With the draft now over we can really begin to accurately see how tough the Redskins 2014 opponents appear to be (at least on paper). Here is how each team the Redskins faced did in the draft and how it could improve them for when they face Washington. This is going to be split into two parts and Part 2 will include the Cowboys to help break up the teams.
Notable additions: DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney, OG Xavier Su’a-Filo, TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, NT Louis Nix
-With the top pick in the draft it’s no surprise that the Texans were able to add a major player, but the hope was that perhaps they would choose a Quarterback, who likely wouldn’t be ready to make much of an impact week 1. Instead the Texans got one of the best defensive end prospects of all-time. Clowney is the type of prospect who can make his presence felt in any game, and now he will team up with J.J. Watt against the Redskins retooled offensive line. Though on paper he may face off with Trent Williams, don’t be surprised if the Texans take advantage of their 3-4 front and shift him over to rush against the RT. Not only did the Texans pass on a QB in RD 1, but they also passed on a QB with their next 3 picks as well and instead went with players who will bolster their defense and run game. That is a smart way to rebuild and it is going to definitely make them a tougher opponent in 2014. The Redskins are going to have to figure out a way to stop this retooled Texans front 7 and a way to slow down Arian Foster given his improved blocking.
The Jaguars had one of the best all-around draft classes filled with impact players at the top and great depth throughout, unfortunately for them most of that impact figures to come in 2015 and beyond. The Jaguars are committed to giving new QB Blake Bortles a year to develop so it’s unlikely the Redskins even see him. Rookie receivers notoriously under-produce, and that is especially true when they don’t have great QB play or have a top target to draw the top coverage away from them. Chances are Lee and Robinson don’t do much for the Jaguars this year and the Redskins secondary shouldn’t have much of an issue slowing them down. Aaron Colvin was a top 50 talent and a potential steal for the Jaguars where they got him, but he tore his ACL so he’s not going to be playing in this game. Guard Brandon Linder maybe wins a starting job, but he figures to be average at best.
Last year the Eagles defense suffered from a general lack of pressure, Marcus Smith goes a long way to help fixing that. He’s a smart defender who is very capable of getting after the quarterback and he should pair up with Trent Cole to give the Eagles a decent outside pass rush this year. Though in general rookie wide receivers aren’t much of a threat, the Eagles pair of rookies might be a different story. Jordan Matthews was probably the most NFL ready receiver in the draft, and has just a ridiculous work ethic which should help in the transition. Josh Huff played for Chip Kelly at Oregon so his learning curve will likely not be as steep as well. Corner Jaylen Watkins could eventually push for a starting role, but for now he should be a pretty good 4th corner. Taylor Hart is another Oregon Duck and he was good value here, he could help their defensive line rotation and generate further penetration along their line. These weren’t massive upgrades for the Eagles, but these players do make them a tougher team than they were a year ago.
Notable additions: WR Odell Beckham, C Weston Richburg, DT Jay Bromley, RB Andre Williams
The Giants added wide receiver Odell Beckham in the first round, and he could have a moderate impact as a rookie. With Victor Cruz and even Rueben Randle on the field, Beckham could have more free reign than some other rookie situations. If the Redskins match-up Hall on Cruz and Amerson on Randle (to match-up size) that could leave Beckham versus Tracy Porter, which could be an advantage to the Giants. The Giants pick that could impact them the most against the Redskins is likely their 2nd rounder, Weston Richburg. He should start at center day one and should offer improved run and pass blocking for New York. Guys like Bromley and Williams don’t figure to impact New York too much as rookies.
Notable additions: WR Paul Richardson, OT Justin Britt, WR Kevin Norwood
The Seahawks don’t figure to get much of an immediate return from this draft class, so this group isn’t going to do much to impact their match-up with the Skins. OT Justin Britt could start at RT, but that would probably benefit the Redskins rather than make it tougher on them. Wide receiver Paul Richardson is a speed guy so he could be a guy who attacks defenses deep. He’s still unrefined so it shouldn’t be a major threat to the Redskins for this year.
Notable additions: S Deone Bucannon, TE Troy Niklas, DE/OLB Kareem Martin
The Cardinals already impressive defense got two good pieces in this draft. Bucannon has great range and upside as a safety and he’s the type of guy who could match-up with a joker TE like Jordan Reed and take him out of the game. If he’s playing centerfield, he’s got tremendous range and could help bracket DeSean Jackson going deep. Third rounder Kareem Martin probably won’t start for Arizona, but he’s a nice pass rusher and should help in their nickel defense. Cardinals coach Bruce Arians loves having tight ends involved in his passing attack and he prefers inline tight ends like Heath Miller who he had in Pittsburgh. Troy Niklas is that type of tight end and he could make an impact with Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Floyd drawing the majority of the coverage. In the red zone especially look for Niklas to make his presence felt.
Notable additions: OT Taylor Lewan, RB Bishop Sankey, DT DaQuan Jones
Offensive tackle wasn’t a pressing need this year, but Lewan is a clear talent. He and Michael Roos could team up as quality book ends that really neutralizes the Redskins edge rushers. That whole Titans offensive line is very impressive, so Washington will likely need to scheme to find a way to really get pressure on the quarterback. With the release of Chris Johnson the Titans clearly had a need at running back, so the addition of Bishop Sankey makes them a tougher rushing unit. Overall these aren’t major additions, but the Redskins front 7 will be challenge with this Titans blocking unit and they need to be ready.