2012 NFL Draft: Washington Redskins Must Draft Antonio Allen

Nolan Ahern@@NolanAhernContributor IIIApril 3, 2012

It is a foregone conclusion that the Washington Redskins will take Robert Griffin III with the second overall pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. The real mystery is what the Skins will do after they take RGIII.

Griffin addresses the team's pressing need for a franchise quarterback, but G.M. Bruce Allen and head coach Mike Shanahan still have holes to fill through the draft and free agency.

Since they have traded away this year's second-round pick, as well as the first rounders in 2013 and 2014, each free-agent acquisition and draft pick is that much more important.

The 5-11 Redskins had inconsistencies in pass coverage, on the offensive line, and at wide receiver. Shanahan was aggressive in signing wideouts Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to complement Santana Moss and the promising Leonard Hankerson, so I think it is unlikely they will take a receiver with their third-round pick (69th overall).

That leaves the secondary and the O-line as the Redskins' two biggest weaknesses, and one of these (or both) should be addressed in the draft.

There may be a tendency to want to protect Griffin as much as possible, and there is a good argument for this. After giving up so much to get him, it seems ridiculous not to protect that investment with a solid offensive line.

Looking at the team objectively, however, the greater need is at safety. Both starting safeties from the 2011 team are gone—LaRon Landry is now a Jet, and O.J. Atogwe was released after a disappointing and injury-plagued season.

The Redskins did sign veteran safety Brandon Meriweather to fill one of the open slots, but Reed Doughty is so slow he is liable to get beat deep by smaller offensive linemen, and he is nothing more than a backup/run stopper.

There will still be safety talent available in the third round, and Shanahan would be smart to at least give Doughty some competition with this pick.

The best option here is Antonio Allen, a safety from South Carolina who is currently projected to go in the third round.

Allen is a 6'1" 210-pound safety who specializes in playing inside the box. He ran a 4.67 40-yard dash at the combine, and was a tackling machine at South Carolina.

This may seem like a bad fit, since the Redskins' corners like to take chances and force safeties to help over the top.

What I love about Allen, however, is his ability to cover tight ends. In today's NFL, the tight end is becoming an increasingly important weapon on offense. Guys like Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez create mismatches because they are too big for corners to cover in man, but way too fast for a linebacker to cover downfield.

Allen specialized in press covering tight ends at USC, a skill that translates perfectly to the NFL. He did not play a traditional safety in college, but Meriweather is an experienced cover safety that can drop back in zone or help over the top.

This would allow Allen to step up and play inside the box, where he can provide terrific run support or press a tight end on a passing play.

The Redskins do need improved coverage from their corners for a safety like Allen to really be let loose at the line of scrimmage, but he would be a terrific value pick early in the third round. His size and athleticism translate well to the NFL, and I would love to see him in burgundy and gold in 2012.