Redskins Rumors: Team interested in two, first-round Alabama products
The Washington Redskins are currently locked into the No. 13 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. They will have options there, but they reportedly like a couple of Alabama players.
It’s still very early in the offseason, and it’s hard to tell what the Washington Redskins are going to do with their first round draft pick. They have a fair amount of needs on both sides of the ball, but they should be in position to, once again, land a talented player who has an immediate impact on their team. Last year, Jonathan Allen fell into their laps. This year, there are other top prospects who could be great values.
One of the biggest questions for the team is surrounding what will happen in the event that Kirk Cousins leaves the team. Should he depart, the team could target a quarterback, but that’s not even certain. Reportedly, they have some interest in Mason Rudolph and probably some other top quarterbacks as well. But will they spend the No. 13 pick on one? It’s hard to know.
That said, what is known is that the Redskins are interested in a couple of Alabama players. Per WalterFootball.com’s Charlie Campbell, the Redskins are interested in both defensive lineman Da’Ron Payne and safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Here’s what Campbell said about the interest level in both.
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"If Washington misses out on the quarterbacks or doesn’t need to take one, the Redskins have a variety of options to consider in the first round. The Redskins could use more defensive line help next to impressive rookie Jonathan Allen. Alabama nose tackle Da’Ron Payne is a favorite of sources with Washington, and they love the idea of reuniting Payne and Allen. The team is not as high on Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea.Alabama safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is another favorite of Redskins’ sources, but they don’t believe Fitzpatrick will get to their pick (though they thought the same thing about Jonathan Allen last year). The Redskins have high hopes for second-year safety Montae Nicholson and think he could turn into an excellent pro. D.J. Swearinger also played well for Washington, so safety isn’t a critical need for Washington."
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It’s logical that the team would have interest in both players, and the interest in Payne isn’t surprising in the least. Payne projects as a highly athletic defensive lineman who is capable of playing the nose tackle in a 3-4 defense. That has been a hole for the Redskins for a while, so plugging it by selecting Payne would make sense. And playing him next to Allen, another highly athletic linemen, could end up being a nightmare for opposing offenses.
For those surprised to hear that Payne is higher on the board that Vita Vea, don’t be. Vea is a solid run stuffer and tackler, but his upside isn’t as great as that of Payne. It’s likely that Payne will blow up the Combine and make his stock red hot. That’s actually why I had the Redskins selecting him in my latest mock draft. His versatility and athleticism should help him to beat out Vea on many boards as the top nose tackle option.
As for Fitzpatrick, the interest makes a lot of sense. Though the team might be set at safety, as Campbell pointed out, the team still lacks depth at the position, as it seems unlikely that Su’a Cravens will return to the team in 2018. Additionally, Montae Nicholson did miss a fair amount of time with injuries, including a concussion, so that could make safety a bigger need. If Fitzpatrick makes it to their pick, they can select him and know that he will be a sure-fire success. And, his versatility will allow him to play virtually any position in the secondary in a pinch.
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For now, these are just rumors, but either of these players would be a solid get for the Redskins. Here’s hoping that they will be able to land one come draft day to help further improve their defense.