2012 NFL Mock Draft: Washington Redskins 7-Round Predictions

Shae CroninCorrespondent IJanuary 4, 2012

2012 NFL Mock Draft: Washington Redskins 7-Round Predictions

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    For a season that started so well, Redskins fans were let down quickly as Washington ditched their 3-1 start and lost their next six games following their bye week--ultimately finishing the season with a 5-11 record. 

    With numerous holes throughout the roster and a general lack of depth at most positions, Mike Shanahan and the front office will have their hands full come April when the Redskins attempt to strike effectively with their eight draft choices.

    In no particular order, I believe the Redskins' biggest needs are at quarterback, offensive line and the secondary. As sort of sub-needs, if you will, I think the team could benefit from adding depth at linebacker and receiver, but no where near the point of making a high selection to address either position. 

    That being said, I went through these seven rounds for the Redskins with the idea of value and need in mind. I understand that the Redskins are expected to be spenders in free agency this offseason, but I won't consider that factor until somewhere around my 87th edition or so. 

Round 1 (via Minnesota): Robert Griffin III

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    Not wasting anytime with the drama, I have the Redskins trading-up early in the first round to undercut a threatening Cleveland Browns front office and selecting their much-anticipated quarterback of the future and hopeful face of the franchise. 

    The pressure is on for head coach Mike Shanahan and he can't afford to wait any longer to find his guy. That's why I believe that a potential draft day trade could result in the Redskins sending their first-rounder and one of their fourths, in addition to their first-rounder in 2013, to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the third-overall pick this April. 

    I'm a believer in the fact that new coaches don't really expect to be judged until they get and play with their chosen guy at quarterback. Although many could pose valid arguments that the Donovan McNabb trade was an attempt for Shanahan to land his guy, it's not nearly the same as spending a high draft pick on a quarterback and developing him into a franchise figure. 

    In my opinion, RG3 is a great fit for Shanahan and what he looks for in a quarterback.

    Griffin is an accurate and mobile quarterback with incredible arm strength, superb athleticism and great locker room presence. Shanahan is known for coaching up quarterbacks and we're all suppose to trust him, so the fact that Griffin comes from a spread offense implies no concern.

    See my scouting report on Griffin here

Round 2: Zebrie Sanders

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    After watching Jammal Brown play the best football at the end of the 2010 season, the decision to re-sign the veteran right tackle last offseason seemed like the smart move.

    But since watching Brown struggle early in 2011 and appear to have aggravated a nagging hip injury, the Redskins could be looking to address the position. 

    Florida State's Zebrie Sanders is a versatile tackle prospect that has seen action at both right and left tackle. Sanders is a natural fit at the right tackle spot, but he adds some value with his ability to plug-in on the left when needed. 

    Sanders is a well-rounded blocker and he possesses the athleticism that Shanahan would prefer. Although a few pounds may be necessary, Sanders has serious potential to be a starting right tackle. 

    Michigan center and Rimington Award winner David Molk would be an interesting thought here, as he would fit perfectly in Shanahan's ZBS. If South Carolina cornerback Stephon Gilmore declares, he could raise some debate in the war room as well. 

Round 3: Kevin Zeitler

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    Since the beginning of the year, I've had quite the obsession with Wisconsin right guard Kevin Zeitler. And for a Redskins team that has a free agent left guard coming off ACL surgery and questionable right tackle play from an offseason signing last year, Zeitler holds some serious value in the third round. 

    Zeitler is a paving guard with underrated athleticism and he proved to be a very efficient pass-blocker for a mobile quarterback in Russell Wilson this season. Assuming that we see RG3 in burgundy and gold, Zeitler would quickly become a major asset. 

    If the Redskins opt to re-sign Kory Lichtensteiger and move forward with the investment they've made in Chris Chester, then the team could obviously choose to address the cornerback or receiver position—which happens to offer a lot in the third. 

Round 4: Casey Hayward

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    I have to admit that Vanderbilt's Casey Hayward slipping to the fourth-round is a bit of wishful thinking. But anyone can tell you that anything is possible on draft day (what's up Brady Quinn?). 

