It’s no secret that the 2012 draft is pivotal for the Washington Redskins. If the importance was lost on anyone, the organizational leadership raised the ante when trading with the St. Louis Rams for the second overall pick.
The ‘Skins haven’t had the number two overall pick since the 2000 draft when the team selected LaVar Arrington. In fact, Chris Samuels from the same draft, as well as Trent Williams, are the only other top three picks the burgundy and gold have had since the last top QB prospect they selected in the top three: Heath Shuler in the 1994 draft.
What is so unique about this April is that Washington has moved up into a no-lose situation at the second pick. Either Robert Griffin III or Andrew Luck could easily go first overall and that is not to slight either quarterback.
This month will mark a new chapter in Washington Redskins’ history. It will define Mike Shanahan’s career as a head coach in DC and will determine the course of the franchise over the next three to five seasons.
In compiling this list, I tried to balance the team’s immediate needs with the best talent available at the pick.
Before LaVar Arrington in 2000, the last time the Redskins had the number two overall pick was 1961. That year the team also drafted a quarterback, Norm Snead. The QB out of Wake Forest had a forgettable record as the signal caller for the ‘Skins, 9-30-3, over his three seasons with the team.
But, he did make his first two Pro Bowl appearances with Washington in 1962 and 1963. Snead’s biggest contribution to team history is taking part in the trade that sent Sonny Jurgensen down 95 from Philadelphia to DC as Snead’s replacement.
While trading away Luck or RGIII after three seasons seems unconscionable at the moment (stranger things have happened), having either QB make the Pro Bowl two out of their first three years would be a great sign for the franchise’s direction.
The first real pick with any sort of decision-making involved in it for the ‘Skins comes on day two in round three. With London Fletcher currently a free agent, the team needs to hope for the best and plan for the worst.
Fletcher’s contributions to DC cannot be overstated, but the organization needs to have a plan for life after number 59. Thankfully Perry Riley showed flashes of great play in 2011 and will continue to develop in 2012. But, the depth chart is shockingly thin at ILB.
Riley stands alone at the inside spot with Lorenzo Alexander, Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Markus White all slotted at the OLB positions. Regardless of whether or not Fletcher re-signs, the Redskins should use their third-round pick to target an ILB.
James-Michael Johnson out of Nevada would make an excellent addition to the team. He’s the fourth best prospect at his position on many boards and lacks any of the health or off-field issues surrounding Mychal Kendricks.
The best part, as a vocal leader and team captain, Johnson’s already got some Fletcher in him. Hopefully, the team brass can bring back London Fletcher to tutor and pass the torch to James-Michael Johnson going forward.
The Redskins need help on the offensive line. Unfortunately, they’ve got a lot of money tied up into all of the starters. Ideally I would have had a center at this spot in the draft however, with the organization’s recent investment in Will Montgomery, I don’t see the team taking a center in the draft early.
Philip Blake could have made a great pick at this spot to continue to pair with RGIII. However, he doesn’t show the quickness and consistency to pull/trap which would make his versatility along the line in the ZBS limited.
At pick 102, Boise State’s Nate Potter would make a great "plan B" for Jammal Brown’s ailing hip or Chris Chester’s poor performance. Potter has experience at guard and his physical build could allow him to flip from inside to outside on the line. Potter’s drawback is his technique, which the Shanahans should be able to quickly mold into their system.
With the recent addition of Cedric Griffin, the Redskins look to strengthen their defensive backfield with a veteran who is coming off of an injury in 2011. Griffin could be making the move to free safety to provide a seasoned presence for DeJon Gomes to learn from.
The cornerback position should be targeted here at the 109th pick. Josh Wilson helped the defense improve their coverage skills but DeAngelo Hall has a ballooning cap number and Kevin Barnes is in the last year of his contract.
Omar Bolden from Arizona State would prove to be a great addition to the defense. Bolden could easily work his way from the dime into the nickel spot during the season. Haslett could use Bolden in a number of packages, he shows great footwork and quickness to play man, makes good reads in zone coverage, and provides run support as a sure handed tackler.
A wrap up tackler versus a cut down chopping corner would be a welcomed change to a defense that has seen YAC added on because of poor technique. Bolden’s biggest knock is that he missed all of last season due to an ACL tear. I think Rob Gronkowski would argue that missing an entire season due to an ACL injury doesn’t necessarily set you up for a poor rookie campaign.
Contingency plan here in the fifth round for Fred Davis and Chris Cooley. If Cooley goes down again and Davis lights up again, it’s the Logal Paulsen Show, Season 2. Davis has never been a tremendous blocker but has made up for it with his abilities as a receiver. Cooley, never the fastest guy on the field, improved as a blocker and has a great feel for soft spots in coverage.
George Bryan out of NC State is a quality pass blocker who was an excellent pass catcher for the Wolfpack. Bryan has a good set of hands and is usually reliable catching the ball down field. His biggest problem is getting down field. While that may prevent some teams from going after him, the Redskins have shown with Chris Cooley that speed isn’t everything.
Bryan could see immediate playing time in some packages as a primary blocking tight end. With the uncertainty around him on the depth chart, Bryan could see some quality playing time in his rookie campaign and develop a great relationship with the new QB as a sure-handed underneath receiver.
Depth, depth and more depth. The offensive line needs to strengthen in order to protect the number two overall pick. A quick, agile and powerful guard could help rotate in for some spot relief of Kory Lichtensteiger and/or Chris Chester.
Desmond Wynn is a tall, lean guard out of Rutgers who hovers around 300 pounds. He has seen time at both left and right guard while in college and has long arms. Wynn has been flagged by many scouts because of knee and shoulder problems he has had throughout his college career.
His talent is still raw and if he cannot develop better leverage, he may end up at a backup tackle spot. Either way, depth is a good thing in the NFC East and you build a great team from the inside out.
Seventh-round picks are traditionally impossible to hit on, but Shanahan has done it before with Peyton Hillis. Accuracy is the key to this pick. Sure, Graham Gano has some power, but his inaccuracy is going to hurt a team with a rookie QB who is still learning the system and trying to scrape by to get wins.
Carson Wiggs is the most accurate kicker in Purdue history, making almost 74 percent of his kicks during his time on campus. His strength is not too shabby either; he hit on two 53 yard attempts, a 55 yarder and a 59 yard field goal.
Goodbye Gano, hello Carson Wiggs.
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