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Todd McShay discusses the Redskins and the 2011 NFL draft

ESPN Draft Analyst Todd McShay fielded questions on a conference call earlier today, discussing the Redskins approach to the upcoming NFL draft, and what prospects they could/should pick with their first round pick (#10 overall).

Several Redskins beat reporters, including Rich Campbell of The Free Lance-Star, John Keim of the Washington Examiner, and Mike Jones of the Washington Post, shared McShay’s thoughts via their respective Twitter accounts. So, for all interested parties, I thought I’d go ahead and summarize what McShay had to say about the Redskins, based off those Tweets:

* McShay called the quarterback position of the Redskins a premier need and something they need to address. He believes that if either of the top two rated quarterback prospects (Blaine Gabbert of Missouri and Cam Newton of Auburn) were available when the Redskins make their pick, they would likely draft the best one available; in McShay’s latest mock draft, he has the Redskins selecting Newton. He also indicated that, in this draft, the quarterback position had as much “quality depth” as any other position.

* Regarding Gabbert vs. Newton, McShay called Gabbert the more polished project, but said that Newton has “rare overall physical tools.” He compared Newton to Ben Roethlisberger and Donovan McNabb, especially because of their ability to make plays when things break down, and Gabbert to someone like Aaron Rodgers.

* The problem with Newton, of course, is all the questions regarding his intangibles and off-the-field issues; McShay referred to this as the biggest overall storyline for the 2011 NFL draft in general. He indicated: “I’ve heard a lot of people have concerns about how he is as a teammate and how he carries himself. Newton has faced all sorts of adversity this year and handled himself beautifully. He or his family put himself in those positions, but he handled it McShay also mentioned questions that NFL personnel people had about the way Newton carries himself in general, and any potential sense of “entitlement” when he gets to the NFL, especially given all the success he’s enjoyed in his collegiate career.

* As an aside, in Mel Kiper Jr’s latest mock draft (released today), he has Cam Newton being drafted #3 overall by the Buffalo. He projects that the Redskins would draft Gabbert with the 10th pick.

* As far as the quarterback prospects potentially available in later rounds, McShay has guys like Andy Dalton of TCU, Christian Ponder of Florida State, and Colin Kaepernick of Nevada graded as third or fourth round selections; he actually said that there’s a chance none of them would even be available when the fourth round began. He believes that any of those guys would fit in well with the type of offense the Shanahan’s want to run.

However, the Redskins don’t currently have any picks in the third or fourth rounds. After their second round pick, they don’t pick again until the thirteenth selection of the fifth round.

* Outside of the quarterback position, McShay said the Redskins biggest needs on defense were at outside linebacker, nose tackle, and cornerback. Consequently, he discussed guys like defensive tackle Corey Liuget of Illinois, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus of Alabama, and defensive end Robert Quinn as potential options with the 10th pick.

McShay called Liuget, who is currently projected as a mid-to-late first round pick, one of the more underrated players in this draft, and thought the Redskins could take a serious look at him if both Gabbert and Netwon are off the board. While both Liuget and Dareus both seem better suited to play in a 4-3 defense, he reminded everyone that Mike Shanahan said he wouldn’t be deterred by “conversion projects.”

Regarding Quinn, McShay said that the biggest question surrounding him was how smoothly he could transition to a 3-4 defensive end (or linebacker) after missing all of the 2010 season due to a suspension involving alleged improper benefits received from agents.

* McShay also briefly discussed Purdue defensive end/linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who some mock drafts have projected to be selected by the Redskins. He thought Kerrigan would be better suited as a defensive end in a 4-3 defense, as he’d struggle with the pass coverage responsibilites associated with an outside linebacker in the 3-4 defense. McShay indicated that “he struggles with dropping, turning & running in coverage, and changing direction.”

He also said that linebacker Von Miller of Texas A&M would be a great fit for the Redskins, but he is not likely to be available at #10.

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