NFL Nation: Trent Murphy

Examining the Washington Redskins' roster:

Quarterbacks (3)

Jay Gruden only had two quarterbacks in each of his three seasons with Cincinnati, but Griffin still needs to prove his durability. If something happened to him, they woulld still be in good shape with Cousins and McCoy. If they go with two then McCoy gets left off.

Running backs (4)

The Redskins could also stash Chris Thompson on the practice squad as further insurance. Thompson can easily bump himself onto the roster with a good summer; he’s a good fit in Gruden’s offense and the new coach liked Thompson coming out of college. But durability is an issue. By keeping four here, the Redskins can go with an extra player at another spot. This means Evan Royster is on the outs, but he doesn’t give the Redskins anything they don’t have in better players. He is insurance only.

Receivers (6)

I am not cutting Leonard Hankerson, rather I’m just not sold that he will be on the active roster at the start of the season. If he shows this summer that he can play, then, yes, I would have him on the 53-man roster. But the Redskins were not sure what to expect from him and when he might be healthy. Therefore, I can see him taking a little longer to return. Gruden likes Moss and they drafted Grant. Robinson needs to take a step.

Tight ends (3)

Rookie tight end Ted Bolser would head to the practice squad, where he can develop. He didn’t look close to a roster spot just based on how he looked this spring. Reed is firmly entrenched as the starter with Paulsen their top blocker and Paul a special teams ace.

Offensive line (10)

In reality, I could see them keeping only nine offensive linemen. It all depends on how Long and/or LeRibeus looks at guard. They love Long -- Gruden has said he could compete immediately -- so if he shows he can play, then they could cut Chester. Compton is a little surprise, but they like him as well. This position will be fluid and I’m not sold on the 10 I have listed.

Defensive line (6)


This one is fluid as well because it depends in part on Bowen’s health. I like Chris Neild and so do they, but can they keep him? Golston is more versatile and a key player on special teams, but he’s also 30 and they must get younger.

Linebackers (9)

As of now I’d have Rob Jackson out, especially if Jenkins develops as a pass-rusher. But this will be a close race. And I have them keeping an extra guy inside in Hayward because of his special teams ability.

Cornerbacks (5)
Chase Minnifield remains eligible for the practice squad. Richard Crawford is coming off a knee injury and it’s hard to place him on here without seeing him play. The one benefit for Crawford is that he can play in the slot; they need depth at that spot.

Safeties (4)

I really don’t feel good about this position and am not confident that I have this one right, at least for that final spot. Robinson’s special teams ability gives him the edge over Bacarri Rambo, who must have a strong camp. Akeem Davis can help on special teams, but with no NFL experience he will be stashed on the practice squad.

Specialists (3)

The Forbath selection is based on never having seen rookie Zach Hocker kick in an NFL game. If Hocker is consistent this summer and shows a strong leg, then he can win the job.

Something to prove: Brian Orakpo

June, 30, 2014
6/30/14
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We will be featuring a different Washington Redskins player each day on this list, staying away from rookies or some second-year players still finding their way. This will focus primarily on veterans at or near a career crossroads. Today: linebacker Brian Orakpo.

[+] EnlargeBrian Orakpo
Bruce Kluckhohn/USA TODAY SportsThe Redskins are letting Brian Orakpo play under the franchise tag tender for $11.45 million this season.
Why he has something to prove: He's on a one-year contract and will need a big season to get the sort of deal he wants. Orakpo said at his golf tournament this spring that he felt he didn't have anything to prove. And, yes, what he's done over the course of his career has been solid. But he also hasn't had a monster season when it comes to sacks and that would help him get paid. A lot. Coach Jay Gruden has said he's content on Orakpo riding out the season on a one-year deal and why wouldn't he be? It provides more motivation for his best pass-rusher. It could be a win-win. Not everyone in the building thought Orakpo would even receive the franchise tag offer from the Redskins, so there are others waiting for that season as well. Orakpo contends he is an elite linebacker and it's true that he has more responsibilities than others at his position, especially in terms of dropping into coverage (as does Ryan Kerrigan of course; other linebackers in this style of 3-4 also have this job). But the big-money guys post the big totals. Orakpo's all-around game has developed, but if he makes more game-changing plays and gets a few more sacks, he'll cash in.

What he must do: Take advantage of his surroundings, as in coaching and talent. The Redskins added an interior pass-rusher in Jason Hatcher and drafted Trent Murphy to add another dimension as a third outside linebacker in their fast nickel package. That means Orakpo (and Kerrigan) have more around to help. In the past, teams mostly worried about those two as the defensive line posted paltry sack totals (8.5 sacks the past two years combined). Both Orakpo and Kerrigan should benefit if the inside can pinch the passer more; in 2011 the pass rush was much better in part because of how well Orakpo worked with end Stephen Bowen. Also, the Redskins' outside linebackers are being taught more techniques this offseason. It's not just about adding moves, it's about using their hands better and taking stronger angles off the ball. Under the previous linebackers coaches, it was more about responsibilities. Now it's about technique. Orakpo is considered a momentum rusher, going as much by feel. There are counters he can add (spin move) that would make this tactic more effective. There's also a heavy focus on sack/fumbles -- Orakpo has caused just six fumbles in his career. He needs several such plays this season -- and then some.