    DeAngelo Hall has demonstrated well enough why many don't consider him to be a No. 1 corner in the NFL and Josh Wilson is suited solely as a No. 2. 

    Casey Hayward is an aggressive cover-corner with ball-hawking skills and impressive effort in run-support. Hayward saw action as a freshman at Vanderbilt and has been a top-notch starter in the country's toughest conference ever since.

    To me, and hopefully to the Redskins too, that's extremely valuable experience. 

    This wouldn't necessarily spell the demise of guys like Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook or even Brandyn Thompson. However, Hayward would immediately be the team's No. 3 and he has the potential to become a No. 1. 

Round 5: Grant Garner

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    After trading their second fourth-rounder in this draft as part of the first-round deal with Minnesota, the Redskins enter the fifth round with the idea of depth and perhaps a late sleeper. 

    In my opinion, the offensive line wouldn't hurt any from receiving some more love and Oklahoma State center Grant Garner has had a great senior season. 

    After waiting his turn as an underclassman, Garner took over in 2010 and has been the starter ever since. At 290 pounds, Garner is surprisingly agile, very physical and he has shown strength in both run- and pass-blocking. 

    Although Garner comes from a fast run-and-shoot style of offense, I think his game can translate to the NFL and be successful in Shanahan's scheme. 

    I would also look at an inside linebacker like Chris Marve in this round. Perhaps a risky pick of wide receiver DeVier Posey could end up paying off. If Illinois receiver A.J. Jenkins is still around, I probably pull the trigger on him before Garner. 

Round 6: Chris Marve

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    The Redskins could get lucky here in the sixth-round if Vanderbilt inside linebacker Chris Marve is still around. 

    Marve was a solid three-year starter for the Commodores and was quite a tackling-machine in the SEC. After a down senior season (for his standards), Marve could slip a bit and the Redskins could take advantage of selecting an experienced tackler to learn behind London Fletcher. 

    To me, Marve is a very solid football player and he has the natural instincts to prove it. My only concern regarding Marve is a 2010 knee injury that seems to have really cut into his on-field production. Nonetheless, a sixth-rounder is worth it here. 

    I would usually cue my late-round Shanahan running back, but the Redskins backfield seems to be stringing together something decent with Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and Evan Royster. The wide receiver position is still a possibility, but my faith in Terrance Austin keeps me avoiding the position for some reason. 

Round 7: Damarlo Belcher

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    With this final pick of the draft, I have to admit that I don't know a lot about the situation regarding Indiana receiver Damarlo Belcher. 

    After being named to the preseason Biletnikoff watch-list and going into 2011 with anticipation of breaking the school record for receptions, Belcher was dismissed from the Indiana football team for violation of team rules. 

    Specifics were never really made clear and I'm only assuming that Belcher has done his part to stay in shape and hopefully he'll attempt to make a leap to the NFL. 

    What I do know is that Belcher is 6'5, 213 pounds and he can catch a football really well. For a team that seems to be aging at the wide receiver position, the Redskins could afford to take a late-round gamble on a guy like Belcher. That being said, Belcher may be attainable via free agency following the draft. 

    I am fully aware of Shanahan's attitude towards leadership and positive character, and I am all for it. But without knowing exactly why Belcher was dismissed, I'm not ready to write him off just yet. 

    To be safe, Shanahan and the Redskins could very well just go with the best player available, regardless of position or need. 

    Oklahoma guard Stephen Good is also on my watch as a late-round guy. Texas A&M kicker Randy Bullock appears to have ice in his veins, which could eventually lead to Graham Gano's dismissal sooner rather than later. 

Round-Up

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    Round 1: Robert Griffin III, Quarterback

    Round 2: Zebrie Sanders, Tackle

    Round 3: Kevin Zeitler, Guard

    Round 4: Casey Hayward, Cornerback

    Round 5: Grant Garner, Center

    Round 6: Chris Marve, Linebacker

    Round 7: Damarlo Belcher, Receiver

    In this mock draft, the Redskins take their quarterback early as expected and look to find value in the middle rounds while addressing a thin offensive line. At the end of the day, these young linemen could very well be the guys that are protecting the franchise quarterback. So why not invest wisely?