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2017 NFL Draft analysis: Washington Redskins

By
Brian McNally, The Sports Xchange
Jonathan Allen, right, will bolster the Redskins' struggling defense. File photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI
Jonathan Allen, right, will bolster the Redskins' struggling defense. File photo by Mark Wallheiser/UPI | License Photo

ASHBURN, Va. -- The Washington Redskins knew they needed to upgrade their defense after an ugly finish to the 2016 season. They just haven't been good enough on that side of the ball to help out what's become one of the NFL's top offenses.

Washington took steps toward fixing that this offseason by firing defensive coordinator Joe Barry and replacing him with outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky, who has been a coordinator before in San Diego, Indianapolis and San Francisco.

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Adding talent in free agency (safety D.J. Swearinger, defensive ends Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain, and inside linebacker Zach Brown) helped. But the Redskins took that a step further in the draft. Four of the first five picks were defensive players - Jonathan Allen (defensive end), Ryan Anderson (outside linebacker), Fabian Moreau (cornerback) and Montae Nicholson (safety) and six of 10 overall.

"It's on paper. You feel like you're better, everybody does at this time," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "It's how we gel as a unit that is the important thing - how they buy into (defensive coordinator Greg) Manusky's scheme, how they work well together and how they make each other better. That's a challenge that we have.

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How the Redskins drafted:

Round 1/17 - Jonathan Allen, DE, 6-3, 286, Alabama

A top talent who fell unexpectedly far because of concerns about his arthritic shoulders. Didn't effect Allen on tape. He dominated SEC competition at Alabama. Washington happily selected a top-tier defensive lineman who went to high school four miles from Redskins Park.

Round 2/49 - Ryan Anderson, OLB, 6-2, 253, Alabama

Fills a need as a safe pick at outside linebacker, where the Redskins lack depth beyond Ryan Kerrigan. Anderson himself acknowledges he isn't "a Combine warrior." But if other players are better athletes, he just finds ways to make plays with 19 tackles for loss and nine sacks in 2016.

Round 3/81 - Fabian Moreau, CB, 6-0, 206, UCLA

Expected to be among the top seven or eight cornerbacks taken in the draft, Moreau fell after tearing a pectoral muscle at UCLA's Pro Day. The Redskins hope they got a steal once he's healthy, which should be close to the end of training camp.

Round 4/114 - Samaje Perine, RB, 5-11, 233, Oklahoma

Put up big numbers at Oklahoma despite splitting time with the dynamic Joe Mixon. Perine topped 1,000 rushing yards three years in a row for the Sooners. A self-described downhill runner whose presence could spell the end for 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones.

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Round 4/123 - Montae Nicholson, S, 6-2, 212, Michigan State

Has ideal height and weight Redskins want in a safety. But they missed out on the early run of more highly-regarded players at the position. Nicholson had four interceptions at Michigan State and missed tackles are a concern. A torn left labrum led to surgery after the NFL Combine and he's not expected back until training camp.

Round 5/154 - Jeremy Sprinkle, TE, 6-5, 252, Arkansas

A combination tight end known for his blocking, but who has made strides as a pass catcher. Sprinkle had a nice senior season with 33 catches for 380 yards with 11 career touchdowns. Career ended on a sour note after he was charged with shoplifting during the week of the Belk Bowl and suspended for that game.

Round 6/199 - Chase Roullier, C, 6-4, 312, Wyoming

Washington lost its developmental center last year when Austin Reiter was plucked off the practice squad by Cleveland. Roullier moved from guard to center for his senior year at Wyoming and says that's the position he figures to play in the NFL.

Round 6/209 - Robert Davis, WR, 6-3, 218, Georgia State

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Another big wide receiver to add to Washington's growing collection. Speed downfield is an issue, but has the frame to play in NFL. His cousin is Carolina Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis.

Round 7/230 - Josh Harvey-Clemons, S, 6-4, 217, Louisville

Twice suspended for drug use while at Georgia and kicked out of school. Redeemed himself at Louisville, where he had two strong seasons for the Cardinals that included three interceptions.

Round 7/235 - Joshua Holsey, CB, 5-11, 195, Auburn

A four-year starter in the SEC for Auburn, Holsey had 10 passes defended as a senior and intercepted four passes total in four years. Carved out a good career despite twice tearing his ACL.

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