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Thursday, April 17, 2014
Analyzing Kiper Mock 4.0: Redskins

By John Keim

The Washington Redskins don’t pick in the NFL draft until the second round, 34th overall, thanks to the Robert Griffin III trade in 2012. A 3-13 record at least provided them a high pick in the second round, which is not exactly what they were hoping for last season. Despite luring some key free agents, the Redskins remain in need of several positions. A right tackle, a safety, an inside linebacker or even another pass-rusher would make sense with their first pick.

ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr.’s fourth 2014 NFL mock draftInsider is out on ESPN Insider today, and his choice would give the Redskins a replacement for a departed leader.

Kiper has the Redskins selecting productive Wisconsin linebacker Chris Borland, the third inside linebacker selected behind Alabama’s C.J. Mosley (19th to Miami) and Ohio State’s Ryan Shazier (21st to Green Bay).

Washington easily could go in other directions defensively because, even though it added help, no one is considered more than a solution for a couple years. Defensive lineman Jason Hatcher will turn 32 before the season; safety Ryan Clark is 34 and the two inside linebackers who will compete for London Fletcher’s old job, Akeem Jordan and Darryl Sharpton, both signed one-year contracts. The Redskins, though they could upgrade at right tackle, have an excellent young nucleus offensively. They lack that on defense. To select Borland, Kiper has the Redskins passing on others who could help long-term as well: Auburn outside linebacker Dee Ford and Brigham Young outside linebacker Kyle Van Noy (if they opt not to re-sign Brian Orakpo after this season; but they can always wait until next year to find his replacement if they want to let him walk) and safety Jimmie Ward.

Borland lacks flash, but he was highly productive at Wisconsin (15 career forced fumbles, second most in FBS history;  2013 Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year) and would provide an element the defense needs more of -- toughness.  Borland is excellent against the run, in part because of his instincts. The problem is, Borland lacks the "wow" gene. He’s not big, at only 6-foot, 248 pounds (Fletcher, obviously, was smaller). He’s not a blazer nor highly athletic, and that could hurt in coverage. Scouts consider him short-armed, which means he could struggle getting off blocks. Will his knowledge compensate for his shortcomings? That’s the gamble. He could fill a need and start for 10 years. Or he could be a productive backup and special-teamer for the same length of time.

Here's what Kiper wrote of this pick: "Tackling was a huge problem for the Redskins last year, and adding one of the most consistent tacklers in the draft at a position of need makes sense here. I could see Borland in Round 1, too. He's currently among my top 25 players in the draft."