2012 NFL Draft: 8 Positions Other Than QB Where Washington Redskins Need Upgrade
The Washington Redskins need a franchise quarterback.
The quarterback is the most important position on the field. But does having a great quarterback and nobody else on your team get you to the playoffs?
The answer is no. There are 21 other positions on the team that have to work together to win games. The Redskins are one of those teams that needs many of these positions filled.
So what positions are they? What do they need to make annual trips to the playoffs and be given a chance to play in the Super Bowl every year?
Here are the eight positions.
1. A Weapon to Rely On: Wide Receiver
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Washington has lacked a serious playmaker since Santana Moss lost his speed and most recently his ability to catch catchable balls this season.
Moss is an icon in D.C. and a decent slot receiver. However, he turns 33 before the 2012 regular season.
Jabar Gaffney is a solid possession receiver, but he does not have great speed or the ability to make players miss. He’s 31 years old and needs to be replaced soon.
Leonard Hankerson suffered a season-ending hip injury against Miami this season, but he showed promise in his last three games. Look for him to have an increased role next season.
The 'Skins aggressively pursued Santonio Holmes this offseason, so expect them to do the same with one of the bigger names this year too. If not, an early round pick (2-3) will be used on a game-changing wide receiver.
Potential WR's in Rounds 2-3:
Dwight Jones (UNC)
Kendall Wright (Baylor)
Mohamed Sanu (Rutgers)
2. An Offensive Lineman: Right Tackle
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Trent Williams showed flashes of excellent play at times and abysmal play at others. So far he has not merited his fourth overall status from the 2010 NFL Draft. He will be given the 2012 regular season to prove he is a left tackle in the NFL.
Additionally, he served a four-game suspension due to illegal substance abuse, and if he repeats the mistake he will be suspended for a full season.
On the other side of the line, Jammal Brown battled injuries this entire season and was one of the biggest weaknesses on the offensive line, letting in almost a sack per game. It is clear he is not over his hip injury. Shanahan will decide his future with the team once he sees how his recovery is going from the injuries.
A tackle is desperately needed to fill a gaping hole on the line. With injuries and stupidity impacting both sides of the line, Shanahan must draft a tackle that will be able to play full time and that has the potential to take over on the other side if Trent Williams continues to perform inadequately.
Look for a middle-round pick (2-4) to be used on a tackle.
Potential offensive tackles:
Zebrie Sanders (FSU)
Levy Adcock (Oklahoma State)
Don Barclay (WVU)
3. Another Offensive Lineman: Left Guard
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Kory Lichtensteiger was one of Washington's best linemen until he tore both his ACL and MCL in Week 6. What a shame.
He is a free agent, and who knows if he will ever be 100 percent again. Look for Shanahan to draft his replacement this April.
Maurice Hurt, the seventh-round rookie out of Florida, played well at the end of the season, but he still cannot be relied upon to hold down the position if Lichtensteiger cannot resume his starting role.
Look for a middle round pick (2-4) to be used on a guard.
Kevin Zeitler (Wisconsin)
Ryan Miller (Colorado)
Lucas Nix (Pittsburgh)
4. A Secondary Upgrade: Cornerback
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DeAngelo Hall shows flashes of talent at times by making a big stop...then literally the next play he lets a receiver get behind him and make a big play on him.
DeAngelo is definitely talented, but his all-or-nothing style of play gets taken advantage of by opposing quarterbacks.
Josh Wilson is a solid cornerback but plays with zero play-making ability. He is extremely consistent, though.
Kevin Barnes, Byron Westbrook and Phillip Buchanon cannot be relied upon to play anything outside of dime packages and special teams.
Look for a middle round pick (2-4) to be used on a cornerback that will start as the nickel corner this season and then to move to the No. 1 position in a season or two.
Chase Minnifield (UVA)
Desmond Trufant (Washington)
Stephon Gilmore (South Carolina)
5. A Second Secondary Upgrade: Strong Safety
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LaRon Landry is a free agent this offseason, but he can’t seem to remain healthy enough to play an entire season. However, Jim Haslett absolutely loves him for his pure athleticism. Landry will be back in Washington next season.
Although his re-signing will get the media’s attention, drafting another strong safety will be just as important to keep the secondary intact, when and if he gets injured again.
Look for a middle round pick (4-5) to be used on a strong safety.
Potential Strong Safeties:
Markelle Martin (Oklahoma State)
Winston Guy Jr. (Kentucky)
Delano Howell (Stanford)
6. Inside Linebacker Depth
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Rocky McIntosh is a free agent next year, and after a horrible season, he will not be back. This could be good for him too as he fits the 4-3 defense as a weakside linebacker better than as a 3-4 inside linebacker anyway.
London Fletcher is also a free agent but has already expressed a desire to return to the Redskins. He will be re-signed this offseason. This signing is very important, but he will be 37 before the start of the next season.
This would be a bigger need if Perry Riley did not step up in the other inside linebacker position, replacing the inefficient Rocky McIntosh.
Look for a later round pick (4-6) to be used on an ILB to learn from Fletcher before he officially retires. Even if this is the case, I would like the Redskins to bring Fletcher on as a MLB coach for as long as he wishes to stay in the life of the NFL...hopefully a decade or two!
Potential Inside Linebackers:
Kevin Reddick (UNC)
James-Michael Johnson (Nevada)
7. Tight End Depth
After Chris Cooley suffered a season-ending injury, Fred Davis stepped up and became the league’s most exciting tight end. This happened for one main reason: He was our only downfield threat due to injuries to our wide receiving corps.
Chris Cooley is entering the final year of his contract with the Redskins. This could very well be Washington's last season with one of the biggest personalities in football.
Look for a tight end in the late rounds (5-7) to be added for depth and to take Cooley’s role in the twin tight end packages in two seasons.
Potential Tight Ends:
George Bryan (NC State)
Drake Dunsmore (Northwestern)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
In his third season as a kicker in the NFL, Graham Gano made 31 out of 41 field goals (75.6 percent).
However, five of his field goals were blocked.
If we had a capable line and Graham Gano could have kicked all of these again without a defensive lineman in his face, he probably on average would have made four out of these five.
That increases his total to 35 out of 41 field goals made, making his new field goal percentage 85.4 percent. This really is not that bad.
However, if the Redskins wanted to part ways with him, they could draft a kicker in the later rounds (5-7), similarly to how the Chargers did with Nick Novak and the Eagles did with Alex Henery this past year.
Randy Bullock (Texas A&M) – AP’s All-American First Team Kicker
Caleb Sturgis (Florida) - AP’s All-American Second Team Kicker
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The Washington Redskins have many needs outside of quarterback, and until they finish a full rebuilding effort on both sides of the ball over the next couple of years, they will not be a Super Bowl contending team.
I know as a fan who has been deprived of real excitement for the Burgundy and Gold for many years that this is disappointing and not what we want to hear.
But all we can do right now is be patient and let Mike Shanahan and the front office do their magic and make the 'Skins a perennial Super Bowl favorite in the years to come.
Let me know what you think, and I thank you in advance for your comments.