Redskins Coach Jay Gruden spoke on each player, and discussed how the decision-makers currently envision the prospects fitting into the big picture. Here’s a rundown of Gruden’s assessments:
On the draft as a whole:
“We addressed some positions that we needed to address with depth and some good solid character guys and some good solid football players. We’re happy with where we ended with the draft; we got some good draft picks. Moving forward with this football team, we feel like we have good, strong competition at every spot and we’ll add some free agents also and fill out our 90-man roster and go from there.”
“We saw in Trent Murphy another guy that can rush a passer. He’s a proven pass rusher – 14-and-a-half sacks this year. He led the country in sacks. He works his tail off. He’s first on the field every day and the last to leave. He studies the game. He’s big, he’s long. He may not have the explosion right now off the line of scrimmage, which might have knocked him down to the second round, but I look for production, I look for intensity, I look for toughness and accountability. He’s got all those traits and if he has all those traits, I know he is going to work hard in the weight room to get stronger and provide another pass rusher and some depth at the position. We felt like he was a very good fit for our team.”
On how Murphy will be used:
“More so the nickel packages. You know nickel packages get pretty extravagant nowadays. Coach Haslett has a lot of plans for him, but coming in right now, he’s going to line up obviously at outside linebacker, back up Ryan [Kerrigan] and Brian [Orakpo] and provide us with some depth at that position. Anybody [who] knows about the 3-4 [knows] you need to have depth at linebacker because those guys are working their tail off. They’re dropping [into] coverage, they’re rushing the passer, so it’s very important in this day and age with the no huddle that you keep guys fresh and you’re able to filter in guys in and out and make sure you can continue to get after the quarterback. We felt like anytime you can add a good pass rusher with the resume Trent has, it was a great opportunity and we couldn’t pass it up.”
“We like Morgan. He’s long. He’s a big kid. He’s played a lot of football. He’s played both the left side and the right side in his career. He’s got a major upside. He’s young, he’s talented, like I said. A chance to get a guy with that type of length is very hard to pass up, so we’re fortunate to have Morgan and we feel like he has a bright future in pro football.
“He is a great kid and like I said, [we’re] very interested in guys that — there is a lot of people that are close, there are a lot of good football players in college football, and when you are making a decision, I think the overriding factor has to be what kind of person he is, what kind of work ethic does he have, accountability and all that good stuff that I have been talking about. Is the game important to him? And it is important to Morgan. I think he has got a lot of room to develop, I really do. He can develop some foot quickness, but the one thing you can’t coach is his length and his size, and then you throw a little work ethic in there that he is going to get better every day and when he starts, when he plays will be to be determined, but we are excited to work with a young, big, athletic kid like Morgan.”
“We feel good about his recovery [from MCL/PCL surgery]. We do a lot of work on medical research on all of these players, and he has passing marks, so we feel like he’s going to come in and be healthy and ready to go. Tough, tenacious offensive linemen are hard to find – big, physical guys that love football. That’s kind of the motto. All three of these guys that we drafted have football as one of their top priorities in life. We know that they are going to come in here and battle and compete every day. You have to love what you do. We feel that all three of these guys love what they do and will contribute sooner than later.”
“A heck of a corner, very technically sound, but also we think he’s going to be a very good special teams football player.
“Well, this is a projection, but we felt like he was — I think the coaches we talked with today felt like he’d be late first-, second-round pick. I heard today … I think [NFL Network analyst] Mike Mayock said he was projected first rounder if he stayed another year. We are very excited about that pick up, not only for special teams but we feel like he’s a technician at corner. We knocked him down to our rounds because he probably didn’t run the greatest 40 time at combine, but he’s a heck of a football player and I like guys that are physical tackling machines, and that’s what he is.
