Nov 25, 2017; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide defensive lineman Da'Ron Payne (94) recovers a fumble during the first quarter Auburn Tigers at Jordan-Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-USA TODAY Sports
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NFL offseason additions and subtractions could change draft plans

We are two weeks away from the first round of the NFL draft and a lot has changed since our last article on the 5 things the Washington Redskins could do with their first-round pick.

With how the chips have fallen in free agency around the league, we could be looking at the ability for the Redskins to draft a top tier cornerback or safety.  Everything is really going to rely on what two teams do at the top of the draft.  The New York Giants with the number two overall pick and the Cleveland Browns with the fourth overall pick.

There is still some uncertainty on if the Giants will take a quarterback with their first-round pick and definitely some uncertainty who the Browns will take at number four.  If the Giants pass up on Saquon Barkley at number two, do the Browns take him at four or do they take the best cornerback or safety available?

These following options are possibilities:

Vita Vea, DT, University of Washington

Vea is still sitting at the top of the Redskins draft board because of the dire need at the defensive tackle position.  There is also the uncertainty of a starting-caliber defensive tackle being available for the Redskins in round two.

It has come out recently that Vea might not be their top choice if available.  If Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James are available at 13, the Redskins will most likely take one of them. However, this could also be a smoke screen and gamesmanship by the Redskins front office.

Da’Ron Payne, DT, University of Alabama

The obvious is that this is a major position of need to sure up the front seven of the defense. Da’Ron is more pro ready than Vea and has an aggressiveness in stopping the run that other defensive linemen can feed off of.  He will have to be able to show that he can be a consistent 3-down player and get off of pass blocking faster than he did at Alabama. Plus, after Payne, there is a significant drop off in talent at the position.

It is unlikely that Payne would be available by the time the Redskins are ready to make their first selection.  But, not taking Payne will signal that the Redskins are relying on the talent they have on their roster to take a major step forward.

Derwin James, S, Florida State University

James is by far the second-best safety in this draft class. The Redskins are set with D.J. Swearinger at one safety position, but there have been some questions on Montae Nicholson’s ability to stay healthy. Nicholson did exceed expectations after Su’a Cravens quit on his teammates right before the 2017 season.

Louis Riddick has even subtly hinted at comparing Derwin’s play to the late Sean Taylor whom he scouted when he was a part of the Redskins front office.

James will add depth to a position that could get thin quick if injuries begin to pile up. It is unlikely that James will fall to 13. However, if there is a run on quarterbacks in the top-5 to top-7, he could fall into the Redskins lap.

Jaire Alexander, CB, University of Louisville

Jaire was an under-recruited cornerback coming out of high school. Louisville saw his potential to be a top-tier player in the ACC and it paid off.  In 2016, Alexander earned second-team All-ACC honors and followed that up in 2017 as an All-ACC honorable mention.

Alexander has a work ethic that will rival any other defensive back in the draft. This combined with his ability to anticipate where the quarterback wants to go with the ball and his range could put him in the Pro Bowl sooner rather than later.

While Jaire has great football instincts, he has a little bit of a lighter frame that larger receivers will take advantage of. Whether or not he can bulk up remains to be seen. But, until then, defensive coordinators may have to watch who they match him up against.

Will Hernandez, OG, UTEP

I still contest that Hernandez is the second best guard behind Quenton Nelson. Hernandez’s athleticism for a guard should still excite the Redskins should the situation present itself that he is the best option on their draft board. Hernandez will also fill the need at left guard and adds depth along the offensive line.

The only way I can see this pick happening is if all the previous defensive players mentioned are off the board and the Redskins can trade back. Being able to trade back and drafting Hernandez would allow them to reacquire a pick in the 3rd round and use it to draft secondary help and address multiple needs.

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