Last spring, 2019 NFL draft projections included a member of James Madison’s secondary, but he isn’t the Dukes’ defensive back who seems likely to be picked.
Cornerback Rashad Robinson, from Hermitage High School, was the CAA’s 2018 preseason defensive player of the year. He missed the season because of a foot injury.
Jimmy Moreland, the “other” cornerback at JMU, ended up as the CAA’s postseason defensive player of the year and an All-American. Moreland, a 5-foot-10 179-pounder from Royal Palm Beach, Fla., had five interceptions and returned three of them for touchdowns. The NFL draft starts Thursday and runs through Saturday.
Moreland holds the JMU career record for interceptions (18) and interceptions returned for touchdowns (five). He also had nine breakups as a senior. Moreland was not invited to the NFL combine, but stood out in workouts prior to the East-West Shrine Game and the Senior Bowl.
In addition to his coverage ability, Moreland has the speed and aggressiveness to contribute on special teams.
Moreland could be selected from the third round to the seventh round, according to NFL draft projections. If he is chosen, Moreland would become the first JMU player drafted since guard Earl Watford was taken by the Arizona Cardinals in the fourth round in 2013.
The Dukes’ dry spell in the NFL draft seems odd in light of their success. JMU has advanced to the FCS playoffs each of the last five years, winning the national championship in 2016 and finishing as runner-up in 2017.
Former University of Richmond receiver Cortrelle Simpson is also viewed as a potential draft pick, primarily because of his speed. Longshots include Richmond offensive lineman John Yarbrough and fullback Gordon Collins, and JMU defensive end Darrious Carter and tailback Marcus Marshall.
The Washington Redskins absolutely stole wide receiver Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He has a good chance to come in and make an immediate impact.
The Washington Redskins had an extremely nice showing in the 2019 NFL Draft. Starting with landing franchise quarterback Dwayne Haskins and dynamic edge rusher Montez Sweat in the first round, the Redskins added legitimate impact players on both sides of the ball throughout the draft.
In a class full of impressive selections, taking wide receiver Kelvin Harmon in the sixth round is among the best. Harmon slid in the draft due to his lack of foot speed and quickness, and that is obviously a concern at the next level. That being said, Harmon’s overall skill set should translate well.
Harmon is a big and physical receiver who can box out and consistently win at the catch point. He is a smart player who can find open space against zone coverage and shows the ability to run a variety of routes.
His lack of raw foot speed causes him to struggle to create consistent separation against man coverage. However, he catches the ball extremely well in traffic. Harmon’s combination of size, strength and athleticism will play at the next level and his innate ability to track the ball in the air gives him some legitimate upside.
The Redskins entered the 2019 NFL Draft with obvious needs at the wide receiver position. Guys like Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson are not exactly solidified as premier pass catchers. There is room for a late-round gem like Harmon to come in and compete for playing time.
Harmon’s ability to find space against zone coverage and consistently make catches in traffic gives him a chance to make an impact as a rookie receiver. In particular, he fits as a strong option in the passing game with a rookie quarterback like Haskins under center.
Simply put, Kelvin Harmon was one of the best value selections for any team in the 2019 NFL Draft. On top of that, the Washington Redskins have an obvious need at the wide receiver position. If Harmon can come in and learn the offense quickly, he has the talent to consistently make plays on the outside.
It might seem crazy, but Kelvin Harmon has legitimate Offensive Rookie of the Year potential this season.
Cole Holcomb became the 1st Tar Heel to be drafted on Saturday evening when he was picked up by the Washington Football Team in the 5th round with the 173rd pick. It wasn’t a huge class for linebackers and Holcomb had impressed with his athletic profile, becoming about the 15th off-ball linebacker taken.