“[Versatility is] something else that came up. The coaches at Clemson said that he’s a possible safety. Also, you know he can play safety. He has played safety, so you know we talk about position flexibility all the time, and that’s another thing that drew us to him. Not only corner, [he can play] safety [and] special teams. You will find use for him because he’s such a good football player and he’s physical.”
“He’s great hands catcher. He’s a good route runner. He can play inside and outside. We’re surprised that he was there. We had a little bit higher of a grade on him, obviously, and he was sitting there and we took him. We were impressed with him at the combine interview we had with him and his production at Tulane has been excellent, and like I said, his flexibility as far as where to line up. He knows the position. He knows the passing game concepts. He had a very sophisticated offense at Tulane and we feel like he’s going to come in and compete right away.”
“Obviously, Lache Seastrunk is an interesting guy because of his speed. He was sitting there later on in the draft, I think he was in the sixth round, and we had him ranked a little bit higher than that and obviously [quarterback] Robert [Griffin III] knows him very well, and so we know a little bit about him. So he’s an interesting guy, I want to see him compete. The only weird thing about him is he didn’t catch any balls at Baylor, but they just don’t throw to their backs. We feel like he can catch the ball good enough.
“We saw him at the pro days, obviously, and at the combine. He caught the ball fine and obviously Robert knows him and we did our work on him. It works out what he brings. … If there’s a reach about him, it’s projecting him to be a third down guy who’s catching the ball. What we’re envisioning for him early on is not so much a third down guy but a guy that can spell [running back] Alfred [Morris] and hit the home run. He’s got the breakaway speed and hopefully in time he will be able develop into a pass blocker/receiver.”
“He is a solid tight end, got good hands. He’s played outside, he’s played fullback, he has played tight end in the core. He has been very productive at Indiana. Obviously I think he is the leading tight end in the history of Indiana football or right up there. So I like his position flexibility, being able move around, but really what kind of stuck out, he runs down on kickoff like a war daddy. He is a fun guy to watch running down on kicks and obviously I’ve mentioned special teams on here a lot. We were the 32nd ranked team in every special team category and it was a major item for us in the draft and Ted is a good special team player as well as a tight end. … He split out a lot, I think he is probably known for his pass catching skills. Talking to their coaches, they feel like he could be an inline blocker, they just didn’t do it a whole lot but they did it. He has done it. He’s got good size. He is 6-foot, 5-1/2, 258-plus pounds. So he has got the frame to do it. We just have to coach him up to do it.”
“[We] liked leg strength – very good. He’s a very productive kicker at Arkansas. His kickoffs, I think he was ranked ninth or 10th in the nation as far as touchbacks, which is excellent. He was a productive kicker, obviously, all throughout college. He’ll come in and compete for the kicking spot, obviously.
“We got that extra pick in the seventh round and we had the extra pick and we felt good about the players that we drafted and we were wanting to bring in a kicker to training camp to compete with Kai [Forbath]. And instead of getting into the bidding process with every team come free agency, we thought we’d just go ahead and take one, the pick of the litter, so to speak. Coach [Ben] Kotwica did a lot of research on all the kickers and Zach is the one he wanted.”
On not taking an inside linebacker or safety:
“After the three-day camp that we had, we felt really good about our linebacker position with Keenan Robinson coming back, he did well. And we obviously got Adam Hayward and the other linebackers we signed, Akeem Jordan did well, [Darryl Sharpton] did good too, so we feel good about that position. [Will] Compton did well also. At safety, signing Ryan Clark, getting [Brandon] Meriweather back is good and we also have Phillip Thomas coming back from the injury, which we feel good about his progression.”
The Redskins will spend the next couple of days filling out their roster with undrafted rookie free agents. They’ll sign some, and they’ll invite an additional group of rookies for extended tryouts that will take place during next week’s rookie minicamp. Be warned, some players and representatives will announce their signings, others will broadcast that they have accepted deals with Washington, when in reality, they have only been extended tryout invitations. It’ll be interesting to see what gems the Redskins are able to find, however.
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