- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 19, 2017

The 8-7-1 Resskins go into April’s NFL draft with the 17th pick in the first round and holes all over the roster. Will general manager Scot McCloughan take the best player available or reach for need? After years of offensive picks, will Washington look for help along the defensive front? Everyone who follows the team has an opinion, but here’s a quick overview of some of the mock drafts out there and the players (surprising, in some cases) the experts say could fall to the Redskins at No. 17:

FOX Sports: Clemson quarterback DeShaun Watson

This would be a shocker: Fox Sports’ Dieter Kurtenbach has the fleet-footed quarterback DeShaun Watson, the hero of the College Football Championship, as the selection for Washington. With 4,593 passing yards, 629 yards on the ground and 50 total touchdowns, the 2016 Davey O’Brien award-winner is the complete package. Should things go south with Kirk Cousins, Watson could be viewed as a potential replacement. Could he start right away? Most likely not. But after watching what Dallas rookie Dak Prescott did this past season, who knows?

CBS Sports: Stanford defensive end Solomon Thomas

Rob Rang has the Redskins picking Solomon Thomas, a defensive end loaded with potential. At 6-3 and 271 pounds, Thomas is an explosive player with raw power and agility, perfect for the Redskins’ defensive line. Thomas recorded 8.5 sacks this season with Stanford, sixth-highest total in the Pac-12. This offseason, Chris Baker and Ziggy Hood both become unrestricted free agents. With no guaranteed return, and a lack of a pass rush from the line anyway, Thomas could fill a need right away.

ESPN: Ohio State safety Malik Hooker

Draft guru Mel Kiper has the Redskins addressing a clear need, and a Malik Hooker selection would make a lot of sense. Though just a sophomore, Hooker showed incredible skill when it came to pass defense, hauling in seven interceptions and returning three for touchdowns. That was good for best in the NCAA on return touchdowns and third-best on steals. The Redskins have been looking for a ball-hawking safety for years, and if Su’a Cravens believes he can fill that void, Hooker would be more than adequate to play alongside.

Pro Football Focus: LSU running back Leonard Fournette

Leonard Fournette is the highest-rated running back in the draft, and it would take a lot of misses for him to reach the Redskins at 17. Pro Football Focus’ Steve Palazzolo, however, has the LSU star coming to Washington. Fournette was limited to just seven games this season, but in his sophomore year, he showed a lot of promise. Blessed with a combination of power and speed, Fournette led college football with 1,953 rushing yards, and his 3,830 career rushing yards are good for 12th all-time in SEC history, despite playing in just 32 total games. The Redskins already have four running backs that seem to have some level of trust within the offense, including standout rookie Robert Kelley, but Fournette would give the Redskins that franchise running back they haven’t had since Clinton Portis.

Draftsite.com: Alabama outside linebacker Tim Williams

Tim Williams is the Redskins’ pick, according to Draftsite.com’s D.J. Boyer. The Alabama product would provide the Redskins with another elite-level outside rusher. Williams was a force with The Crimson Tide, recording at least nine sacks in each of his last two seasons. He was fifth in the SEC this season in total sacks with nine. His 16 tackles for a loss was the fourth-highest total in his conference. And, all-time, Williams’ 20 career sacks rank 16th. With Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Murphy already providing that outside threat, Williams could be inserted on the opposite side to help terrorize the opposing offense.


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