News | Washington Football Team - WashingtonFootball.com

Former Redskin Fred Smoot Talks Defensive Ends, Wide Receivers And More On Redskins Draft Central

Fred_Smoot_Draft_Central042120

Fred Smoot isn't afraid to share his opinion, and he has some thoughts on the 2020 draft class.

For the past two weeks, Smoot, Voice of the Redskins Larry Michael and Redskins.com's Kyle Stackpole have been breaking down each position of need in this year's pool of players. It's no surprise Smoot believes the Redskins should take Ohio State defensive end Chase Young with the No. 2 overall pick, but he also gave his take on who he likes beyond Washington's first selection.

Here are his main points from the Redskins Draft Central special, presented by 7-Eleven.

Defensive End

Young dominates this year's class of defensive ends with 16.5 sacks, 32 tackles and six forced fumbles. Analysts see him as a generational talent, and former teammate Terry McLaurin believes he could be better than Nick and Joey Bosa. Smoot agrees with that assessment.

"Not only are you going to give us one that people think is step better than those guys, but also he's a local kid that's going to play with a lot of pride," he said.

Smoot sees this year's group of defensive ends as a diverse bunch. He likes Auburn's Derrick Brown, who is projected to be a Pro Bowl talent by NFL.com, and he sees South Carolina's Javon Kinlaw as a player "who can do a little bit of everything on the defensive line."

Perhaps no story captured Smoot's attention like that of Yetur Gross-Matos from Penn State. His father passed away when he was two years old, and then his brother died after being struck by lightning. Smoot thinks Gross-Matos, who had 9.5 sacks in his junior year, "plays like his hair's on fire" and could be special.

"I'm always looking for players who are motivated by something other than just being drafted and playing the game."

Other defensive ends that have caught Smoot's eye are Iowa's A.J. Epenesa, Missouri's Jordan Elliott and Alabama's Raekwon Davis.

Wide Receiver

Many have praised the talent of this year's wide receiver class, but Smoot took it one step further.

"It goes deeper than the third round. I think you can find undrafted free agents in this group," he said. "I think you're going to find sixth- [and] seventh-rounders in the group. This could be the best wide receiver class of all time."

CeeDee Lamb, Jerry Jeudy and Henry Ruggs III sit atop the draft board, and each is projected to be selected in the first round. But Daniel Jeremiah has given top-three-round grades to 27 receivers, meaning the Redskins can still find serious value in the probable event that those three are not available.

One player Smoot likes is Michael Pittman Jr. out of USC. With a 4.52 40-yard dash time, Pittman isn't one of the fastest receivers, but he was fourth in the country with 101 receptions. NFL.com's Lance Zierlein sees him as a "possession receiver," but he has the skills and quickness to be a reliable No. 2 option.

"What I need is that tall receiver that I can throw...passes to all the time and he comes down with them," Smoot said. "He's that type of guy."

Smoot believes the Redskins have the speed they need in players like McLaurin, so he wants them to look for prospects who have "size and a large catch radius." In addition to Pittman, he also sees Denzel Mims from Baylor as a player who fits those qualifications.

There are too many quality players for Smoot to name specifically, but be believes there are plenty of chances for the Redskins to get value at receiver in this draft.

"You would have to be a terrible scout to fail at drafting a wide receiver in this draft," Smoot said.

Offensive Tackle

Smoot doesn't see the Redskins getting a starting-caliber tackle early in this year's draft. Most of those players will be gone between the No. 2 pick and the Redskins' next selection at No. 66.

Still, there are some players Smoot thinks the Redskins could consider under the right circumstances. That includes Georgia's Andrew Thomas, who has the ability to play left and right tackle. Thomas had an impressive 2019 season by finishing the year as a unanimous All-American and a recipient of the Jacobs Blocking Trophy for being the best blocker in the SEC.

Another option would be USC's Austin Jackson. Standing at 6-foot-5 and weighing 322 pounds, Jackson already has the measurables to compete for a starting position. But because he is graded as a second-round prospect, the only way he would likely be available to the Redskins is through a trade.

That leaves Washington with drafting for depth in the later rounds and signing a veteran in the offseason. That would allow their younger picks to develop and compete for a starting role later in their career.

Tight End

Despite the Redskins signing Logan Thomas and Richard Rodgers in free agency, there is still a chance the Redskins will draft a tight end this year.

Analysts' initial impressions of this class are that it isn't particularly deep, but Smoot doesn't buy that. He believes there are some players who could have some value in later rounds.

He sees Devin Asiasi out of UCLA as someone who fits that description. The Shoreview, California, native originally played at Michigan before joining the Bruins in 2017. It took two seasons for Asiasi to become a vital weapon on head coach Chip Kelly's offense, but he finished the 2019 season with 44 catches for 641 yards and four touchdowns.

"Boy, can he run, and boy, can he catch the ball in space," Smoot said. "[The Redskins] have to look to have one of those guys that gets [yards after the catch]. If you can't get yards after the catch as a tight end in this league today, you can't really play tight end."

Other players on Smoot's list include LSU's Thaddeus Moss, who had two touchdowns in the Tigers' national championship victory over Clemson, Florida Atlantic's Harrison Bryant, who Smoot thinks can be an option in the middle of the field, and Washington's Hunter Bryant, who many project to be taken in the second round.

Safety

Smoot sees some overrated and underrated players in this year's safety class. Many view Alabama's Xavier McKinney as the top player in his position, but Smoot has several questions about his skillset.

"If I'm going to draft him in the first round, I need him to actually be a great open field tackler," he said. "McKinney is not a great open field tackler. Yes, he has ball skills, but he actually has limited range."

One player that has impressed him is Antoine Winfield Jr. out of Minnesota. Smoot played with Winfield's father, Antoine Winfield Sr., when he was with the Vikings and viewed him as "pound for pound, the best corner I've ever played with." He sees similarities between father and son.

"He has the instincts of his dad, the toughness of his dad," Smoot said. "He finds the ball constantly."

Another player Smoot likes as a late-round selection is Antoine Brooks Jr. from Maryland. Brooks, who suffered a compound fracture in his ankle and broke his wrist in his senior year of high school, had a strong senior season with 87 tackles, five pass breakups and an interception.

"He's a feisty guy," Smoot said. "He likes getting in the box, he likes to mix it up. He runs sideline to sideline...and when he finally gets to the runner, he has some nasty intentions."

Related Content

Advertising