Projection: Obviously he'll start outside. Orakpo has developed as a linebacker and is a solid all-around player; the Redskins wisely retained him this offseason (though I was not in favor of a deal worth $11 million per year. Not yet.) He works hard and plays with passion. And when he's on his game, he not only pressures the passer he sets up teammates to do the same. Just because the Redskins drafted Murphy does not mean they view him as Orakpo's replacement after this year (Orakpo does not see it that way, either). If Orakpo has a really good year, and the pass rush overall is strong, why wouldn't you re-sign him? The Redskins have helped him out by some of their moves this offseason; Orakpo will need to produce.
1. I've mentioned Washington Redskins outside linebackers coach Brian Baker a number of times and wanted to give you more of a feel for him as a coach, just by listening to him during practice with his players. A few things I noticed: He's constantly teaching and reminding players when what they've done is right or wrong. It's constant. He even chastised one player (wasn't quite sure who) for not having his eyes on him when he was speaking.

2. During pass-rush drills, he reminded the players, “don't let them control your body! Keep your elbows tight!” It's a point of emphasis. At one point, he told rookie Trent Murphy, “Give me one good one 93; I need one good one before we move on!” Murphy gave it to him. Baker worked with players on where their hands should be on the blocker at the snap (obviously not low, but he worked on getting the hands right before the snap, too). Baker: “You can't let him get into your chest. The closer you are the higher you put your hands.”

[+] EnlargeJay Gruden
AP Photo/Nick WassJay Gruden had his coaches concentrating on special teams during the Redskins' minicamp.
3. And, finally, I like that Baker does not have a one-size-fits-all approach to pass rushing. He worked with Brandon Jenkins on his footwork off the snap when positioned at right outside linebacker. It's a little different than on the right side and he wanted to make sure he stayed on the right path from the get-go. But he also told Jenkins, “You can't get it to look like everyone else. You've just got to get it right. Make it work for you.” He also worked with Jenkins on accelerating at the top of the rush -- it's where you win.

4. I don't know what sort of difference one outside linebackers coach can make, but I also know it can't be overlooked. He's a legit coach.

5. Redskins coach Jay Gruden incorporated more of his coaches in special teams drills. It's not as if other coaches in past years did nothing here, but it was noticeable this past week. Secondary coach Raheem Morris worked with the flyers in punt coverage while receivers coach Ike Hilliard showed them how to get off a jam. Baker helped with the tackling drills. Gruden said it enables special teams coach Ben Kotwica to get more out of his allotted 10-15 minutes. There is a definite increased emphasis on special teams, starting from early in the offseason.

6. The Redskins now know they'll face quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick in the season opener against Houston. Not sure it's a big surprise and not sure it really matters. Fitzpatrick was 9-5 as a starter from Nov. 14, 2010 to Oct. 30, 2011 -- that includes the 23-0 shutout of Washington. Since then, Fitzpatrick is 10-23 as a starter. Of course, his first NFL start came against Washington, a 24-9 loss while with Cincinnati in 2005. Fitzpatrick has thrown 106 touchdown passes to 93 interceptions in his career.

7. Three months later DeSean Jackson remains a big topic in Philadelphia. It started, again, with running back LeSean McCoy saying Jackson's release caught everyone's attention. It let them know if you don't buy in, you will be cut. Kelly refuted that notion. “I don't send messages to other players by how I deal with other players,” Kelly told Eagles reporters. “And how LeSean McCoy interprets things … LeSean has a beautiful mind. Sometimes trying to analyze that mind I don't wrap myself around that too much. Or bother myself too much with that. However LeSean interprets things is how LeSean interprets things.” The Eagles do think they have enough speedminus Jackson to still thrive.

8. There was a big to-do over the Patriots having a Jets playbook and that led to a discussion over whether it made a difference. Some who have covered the NFL a long time insist it means nothing; others who have covered it a long time insist it does. With players switching teams all the time, I doubt it's a big secret what's in various playbooks and coaches study so much tape that there shouldn't be many surprises. The bigger issue is when you know another coach's tendencies. I say that because some coaches here in the past felt that part of the success they had against Giants quarterback Eli Manning stemmed from having their playbook. But it also helped that they felt offensive coordinator Kevin Gilbride didn't change a whole lot. Tendencies mattered more.

9. One player who must have a strong year for Dallas: cornerback Morris Claiborne. The Cowboys traded up to get him with the sixth overall pick in 2012, but his impact has been poor. Claiborne has picked off two passes, has battled nagging injuries and lost his starting job last year. This is the time of year for player optimism and Claiborne is no different. Everyone is saying the right things about Claiborne, as you would expect. But they like that he's competing. One nugget: Claiborne pulled a rookie corner off the field in order to face receiver Dez Bryant in practice. "Me and him talked about it before we even started up that we want to be the best and we want to go against each other," Claiborne said. "We feel like we both compete at a high level. I get good work when I go against him and it's vice versa. When I'm not up there, he's telling me to come. We're trying to help each other so we can be the best for our team."

10. The Redskins nearly had Antrel Rolle in the 2005 draft, but he went one pick ahead of them at No. 8 to Arizona, so they drafted Carlos Rogers instead. Rolle, a corner when he came out, continues to improve at safety. Giants safeties coach Dave Merritt said of Rolle, “Before, as far as formations, he didn't see formations. He didn't really see the route concepts. Now, the last two years, it's all coming together for him and he's feeling more comfortable. So with Antrel's ability to continue to learn and grow, he hasn't really scratched his ability as a safety yet. Last year was a glimpse of what Antrel could actually become."
The Washington Redskins enter their final week of offseason work with a three-day minicamp. It'll look a lot like their OTA practices, but the difference is that this week is mandatory. With temperatures expected in the 90s, or near them, over the next three days, it'll be good preparation for Richmond later this summer.

Here are some things -- but certainly not all -- that I'll be looking for over the next three days:

Griffin
Robert Griffin III's finish: It’s tough when you watch someone just once a week to accurately gauge their progress. Griffin has had some good moments and not-so-good ones, but watching over three days will reveal more about where he’s at in terms of his passing. Has he remained consistent with his fundamentals? Is the accuracy more consistent? What we still won’t see until games begin is the ability to extend plays, which is a huge part of his game. But a good week for Griffin would propel him into the final month before camp with a lot of momentum, capping what has been a productive offseason for him. Don't know what that will mean for the season, but he'll exit this offseason feeling much, much different than he did a year ago at this time for a variety of reasons.

