Redskins biggest needs entering Draft

By Ryan Decker

Had quarterback Kirk Cousins not signed his franchise tender or forced a trade to San Francisco that was rumored, this article would’ve consisted of me writing the word “Quarterback” ten times – one for every draft pick the Washington Redskins have in this week’s NFL Draft.

If anything, owner Dan Snyder slapping the tag on the Pro Bowl QB just delayed that article a year, when it’s projected the two sides permanently cut ties.

No matter, with Cousins leading the offense, it assures that Washington likely won’t be spending one of its picks in the first few rounds on a quarterback. (Hooray!)

Outside the position under center, though, there is surely room for improvement one all sides of the ball in DC, especially in the area’s listed below.

 

Running Back

The man they call “Fat Rob” (Robert Kelley) is a nice running back, and proved serviceable for most of 2016, toting the ball 168 times for 704 yards and six touchdowns.

Make no mistake, though, he’s not a feature back in today’s NFL. Neither is anyone else currently on the Redskins roster.

Chris Thompson should have been given more opportunities last year, but he doesn’t appear to be high up in the pecking order to Jay Gruden and company.

The solution to Washington’s tailback problems is waiting in the first round in Florida State’s Dalvin Cook and Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey. Cook is as explosive a runner as you’ll find with enormous big-play potential, and McCaffrey is one of the most versatile players in this year’s draft.

Cook, in my opinion, is a lock to be a stud at the next level, and, if available when pick No. 17 comes around (owned by WAS), should be a no-brainer selection.

Front-seven defensive players

If you or a loved one has watched the Redskins play over the last few years, one of the many things that should stick out – and believe me, many things stick out – is that Ryan Kerrigan needs some help.

Now, this may sound odd for a team that ranked inside the top 10 in the NFL in sacks last year. However, when you look at the Redskins defensive statistics, they stay relatively the same year to year, without much improvement, especially in the sacks department.

Kerrigan got to the quarterback 11 times last year, more than double any player on the team not named Trent Murphy, who will miss the first four games of the regular season due to suspension.

The second round would be a good place to look at defensive help (or the first depending on what running backs are available). A couple names to consider:

Tarell Basham (DE, Ohio), DeMarcus Walker (DT, FSU), and Chris Wormley (DL, Mich.). Basham was the MAC Defensive Player of the Year, Walker is said to have good burst off the line, and Wormley was a two-time All-Big Ten defensive lineman for Jim Harbaugh.

If Washington decides to go defense in the first round, watch for the Redskins to take a long look at the two Alabama pass rushers — Reuben Foster and Jonathan Allen. Both would be tremendous additions if they’re still available when the No. 17 pick in the opening round comes up.

 

Secondary coverage

The Washington secondary has been a mystery for a number of years, and that mystery continues into 2017.

Last year’s big addition, Josh Norman, played well at the beginning of the season, but struggled down the backstretch, at one point allowing three touchdowns in a four-week span.

Rookie Su’a Cravens impressed coaches when on the field, but he battled injuries at times in his first pro season, which limited his productivity some.

DeAngelo Hall returns for his 15th season, though is coming off an ACL injury and is beginning to slow down at age 33, having not recorded an interception in the last three years.

D.J. Swearinger was signed last month to bolster the back end of the defense, as well.

The pieces are in place for the Washington secondary to be successful, but it still needs to be improved.

For some, Jabrill Peppers (SS/OLB, Mich.) is an obvious choice, though after talking to some Redskins fans, they fear he wouldn’t be the necessary upgrade.

If Peppers isn’t the route the Redskins go with, a couple players they could go after include the dynamic duo out of Washington — Budda Baker and Kevin King.

Peppers is likely to be a first-round selection, whereas Baker and King could both still be available in the second and third rounds.

 

Offensive-Line

You can never have enough offensive linemen.

The ‘Hogs’ up front did a good job keeping Cousins upright for most of the season, surrendering just 23 sacks, second-best in the NFC.

However, there are questions now after the retirement of Kory Lichtensteiger, leaving the depth up the middle thin.

If the early rounds of the draft goes well for Washington, I wouldn’t expect the Skins to draft an offensive lineman until the third or fourth rounds. However, if things go sideways, then Snyder and company could take a player from the offensive side of the trenches earlier.

The conundrum that a lot of teams will be facing is when to select an offensive lineman in an O-Line class that is said to be rather weak.

Possible second- or third-roud selections to fill a need in DC are Pat Elflein (C, OSU) and Dan Feeny (OG, Ind).

 

Wide Receiver

I’m going to go out on a limb and say not many teams have had great seasons, offensively, the year after losing their top two pass catchers.

That’s the position Washington is in.

Pierre Garçon: gone to the West Coast. DeSean Jackson: now playing in Tampa Bay.

It helps soften the blow that still on Washington’s roster is Jamison Crowder – one of the best young receivers in the game –, Jordan Reed – an extremely talented tight end –, and Josh Doctson – a highly touted prospect that missed all but two games with an Achilles injury.

Terrell Pryor has joined the team in free agency, coming off his first year as a full-time receiver in which he caught 77 passes for just over 1,000 yards. Obviously, the jury is still out, though, if he can put up similar numbers the second time around.

Wideout isn’t an area where Washington should spend a high draft pick, but Day 3 will be a good time to pick up one, maybe even two, pass catchers.

Billy Brown out of Shepherd University (WV) has the potential to be a late-round steal, and is a player that has been rumored to have drawn interest from the Skins.

Earlier in the selection process, Dede Westbrook (OU), Ryan Swtizer (UNC), and Shelton Gibson (WVU) are all possibilities who each bring something different to the table than the other.

The first round of the NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. tonight in Philadelphia. Second and third round selections take place Friday, with the rest of the draft concluding on Saturday.

*Note: Special thanks to U-92 Draft Analyst, Aaron Radcliff, for insight and suggestions on players. 

 

 

 

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