Holcomb came to UNC as a walk-on after receiving almost no interest from FBS schools out of high school and quickly became a stalwart at the middle linebacker position, consistently leading the Heels in tackles and rallying the team through a tough couple of years. When the defense was forced on the field again and again thanks to incompetent offense, Holcomb was a tone-setter for a squad that ended up breaking at inopportune moments, but competed better than a team with 5 wins in two seasons had any right to.
Holcomb’s athletic testing was a surprise even to a lot of UNC fans, as his speed and change of direction looked good, but not great, on first glance on the field. He plays intelligently, though, and clearly has a high ceiling and the work ethic to go with it to be where he is after walking on to the team initially. Washington seems to have drafted him to play outside linebacker in a 4-3, where he’ll excel covering tight ends and cutting off outside runs. He’ll be fun to watch and hope to make an impact early with Washington. We wish him the best as he starts his pro career.
Redskins select Alabama OL Ross Pierschbacher with No. 153 overall pick. There’s that Alabama connection again.
The Washington Redskins had drafted four Alabama Crimson Tide players in the past two NFL Drafts, but in the 2019 NFL Draft, they started out their first five selections with no players from Nick Saban’s school.
Of course, we all knew that couldn’t last for long.
With their first fifth-round selection of the 2019 NFL Draft, the Washington Redskins selected Alabama Crimson Tide center Ross Pierschbacher, quickly double-dipping on the interior offensive line with another experienced blocker.
Like the Redskins first offensive line selection, Indiana guard Wes Martin, Pierschbacher was a four-year starter at Alabama who accrued experience all over the offensive interior, though his primary position was center. Pierschbacher offers good size at 6-foot-4, 305, and with his experience and modest athleticism, he should provide some versatility for Washington.
Pierschbacher does have some limitations, in terms of converting strength to power on the field, but he’s a fairly polished lineman who has enough functional movement ability to be a decent starter. How he progresses remains to be seen, but at the very least, he provides depth, and the Redskins needed that.
Now, with both Martin and Pierschbacher in the fold, the question of who starts at left guard remains. There are plenty of names in the mix, from Ereck Flowers to Martin to Arie Kouandjio, but it’s hard to see anyone separating themselves from the rest of the pack. Perhaps time will yield the answer. The good thing to take away from the selection is this: The Redskins won’t be scrambling for players to fill their roster like they were last year, in the midst of a wave of line injuries.
Now, the Redskins will wait until their next fifth-round pick, which sits at No. 173 overall. They can still stand to add a safety, as well as a tight end, a developmental tackle, and potentially another wide receiver to target. With just four picks left, their opportunities are waning. With Pierschbacher, they don’t have to worry about adding to their interior anymore. One could say they’re scouting the helmet a bit too much, but Pierschbacher provides value, nonetheless.
Newly drafted Washington Redskins offensive guard Wes Martin has been praised for his explosive strength. After all, Martin completed 38 bench reps of 225 pounds at the NFL combine and had 42 on his pro day.
It likely comes from working on his neighbor’s dairy farm in West Milton, Ohio.
“Physically, there is a lot of grit strength involved and brute strength,” Martin said. “It kind of instilled the work ethic, and it makes you not afraid to work extremely hard and put in a lot of hours into what you are doing.”“
After his mother told him and his brother, Adam, to spend their free time outside, Martin began to take daily walks to a neighboring farm to pet the cows. Martin eventually began to help out on the farm, doing any job the farmer asked him to do. Two of his most common tasks were helping with bailing hay and moving manure, which he credits with helping his strength develop.
Along with developing his physical strength, working on the farm helped instill a dedicated work ethic as well as his nickname: Mr. Dependable.
Martin would spend long hours in the summer heat working on the farm but never wavered. His work ethic shined off the field, too, as Martin became the first member of his mother’s side of the family to graduate from college and was named an academic All-Big Ten selection four times while attending Indiana University.
Away from football, working around animals on the farm helped drive one of Martin’s biggest passions. Last summer, Martin established a non-profit company, Brave Breed, focused on putting rescue dogs back into homes.
