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Mayock Says Draft Is Deep Up Front

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In an unprecedented year, the NFL Draft takes on added significance this year.

With the start of free agency uncertain at this point, Redskins coaches and scouts are in Indianapolis for the NFL Scouting Combine with a clear focus.

Find the best players who best fit the Redskins' scheme on offense and defense.

More than 330 prospects are on hand for the combine, and it's a good bet that one or more will be Redskins on draft day.

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock says the 2011 draft class has great depth along the offensive and defensive lines in early rounds.

Those could be two need positions for the Redskins.

"If you're looking for a defensive end, a defensive tackle or an offensive tackle, you're in luck," Mayock said during a conference call with reporters on Feb. 18. "So it's about whether or not your needs meet up with the strength of this year's draft."

The Redskins, coming off a year in which the defense was ranked 31st in the NFL, appear to have needs on the defensive line.

This could be a draft to bulk up at those positions.

The Redskins could conceivably draft a different position at No. 10 overall in the first round – say quarterback or outside linebacker – and still get a quality defensive lineman in the second round.

"[There are] some really good 3-4 ends this year," Mayock said. "I'm very impressed with J.J. Watt from Wisconsin. He can play inside or outside...Cam Jordan from Cal had a great week at the Senior Bowl. He's a five-technique defensive end. Cam Heyward from Ohio State, he dominated in the Buckeye's Bowl game.

"As you go down, Muhammad Wilkerson from Temple – he might be there in the second round, but to me he's a first-round player. This is one of the better years I've seen."

Mayock said nose tackle has great depth in the draft as well.

"If Marcell Dareus [from Alabama] and Nick Fairley [from Auburn] are there – they're not noses, but they're defensive tackles – I'd jump all over them," he said, "But I don't think they'll be there [at No. 10]. After that you're probably not going to get a nose tackle until the second or third round. Phil Taylor from Baylor would be a logical guy for [the Redskins] in the second round."

Mayock agreed with other draft experts that Texas A&M's Von Miller is the best outside linebacker pass-rushing prospect.

He does not expect Miller to be available when the Redskins pick at No. 10, though.

"He's the prototypical 3-4 rush linebacker," Mayock said. "He has an amazing ability to not only have a great get-off and quickness, but also bend his body to twist and turn, flatten the corner to get to a quarterback.

"He's a tiny bit undersized and you have to get comfortable with that. He's not as big as [Dallas Cowboys linebacker] DeMarcus Ware, but I think he's tough enough to overcome that."

On the offensive line, Mayock projects five offensive tackles -- including Colorado's Nate Solder, Mississippi State's Derek Sherrod, Boston College's Anthony Castonzo and Wisconsin's Gabe Carimi -- and an interior lineman in Florida's Mike Pouncey in the first round.

Quality offensive tackles could be found in the third and fourth rounds, Mayock added.

And then there's the quarterback position.

Many mock drafts have the Redskins eying quarterbacks at No. 10, either Auburn's Cam Newton or Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.

Newton is expected to be closely watched at the combine.

Mayock has him listed as the third-best quarterback available behind Gabbert and Washington's Jake Locker.

Of Newton, Mayock said: "He comes out of a very simple pass offense at Auburn – basically one look and either the ball comes out or he comes out. Can he process from an IQ perspective a complicated NFL pass offense? That is number one.

"Number two, there's some baggage to the kid. We've got to figure that out...You better figure out their work ethic, their toughness and their football IQ, and therein lies the rub with the top quarterbacks this year."

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