2012 NFL Draft: 6 Positions the Redskins Should Target
This shouldn't come as a shock to Rex Grossman.
There's no question that Washington has need of a great signal-caller first and foremost, but that doesn't mean that the need for augmentation at other positions is suddenly marginalized.
While the Redskins are talent laden at positions like outside linebacker and defensive tackle, there are still more positions that demand marked improvement going into 2012. It may not be a boom-or-bust scenario, but it's certainly the closest thing to it.
Here are the six positions on the Redskins' depth chart that require the most TLC heading into the 2012 NFL season.
Yeah, I know, huge shock.
It's sort of unfair to criticize Rex Grossman or John Beck any more at this point, but there's no getting around the fact that a large part of the Redskins' shortcomings in 2011 can be laid at the feet of the two hapless quarterbacks.
With their powers combined, Grossman and Beck barley managed to break 4,000 yards on the year and accumulated just 18 touchdowns compared to 24 interceptions.
Not bad enough? I'll go ahead and point out that Beck needed 132 passing attempts to tally just two touchdowns. Brandon Banks—yes, return man Brandon Banks—completed one pass all year for a 49-yard touchdown.
In terms of damage assessment, quarterback is the easiest one of the bunch. There simply is no way that the Redskins march into 2012 with Rex Grossman under center, not if they want to win more than five games.
With the St. Louis Rams looking to trade out of their current No. 2 pick in the draft, the Redskins might actually have a real chance of landing Heisman winner RGIII.
How real? Well, let's just hope Mike Shanahan is feeling lucky on April 26th.
Let's face it: next to Ray Lewis, London Fletcher is the NFL's ageless wonder. At 35, he's playing with the motor of someone 10 years his junior. There's no question that No. 59 has earned an unlimited supply of respect amongst the members of Redskins nation.
The real question, however, is how much longer can he keep it up?
The number of new treatments and procedures able to keep athletes playing longer and harder than previously thought seems to double daily. Yet, try as we may, time eventually wins out. With that in mind, one can't reasonably expect London Fletcher to remain in a Redskins uniform for more than another year or two at most.
If the Redskins aren't looking for a young middle linebacker already, then they need to get on track fast.
With Fletcher approaching the home stretch of his career, most eyes are beginning to shift to second-year man Perry Riley out of LSU. Riley was fourth on the team in tackles last season (68) and certainly has the build at 6'0" 240 to anchor the middle of the Redskins defense.
Still, Riley is a dark horse until he proves otherwise, and there is a better-than-average linebacker class set to arrive in 2012 featuring the likes of Tank Carder and Audie Cole.
I would look for the Redskins to take a solid run-stopping linebacker in the second or third round and get to work right away in grooming him to take up Fletcher's mantle. Until then, Fletcher will continue to do what he does best and continually prove that heart can go a long, long way.
Remember when the Redskins stopped all of those huge pass plays last year?
On paper, the Redskins boast two premier defensive backs in DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry. What the on-field product resembles is a different story altogether, though.
DeAngelo Hall, despite being one of the fastest players on the field at any given time, was incredibly inconsistent in 2011. So inconsistent, in fact, that Hall recommended the Redskins "cut him" after a road loss to the Seahawks. Of course, going on record about your plan to go after Tony Romo's damaged ribs won't win you any new fans, either.
Fifth-year man Josh Wilson, who handles corner duties opposite Hall, is still a question mark to many Redskins fans and has yet to make it clear if he can become a lockdown corner in Jim Haslett's 3-4 defense. Yes, he did record 63 tackles to go along with two picks in 2011, but there's still nothing to clearly indicate if he can be a featured defensive back in the NFL.
The cornerback position is one that the Redskins need to improve at greatly to not only help out the linebackers but also to compete in an NFL that is quickly becoming a passing league.
Morris Clainborne is currently the Redskins' projected first-round pick, and he's as NFL-ready as they get. However, if the Redskins move up and pass on Claiborne, then I like Casey Hayward as a mid-round steal at corner.
I mentioned on the previous slide that, aside from DeAngelo Hall, LaRon Landry is the other star prowling the Redskins' deep third.
That is, on paper.
Landry is a freak athlete who has the enviable ability of being able to terrify would-be receivers with the threat of brute-force collision. In fact, Landry is such a devastating tackler that one often forgets how badly lacking he is in coverage ability.
When he's healthy, at least.
LaRon Landry's injury problems have only let him compete in 17 contests over the last two seasons while tallying only two interceptions. Add that with the fact that 2012 is his free-agent year, and the odds of Landry showing up to Redskins' camp this summer seem to dwindle significantly.
O.J. Atogwe, Landry's safety brethren acquired last year from St. Louis, was considerably productive during his first year in DC, and while he's expressed his interest to stay with Washington, nothing with regard to his contract is certain.
That said, the Redskins would do well to find an able replacement for LaRon Landry, as he is likely to hit the free-agent market in 2012.
Brandon Taylor and Markelle Martin are both productive, rangy safety products that I like coming out of the mid-rounds.
Really, it matters very little what the Redskins do at the receiver position if they don't get things straightened out at quarterback first.
Still, we can assume the Redskins will have their quarterback business handled by the end of April. If that is the case, then addressing the growing concerns at receiver will make much more sense.
I say "growing" because wide receiver is not, when compared to quarterback or the situation in the defensive secondary, as bad as it could be. Santana Moss seems to be on his way out of Washington, as much as I hate to admit it. No. 89 has played with less and less consistency in recent years, and it would make sense to deal him while he still retains some trade value.
Aside from Moss, Anthony Armstrong and Jabar Gaffney are a solid, if less-than electrifying, receiver tandem. There are doubts that Armstrong will ever become a big, downfield threat, and Gaffney is a possession receiver—not a home run threat.
Youngsters like Leonard Hankerson and Niles Paul, however, represent what could potentially be a threatening duo out wide for the Redskins, given the time and coaching that they still require.
It essentially comes down to the Redskins' lack of a big-time playmaker that can stretch the field and keep opposing secondaries on their heels and fortified in a Cover 2.
Marvin McNutt, Tommy Streeter and Stephen Hill are all big-bodied, fast receivers who could bully corners and open up the edge of the field as rookies in 2012.
I know, I came up with a tie between guard and tackle. Sue me.
The fact is, the Redskins can't hope to shelter their quarterback in 2012 with the lineup they currently have in place.
Former first-round pick Trent Williams, apart from his off-the-field problems, has played consistently inconsistent. Neither of those things is making the Redskins front office happy considering how high Williams was drafted and the level at which he was expected to be playing by now
The injury bug has also reared its ugly head, disabling both guard Kory Lichtensteiger and veteran tackle Jamal Brown.
Essentially, the Redskins offensive line is a skeleton crew that is in dire straits if it doesn't get reinforcements.
Washington may not be in the position to grab a Riley Reiff or Matt Kalil, but middle-to-late-round talent like Levy Adcock or Brandon Mosley will certainly be available, and there's no telling what the right coaching could have these kids develop into.
It's certainly better than the alternative. That is, a quarterback with a dirty jersey and separated shoulder.