Redskins Draft Version 1.0

18 Feb

The Redskins hamstrung themselves a little bit in the 2013 and 2014 drafts by trading their first round picks in each respective year to move up and draft Robert Griffin III. I don’t think you would find any Redskins fan or NFL analyst who will say they regret that decision. RGIII is a franchise quarterback who set the rookie record for Quarterback Rating, Rushing Yards and fewest interceptions in a season, not to mention the AP Rookie of the Year and leading the Redskins to their first NFC East title since 1999. Okay, now that that’s over with, on to the 2013 draft, which is a pick short (1st rounder) due to last year’s trade. The Redskins gained the NE Patriots 5th round pick by trading them Albert Haynesworth in 2011. With those seven picks between the 2nd and 7th rounds, the Redskins are likely to address the secondary, offensive line and offensive playmakers, with depth at other positions sprinkled in depending on who the best available player is.

 

There have been a number of rumors this early off-season that the Redskins plan to target the offense, and not the defense, during this year’s NFL Draft. The thinking, at least on the part of the Shanahans, is that the offense is one or two pieces away from being unstoppable, while the defense, with a few key additions, could be good enough to support a Super Bowl run.

 

The draft can be tricky to predict this far out, as we still have to go through the entire free agency signing period. We don’t know what holes will be filled through that process, so this is just going to be the first of a few articles on the Redskins’ draft plans, as the situation is clearly fluid. But if you are hankering for you’re like me your browsing history is full of mock drafts dating back to the Monday after we were eliminated from the playoffs, grasping at who may be there at pick 51 that may be the difference maker next season. Below are my predictions, as of mid-February, for the Redskins draft in late-April.

 

Free Agency: I plan to do an entire article on free agent targets, but I generally think the Redskins will add 2-3 pieces through free agency. I also think they’ll be able to retain Rob Jackson, Lorenzo Alexander, Fred Davis, and Kory Lichtensteiger, all potential starters or key role players from 2012. I think the team will enter 2013 with Brandon Meriweather at SS while addressing the FS position via free agency. I’m not talking about a top-flight FS, but rather a young role player the team may target who can step into situational roles and compete with a player to be drafted. Signing a guy like Corey Lynch lessens the need of drafting FS in the 2nd round and signing a guy like Jairus Byrd from Buffalo (a top free agent) would likely diminish the need for a FS and bump SS and CB into the priority in the secondary. Personally, I think the Redskins will address FS somehow during free agency. Brandon Meriweather is basically penciled in at SS, so suddenly the safety position doesn’t become a dire need, but depth at one or both could still be targeted during the draft.

 

I am working this version of my “Redskins Mock Draft” under the assumption that the team finds a starting FS in free agency and mitigates the TE situation. By that, I mean they will either re-sign Fred Davis or target a low-cost replacement like the Texans James Casey. Thus, FS and TE, two current needs, are not emphasized as much in my draft projections. I am also working under the assumption that London Fletcher retires, Santana Moss is released and DeAngelo Hall is restructured to reduce his cap hit. Rob Jackson and Lorenzo Alexander are also brought back.

 

1)       Cornerback – The Skins will likely restructure DeAngelo Hall … and could target Steelers CB Keenan Lewis in free agency. Even so, Josh Wilson is in the final year of his contract, and while I expect the team to extend him this off-season, a little depth at CB can’t hurt.

2)       Wide Receiver – The team’s WRs performed well, when healthy, in 2012. But Santana Moss is likely to be a cap casualty and is turning 34 this year. Joshua Morgan is in the final year of a 2-year contract. If you look to 2014, only two players are actually under contract: Pierre Garcon and Leonard Hankerson. Shanahan knows he could use a young breakout star at WR, but he doesn’t have a first rounder or cap space to find that guy. Fortunately this draft is deep, and the Redskins will almost certainly go for a WR in either the 2nd or 3rd round, not because it is a dire need, but because the team can be explosive with an additional playmakers and it bodes well for the unit’s future.

