In his most recent mock draft, FoxSports.com's Peter Schrager has the Redskins taking Ohio State cornerback Eli Apple with the No. 21 overall-pick.
Could the Washington Redskins select a Big Ten prospect in the first round for the second time in as many years, and for the third time in six years?
“The Redskins are desperate for some young talent in their defensive backfield,” Schrager writes. “Apple's tough, fast, and has great ball skills. A New Jersey native, the 6-foot-1 cornerback improved in 2016 from a solid 2015 season. First-round pick.”
Apple was selected as an All-Big Ten Second-Team member during the 2015 season, as he collected 33 tackles (four for loss) along with eight passes defensed and an interception.
In the Buckeyes’ 44-28 Fiesta Bowl victory over Notre Dame on Jan. 1, Apple was named Defensive Most Valuable Player of the game after he recorded five tackles and a pass defensed while Ohio State allowed just 284 passing yards on 38 attempts.
During his first active season in 2014, Apple started 14 of 15 games for the eventual National Champions, tallying 53 tackles with 13 passes defensed and three interceptions.
Apple’s third interception of the season came in Ohio State’s National Championship Game victory over the University of Oregon, as he picked off Heisman Trophy-winner Marcus Mariota.
The Voorhees, N.J., native was a four-star recruit out of Eastern High School, selecting Ohio State’s offer over Alabama, Clemson, Michigan and others.
According to his NFL.com draft profile, Apple has “good height, weight and arm length combination.”
“Clean footwork in transition with natural ability to mirror and match from press coverage. Won’t open hips early and rarely turned around off line of scrimmage. Has foot quickness in short spaces to maintain feel for his man. Extremely competitive when ball is in the air. Has play strength to redirect receivers from their routes. Aggressive hands in coverage and fights hard to disrupt the catch by any means necessary. Finished with 22 passes defensed over last two years. Scouts praise him for work ethic and technical improvement over last two years. Will come downhill against run and is diligent with contain responsibilities,” his profile states.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein believes Apple reminds him of Los Angeles Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson.
Johnson, a 2012 third-round pick, is coming off a career year in 2015, as he recorded 71 tackles with 17 passes defensed and seven interceptions.