Offensive design: During the OTAs, we saw a lot of situational football – red zone, third downs, two minutes, etc. Hoping we get to see even more, to get a better sense of who the Redskins might be this season. Thus far, Griffin has operated a lot under center and in shotgun during certain situations. Coach Jay Gruden sounds intent on developing him, so this helps. (Not that the other staff didn’t want to develop him; it had Griffin as a rookie and then with no offseason. Tough to develop a player who can’t practice. How it would have handled it I don’t know.)

Rookie improvement: Rookie tackle Morgan Moses knows the issue he has with staying low and has worked on it since the OTAs started. Over three days, how much improvement will he show? How about Trent Murphy? His spin move has been terrific (mostly against young players); how much else will he show? Bashaud Breeland seems to have improved and, with Tracy Porter’s durability an issue, he could be a plus for the Redskins. But is he still grabbing too much? It’s hard with the running backs to tell a whole lot, so Lache Seastrunk’s true impact won’t be known until the games start. Thus far he hasn’t stood out. Is guard Spencer Long looking more comfortable?

Hatcher
Hatcher
Defensive looks: How are they using their personnel? Will they really be doing a lot of different things this season? Or is it just offseason chatter? Won’t know for a while on that, but we’ll get to see more of what they plan to do. In some cases it’s not about having different looks, it’s about – they hope – having better rushers with the addition of Murphy and Jason Hatcher.

Offensive line: There will be an interesting battle along the line this summer, even if it’s just for one of the backup positions (especially at guard). If the Redskins keep nine offensive linemen, that means two players from this group might not make it: Mike McGlynn, Adam Gettis, Josh LeRibeus, Maurice Hurt and Tom Compton. This assumes Chris Chester keeps his job (not a lock). And they’re not going to cut Long or Moses. Remember, they signed McGlynn in free agency and his ability to play center helps. The others have some work to do.

David Amerson’s progression: He’s had a quiet camp and I mean that in a good way. It’s not like he’s messing up or getting beat and looks lost. Does that continue this week? Amerson’s continued improvement (plus a lack of cap room) is among the reasons the Redskins are not one of the teams who have inquired about recently released corner Brandon Flowers, according to a source.

DeSean Jackson: Needs to make sure he exits these three days with a good hamstring. If he’s fully recovered, it’s always impressive to watch his speed. He’s not the fastest player I’ve ever covered (Darrell Green), but he is explosive.

Coordinator chatter: We should get our first chance to interview special teams coach Ben Kotwica this week, as well as defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Will be nice to finally hear more of what they think about their groups after the spring workouts end.
ASHBURN, Va. -- One addition could lead to better individual play. The other could be seen as insurance for his potential departure. Both could help Brian Orakpo in the short term, and that's all he's worried about.

In fact, Orakpo said he never viewed rookie Trent Murphy as anything other than a guy who could help now. He said he did not wonder if Murphy was drafted to be his eventual replacement.

[+] EnlargeWashington's Brian Orakpo
AP Photo/Michael PerezBrian Orakpo views the additions of rookie Trent Murphy and outside linebackers coach Brian Baker as a sign that better days are in the immediate future for the Redskins' pass rush.
"That's the last thing I'm thinking of," Orakpo said. "That's the first time I even thought about that to be honest with you."

Orakpo said Murphy's addition was necessary. So, too, was outside linebackers coach Brian Baker's. And Orakpo said both can help him -- and Ryan Kerrigan -- have more of an impact this season.

First, Baker. Here's the list of pass rushers he's worked with in the past: Charles Johnson, Julius Peppers, DeMarcus Ware and La'Roi Glover. How much did he mold their games? Tough to say, but clearly Baker can pass along tips he picked up working with those players onto the Redskins' linebackers.

"Just pass-rush concepts, man," Orakpo said. "Not just being an athlete. All kinds of different stuff he learned coaching guys throughout his years. Hand usage. Hand placement. I'm a momentum type of pass rusher. Now he's trying to teach a guy like myself proper hand placement and not being so wild at times when I'm rushing.

"We've been doing a lot of techniques. Any time we got a break, me and Baker are going at it doing different techniques, working different hand placements, working half of the offensive tackle or the tight end. Just trying to get better."

It's different.

"I haven't done this before," Orakpo said. "This is brand new for me. I'm excited. It will get all of us better and get all of us to another level. It comes with years of experience, always trying to incorporate something new in your game. I'm excited Baker is here and also that [Kirk Olivadotti] is here because he's teaching the inside linebackers a lot of new things as well that we were accustomed to my first year. Those guys are huge assets."

That's how Orakpo views Murphy, chosen in the second round last month. Orakpo said one word came to mind when they picked him: Depth.

While many will debate whether Murphy was the right choice, the bottom line is the Redskins needed another pass rusher. Just adding Jason Hatcher in the offseason would not provide enough of a boost, or depth, in this area.

"It's all about getting another guy to come in and create havoc," Orakpo said. "Depth is huge. You need three or four pass rushers that can go. This team has relied on me and Ryan doing the dirty work. But every other team has three to four guys ready to rock and roll. You saw what Seattle did bringing three or four guys, moving my boy Michael Bennett around. Cliff Avril on one side, Chris Clemons one side. Just moving guys all over the place. ... We finally got the big picture and got someone in here."

