The names of another three NFL prospects on the Redskins’ pre-draft visit list have trickled out.
The team hosted Wisconsin safety Dezmen Southward on Wednesday, according to a report from National Football Post, and also met with West Virginia running back Charles Sims, a person with knowledge of the situation confirmed.
The Redskins also plan to host Georgia Tech outside linebacker Jeremiah Attaochu, according to ESPN 980.
Those players, and the six discussed yesterday, rank among the group of 30 that Washington will have in for interviews leading up to next month’s draft.
Southward, a 6-foot, 211-pound senior, projects by most reports as a mid- to late-round draft pick, partially because he was medically red-flagged for a fractured C-5 vertebrae in his back at the NFL Scouting Combine. His doctor, Bob Watkins, challenged that report, and Southward went on to have an impressive workout at Wisconsin’s Pro Day. He ran a 4.38-second 40-yard dash, recorded a broad jump of 10 feet, 4 inches.
The scouting reports describe Southward as a physical safety who excels against the run. But they also say that his coverage skills require some refinement. CBSSports.com’s draft evaluations rate him as a work in progress because he didn’t start playing football until high school.
Washington has addressed its immediate needs at safety, re-signing Brandon Meriweather and signing Ryan Clark this offseason. But the long-term question remains unclear. Bacarri Rambo lined up at free safety early last season, but rarely played after struggling mightily in the tackling department. Fellow rookie Phillip Thomas missed the entire season with a Lisfranc injury. The team also has relatively unproven players in Jose Gumbs, Trenton Robinson (primarily special teams contributors) and Akeem Davis, a first-year player signed last week.
Sims fits the bill of the speedy, change-of-pace running back that also could fill the need for a reliable receiver out of the backfield.
“I’m just an all-around back,” the 6-foot, 214-pound back said when we caught up with him at the Senior Bowl, where he made an impression on coaches. “I try to mix in some [Matt] Forte, some [Arian] Foster. Just a hard worker. I can make plays on the field at any time, whether it’s receiver or running back.”
Sims projects as a third- to fourth-round pick. The Redskins have Alfred Morris as their starter, and would like for Chris Thompson to fill that change-of-pace role, but because of his extensive injury history (he hasn’t played a full season since his sophomore year at Florida State), the team has some concerns.
Attaochu, who projects as a second-round pick, has good athleticism and size at 6-3, 252 pounds.
Unlike some of the outside linebacker prospects in the draft, Attaochu already has experience playing as a stand-up outside linebacker for the Yellow Jackets’ 3-4 defense. He recorded back-to-back double-digit sack seasons in 2012 (10) and 2013 (12). He also did well rushing out of a three-point stance when asked to do so here and there. He could improve in pass coverage, however.
The Redskins hope to improve their depth at the outside linebacker position, and also add a pass-rusher that could help replace Brian Orakpo if they fail to sign him to a long-term deal and lose him to free agency next season.
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