Redskins: Senior Bowl prospects to watch at positions of need
By Ian Cummings
No one really knows what’s going to happen at the linebacker position for the Redskins in 2020. Reuben Foster was once expected to be back after a season’s hiatus, but after recent news of his injury prognosis, his outlook is less clear. Fifth-round rookie Cole Holcomb displayed upside in 2019, as did Shaun Dion Hamilton, but it’s hard to project their development from this point, and a scheme change only complicates matters.
Linebacker is starting to become a legitimate need for the Redskins in the 2020 NFL Draft, and there’s no doubt that Ron Rivera, a former linebacker himself, will have an eye for potential gems to acquire. By extension, Washington should have a presence at the Senior Bowl, as the competition in Mobile is littered with potential diamonds in the rough at the linebacker position.
Senior Bowl Linebackers to Watch
Utah LB Francis Bernard: A true MIKE linebacker is likely to be on Rivera’s wish list in the 2020 NFL Draft, as is versatility at the linebacker position. Francis Bernard checks both boxes. He’s a bit undersized at 6-foot-0, 240, and he’s not in the upper tier of his position, athletically. But as Pro Football Network’s A.J. Schulte wrote earlier in the year, Bernard has elite instincts and awareness for an incoming prospect. Part of that can be attributed to his age, as he’ll be 25 in his rookie season. That will sap his draft stock a bit, but he can be a great value addition early on Day 3.
Wyoming LB Logan Wilson: Given the Redskins frequent struggles in coverage up the middle of the field, they should prioritize coverage skills in the NFL Draft’s linebacker prospects. Wyoming’s Logan Wilson is a good match in that sense. He has a good combination of size and speed at 6-foot-2, 241, and The Draft Network’s Jonah Tuls compared him to Blake Cashman, a 2019 Jets rookie who quickly took over a starting role and outperformed his draft status. Wilson has the same solid foundation, and that should be more than enough for him to garner interest in April.
Appalachian State LB Akeem Davis-Gaither: Davis-Gaither is another one of my personal favorites in this class. He’s not the biggest linebacker prospect, standing at around 6-foot-1, 220. But he has superb toughness, smarts, and coverage instincts, and more than enough fluidity and athleticism to go with it. Davis-Gaither’s complete profile will be coveted on draft day, which means he might not last past the second round. If the Redskins feel they want him, they’ll have to make a move. He’d be an instant starter in Washington, and a boon to an uncertain LB core.
Penn State LB Cameron Brown: Similarly to Davis-Gaither, Cameron Brown is a linebacker who excels in coverage. That’s where the similarities end, of course. Brown is 6-foot-5, 230, with a 79-inch reach, and while he offers exciting athleticism and upside, he needs to add strength to be a complete player, and it’s unclear if that would sap some of his mobility. That said, as it stands, Brown offers a nice combination of speed and length, a mix that equates to range at the next level, and he could be an effective coverage specialist.