It's no secret what the Redskins want to do: tap into the three linebackers' versatility. That's evident in practice as each of them has lined up all over the place. The goal: pressure with four or, at most, five. You can be aggressive without always having to blitz. Washington blitzed more in 2012 in part because it lost Orakpo and Adam Carriker to injuries. But it left a weak secondary susceptible.

"If you pressure with four guys, you have a much better chance," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "You saw the success Seattle had -- they very seldom blitz. We have the ability with four, five guys that we have being able to rush the passer, keeping them fresh -- that we can get pressure."

If that's the case, then Orakpo likely would receive the sort of long-term contract he desires from Washington. He made it clear a long time ago he'd still like a long-term deal and that not having one wouldn't impact his approach, or desire to attend workouts. He'd still like one before the season, but Gruden said long ago he's fine with letting him play the season out on the franchise tag. Other members of the organization said it's conceivable the Redskins will keep all three pass rushers beyond this season.

For now, Orakpo's concern is 2014.

"Don't look into the one-year-left-rookie-drafted [storyline]," Orakpo said. "We have to look at this year and trying to get to that Super Bowl. Forget about the future. That's just business. Business will take care of itself. We're trying to make noise this year."
 

Thoughts and observations from the Redskins OTA session Thursday (taking a look at big picture things here rather than practice plays made in the spring):

  1. Robert Griffin III worked on being more consistent with his mechanics in the offseason and there was a difference. The past two years his base was wider as the Redskins wanted to shorten the stride. He also got into a habit of holding the ball lower, leading to a longer windup when he threw.
  2. But in practice Thursday, Griffin held the ball higher – at the top of the numbers. He also threw with a more narrow base. He likes doing this because he feels more free, giving him the ability to bounce the pocket a little better. Not every quarterback throws with the same base, much like not every hitter uses the same stance at the plate.
  3. [+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
    AP Photo/Richard LipskiRobert Griffin III showed off his new throwing mechanics during practice on Thursday.
    Griffin also was throwing more over the top; less windup. So the ball came out a little quicker. He was not always accurate, but he was not off as much as he was, say, last summer when coming back in training camp. And keep in mind that even as a rookie in practice Griffin would have off days throwing the ball.
  4. Regardless, Griffin’s fundamentals were more consistent than they were during the season. The key will be transferring it to the season when it gets chaotic in the pocket.
  5. His weight transfer was different as well; much more quiet but a definite transfer. Saw it on a deep ball to receiver DeSean Jackson.
  6. Griffin escaped the pocket on one play and looked like he was going to tuck and run. But he pulled up before he crossed the line and hit Pierre Garcon along the sidelines.
  7. Keenan Robinson lined up next to Perry Riley with the No. 1 defense. It’s only May, but it’s still telling when considering that he missed all of last season and part of his rookie year. They also signed Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan, who worked with the second team. Adam Hayward also worked some with the second team at inside linebacker.
  8. The linebackers’ versatility will be a huge part of the defense this season, as you would expect. The key is that they now have three outside linebackers – Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy -- who are comfortable with their hands in the dirt, rushing from a two-point stance or dropping into coverage.
  9. Murphy beat Tom Compton during 11-on-11 work with a quick spin move to the inside. For a tall guy, Murphy does a nice job staying low on his spin.
  10. Second-year linebacker Brandon Jenkins was mostly limited to rushing the passer last season, but saw him in coverage some Thursday.
  11. Here are the players I saw returning kicks Thursday: Lache Seastrunk, Chris Thompson, Nick Williams, Andre Roberts and Rashad Ross.
  12. Chris Baker lined up at left end with the starting defense (keep in mind Stephen Bowen can’t work). Chris Neild was in the middle with Barry Cofield sidelined (hernia surgery) and Jason Hatcher was on the right side.
  13. Rookie corner Bashaud Breeland still needs to be less grabby. Saw him tugging Santana Moss’ jersey downfield before the veteran caught the ball. Saw Breeland tugging other jerseys as they broke on a route (after the allotted five yards of contact). Not sure all the receivers quite appreciated his hands.
  14. Breeland was beaten on a double move by receiver Pierre Garcon. One thing Breeland said he needed to do was to keep his eyes on his man. He lost him this time, peeking too long into the backfield and awaiting a throw that wasn’t coming. Instead, it turned into an easy deep completion.
  15. Maurice Hurt worked at right tackle with the third unit. Josh LeRibeus worked at left guard with the second unit.
  16. Jackson’s speed was evident, especially on an end around. He was in traffic as he ran around the end, on the side opposite the media so it was hard to tell who it was at first. But he was moving at a different speed, which was the first clue as to who it was.
  17. Corner Chase Minnifield will get into a lot of tussles this camp – a safe prediction. He nearly got into one with tight end Niles Paul Thursday. Minnifield is physical and feisty and that will never please those running routes in practice. This time, Minnifield was grabbing Paul on the entire route and at the end Paul shoved him. Minnifield bounced up and shoved him back. It didn’t escalate.
  18. Minnifield did pick off a Kirk Cousins pass in zone coverage. Minnifield sank deep on the route and grabbed a pass that was intended for Williams.
  19. It was tough to see running back Chris Thompson’s speed last season, whether in spring, summer or before he was shut down during the season. He was coming off a knee injury. But he’s a year removed from that injury and the speed was more evident. Still worry about his durability, but he looked fast after running with a pass in the open field (during a spring practice).
  20. Safety Tanard Jackson ran with the third defense.
  21. Corner David Amerson looks more comfortable in press coverage and is using his long arms to his advantage when jamming receivers. Saw him do this a couple times, showing good technique and not getting beat in this look. It’s something he needed to work on as a rookie and I’m sure the learning curve will continue. But with his length and speed it’s a necessary tactic for him to learn.