At his pro day with Indiana, Martin accepted donation pledges for every bench rep he completed. As you can imagine, there were a lot of donations.
The Redskins made a number of obvious moves during the 2019 NFL Draft.
The team needed a quarterback, so they added a quarterback. Washington had to bring in interior offensive linemen, so they drafted two guards. The team was desperate for new talent at the receiver position, and brought in two new wideouts.
One selection made less sense though, at least on the surface level.
In the fourth round, the Redskins took Stanford running back Bryce Love. A dynamic talent and Heisman finalist two seasons ago, Love would have been a first-round pick a year ago had he declared for the 2018 NFL Draft.
Instead, he returned to Stanford for his senior season. His team wasn’t nearly as good, his numbers dipped, and he suffered a major knee injury late in the year (see video above).
That’s the Love situation.
The Redskins running back situation is quite different. And possibly full.
Adrian Peterson proved he still had plenty left last year when he played in every game and rushed for more than 1,000 yards. He will be 34 this season, but after last year, it would be silly to believe he can’t continue to produce.
There’s also Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson.
Guice was supposed to be the future at RB last year when he was drafted in the second round, until he hurt his knee in the preseason. Guice missed his entire rookie season.
Thompson has been a strong weapon for Washington when he’s been able to stay on the field. In 2017, Thompson was having a fantastic season before breaking his leg late in the year. In 2018, Thompson dealt with a bunch of different injuries and his production suffered.
The ‘Skins have other backs – Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall fill out the depth chart. But the addition of Love is not about replacing Perine or Marshall.
The addition of Love can mean a few different things.
Thompson is in the last year of his contract. He’s a fan favorite, active in the community and one of the best blocking backs in the NFL.
Love’s game seems well suited for a third-down back role in the NFL. He has speed and burst but probably not the size to play every down.
A year from now, Love looks like a natural replacement for Thompson. That might be tough for fans to hear because Thompson is such a great dude, but it’s the cold reality of the NFL business.
This season, however, expect Love to open his first NFL training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list. That means he won’t count toward the 53-man roster and won’t be eligible to play until the halfway point of the season.
By then, odds are one of the Redskins other running backs might be hurt, and Love can start to play. Assuming his recovery from ACL surgery suffers no setbacks.
Speaking of setbacks, Guice is returning from knee surgery and Redskins coach Jay Gruden said he was ahead of schedule in his recovery. Love’s arrival should not cast doubt on Guice’s availability. That said, Love could be insurance down the road if Guice struggles coming back from a knee that bothered him in college too.
From a roster standpoint, the Redskins carried four running backs last year. There’s no reason to think they can’t do that again, but it would be too big an assumption to put Love on the team as the fourth RB.
For 2018, Guice, Peterson and Thompson all seem like roster locks. Then probably Perine again if, or when, Love starts the year on the PUP list. The Redskins are not required to activate Love to the roster if they do use the PUP list, though he might be able to gain some valuable practice time.
Love’s arrival likely means much more for 2020 than it does for 2019. It’s a move for a team that is planning ahead, as Thompson will be a free agent and Peterson will be 35 years old.
Check out notes on new Washington Redskins edge Montez Sweat, the No. 26 pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft, courtesy of Redskins Public Relations.
Sweat is the 476th selection made by the Redskins in the Common Draft era (since 1967) and the 31st first-round selection in that time frame. He is the 62nd first-round selection by the Redskins all-time since the institution of the draft in 1936.
Sweat’s selection marks the third straight year in which the Redskins have selected a defensive player with a first-round pick of the draft joining Jonathan Allen (No. 17 overall in 2017), and Daron Payne (No. 13 overall in 2018). This is the first time in team history the Redskins selected defensive players with a first-round pick selection in three consecutive drafts.
