With the NFL Draft fast approaching, set for late April, the Internet is flooded with predictions and projections of which prospects are heading to which teams, mainly focused in on the players who can help said franchises.
In this piece, I’ll be going against that line of thought by pinpointing seven players who have been linked to the Redskins who they should absolutely avoid selecting in the draft.
Head coach Mike Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen are transitioning from a rebuilding mode, to a win now mindset. After three straight losing seasons, the Redskins made the necessary move trade up to second overall and presumably draft Robert Griffin III. By trading away valuable resources and selecting a quarterback this high, the Redskins are signaling a need for starters, not depth/role players.
Pierce is dynamic power runner with incredible production this past season (27 touchdowns and nearly 1,500 yards). Despite these qualities, the Redskins must avoid drafting Pierce because they have a need for starters. Pierce is projected to go in the third or fourth round and the Redskins cannot afford to use their second pick in this draft on a third string running back.
Roy Helu and Tim Hightower (assuming he resigns) are cemented atop the depth chart, and third string running backs can be found in the seventh round or later (undrafted free agents). Pierce will earn a shot at the starting role for some team in August, but it should not be the Redskins.
This is one of the deepest drafts in recent memory for quality middle-round corner backers. Players in the third-fifth round may not be the elite prospects we see in the first round, but are quality starters that are critical to any teams’ success. The Redskins will need to draft a starting nickel cornerback in this draft but they must stay away from Cliff Harris.
In 2009, Cliff Harris was regarded as on of the nation’s premiere corners and return men. Harris was viewed as a late first/early second round draft pick with high upside. That all changed after Harris was involved in several off the field incidents, resulting in his expulsion from the team. After repeated driving offenses and arrest for possession of marijuana, Harris was dismissed from the Oregon program and is now viewed as a problem child.
The Redskins must avoid Cliff Harris despite the discount price tag he is currently sporting (projected sixth or seventh round). Harris’s off the field concerns are reminiscent of former Redskins (Clinton Portis, Albert Haynesworth, Lavar Arrington, and the list goes on). Dan Snyder has taken the first step in the right direction by handing over decision making to Bruce Allen; Washington fans should pray he does not take two steps back with divas like Harris.
This offseason the Redskins parted ways with their star tandem safeties (LaRon Landry and Oshiomogho Atogwe). To fill these holes the Redskins have signed three veterans: Brandon Meriweather, Cedric Griffin and Madieu Williams. The safety position has been in a constant state of flux for Washington since the tragic death of Sean Taylor in 2007. LaRon Landry was a top 10 overall pick but had tremendous difficulty in coverage.
With the addition of three veterans, on top of those already on the roster (Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes), safety cannot be viewed as a strong need. While none of these players are Pro Bowl caliber, they are perfectly capable of providing solid production.
Antonio Allen is a poor man’s version of LaRon Landry and the coverage pains experienced in Washington. Allen is a talented in the box strong safety, who struggles to keep up with elite receivers. The Redskins cannot afford to invest in tackling over coverage any longer and with that must stay away from Antonio Allen.
The middle linebacker position is on shaky ground in Washington with potential loss of both starting players from last season (London Fletcher and Rocky McIntosh). Neither player has officially signed with another team, but both are unrestricted free agents and free to move along at any point. With the Redskins salary cap tied up in a Roger Goodell sleeper hold, the Redskins may struggle to bring back even one, much less both of these players.
This year’s draft class has some impressive middle linebackers but the Redskins must stay far away from Vontaze Burfict. Burfict is an absolute stud on tape, and belongs in the first round on talent alone. Unfortunately, talent is only one part of the process and Burfict has failed in every other aspect.
Playing defense requires a certain amount of maturity and restraint, which Burfict is lacking. Burfict has received countless personal foul penalties for late hits, thrown his coaches under the bus to the media, and blamed his teammates for a poor season in interviews with coaches. On top of all these character concerns, Burfict has failed to train properly this offseason as proof from his poor combine and even worse pro day. While middle linebacker is a need for the Redskins going forward, Vontaze Burfict must be avoided.
The Redskins have struggled to find consistent production at the wide receiver position for many years. Whether it is through free agency or the draft, high profile or unknowns, it has been awhile since a receiver has flourished in Washington. This offseason the Redskins signed Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to play along side Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson. Still some believe the Redskins lack a true No. 1 wide receiver.
There may not be a Calvin Johnson or AJ Green type wide receiver prospect in this draft, but the middle rounds are filled with talent. This year, the premiere small school prospect is Brian Quick from Appalachian State. At 6'4" 220 pounds, Quick has been compared to Randy Moss like talent.
With raw talent and speed, Quick may be available when the Redskins are on the board in the third round, but they must look elsewhere. Quick is an impressive talent, but is several years away from being NFL ready. He did not face anything close to NFL caliber corners in college and has very little route running experience. Quick is an expensive (second or third round pick) project that will not be ready to contribute in the near future. The Redskins must avoid flashy prospects such as Quick and focus on players who will add wins next season.
Since the drafting of Brian Orakpo in 2009, the Redskins have begun slowly transitioning to a 3-4 defense. When Mike Shanahan became the head coach, he brought Jim Haslett in to install the 3-4 defense. One of the key pieces in an effective 3-4 defense is the outside linebacker. With pro bowler Brian Orakpo and last year’s first rounder Ryan Kerrigan, the Redskins are pretty well set for starting outside linebackers. Still, you can never have enough pass rushers, and the possibility of more sacks is very enticing.
One of the top outside linebackers in this year’s draft is West Virginia’s Bruce Irvin. Irvin has been regarded as a double-digit sack artist in NFL, which will have many teams salivating. The Redskins need to put an “X” over this player and move on to the next player.
While Irvin has impressive skills on the field, he appears to gather more attention off the field. Irvin has a criminal history that includes vandalism, destruction of property, drug dealing, and robbery. Teams are often willing to forgive one or two mistakes, but Irvin has a patterned history that does not seem likely to change. The Redskins would be wasting a pick on Irvin, as he will likely end up arrested and suspended within his first years in the league.
The Redskins quarterback situation last year was one of the worst experiments in franchise history (and this franchise has more than a few to choose from). Rex Grossman was guaranteed to turn the ball over at least twice, and John Beck would freeze like a deer in headlights. This is why the Redskins have parted with several picks and moved up to draft RG3. However, the Heisman trophy winner may not be the only rookie quarterback coming to camp this summer.
Rex Grossman has resigned with Redskins, and drafting RG3 would give them two quarterbacks, but the Redskins will likely come to camp with at least three. This opens up the possibility for a late round selection of a project quarterback to groom behind Griffin. Kellen Moore may appear on paper to be the perfect project quarterback, but he is not NFL caliber.
Moore set the NCAA record for most wins by a quarterback (50) and finished with only three career losses. Despite these accolades, Moore has had a terrible offseason starting with the Senior Bowl. Moore was unable to complete the most basic passes and struggled to see over a large offensive line (Moore is 6'0"). On the off occasions Moore is able to see over the line and get a pass off, he often has been staring the receiver down and throws an interception. Wins in college do not translate into wins in the NFL and Moore is learning that the hard way already. The Redskins would be much better off selecting a late round quarterback with fewer wins and better physical tools.