 

Redskins offseason wrap-up

May, 22, 2014
5/22/14
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» NFC Wrap: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South » Grades

With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror and training camp just a couple months away, we assess the Washington Redskins’ offseason moves.

[+] EnlargeTrent Murphy
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsThe Redskins hope Trent Murphy, who had 15 sacks in 2013, can breathe life into the pass rush.
Best move: Improving the pass rush. Washington's rush the past two seasons was too inconsistent and lacked variety. Signing Jason Hatcher to provide an interior push and drafting Trent Murphy to add to the creativity part -- it gives the Redskins potentially three outside linebackers who can rush -- should make a difference. Murphy, obviously, has to prove his worth but the fact that they continued to address the rush is pivotal and telling. They also helped here by adding linebackers coach Brian Baker, a pass-rush specialist.

Riskiest move: Signing receiver DeSean Jackson. His reputation took a big hit after his release in Philadelphia, but the Redskins knew he was risky before certain stories were written. Jackson has major playmaking potential, but he also must prove the stories about his work ethic and approach aren't true. If so, he'll provide a big boost. The Redskins did mitigate the risk by giving him a contract that would provide cap savings after only two years if they cut him.

Most surprising move: Not doing more at safety. The Redskins signed veteran Ryan Clark to start at free and mentor young players, re-signed Brandon Meriweather and returned once-suspended Tanard Jackson. They did not draft a safety. They need the young players to develop or they'll be trying to stock this position again.

Under the radar move: Bolstering special teams. The Redskins signed a handful of quality special-teamers and found players in the draft who could provide immediate help in this area. They brought in linebackers Darryl Sharpton, Akeem Jordan and Adam Hayward, who can provide help. They drafted Murphy and Bashaud Breeland, who should provide more. It wasn't talked about enough, but it's an important development.
ASHBURN, Va. -- After watching the rookies Saturday, here are some first impressions -- and the word first must be stressed. The key will be seeing how they develop from now through minicamp and again this summer. A lot of the flaws, or positives, they showed in college were evident Saturday.

Here's a look at the draft picks from this past weekend:

LB Trent Murphy: Definitely has a variety of moves; did a good job getting to the inside on occasion. Knows how to use his hands – knocked tight end Ted Bolser back on one rush with a good thrust to his chest. Can definitely see why the Redskins feel he can add weight and still be effective. Though strong, he does not appear to be fully filled out.

Murphy needs to work on cutting angles even more and knowing how to finish moves at an NFL level, as coaches discussed with him, like not rounding off too much at the top of his rush. He was not blowing past blockers in camp, but you could see aspects of his game to develop, with his hands and multiple moves -- that, combined with his versatility, is vital and why the Redskins liked him.

RT Morgan Moses: Felt after the draft it would take him a little while and still feel that way after watching him this past weekend. But that’s why he lasted to the third round; it’s tough for a player at his position to start immediately as a rookie. His long arms bailed him out of situations in college and did so again Saturday. But his feet need to catch up quicker.

You could tell he was working on trying to stay low, but at times did not look comfortable because he was bent a little too much at the waist and not the knees. Like Murphy, comes across as smart. (Moses graduated this past weekend.)

OG Spencer Long: Looks comfortable pulling and takes proper angles. Appeared to change directions just fine while pulling, based on a linebacker's movement. In the one-on-one pass drills Saturday, saw him get beat with speed to his outside, but also later saw him anchor well. Saw similar moments -- good and bad -- in his game tape. It’s really tough to get a good feel for a guard in 11-on-11 on some plays because of all the congestion. But he’ll be one to watch in camp.

CB Bashaud Breeland: Physical but will have to learn how to make sure he’s not always getting called for holding or pass interference. He could have been called for holding a few times and pass interference at least once. (He'd work best with a good pass rush; then again, who wouldn't?) It’s definitely something to watch because he wasn’t going against starting NFL receivers. Knows how to play press coverage. Breeland is patient and mirrored receivers well. After talking to him, he has a good understanding of his own game and what he must do.

WR Ryan Grant: He’s smooth in and out of breaks and a mature route-runner; patient. But Grant dropped a few passes (one when he turned his head too soon). He did have one nice grab over the middle with outstretched arms. He made a nice adjustment on another catch. Curious to see if he can get separation against starting corners, especially in man coverage. That’s his challenge moving forward.

RB Lache Seastrunk: First, you absolutely must read this piece on Seastrunk. It’s hard to measure running backs until the games begin. He has terrific moves, but will he always be content to get what’s there and then some or will he look to bounce a lot? We’ll see. His hands were OK when we saw him, but heard there were a few issues in a practice we did not see. One thing that jumped out when talking to Seastrunk: his confidence. He has a lot.

TE Ted Bolser: Did not look like a guy who’d threaten any of the three tight ends ahead of him for a roster spot. When he blocked in college, he too often kept his head down and that got him in trouble at least once Saturday. He’ll need to add strength. Bolser also dropped too many passes Saturday – I think ESPN980’s Chris Russell had him with four at one point. Bolser is a developmental guy, as seventh-round picks should be. But, again, it’s about planning. Niles Paul is in the last year of his contract. They’ll want Bolser eventually to be a move tight end a la Paul -- lining up in different areas; a better blocker on the go than on the line. If Paul leaves and Bolser develops, they have a replacement. That’s how it should work. Plus, special teams will be key.