3)       Strong Safety – Brandon Meriweather, when healthy, is a hell of a SS. His impact was seriously felt in the one half of healthy football he played in 2012. Signed to a three year deal last off-season, Meriweather could be released to save cap space, but for just over $2 million he provides a decent option to return at the position. Meriweather’s health was a huge reason the Skins struggled last year, and the players that were brought in to replace him were not ready for the pressure. While they now provide decent depth, it was clear that the SS position was a huge weakness that needs addressing in 2013

4)       Inside Linebacker – The Redskins need to replace London Fletcher. Keenan Robinson, last year’s 4th round pick, is a popular choice to replace him immediately. But Robinson was hurt in 2012 and is unproven off the practice field. Depth would be a concern, as I expect Fletcher to retire, so the Redskins will surely target an ILB in the draft to spell depth and compete for playing time.

5)       Right Tackle – I expect the Skins to address RT in free agency. They will likely bring in a cheap veteran to compete with last year’s 6th round pick Tom Compton. That said, the team would certainly benefit from the additional depth, youth and competition that a draft pick would bring. Compton has the early confidence from Shanahan, which says a lot for a lineman in his system, so my inclination is to trust his judgment. So while an early pick could net a starting RT, the Redskins may not be looking for that right now at this position, so a 6th or 7th round pick could be enough to do the trick.

6)       Free Safety – This could shoot up to #1, obviously, if the team does nothing in free agency to address the position. I am under the impression that the Redskins are going to target a top FS in free agency. If that is the case, this need drops off completely from this list. However, I am keeping it here in case the Redskins go cheap and sign someone like Corey Lynch, who is a great cover safety, but could use competition and depth, to justify a 3rd-5th round pick.

So, without further ado, here is my Redskins mock draft Version 1.0:

 

2nd: Tavon Austin, WR WVU

3rd: Robert Lester, SS Alabama

4th: Kenyon Barner, RB Oregon

5th: Kyle Long, OT Oregon

5th: Kevin Riddick, ILB UNC

6th: Tyrann Matheiu, CB LSU

7th: Phillip Steward, 3-4 OLB Houston

 

Here’s why I would give this draft a 100% A+ …

1)       Tavon Austin would be a good value at pick #51, not to mention he fills the void left by Santana Moss and is a perfect fit in the slot. He is a young talent that can be explosive and will quickly build a report with RGIII. He is a deadly weapon that can make the offense much more dynamic

2)       Robert Lester would provide depth at SS behind Brandon Meriweather and would likely take over as the starting SS in 2014 when Meriweather’s contract goes off the books, or earlier, if Meriweather has injury issues again as he did in 2012.

3)       The Redskins lacked a change-of-pace back for Alfred Morris in 2012. Morris will still be the feature back, but Barner brings incredible speed and adds a new dynamic out of the backfield for the Shanahans to play around with. Word has it that the Redskins want to upgrade speed in the off-season and bringing in Barner and Tavon Austin would instantly take this offense to the next level, which is scary to think about.

4)       Kyle Long is a perfect fit for the Redskins zone-blocking system. He is large, athletic and raw in talent, so this would be a perfect project pick and reminiscent of Shanahan’s past drafts. Long would immediately compete with Tom Compton (last year’s 6th rounder) for a starting spot, or provide great back-up at LT and RT if the Redskins choose to address RT in free agency (Ryan Harris)

5)       Kevin Riddick would be a perfect project to provide depth behind Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley. He could conceivably compete to start with Robinson, but in all likelihood would be given 2013 to learn the defense so that he could compete for major playing time in 2014 and beyond. This pick would almost be imperative if Fletcher retires, but would still make sense even if Fletch sticks around another year, as he could come in immediately in 2014 to compete for PT.

6)       Tyrann Mathieu, aka Honey Badger. Why I would love this pick: POTENTIAL. He may be a bit of a head case and have a sketchy track record, but at least his issues were with pot and not violence or more sinister criminal activity. Mathieu would immediately compete for the PR and KR slot and would provide depth at both CB and FS. This pick is perfect. In my scenario I have the Skins addressing FS in free agency, but a Mathieu pick could be viewed as both a FS depth acquisition and a potential nickelback starter. This could be looked to as the steal of the draft.

