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: Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Rob Jackson and Brandon Jenkins.
Comment: On paper, the Redskins appear to be set at outside linebacker.
Indeed, they have two quality starters in Orakpo and Kerrigan, a proven backup in Jackson and a prospect to groom in Jenkins.
But that hasn’t stopped the Redskins from hosting a handful of pass rushers that are expected to be selected early in next month’s draft. Why? A few reasons.
Orakpo told CSNWashington.com last week that there’s been little progress between his camp and the Redskins on a long-term extension, meaning it’s possible, if not likely, that he’ll play the upcoming season under the terms of his $11.45 million franchise tag. If that happens, he’ll become an unrestricted free again next offseason. And remember, team officials debated the decision to tag Orakpo in the first place.
Jackson is also playing on a one-year contract, while Jenkins remains an unknown quantity. Jenkins appeared in five games as a rookie but recorded only one assisted tackle. One assisted tackle. The coaches are hopeful he’ll make a significant step forward as a second-year player. But there’s no guarantee that it will actually happen.
So while there might not be a pressing need at outside linebacker, it's easy to see how it could become an issue sooner rather than later in Washington. We should also point out that head coach Jay Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen invited at least five college pass rushers to Ashburn in recent weeks for pre-draft meetings. That doesn’t mean they’ll use the No. 34 pick to select one, but it does underscore how they view the depth chart at the position.
Three potential prospects:
- Kyle Van Noy, BYU
At 6-3, 243-pounds, Van Noy is projected as an outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme but is versatile enough to play inside linebacker, as well. In 2012, he notched 53 tackles, including 22 for loss, 13 sacks and two interceptions. Pegged as 2nd-4th round pick.
- Jeremiah Attaochu, Georgia Tech
A 6 foot 3, 252-pound graduate of Archbishop Carroll in Washington D.C., Attaochu recorded 45 tackles, including 16 for loss, and 12.5 sacks last season. Projected as a second or third round pick.
- Demarcus Lawrence, Boise State
Lawrence (6 foot 3, 251) played defensive end for the Broncos but is expected to switch to outside linebacker in the pros. Recorded 72 tackles, including 20.5 for loss, and 10.5 sacks last season. Projected by NFL.com as a top-50 selection.