Analyzing the Redskins' visits: Defense

April, 17, 2014
Apr 17
5:00
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The list of defensive players who have visited, or will visit, the Redskins is notable because of the position a few of them play: outside linebacker. Yes, the Redskins have two starters and two backups. But Brian Orakpo and Rob Jackson are on one-year deals (barring a long-term deal for Orakpo). And pass-rushers always are at a premium, so this makes sense. The safeties they've hosted project to later-round picks, which makes sense if they're looking for a guy they can develop so they can take another position earlier.

The Washington Redskins can host up to 30 players before the draft, though sometimes they'll end up drafting only a couple of players who actually visit. And we don't really know what visits mean for this regime: How many of these players will they ultimately select? Some teams draft maybe one or two players that they actually hosted.

It's also true that in some cases the Redskins might not want to draft certain players, but would bring them in because they want a book on them for the future -- in case they get cut or become free agents down the road.

Anyway, take the visits for what they're worth but the positions they're looking at are noteworthy. These are players who either have visited, will visit or have talked to them about visiting. I've used reports from the Washington Post, myself, ESPN980, SiriusXM radio and 106.7. I also used some info from draft analysts for ESPN.com, CBSSports.com and NFL.com. And in finishing this item, I came across a similar format on a site called Pro Player Insiders.

Here's a look at the defensive players (and here's the offense):

FS Tre Boston, North Carolina

Projection: Late rounds

Comment: Former corner turned safety has good ball skills, but analysts questioned his instincts and consistency. He’s considered a raw project.

How he’d fit: Special-teamer who could possibly be groomed, by Ryan Clark and also coach Raheem Morris.

DE/OLB Kyle Van Noy, BYU

Projection: Second round

Comment: Maybe he sneaks into the first, but my guess is he’ll be available at 34 -- some have him lasting until late in the second and possibly the third. Have heard that the Redskins like him, but you can like a lot of players this time of year. He had 17.5 tackles for a loss last season. Analysts like his explosiveness off the ball, but do question his strength and, therefore, his ability to play the run. (ADDED: His strength is his versatility as Van Noy played all over and there's a chance he could play inside in a 3-4).

How he’d fit: If the Redskins drafted him, he’d be viewed as Brian Orakpo’s eventual replacement at outside linebacker, assuming he does not return after this season. That is, unless the Redskins like Van Noy better inside.

DE/OLB Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State

Projection: Second round

Comment: Another pass-rusher type, which suggests they at least wonder about Orakpo’s future in Washington. Of course, this is also just due diligence and pass-rushers are always on the list to examine. Lawrence made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage and has excellent pass-rush skills. But the concern is his ability to play the run.

How he’d fit: Like Van Noy, he’d be viewed as a future replacement for Orakpo. But for this season he’d be pass-rush help.

DE/OLB Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech

Projection: Second round


Comment: He played at Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. Another pass-rushing outside linebacker. Obviously he was a good pass-rusher in college -- 22.5 sacks his last two years combined -- and has experience in both 4-3 and 3-4 schemes. That versatility helps. The knock on him is that he’s still learning all aspects of the position, especially the run.

How he’d fit: Another potential Orakpo replacement. Because he has a lot to learn, he’d be a pass-rusher this season while learning the other aspects of the position.

DE/OLB Marcus Smith, Louisville

Projection: Second, third round

Comment: He played all over for Louisville, so he’d offer versatility. Either that or he’d be a player without a full-time place to play. He does not have elite skills, but he does have long arms (always good for a rusher) and he is physical (again, always good).

How he’d fit: Yet another in the line of “potential Orakpo replacements." Or he’d just be a guy who could help in various ways, regardless of Orakpo.

S Dezmen Southward, Wisconsin

Projection: Possible fourth

Comment: Has good size (6-feet, 211 pounds) and ran a 4.38 in the 40 at his pro day. So speed clearly is a strength. Was not a playmaker in college, but was versatile as he covered slot receivers on occasion.

How he’d fit: Another guy to groom. He’d be worthwhile because he has some skills and a year with Clark and Morris would benefit him. Would he be an eventual starter? No idea. But he can play special teams and that’s a must for a young safety not starting.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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