7)       Phillip Steward is a raw, but talented, 3-4 OLB. He would be a perfect 7th round project to back-up Orakpo, Kerrigan and Rob Jackson.

This draft would immediately upgrade the offensive weapons, address the RT issue (if it even exists), and would provide depth and potential to the secondary and linebacker corps. Assuming the Redskins address TE and FS in free agency, and add the typical lower-end depth along the offensive and defensive line to create competition in camp, this draft would round out the off-season, essentially fill all the holes, and set the Redskins up nicely for a 2013 SB run as well as a 2014 free agent cycle when the money flows back in!

WILDCARD!!!! Version 1.1!!!

Anyone who has followed the Redskins over the last few seasons has certainly noticed their desire to add as many picks through trade downs as possible. Every time you think your favorite player is there and they are going to take him, the trade is announced and the Redskins move down. That happened in 2011 (thank GOD, Shanny passed on Blaine Gabert at 10 and got Kerrigan at 16). So, here is a scenario that I think is VERY possible. And it actually works out perfectly for the draft charts, though this specific example is just listed because it makes sense. It could involve any number of teams…

So the Redskins sit at pick #51 … this is a very deep draft … and a player is there that another team that has already picked in the 2nd wants. Enter the Miami Dolphins, possessors of the #77 and #82 picks in the draft. The Dolphins have glaring needs at CB, FS, OG and WR. They may not address all of those via free agency, and the draft is deep at each position. I could see them addressing OG in the first, WR in the early 2nd, and jump back up to the 2nd to take a FS or CB. Now, that’s getting very specific, but I just want to prove that the need could be there for someone to jump. The Dolphins’ two 3rd round picks are valued at 205 and 180 on the points chart. The Redskins 51st pick is valued at 390. The two picks the Dolphins would trade would equal 385 … almost a perfect exchange for Washington’s 390 point-valued 51st pick.

So now Washington will hold two additional picks in the 3rd round, giving them three total thirds. That sounds bad for a team that has some potential glaring holes … but let me explain. This draft is deep in almost every position Washington needs to address. FS is the obvious hole, but if the team signs a FS in free agency (likely), they suddenly don’t HAVE to use a 2nd on that position. Trading down and getting an extra pick to use toward an impact player would be phenomenal. Now, let’s take a look at what could happen!

3rd (77): Robert Lester, SS Alabama (from Miami)
3rd (82): Markus Wheaton, WR Oregon State (from Miami)
3rd (85): Kenjon Barner, RB Oregon
4th (116): BW Webb, CB William & Mary
5th (147): Kyle Long, OT Oregon
5th (155): Steve Beauharnais, ILB Rutgers
6th (181): Tyrann Mathieu, CB/FS LSU
7th (211): Phillip Steward, 3-4 OLB Houston

Why this draft would, well, be amazing:
Robert Lester would be a quality pick at this spot, a strong safety to provide depth for Meriweather, and push to be his replacement heading into 2014 if the Skins decide to part ways with the Meriweather project. Markus Wheaton is another riser, but early-to-mid 3rd round would be realistic at this point. He has high value as a slot receiver and would take over for Moss and eventually work his way onto the field as a burner on offense and another weapon for RGIII. Barner could be had in the 4th, but likely not where the Redskins will pick toward the end of the 4th round, so grabbing him with their own 3rd round pick would be a high-value addition. His speed would add a breakaway dynamic at RB that the Redskins lacked in 2012. BW Webb is a small-school prospect with a TON of upside. He could eventually start opposite Josh Wilson at CB, but at the least could compete with Richard Crawford and Chase Minnefield for the nickel slot in 2013. Kyle Long, as addressed in Version 1.0 is a perfect fit for the ZB scheme and would compete immediately at RT and provide depth at both RT and LT. Beauharnais is a talented prospect that could be groomed to step in at ILB and compete with Robinson for London’s old spot. Mathieu, addressed above, would provide competition at CB and potential depth at FS. Steward would compete for a roster spot and provide depth at OLB behind Rob Jackson, Orakpo and Kerrigan.

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