Sweat is the 11th defensive player selected by the Redskins in the first round since 1999, joining CB Champ Bailey (1999), LB LaVar Arrington (2000), S Sean Taylor (2004), CB Carlos Rogers (2005), S LaRon Landry (2007), DE/LB Brian Orakpo (2009), LB Ryan Kerrigan (2011), DL Jonathan Allen (2017), and DT Daron Payne (2018). Nine of the 10 defensive players selected by the Redskins in the first round in that time frame have earned at least one Pro Bowl selection during their career.
Sweat’s selection marks the seventh time in the Common Draft era that the Redskins have selected a defensive lineman in the first round, joining Daron Payne (2018), Jonathan Allen (2017), Ryan Kerrigan (2011), Brian Orakpo (2009, transitioned to linebacker in 2010), Kenard Lang (1997) and Bobby Wilson (1991). The Redskins also selected Tracy Rocker (1989, third round), Markus Koch (1986, second round), Bob Slater (1984, second round), Duncan McColl (1977, fourth round) and Bill Brundige (1970, second round) with the team’s first selections of each of the drafts listed.
With the selections of Sweat, Payne and Allen, the Redskins have now used first-round selections on defensive linemen in three consecutive drafts for the first time in the Common Draft era.
Sweat is the sixth player from Mississippi State selected by the Redskins all-time, joining C Dave Price (1938), B Charlie Yancey (1943), C Charley Cadenhead (1946), CB Fred Smoot (2001), and LB Preston Smith (2015).
Sweat’s selection marks the first time the franchise has drafted a player with No. 26 overall pick in the Common Draft Era and the second time the Redskins used the No. 26 pick selecting B Maurice Elder in the third round of the 1937 NFL Draft.
Sweat is the ninth Southeastern Conference product selected by the Redskins in the first round in the Common Draft era. The Redskins have now selected an SEC product in the first round of three consecutive drafts for the first time in team history. Sweat becomes the second player selected by the Redskins all-time with the No. 15 overall pick, joining WR Rod Gardner (2001).
With the No. 76 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, the Redskins selected Terry McLaurin, wide receiver out of Ohio State. Special teams ace who demonstrated plenty of route-running polish, twitchiness, and impressive speed as a receiver at the Senior Bowl. Older prospect but someone who could be more productive in the NFL than he was in college.
Draft tracker: Get grades for every pick
Pete Prisco: He is raw, but he can run. He had an impressive senior bowl that elevated him in scouts’ eyes. He fills a major need and he knows Dwayne Haskins well.
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Dave Richard: Fantasy managers shouldn’t be too excited to draft McLaurin. He was effectively a deep-ball threat for the Buckeyes — he didn’t show up as a physical receiver, not even consistently competing for contested catches and often using his chest to help him catch balls. But he caught a touchdown every 3.2 catches last year — and who threw him those passes?! This was a pick to help new Redskins quarterback Dwayne Haskins get comfortable — the two played together at Ohio State and have instant rhythm to help the Redskins in at least a couple of elements on the field. McLaurin is only worth taking late in deeper dynasty start-ups and keeper leagues as well as with a Round 3 pick in rookie-only drafts.
NFL comparison: DaeSean Hamilton
Chris Trapasso: Hamilton was as good of a route-runner as you’ll see in college, and McLaurin is a great separator down the field. He’s a step or two faster than Hamilton and is more explosive than he is twitchy. He’ll be a special teams ace too.
Quarterback J.T. Barrett went down, Dwayne Haskins entered the game and Ohio State Buckeyes fans were introduced to his ability to handle pressure. At the time, the Buckeyes trailed by six at Michigan late in the third quarter. They soon faced a third-and-13. And that’s when Haskins unloaded a decisive dart between two defenders, converting a first down en route to a comeback win.
In clutch moments in big games, Haskins produced in college. In the fourth quarter last season alone, he threw a combined 14 touchdowns and only one interception.
It’s a good thing he can handle that sort of pressure. He’s about to receive plenty.
