig. Despite Jonathan Stewart now being in the Big Apple, the Penn State dynamo will factor in from the start of the Giants’ season. And the three-down back totaled at least 2,300 yards from scrimmage in back-to-back years for the Nittany Lions. The Giants have questions up front, having lost Justin Pugh and Weston Richburg, but they added multiple UFAs — spearheaded by Nate Solder — and chose likely Day 1 starter Will Hernandez in Round 2.
So, will Barkley’s situation be too much for the rest of this class to overcome, a la Ezekiel Elliott? Or will one of the later-round picks emerge in Hunt fashion? Is there a Day 3 dark horse in this year’s class in the mold of Freeman or Howard? Take PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!