September 16, 2019

Washington Redskins Select DE/OLB Preston Smith and Trade Down before taking RB Matt Jones on Second Day of NFL Draft

After the Washington Redskins found their potential bookend on the offensive line to complement Trent Williams Thursday in the first round of the NFL Draft in Iowa’s Brandon Scherff, Scot McCloughan looked to continue rebuilding his team in a manner similarly to what he did while with San Francisco and Seattle. With the sixth pick in the second round, the Redskins selected DE/OLB Preston Smith.

Preston Smith is out of Mississippi St. standing at 6’ 5’’ and 271 pounds. Smith had 15 tackles for a loss, nine sacks, and even chipped in with two interceptions last year in the defensive powerhouse of the SEC. Continuing the trend of big nasty guys for McCloughan, Smith has long arms and refuses to get pushed around. Smith is also versatile enough where he can line up anywhere from nose tackle, edge rusher opposite Ryan Kerrigan, or at times in coverage. In a 3-4 system, he should be able to produce enough havoc to make an impact as he plays the run well after shedding blockers. In Jay Gruden’s post game press conference, he confirmed that his versatility was something that sold the team on him.

After being seen as slow on film by some, Smith was a top performer at his position during the combine as he ran the 40 yard dash in in 4.74 seconds, had a broad jump of 121 inches, and completed the 3-cone drill in 7.07 seconds. Smith might be too slow to be an edge rusher, which the Redskins might want to plug him into, but he did speak of the possibility of losing weight to increase his quickness. According to Gruden, Trent Murphy’s status with the team is unaffected as everyone is going to have to compete for their right at playing time.

McCloughan continues to build his team from the inside on both sides of the ball and could continue to do so in the rest of this draft. McCloughan and company must have felt that they wanted Smith badly enough to not attempt to trade down to get to the 10 picks that the Redskins newly hired general manager desired. The New York Giants moved up to the #33 overall pick and the Carolina Panthers moved up to the #41 pick.

S Landon Collins (Alabama) to Giants from Titans, OT Donovan Smith (Penn State) to Buccaneers, DL Mario Edwards (Florida State) to Raiders, RB T.J. Yeldon (Alabama) to Jaguars, and WR Devin Smith (Ohio State) to Jets were all taken before the Redskins pick in the second round.

Washington traded their 69th overall selection to the Seattle Seahawks, McCloughan’s old stomping grounds. The Redskins will receive the 95th, 112th, 167th, and the 181st  overall pick in the 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th round of the NFL Draft respectively. The trade is relatively even as per the Jimmy Johnson chart, the Redskins give up 245 points and get back 238 (http://walterfootball.com/draftchart.php). McCloughan wanted 10 draft picks in the 2015 draft and now has it by trading down 29 spots to pick up three additional picks.

After the Redskins moved back 26 spots to gain three draft picks from Seattle, Washington ended up drafting RB Matt Jones out of the University of Florida. Jones had a modest 817 yards on about five yards a carry and six touchdowns last season for the Gators in 2014 in a mere five games of work. Jones season was cut short early because of a torn meniscus in his left knee, which took two surgeries to repair in October. As a result, Jones was only projected to be a fifth or sixth round pick in the draft. For a big running back he is relatively athletic and can move the pile, but must develop into a more patient runners as his vision is not great. McCloughan saw his potential as a third down back because he is arguably the best back in pass protection in the draft because he squares up linebackers, whom he has comparable size to.

Jones met with the Redskins in Ashburn and he says that Washington showed him love leading to his good feeling of coming to the nation’s capital. Matt Jones believes he is a complete back and says he patterns his game after Marshawn Lynch (5′ 11”, 215). In the 25 picks that were made between where the Redskins could have picked in the third round and where the eventually did, names like Tevin Coleman (Indiana), Duke Johnson (Miami), and David Johnson (Northern Iowa) came off the board. While some running backs came off the board, the Redskins passed on names like Jay Ajayi out of Boise State and Jeremy Langford from Michigan State. In the coming months, it will be interesting to see how Jones’s rehab continues and how soon he can get back on the field to fight for a position on the Redskins roster with names like Silas Redd, Chris Thompson, and Michael Hill. Gruden elaborated that Alfred Morris would not be affected as the #1 ball carrier for the team.

Moving forward, the Redskins have seven draft picks moving forward in the last four rounds of the NFL Draft starting with the 6th pick tomorrow (105th overall). Gruden stated that there are still a lot of players left in the draft that can still help the Redskins.

About Neil Dalal

Neil Dalal is a Staff Writer for District Sports Page covering the Redskins, Wizards, and Maryland Terrapins. Neil grew up in Silver Spring, MD and attends the University of Maryland. Neil has loved everything related to the Redskins, Wizards, Capitals, and Terrapins since he was eight years old. However, he favors the Orioles, as he started watching baseball before the Expos moved to DC. You can follow Neil on Twitter @NeilDalal96.

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