Washington Redskins Mock Draft: Seven Areas of Immediate Need
It is hard to believe the 2012 NFL Draft is still several weeks away.
Peyton Manning is now a Bronco.
The Saints franchise has been significantly damaged by the bounty-gate incident.
As for the Redskins, they made the biggest pre-draft news by selling the farm, and quite a bit of the livestock as well, to the Rams in order to grab the No. 2 spot in the draft where they will draft their new franchise quarterback.
However, Redskins fans are well aware that the team's needs run far deeper than just signal caller. While the 'Skins have tried to address some of these needs through free agency, the cap penalties levied against them by the NFL have certainly hampered their efforts. As such, the Redskins will have to resort to the draft to address these pressing areas of concern.
Naturally, this close to the draft, the Internet is flooded with mock drafts of all sorts. An excellent, full seven-round draft, prepared by Wes Stueve appeared here at Bleacher Report recently.
Similarly, there have been numerous articles written analyzing the Redskins most pressing needs in the upcoming draft. Dan Hope recently wrote a great article outlining the five areas of need for the Redskins in the draft.
Manny Geraldo prepared a very good mock draft for all all seven rounds for the 'Skins.
This article is a hybrid of sorts. It is somewhat a merging of the concepts and ideas set forth by Mr. Stueve, Mr. Hope and Mr. Geraldo.
Need No. 1: Quarterback
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Anyone who watched the Redskins last season knew that the status quo was not going to suffice any longer. Mike Shanahan's commitment to John Beck and Rex Grossman was a dismal failure.
So, the Redskins traded two first-round picks in 2013 and 2014, along with their second-round pick this year, to swap places with the Rams and move up to the No. 2 spot in the draft.
The Redskins will draft either Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III, depending on what the Colts do with the No. 1 pick.
Most analysts and experts feel the Colts will take Luck and RG3 will go to the Redskins where he will become the face of the franchise for many years to come.
There is not much I can add to this discussion. Both Luck and RG3 are tremendously talented and have an amazing amount of upside potential. Whoever the Redskins draft at No. 2 will almost certainly be an upgrade over Grossman or Beck.
Redskins fans have not been this excited for a draft in a long time...but they should be. Luck or RG3 are the type of players who can turn the franchise around.
This is the easy part of the Redskins draft, though. After the No. 2 pick is where things get interesting.
Need No. 2: Offensive Tackle
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While many Redskins fans are still hopeful that the team will step up and sign free agent tackle Demetrius Bell, the salary cap penalties might make that problematic. If they do not sign Bell, then I believe offensive tackle is an area the 'Skins must address in the draft.
Jammal Brown is a fine tackle and a solid player when he is healthy. He has been rather injury-prone and is coming off a hip/groin injury that limited him to 12 games last season. As such, putting too much faith in Brown's longevity would be a mistake for the Skins.
The other tackle, Trent Williams, has all the talent and potential in the world and was playing well last season until his suspension. And therein lies the rub with Williams. He is one, shall we say, "indiscretion" away from a one-year ban. His maturity has to be questioned and while one can hope he learned his lesson, some insurance for the Redskins would not be a bad idea.
After the No. 2 pick, the Redskins do not have another selection until the third round, pick No. 69 overall. I really like Mitchell Schwartz, Cal's 6'6" and 318 lb. offensive tackle in this spot and he should be available.
If Schwartz is gone, a very capable alternate would be Bobbie Massey, the 6'6 and 316 lb. tackle from Ole' Miss, whom Mel Kiper felt was the best offensive tackle in the draft after the Combine was concluded.
At the Combine, Schwartz was slightly stronger than Massie (23 reps in the 225 lb bench press as compared to 22), but Massie was faster in the 40 and had a better vertical jump.
Either of these guys would fill this need for the Redskins. Even if Bell is signed, the Redskins would be wise to add depth and youth to the offensive line and take further steps to protect Luck or RG3.
Need No. 3: Guard
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After taking care of the tackle position, the Redskins should take further steps to solidify the offensive line by selecting a guard.
The current guards for the Redskins are both pretty good, but there are question marks there as well.
On the right side, you have Chris Chester, who played well last season. But if you ask fifty 'Skins fans what they thought of Chester's performance, twenty-five of them would say he had a solid season and the other twenty-five would probably say he underachieved.
On the left side, you have Kory Lichtensteiger, who was playing very well until his season-ending injury. That has to be a concern for the Redskins. If Lichtensteiger goes down to injury again, there is not much depth at the guard position for the Redskins to fall back on.
We all saw what happened to the season once the threat of the running game was compromised. With a rookie QB likely to take over the starters role, a similar situation would be disastrous.
The Redskins draft again in the fourth round, with the 102nd overall pick. I like Senio Kelemete, Washington's 6'4" and 307 lb. guard with this pick. Kelemete can play tackle (as he did for the Huskies) but most scouts see him better fit as a guard. He has decent speed, good footwork and is getting stronger as his bench press at Washington's Pro Day improved by four reps from his performance at the Combine.
By selecting a guard like Kelemete (who can play tackle as well), the Redskins acquire more youth and depth along the offensive line. It would be a smart investment.