Place-kicker Zach Hocker: He was accurate, but I can’t say I paid close attention to him. Kickers win their job in games, not practices (unless you’re Shayne Graham and lose it in practice; he was horrendous). It will be an interesting competition with Kai Forbath this summer.
Some thoughts from Redskins coach Jay Gruden on the rookies following Saturday's second minicamp practice:


  1. He likes linebacker Trent Murphy -- a lot. The Redskins' second-round pick lined up at left outside linebacker in the two practices open to the media. Gruden loves Murphy’s variety of moves. And he likes the ability to use him as a third linebacker and play him in different spots – in college he rushed from a standup position on both sides, through the middle, and also from a four-point stance.“He’s another element of the pass rush we drastically need,” Gruden said. “The ability to move him around and do things with him defensively is exciting.”
  2. Gruden also really likes guard Spencer Long and receiver Ryan Grant. Gruden said after four practices watching Long, including two on Friday, “you could see how effective he’s going to be, how smart he is and how physical he can be. He’s athletic enough to do whatever we want in the zone game and smart enough to pick up the blitzes and line stunts. He’s going to be competitive right away.”
  3. As for Grant, Gruden said, “he plays like a 10-year veteran already.” I’ll have more on Grant in a couple days, but he understands how to run routes. That matters.
  4. Two rookies who need a little seasoning? Left tackle Morgan Moses and running back Lache Seastrunk. Moses switched back to the right side after playing left tackle at Virginia last season (but he was on the right side the previous three years). He’ll also have to learn how to block in the outside zone.“It will take him some time,” Gruden said of Moses. “We’re happy with his progress and he has some major, major upside with his size.”

    Seastrunk must adjust to being a pass-catcher in the NFL. That doesn’t just mean showing he can catch the ball, it means knowing how to run routes out of the backfield at an NFL level. It also means being able to pass protect.

    “It will take time,” Gruden said. “It’s not going to happen overnight. He has a long way to go, but he’ll get there.”
  5. Bashaud Breeland’s aggressiveness jumped out (I’ll have more on this in a couple days as well). Gruden said he’ll have to watch the holding, but they like Breeland’s long arms and physical style.
  6. Gruden did not single out undrafted free-agent receiver Cody Hoffman, but Gruden was asked about him. It’s way too early to project how an undrafted player will do, but Gruden did say he likes Hoffman’s size (he’s 6-foot-4). Gruden also said, “He’s a very smooth route runner with natural hands. He doesn’t have the great vertical speed.” Special teams will be huge for a player like Hoffman.
  7. Gruden said of place-kicker Zach Hocker: “Rookie kickers in the NFL, not many of them have had a lot of success but we have high hopes for him. He’s going to compete. He has a strong leg and the added dimension for kickoffs and touchbacks is important. We’ll see how things transpire and how he handles the pressure.”
A few observations from the Redskins rookie minicamp Saturday morning. Keep in mind: This was our first chance to see the rookies. Their heads are swimming with new knowledge. That serves as a warning: Take these for what they're worth. Now, having said that...
  1. Tackle Morgan Moses is a big man and stands out in the crowd -- even among his peers. But Moses will always need to work on staying low in his stance. The first time I saw him try to block, he was moving to his left and lunged -- too bent at the waist on other times, too. He’ll have to work on staying balanced. That's what this weekend is for; to start correcting some of these issues.
  2. But he used his long arms a couple of times to stop Trent Murphy -- also long -- on the pass rush. I’ll be curious to see how he progresses coming off the ball and being able to attack defenders.
  3. Could tell when he was, or wasn’t, driving off the ball by how he set. A light set did not always mean pass protection, though. But it did mean he wasn’t going to drive off the ball.
  4. One thing Murphy will have to learn: how to lessen the gap between he and the tackle. Otherwise, it’ll be hard to use his hands. In a one-on-one rush, Murphy dipped and should have had the advantage, but failed to get it.
  5. After the rush, outside linebackers coach Brian Baker – do not underestimate this guy’s presence – worked with him on dipping his shoulder to complete the move. That’s what this weekend is all about: learning a lesson, then applying it as they move forward. They spoke for another 5-10 minutes after the practice while the other players exited.
  6. Murphy lined up at left outside linebacker all of practice. Eventually I can see him being moved around; it’s what he did in college and it worked.
  7. Guard Spencer Long was beaten in a one-on-one the first time I saw him by tryout linebacker Aaron Davis; speed to Long's outside. But the next time he went, Long anchored well. Saw him do that in college, too; strong base. For what it’s worth, Long said he feels normal coming off his MCL tear this past season.
  8. Did not see all of tight end Ted Bolser’s drops, but others saw them. Did see him get bumped off his route by Murphy -- one thing that was evident on tape is that the ex-Stanford linebacker is comfortable moving in space.
  9. Corner Bashaud Breeland likes to get his hands on receivers, even after the five yards that are allowed. He’s physical and with long arms. He’ll try to get a subtle grab at the top of a route. Just something to watch this summer.
  10. But Breeland, playing right corner, is experienced in press. Used good technique on one jam, getting his left hand on the inside of the receiver and bumping him off stride. Did not see a lot of separation from receivers against him.
  11. Didn’t watch a lot of receiver Ryan Grant, but the one time I did he dropped a pass. Turned his head too soon. I'll pay more attention Saturday afternoon.
  12. Need to see more of running back Lache Seastrunk catching the ball. In one drill where players weave through cones and then catch a pass, saw a drop. But to measure his hands, need to see a lot more and in game situations. He’s convinced his hands aren’t an issue.
  13. In a one-on-one drill designed to help special teams, Seastrunk did one of his classic plant and cut moves. He made a hard jab to the left, let the defender bite and then cut back the other way.
  14. For what it’s worth, Seastrunk told the Redskins he would like a shot at returning kicks. Not sure if that will happen or not.
  15. The first-year guys in camp: linebacker Will Compton, punter Blake Clingan, defensive back Peyton Thompson, safety Akeem Davis and lineman Tevita Stevens.

