With the busy portion of the free agency period completed, it’s time to start looking ahead to the NFL draft and, specifically, needs the Redskins still have. In the coming days, we’ll rank them in order from least to most important. We’ll also take a look at prospects who could be a fit.
Current depth chart: NTs—Barry Cofield, Chris Baker and Chris Neild; DEs—Jason Hatcher, Jarvis Jenkins, Baker, Stephen Bowen, Kedric Golston, Clifton Geathers and Doug Worthington.
Comment: The signing of Jason Hatcher filled an immediate need—and very nicely, we might add—for a Redskins’ defensive line that lacked pass-rushing punch in 2013.
But you don’t need to look too far into the future to realize that it’s time to draft and begin developing a future starter.
Hatcher notched a career-high 11 sacks last season in Dallas and is expected to bolster Washington’s unit, which produced a disappointing total of 5.5 sacks in ‘13. Hatcher is considered a low mileage player, considering he didn’t become a fulltime starter until ‘11. But he’ll be 32 in July.
Stephen Bowen is 30 and coming off microfracture surgery on his knee. He remains in the team’s plans, but questions about his health will persist until he proves he’s 100-percent. Bowen also carries a hefty cap hit of $7 million this season.
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Barry Cofield is also 30 and is signed through 2016. But he must continue to produce at a high level to justify being among the highest paid Redskins. His cap hit of $7.67 million will rank fourth in 2014.
As for the youngsters, Chris Baker is versatile, is coming off a breakout season and earned a three-year extension as a result. But what about Jarvis Jenkins? After losing his rookie season to an ALC injury, he’s shown improvement as a run-stopper but hasn’t proven himself to be a consistent rush threat. He had no sacks in 2012 and two last season.
So as you can see, Hatcher has answered one big question in the short term. But it won’t be long before the Redskins could find themselves in need of another difference maker up front.
Three potential prospects:
- Ra’Shede Hageman, Minnesota
It’s possible the versatile, 6-foot-6, 310 pound first team All Big Ten selection won’t be around when the Redskins pick at 34. But if he is … Hageman recorded 38 tackles, including 13 for loss, and notched two sacks and an interception last season. NFL.com projects Hageman as a top-50 pick, while NFLdraftscout.com pegs him as a first or second round pick, as well.
- DaQuan Jones, Penn State
He possesses size (6 foot 4, 322 pounds), power and versatility to play nose or end in the 3-4. Last season, he produced 56 tackles, including 11.5 for loss, and three sacks. Projected as a second-fourth round selection.
- Daniel McCullers, Tennessee
At 6-foot-7, 352 pounds, McCullers may need some refinement but he certainly cuts an impressive figure. He recorded 33 tackles, including 4.5 tackles for a loss, and defended a pass last season. Projects as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme and figures to be drafted in the 2nd – 4th rounds.