Need No. 4: Safety
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The Redskins have attempted to address this need through free agency by the additions of Brandon Meriweather and Cedric Griffin. While we may be tempted to give the 'Skins an "A" for effort in this regard, questions remain about both Meriweather and Griffin.
Meriweather can be a very solid player, a hard hitter, and he used to be a ball hawk. But his numbers have dipped the past couple of seasons. If he returns to his old form, this will be a good pickup for the Redskins. If not then there will be a big problem in the secondary.
This problem could be compounded by Griffin, who had two ACL surgeries in 2010 and played as a cornerback with the Vikings last year. Most people believe that Griffin will be used as a safety by the Redskins. Some believe he will compete with Josh Wilson for a starting cornerback position. If it is the former and he suffers another injury, the 'Skins will be a bit thin at safety. If it is the latter, it is the same result.
Beyond the free agent acquisitions, the Redskins have Reed Doughty, who is solid but not spectacular.
They also have Dejon Gomes, who showed a ton of promise last season.
Nevertheless, the Redskins need to solidify the safety position in the draft.
The Redskins have another pick in the fourth round, the 109th overall. There are two safeties I like at this point in the draft.
One is George Iloka from Boise State. At 6'4", Iloka has great size for a safety and would be able to deal with the taller and stronger wide receivers in the NFL. His Combine results indicate he is quite strong for a safety and he has good speed. However, many draft analysts feel he may go as high as the second round.
The other safety I like here is Markelle Martin from Oklahoma State. Yes, Martin had knee surgery recently, and he had shoulder surgery last year. At 6'1", he is shorter than Iloka, but he has above-average speed running a 4.47 forty. Many people had him pegged as one of the top safeties in the draft before his knee injury. If Iloka is gone and Martin is available at No. 109, the Redskins might very well want to take a chance on him.
It certainly would not be any riskier than the investment they have made with Griffin.
Need No. 5: Middle/Inside Linebacker
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One thing almost all Redskins fans are very frustrated with at this time is the team's failure to sign London Fletcher.
The captain and quarterback of the defense and one of the few free agency pickups the Redskins have gotten right over the past decade remains a free agent. While the salary cap penalties have certainly impacted the situation, locking Fletcher down should remain a priority.
Still, Fletcher will be 37 when the season starts so his playing days are numbered.
Personally, I think Fletcher will get signed by the 'Skins. If so, the Redskins would be very wise to build for the future by drafting a middle or inside linebacker that Fletcher can teach and mold and someone who could fit in with Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley.
In the fifth round, the Redskins hold the 141st overall pick in the draft. At this point, I like James-Michael Johnson from Nevada. He has good size and speed and has an optimal build for an ILB. He has not had any injury problems to speak of and does a good job of reading the QB.
Under the tutelage of someone like Fletcher, I think Johnson could turn into a very good MLB or ILB and would compliment Orakpo, Kerrigan and Riley very well.
If the Redskins lose Fletcher to another team, a prospect like Johnson becomes an even higher priority.
Need No. 6: Kicker
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Graham Gano is a thorn in the side of many Redskins fans. He has a strong leg, there is not much question about that. But his accuracy issues have continued to cost the Redskins games they should have won.
The second Cowboys game last season is a glaring example of this frustrating problem. The game was right there for Gano to win, but he could not come through.
Mike Shanahan has not exactly given a ringing endorsement of Gano as he brought in Shayne Graham to compete with Gano last year. However, Graham was awful in the preseason and Gano won the starters job.
Perhaps the Redskins should just avoid kickers with Graham in their name entirely.
If not, then I think in Round 6, with the 173rd overall pick, the Redskins should draft a kicker who could compete with Gano and possibly replace him.
I really like Georgia's Blair Walsh at this point in the draft. Many scouts have him pegged as the No. 1 kicker available in the draft, but he should still be available in the sixth round.
Walsh's numbers were down a bit in 2011, as compared to 2010, but he, like the rest of the Bulldogs, seemed to get stronger as the season progressed. In 2010, he converted six of seven field goals from forty yards or longer with a long of fifty-three yards. He has a strong leg and would give Gano a true challenge in training camp.
Need No. 7: Defensive End
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I don't agree with a lot of what Coach Shanhan preaches. One thing I do firmly agree with, however, is his desire to build depth.
With their final pick in the 2012 Draft, I think the Redskins should target a defensive end.
Stephen Bowen had a solid outing in 2011 and was a key part in the Redskins defensive resurgence last year.
And like many Redskins fans, I am excited to see what Jarvis Jenkins can do coming back from his ACL injury last year.
But if Jenkins struggles, then there is a hole at defensive end that the 'Skins would be smart to address through the draft.
The Redskins hold the 213th overall pick in the draft and they could make worse choices than going with a defensive end here to, again, build depth at a critical position.
A good option here would be Jamie Blatnick from Oklahoma State. Blatnick has good strength and speed coming off the edges. He might go earlier than the seventh round. If he is still available, he would be a good fit for what the Redskins are trying to do on defense.
Jenkins has a ton of upside potential but one has to wonder if that ACL injury will slow him down. If the guy we saw in preseason last year resurfaces, the Redskins will be set at defensive end. If not, someone like Blatnick would appear to be a low risk proposition for the Redskins.
Either way, the 'Skins accomplish their objective of building depth by acquiring a solid prospect.