Washington Redskins draft wrap-up

May, 10, 2014
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NFC wrap-ups: East | West | North | South AFC: East | West | North | South


ASHBURN, Va. -- A wrap-up of the Washington Redskins' draft. Click here for a full list of Redskins draftees.

Best move: Trading out of the 34th pick overall and picking up another third-round choice. The Redskins did not have a first-round pick, so being able to pick up another choice among the top three rounds was a strong move. The Redskins might have stayed at 34 had linebacker Marcus Smith still been available. The Redskins saw a couple other players they liked get picked as well, so trading back was a no-brainer. Plus, they liked a handful of pass-rushers, so they knew someone they liked would still be around at 47.

[+] EnlargeMorgan Moses
Stacy Revere/Getty ImagesOffensive lineman Morgan Moses, taken in the third round, has a chance to develop into a starter.
The Redskins were able to get a player who might help their pass rush in linebacker Trent Murphy and then two players who could be future starters on the offensive line in tackle Morgan Moses -- whom many experts said could go in the first round -- and guard Spencer Long. Though you can debate if the Redskins reached on Murphy -- they liked his all-around game better than Jeremiah Attaochu's -- the bottom line is they found three players who can possibly help instead of two. Murphy could be insurance if Brian Orakpo leaves after this season via free agency. Or Murphy, Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan could form a strong pass-rush group.

Riskiest move: Long from Nebraska in the third round. There is a chance that Long becomes a solid player for the Redskins. One scout called Long a potential longtime starter at center (though the Redskins, for now, view him as a guard). The scout considers him a smart, tough player with good size, so perhaps he works out well -- and might ultimately end up being a steal. However, Long is coming off an ACL tear. It’s always hard to say a team could have waited and still gotten their man with the next pick, but in this case, that could be true. This is more of a pick for 2015 and beyond than anything else, so there is a definite benefit to selecting him. But if he doesn’t pan out, the perception will be that they reached in the third round for a guy who had been hurt.

Most surprising move: Drafting kicker Zach Hocker in the seventh round. The Redskins have Kai Forbath, who has made 35 of 40 field goals in two seasons with Washington. The Redskins don’t like to draft players they feel have no shot at making the roster, so they clearly expect Hocker to do more than compete with Forbath. Hocker could be better than Forbath on kickoffs, too, which would please the Redskins. Still, it’s a bit surprising they ended up drafting more kickers than safeties. But the coaches entered the draft feeling like they had enough competition there already. The same is true at inside linebacker.

File it away: Bashaud Breeland could develop into a solid player and help the Redskins in a variety of ways, perhaps even at safety at some point. The Redskins did not need a cornerback to come in and play immediately; they did not view anyone after the second round as being better than their top three. But Breeland can help right away on special teams -- another area of need. In college, he blitzed well from corner and was never afraid to mix it up against the run. He also plays a physical style the coaches love. The knock on Breeland is speed, so he’ll need some work, but he has a chance.
The plan was to watch linebacker Trent Murphy before the draft, knowing that he would be a possibility with the second pick in the third round. But there were a handful of other pass rushers to get to before him. So I never made it. And then they drafted him. So now here’s a mini-scouting report on the Redskins second-round pick (47th overall).

[+] EnlargeTrent Murphy
Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY SportsStanford linebacker Trent Murphy is a disciplined, if not splashy, choice for the Redskins.
What I liked: Excellent production and solid all-around player. Terrific hands in the pass rush and helped him shed blocks in run support, too. Keeps them tight; quick hands, too. His sacks and pressures not just the result of QBs holding onto the ball. Had one against Michigan State in which he beat the left tackle to the outside with his hands, squeezed inside a (horrible) block by the running back and sacked the quarterback in 2.6 seconds. Saw others in that range as well. Another took 3.3 against USC. Good variety of moves (has a spin move). Understands how to play with leverage --in both the pass and run game -- and when he did, would shed blocks in the run game and get tackles for a loss. Saw him get triple teamed on occasion against USC and Michigan State. Saw two blockers on him a number of times --whether assigned double teams or a guard/running back/tight end helping out. Lined up all over: as an end on either side in a three- or four-point stance; as a standup linebacker on either side. Disciplined rusher; did not see him lose his gap or freelance. Didn’t see him fooled; saw him locate the ball well.

Against both USC and Michigan State -- close games -- Murphy made some of his bigger plays late so the motor runs strong all game. Seems to understand angles. Showed good movement in coverage; the Redskins say he’s a fluid athlete and I would agree. Doesn’t mean he’s a great athlete, but he moves well. Saw him drop in zone; saw him cover backs and tight ends one-on-one. Can’t say he’s great here, but he did move fine. Plays special teams. Saw him rushing the punter and was on field goal protection. In fact, in the Michigan State game, he caught a pass on a failed attempt (nullified by a penalty). Did not see him get taken out of a play by double teams in the run game.

What I didn’t: Is not a great athlete and will not beat linemen with his burst or his speed. Ran the 40-yard dash in 4.86 seconds at the combine. There were times when tackles recovered on moves that should have resulted in greater pressure. If he got you with his hands initially, then watch out. If not, athletic and long-armed tackles would recover. Rounds off his rushes at times, similar to Ryan Kerrigan; in some cases that was because he was rushing to contain (against Oregon, for example). But in other cases it just helped the tackles recover. No explosive moments; it’s just not his game. Has good height at 6-foot-5, but could probably stand to add another 10 pounds or so to play outside and hold up against the run long-term.

Scout's take: One scout provided this assessment of Murphy's game: "An old-fashioned SAM linebacker, not very quick but productive. Not flashy, smart, big but slow twitch as a rusher."

