ASHBURN, Va. (AP) — The offensive lineman they wanted was there. So was the linebacker who led the nation in sacks last season, a player coach Jay Gruden said was “too hard to pass up.”
So the Washington Redskins gambled, selecting Trent Murphy of Stanford in the second round and leaving tackle Morgan Moses of Virginia on the board.
“And then we just crossed our fingers,” Gruden said, “and hoped that Morgan would fall. And he did.”
The Redskins needed offensive linemen, but no team ever has enough top-notch pass-rushers. Using that rationale, Washington ended up with a satisfactory outcome Friday night at the NFL draft: Murphy at No. 47 overall, Moses at No. 66 in the third round and another lineman, guard Spencer Long of Nebraska, later in the third at No. 78.
All three could have an impact this season, even though the official party line from Gruden and general manager Bruce Allen was that the Redskins were drafting more with an eye on developing players for future seasons.
Murphy had 15 sacks last season and 32½ over four seasons with the Cardinal. At 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, he has earned nicknames such as “Rhino” and “Yeti” from teammates over the years. He joins a roster already stacked at his position with a pair of recent first-round picks who’ve been to the Pro Bowl — Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan.
“Hopefully I can find a role in that rotation,” Murphy said.
Depending on the pace of his development, he might. Murphy could give defensive coordinator Jim Haslett some creative options with Orakpo and Kerrigan for various formations beyond the team’s 3-4 base scheme.
“Nickel packages get pretty extravagant nowadays,” Gruden said. “Coach Haslett has a lot of plans for him.”
Murphy had two interceptions in college and returned both for touchdowns. He majored in science, technology and society at Stanford with a minor in political science.
Improving the offensive line has been a priority this offseason. Moses could compete with Tyler Polumbus for the starting right tackle job, while Long could challenge for a starting guard spot if Shawn Lauvao or Chris Chester struggles.
Moses, 6-foot-6 and 314 pounds, played right tackle for two years at Virginia before moving to left tackle in 2012 and 2013. He didn’t lift weights at the NFL Combine because of a bothersome left shoulder, but he said the shoulder is now fine.
Long, 6-5 and 320, was a regular starter at right guard for two-plus years for the Cornhuskers before tearing the MCL in his left knee six games into last season. Long said he is now “full-go” and that will be able to take part in rookie minicamp next weekend.
Washington was slated to have the 34th overall pick, but it was traded to the Dallas Cowboys for Nos. 47 and 78, reflecting Allen’s stated strategy of trading down to accumulate more selections.
The Redskins sat out Thursday’s opening night, having traded their first-round pick to the St. Louis Rams as the final piece of the deal that allowed them to select franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III two years ago.
This was the first Redskins draft in which Allen had final say in the selections, leaning heavily on director of player personnel Scott Campbell with input from new Gruden. Coach Mike Shanahan controlled all personnel decisions before he was fired after last year’s 3-13 season.
In wake of the last place finish, Allen started rebuilding with offseason signings, particularly three-time Pro Bowl receiver DeSean Jackson, and he said before the draft that there were “no gaping holes on the roster.”
“The beauty of what we’ve done in free agency is we don’t have to have somebody come in and start right away, be a dynamic player,” Gruden said. “The draft is all about adding to your depth.”
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