He was drafted No. 15 overall by the Washington Redskins, an organization that was split on him entering the night. He joins a team whose coach, Jay Gruden, enters a must-win season and whose fan base has turned sour because of years ending in frustration — and with legitimate hope too often lacking.
Regardless of any pre-draft divisions, all that matters now is how Washington handles it moving forward, and that’s the internal spin. Haskins is a quarterback with special arm talent who can give this franchise — and fan base — a big jolt if he succeeds. And, oh man, do they need him to succeed.
Gruden enters his sixth season, with the last three ending the same way: no playoffs. Owner Dan Snyder and president Bruce Allen need to prove they can build a consistent winner, something the franchise hasn’t had since coach Joe Gibbs retired the first time — after the 1992 season. Since then, Washington has had no 11-win seasons, only three 10-win seasons and two playoff wins.
But quarterbacks represent hope. There’s debate on Haskins’ game, but it’s not as if he were a reach at No. 15. The Redskins got a guy whom experts applauded without having to trade up to get him. For what it’s worth, that option didn’t seem to be in play anyway, as the Redskins believed he would be available at 15.
This isn’t the first time the Redskins have been split on a player, nor will it be the last. With a first-round quarterback, though, you would like to have unanimity. But they must be unanimous moving forward. Otherwise: Unemployment awaits. The job now is to make it work. Haskins has arm talent, a willingness to work and is considered smart — the Redskins liked how he handled the board work during their visit. That’s a pretty strong base.
The concerns revolve around his inexperience and mechanical issues. He does need to improve his footwork in the pocket; he does need to throw with anticipation at an NFL level; he does need to speed up his delivery at times.
He’s also coming from an offense that featured a lot of run-pass options (RPOs), bubble screens and jet passes. While the NFL has turned more to the RPOs, the feeling among teams was that this style did not provide enough of a look at what he could do at the pro level. Ohio State had planned to build on concepts with him, anticipating his return. With NFL offensive concepts comes having to read defenses against those looks, so it’s a definite back-to-the-starting-line situation for him. Hence, the drop to 15.
However, Haskins did throw a lot from the pocket, and that’s something he’ll do in the NFL. He was more involved in protections, too, and that’s a big part of a quarterback’s job. You don’t get to 50 touchdowns and 4,831 yards in your first season of starting without having something big to offer.
There were questions about Kyler Murray, too, but his ability to run enables him to contribute immediately. Haskins lacks that ability, but he also wasn’t a statue in the pocket.
“He is a big, strong guy,” Gruden said. “He can maneuver in the pocket. He can buy some time with his size and strength — people bounce off of him, he can do a good job in the pocket.
“There are some things that he can work on, and there are some things he has to work on. He can work on everything, as every quarterback can. Tom Brady is still working on things now, Drew Brees … Dwayne is the type of guy that I think is very excited about getting into a building and working, and that is what drew us to him.”
The key here: The owner must now let the football side develop him. Patience will be required; it’s important for the health of the franchise.
There certainly is fodder for doubters, including the thought that if you’re going to draft someone who might take time, perhaps you find that guy in the third round and not 15th overall.
Allen is the one making decisions — knowing that Snyder likes Haskins — and should be under pressure if this doesn’t work. But what if it does work out? It’s not like the Redskins reached for Haskins. It’s a move that some loved — such as ESPN’s Louis Riddick, a former safety and NFL executive, and Dan Orlovsky, a former quarterback. Both are smart men who do deep dives into players, and Riddick loved Patrick Mahomes two years ago. Are they right? We’ll find out.
“I do know this: When he was forced to play at a high level in the fourth quarter, when the money was on the line, he showed up,” Orlovsky said earlier this month. “I love that part of his game.”
It’s an interesting mix. Gruden needs to win, the organization needs to prove it knows what it’s doing, and Haskins wants to show why others should have taken him earlier. As always with the Redskins, it’ll be intriguing theater.