Summary: A lot to like about Murphy, though I don’t know if there’s anything that makes you say, ‘Wow’ or makes you jump up and down. Hence: mid-to-late second rounder. That’s not a bad thing necessarily; it just means he’s not explosive. You need to let his game marinate in your mind a little bit because there are a lot of things he does well. Was he a reach? I don't know; I know what some experts say (some of whom had certain guys rated high who remained on the board in the third or are still undrafted, so who knows?) I know the Redskins liked him before the draft so it really only depends how their board stacked up. He can be a productive player and he’ll be helped by being able to play off better rushers, drawing more solo matchups. He can help on special teams and should add toughness and smarts at the position. It does mean that Brandon Jenkins and Rob Jackson have some work to do. Is he Brian Orakpo's eventual replacement? Not sold on that one yet. If the Redskins find a way to get their starters and Murphy on the field a lot and all are productive, then why break that up?

Redskins pick Spencer Long in 3rd

May, 9, 2014
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The pick: Spencer Long, G, Nebraska

My take: The Redskins clearly wanted more size and muscle inside. They added more of it in Long, but this one feels like a reach late in the third round. He missed half the season with torn ligaments in his knee and, though he said he feels fine and is “ready to go” I do wonder if they could have waited another round and picked him up.

If you’ll recall, they made a similar curious pick at guard in 2012 when they made Josh LeRibeus a third-round choice. That hasn’t worked out. Whether or not Long does remains to be seen. But the big difference between the two is Long’s passion for the game. Coach Jay Gruden stressed this point. No one has ever said the same about LeRibeus and I don’t think that sits well with the staff.

Long’s ability to seal openings should help in the zone scheme. But I have no idea if this move will pay off. I understood picking Trent Murphy at 47. Whatever anyone else thinks, he was the best pass rusher left on the board in their minds. I understood taking Morgan Moses earlier in the third. But this one is a more curious pick.

Young guards: The Redskins continue to say the line wasn’t as bad as everyone said. Yet not only is the starting five turning over, by next year Trent Williams could be the only player at the same spot he was in the 2013 finale. A big question now is what happens at right guard. The Redskins still have Chris Chester there, but if they wanted cap relief they could cut him and save $2.7 million against the cap.

Do they have his replacement ready? And who is it? If Morgan isn’t ready, then could it be LeRibeus? There’s always Mo Hurt, but I’d pass. The player I always liked better is Adam Gettis, but he was only around 295 pounds and needs to get bigger. If he does, then he could be one to watch this summer. Regardless, the changes along the line will continue.

What’s next: The Redskins own all their picks in each of the final four rounds Saturday. The Redskins definitely need more young help defensively, but the value in this round could be found at running back and tight end. If they go defense, this is also a good time to look for corner help where they need depth. And they should give serious consideration to some safeties.
video The pick: Trent Murphy, LB, Stanford

My take: The Redskins needed help at a few areas and perhaps pass-rusher was not high on the fans' lists. But it was on the coaches' -- and it was on mine. The Redskins did not solve their pass-rush problems just by signing Jason Hatcher. Now Murphy gives the Redskins another pass-rusher to complement fellow outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. The Redskins played nickel coverages about 70 percent of the time last season, so there will be opportunities to use all three.

The Redskins had hoped to use certain sets with extra outside linebackers on the field a year ago, but then-rookie Brandon Jenkins was rarely active. They can use two of these three linebackers on the same side, providing a different look and problems for the line. Murphy plays with an attitude that should work well with these players. Washington's pass rush has struggled the past two years and now it has more depth than it has had in a while. Also, if the Redskins don't hang on to Orakpo after this season then they have his replacement -- or if they don't want to keep Kerrigan after the 2015 season. It's not a foregone conclusion that this means Orakpo is now on a one-year clock in Washington. But it could be tough to keep all three.

Protecting RG III: In our poll this week, the No. 1 spot fans wanted to address was right tackle with 51 percent of the votes. And the Redskins had a chance to address this position when they were on the board at 34.

But once they traded down I figured they were going for defense (and a pass-rusher). The one choice I liked in that round was Nevada's Joel Bitonio because if he couldn't play tackle he could slide inside to guard and be a stud. I wasn't a fan of Morgan Moses and Cyrus Kouandjio's knees were too much of a concern for Washington.

The Redskins did pick up an extra third-round choice in the trade and the draft is deep at right tackle. So there’s a chance they can pick one up later Friday. If so, that player would be unlikely to provide immediate help but would become the right tackle of the future.

What's next: The Redskins have two picks in the third round -- the 66th and 77th overall. The Redskins need to continue adding youth to their defense, but other positions to watch here include right tackle, tight end or even running back.
It is reasonable to think the San Francisco 49ers will consider taking a pass-rusher early in the draft in light of Aldon Smith’s latest arrest.

Even though Smith, 24, is one of the NFL’s best pass-rushers, his future could be clouded. Until Sunday, the 49ers’ greatest needs were cornerback and receiver. I do think those areas are still bigger needs than pass-rusher. But I could also see the 49ers, who have an NFL-high six picks in the top 100 in the May 8-10 draft, using a premium pick at the position.

I spoke with ESPN draft analyst Steve Muench about potential fits in the second or third round. Here is a look:

Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State:

“He will likely be gone and they may not want to take a player who has been suspended three times over the past two seasons but he has the length, quickness and flexibility to develop into an effective edge rusher in the NFL.”

The Sacramento Bee reports Lawrence will visit the 49ers.

Kyle Van Noy, BYU: “He doesn’t bend as well as Lawrence and he has shorter arms but he can beat tackles with speed to power, he uses his hands well and he closes well.”

Muench mentioned these pass-rushers would be taken in the third or fourth-round: Texas’ Jackson Jeffcoat, Alabama DE/OLB Adrian Hubbard and Stanford’s Trent Murphy all project as late third- or early fourth-round picks.

Murphy played for 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

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