With the busy portion of the free agency period completed, it’s time to start looking ahead to ahead to the NFL draft and, specifically, needs the Redskins still have. In the coming days, we’ll rank those needs in order from least to most important. We’ll also take a look at prospects who could be a fit.
Current depth chart: Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster and Chris Thompson.
Comment: Similar to the quarterback position, it would seem the Redskins are in pretty good shape here.
Alfred Morris has not only been remarkably productive in his first two seasons, ranking second and fourth in the NFL in rushing yards, he’s also proven to be remarkably durable considering his rugged running style.
Because of that, we can be sure of this much: Morris will be Jay Gruden’s primary runner and fullback Darrel Young will pave the way for the Pro Bowler.
The question is who will play the role of Giovani Bernard? In Cincinnati last season, Bernard gained 695 yards on the ground and caught 56 passes for 514 more yards.
Among the in-house candidates, Helu is the most experienced and most accomplished. The fourth-year player hauled in 31 passes last season and 49 as a rookie.
Gruden also sounds intrigued by Chris Thompson, whom the coach recently described as “one of the most exciting backs” while at Florida State. Thompson made the roster in 2013 as a return specialist but couldn't stay healthy. His rookie season was cut short by a shoulder injury, and that followed ACL and back injuries as a Seminole.
While discussing potential third down running back candidates at the NFL owners’ meetings last month, Gruden indicated that Helu and Thompson will receive strong consideration. But he also made it clear that his mind is not set, saying, “With Roy and Chris, we have guys who could possibly take that role. But we’ll keep looking.”
Which brings us back to next month’s draft. The Redskins certainly would seem to have more pressing needs, such as safety, inside linebacker and offensive line. But Gruden is a former quarterback and the play-caller. And you know what those kinds of guys like? More weapons.
Three potential prospects:
- Marion Grice, Arizona State
The Redskins attended his pro day workout earlier this month and he reportedly said he has a private workout scheduled with the team in Ashburn. The speedy 6-foot, 207-pound prospect rushed for 996 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and hauled in 50 passes for 438 yards and six scores.
- Charles Sims, West Virginia
Like Grice, the Redskins have reportedly scheduled a pre-draft meeting with Sims, who transferred from Houston to WVU for his final year of eligibility. Listed at 6-0, 213-pounds, Sims rushed for 1,095 yards and 11 touchdowns and caught 45 passes for 401 yards and three scores.
- De’Anthony Thomas, Oregon
He possesses elusiveness, acceleration and top gear speed. Last season, he rushed for 594 yards, eight scores and a 6.2-yard per carry average. He also caught 22 passes for 246 yards. Listed at 5-9, 176 pounds, Thomas also averaged 25.8 yards per kick return in three seasons.