The Redskins.com crew provides news and notes from Saturday, March 3, 2018, at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
The Redskins have question marks at inside linebacker, a run defense to improve and the next couple of months to figure out how they’d like to solve them. This year’s draft has a few strong options to address both of those issues in the first round.
Saturday in Indianapolis, the defensive linemen and linebackers had a chance to bench press and speak at the podium, while the quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends hit the field for workouts. You can be sure the Redskins’ brass were watching intently.
Here’s a roundup from the day’s events.
--Central Florida linebacker Shaquem Griffin amazed just about everybody surrounding the bench press on Saturday, pushing up 20 reps of 225 pounds with help from a prosthetic strapped to his left arm. What many people believe to be inspirational is merely routine for Griffin, who, despite missing his left hand, is one of the better linebacker prospects in the draft, and according to Mike Mayock, who said he choked up watching him lift iron, will be a legit player in the league.
“I’m not amazed at all. I know what I can do,” Griffin said. “The reason why I’m excited to prove so many people wrong is because a lot of people see somebody who has one hand and not two and they think it’s different. They think it doesn’t make sense…I’m never going to set limitations on what you can do. You have two hands or 30 hands, you show me what you can do and we can go from there…When I wake up in the morning and brush my teeth, I look at myself in the mirror, I’m not going see anybody else in the mirror.”
--Alabama continues to crank out big-time defensive linemen and another pair in Da’Ron Payne and Da’Shawn Hand is eager to get into the league. In their sessions with reporters, both said they’ve looked up to Redskins defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, their teammate from two years ago, and have learned about the draft process chatting with him. Payne, who is likely to be taken in the first round, said both Allen and linebacker Ryan Anderson would love a Crimson Tide reunion and their combination would certainly beef up the defensive line even more. Hand happened to be in Indianapolis last year as Allen was going through the Combine process and Facetimed with Allen throughout his journey. Allen has in turn given him advice on when to sleep and how to present himself this week.
“It’s always good to see your older brother doing great, because then, you’ve played alongside of him and he’s taught you some things,” Hand said. “You’ll be more confident in your ability.”
--Certainly the biggest body, and the biggest name, on the Redskins’ defensive line draft board is University of Washington nose tackle Vita Vea. At a listed 344 pounds and aiming to run a vague “fast” 40-time, he said at the podium, Vea could be an extremely intriguing option if he falls to the Redskins at No. 13. What would sure be an upgrade along the defensive line and a natural fit at the one-technique, Vea grabbed 43 tackles last year for 3.5 sacks, impressing with his quick feet and, as Charles Davis mentioned to Redskins.com, his ironic ability to “get skinny” in between holes.
Vea said his power is something that he’s most happy with and wants to continue developing in the league, mentioning players such as Haloti Ngata , Reggie White and Justin Smith as players he’s looked up to. “I feel like there’s been a lot of hype built around me, a lot of rumors that have been leaked out, so just go out there, have fun and do my job and live up to the expectations,” Vea said before benching 41 reps of 225 pounds.
--Among exciting linebacker prospects, Virginia Tech Tremaine Edmunds is one of the most fascinating. NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah told Redskins.com that he has him ranked as the best inside linebacker of the draft class, but there remain concerns over his young age –he’s just 19 – and how exactly teams want to use him on the field. He said he’s open to any position on the field and credited his length, speed and play in space as reasons why he has climbed up draft boards.
Edmunds comes from a football family. His father Ferrell was a two-time Pro Bowler as a tight end at Miami and his brother Trey just finished his rookie season as a running back with the Saints. And don’t forget about other brother Terrell Edmunds, a Virginia Tech safety also going through the draft process with Tremaine.
“It’s been great. We talk about a lot of things,” Edmunds said. “Now that we’re here at the Combine together, it’s a dream come true. The dream’s not finished yet. We’re still working, still trying to get better and one day hopefully we can just look back at all these memories.”
--The other linebacker that could be an immediate impact player at inside linebacker is Georgia’s Roquan Smith. He made a name for himself on the national stage during the Bulldog’s College Playoff games, which he credits as one reason his name has garnered so much attention. He’s met with a bounty of NFL teams this week and will likely be Top-20 player in this year’s draft. Smith said he likes the inside spot because he can take control of the defense and that he has to make a lot of plays when it comes to the pass and the run. “Very good linebackers can elevate defenses,” Smith said.
“As far as my game that I’m really excited to show, and I feel like it speaks for itself, I feel like I’m very instinctual, my IQ of the game, my sideline to sideline ability, my ability to strike guys and make plays,” Smith said. “[I’m] just a playmaker if you ask me."
--As for workouts on the field, most of the quarterbacks had fun showing off their arms, especially Wyoming product Josh Allen. He slung the ball 70 yards during one rep and according to Mayock, “he’s got as live an arm as anybody I’ve seen since Jamarcus Russell,” which is not a slight towards any career projections but a way of comparing his cannon of a right arm. “His arm talent is off the charts and I thought he showed off a little today.”
One wide receiver to keep in mind as the Redskins decide how to address that position in free agency and the draft is Texas A&M product Christian Kirk, who ran a 4.46 4o-yard dash. He could be the speed guy the Redskins and head coach Jay Gruden have been looking for to fulfill some of the big-play abilities they lacked last season. According to Charles Davis, Kirk is “probably a slot that’s going to start for you right away, can flat out run and return kicks.”