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It had been about two months since the last notable NFL offseason event, the start of free agency, but now football fans can spend hours upon hours researching their favorite team’s pickups from last week’s 2015 NFL Draft. Looking at our local teams’ draft results, the Baltimore Ravens picked up 9 players in the draft, while the Washington Redskins grabbed 10 young men who are eager to make the jump from collegiate to professional sports. This year was a very good draft for both teams, as each franchise addressed big needs for skilled players on both sides of the field. I’m here to give you a concise summary of the first four players chosen by the Ravens and Redskins, and explain how high we should set our expectations. And if I don’t get you hyped for these newcomers, read more about them online… you only have two more months until training camp begins.
Round 1, Pick 26: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida
With the loss of wide receiver Torrey Smith, who signed with San Francisco, the Ravens are in a desperate need of talented targets for quarterback Joe Flacco. After breaking out in his sophomore year, wide receiver Perriman amassed 1,044 yards and 9 touchdowns his final year in college as a junior. At 6’3” and 214 lbs., Breshad earned first-team All-American Athletic Conference honors last season. With 2,243 receiving yards and 16 touchdowns in three years at UCF, Perriman could be just as good as, or even better than Smith.
Round 2, Pick 55: Maxx Williams, TE, Minnesota
It became clear after this pick that the Ravens had a big focus on improving the passing attack. After signing Pitta to a huge deal last offseason, the pass-catching tight end injured his hip a second time, ending his season and leaving fans to question if he will ever play another game as a Raven. As Pitta attempts to make a comeback, 6’4”, 254 lb. Williams provides excellent insurance. In two seasons, Williams had 986 receiving yards and 13 touchdowns at Minnesota, and was the team’s leading receiver last season. Even if Pitta returns to good health, look for Williams to contribute, especially in the red-zone.
Round 3, Pick 90: Carl Davis, DT, Iowa
After losing Haloti Ngata to the Lions and Terrence Cody to operating the worst zoo of all time (he was released by the team upon being investigated for animal cruelty, including illegal possession of an alligator), the Ravens have rejuvenated the defensive line with young talent. Davis earned second-team All-Big Ten honors twice in his junior and senior year. Making 94 tackles and 3.5 sacks in his four years in college, the 6’5”, 315 lb. defensive tackle will contribute to a deep rotation on the defensive line.
Round 4, Pick 122: Za’Darius Smith, DE, Kentucky
Keeping a balanced focus to team needs, the Ravens picked up 6’6”, 263 lb. Za’Darius Smith, although the Kentucky alumnus will most likely play a different position as a professional. Outside linebacker Pernell McPhee departed to Chicago this offseason, and Smith said much of the talks between he and the team were about replacing his role. Smith transferred to Kentucky as a junior after two years of community college, and made an immediate impact. He made 120 tackles and 10.5 sacks as a Division 1 defensive end.
Round 1, Pick 5: Brandon Scherff, OT, Iowa
Many fans were upset at the Redskins selecting Scherff over powerful defensive end Leonard Williams, but offensive line talent was arguably the biggest need for the team. Last year’s terrible offensive line allowed 58 sacks to its starting quarterbacks (compared to the 21 sacks allowed last season of Super Bowl XLIX Champion Tom Brady). Scherff, at 6’5”, 324 lbs. will assuredly help in reducing that number this year. He earned First Team All-Big Ten honors in his senior season last year, as well as the Outland Trophy, which is awarded to the best interior lineman in college.
Round 2, Pick 38: Preston Smith, DE, Mississippi State
On the other side of the line, Smith is a versatile player who can give consistent pressure to the opposing team’s quarterback. Playing mostly as a defensive end on the edge of the line, Smith has also lined up in the middle as a nose tackle. The Redskins can move around this 6’5”, 271 lb. defensive lineman and gain a considerable advantage by confusing offenses. Making 134 tackles and 16 sacks in his four years of college, Smith will greatly improve the team’s defensive line.
Round 3, Pick 95: Matt Jones, RB, Florida
While the Redskins are set with Alfred Morris as their starting running back coming off his third 1,000+ yard season, a little bit of depth won’t hurt. At 6’2”, 231 lbs., Jones became the primary running back at the University of Florida his junior year last season, gaining 817 yards and 11 touchdowns. With Roy Helu departing for the Oakland Raiders this offseason, the Redskins’ backup running back role is wide open.
Round 4, Pick 105: Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke
Crowder is a very shifty slot receiver who can immediately help the team’s passing attack. While he is not amazingly fast deep down field, he does have extremely quick feet, which makes him a perfect fit for receiving screens and other short passes. His only downfall is his size, at 5’8”, 185 lbs., but the experts say his quickness will make up for that weakness. His sharp cutting ability also makes him a great candidate to be a return man on special teams.