With the good news (albeit unsurprising) out of Indy that the Colts will select Andrew Luck with the first overall pick, the mood here in DC has been festive. It almost feels like those few days before Christmas when everyone is amiable and jolly.
This city is punch drunk in love with RG3, and he's happily soaking it all in. To quote the legendary Humphrey Bogart from one of my favorite movies, Casablanca, "I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."
The Redskins have whiffed on adding offensive line help in free agency. They did sign offensive tackle James Lee, who is supposed to provide backup to Jammal Brown. For an O-line that suffered from injuries and a dearth of backup talent, the Redskins will serve themselves well by adding a few offensive linemen in the draft.
There is a quagmire at the safety position after the Redskins signed Brandon Meriweather, Tanard Jackson, Madieu Williams and Cedric Griffin (also a cornerback). Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes return as well. The Redskins are set at that position, but concern still looms at cornerback.
Rumors have it that DeAngelo Hall may be cut, and it would not be surprising if the 'Skins ask Philly about Asante Samuel, who is on the trade block. If Philly will take a sixth rounder, the 'Skins should pull the trigger.
Forever young London Fletcher is re-signed, but depth at the inside linebacker position is a concern. Adding a player that can contribute this season would be an insurance blanket in case of injuries to a thin linebacking corps. With the middle-round picks, the Redskins need to be judicious in selecting players that can impact the team this season.
The Redskins have drafted fairly well the past two seasons and need to continue adding pieces that contribute sooner than later. Drafting a quarterback is the most important pick the Redskins will have made in a decade or longer, so either way the draft goes, it will be a success for the Redskins.
No need for introductions here. One word describes this pick: JACKPOT!
2011 Stats: seven INTs, 60 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 10 passes broken up
The Vandy Second Team All-America cornerback is a ball hawk that has great anticipation. Hayward is an instinctive player, physical and a solid tackler. He shined in one of football's best conferences, despite the team's lack of success. Hayward was a sturdy player at Vandy and started all 37 games the past three years.
The Redskins lack cornerback depth and need to address that issue. The Redskins signed free-agent cornerbacks Leigh Torrence and Cedric Griffin (possible move to free safety), but still need to look at adding some youth.
Hayward needs development in his man coverage, but can contribute immediately in nickel packages behind starters Hall and Josh Wilson. He has the talent and ability to compete for a starting position after a season or two. Drafting Hayward would also open the door to cutting or trading Hall and increasing the cap space.
Philip Blake is one of the better centers available in this year's draft. He is a two-time Rimington Trophy watch list member and started all 38 games in his three-year Baylor career. He is a strong player with decent size that also started at right tackle during his first year. He is still developing at the center position but has the ability to be really good.
Blake was RG3's center for two seasons, and what better way to get RG3 comfortable than to team him with his former center. Continuity between a quarterback and center is a valuable commodity, and though Blake is not ready to start immediately, he should be after a season of adjusting to the NFL.
The Redskins do not have a consistent center on the roster, though Will Montgomery played well at the position last season. Blake could play behind Montgomery next season before taking over the reigns and moving Montgomery to guard. He would also provide depth this season at both center and tackle.
The big fella (6'5", 314 lbs) out of Utah started 39 games for Utah, primarily at right tackle and was a 2011 All Pac 12 First Team selection. However, he played guard at the Senior Bowl and was impressive. He has the ability to play both positions, making him a valuable mid-round selection.
He is a strong player that is considered a great fit for the zone blocking scheme. Bergstrom is mobile, tough and a hard-nosed player that is lauded for his leadership skills. He possesses the versatility to play both tackle and guard.
The Redskins offensive line needs to improve to ensure that RG3 remains healthy. Also, Mike Shanahan's running attack has yet to come close to the heights it reached in Denver, and that's partially due to an inconsistent O-line.
Jammal Brown's play has been marginal, and at the age of 31, he is not the long-term answer at right tackle.
Bergstrom has starting ability, and along with 420 advocate Trent Williams he would give the Redskins two young tackles for the long haul. If Bergstrom is kicked inside to guard, then coupled with Williams he would give the Redskins a strong left side to build the line out from. He would also provide immediate depth and a relief option at tackle or guard.
2011 Stats: 108 tackles, 12.5 tackles for a loss, 5.5 sacks
Cole was a very productive linebacker in college and led N.C. State in tackles the last three seasons. He is tough, tackles well and reacts quickly. He is a strong player with great size (6'4", 246 lbs) that can cover TEs and blitz when needed.
He is a better athlete than presumed and in high school was a Golden Gloves winner in boxing. A high character guy that doesn't take plays off and is fundamentally sound.
The Redskins finally re-signed their captain London Fletcher, but still need to add depth at inside linebacker and prepare for the future of the position. Fletcher is closing in on 37, and despite the switch to inside, Lorenzo Alexander is not the long term answer at the position.
Perry Riley played well after taking over the now departed Rocky McIntosh and finished the season with 68 tackles in eight starts. Fletcher and Riley are penciled in as starters with Alexander as the only reliable backup.
Cole played outside and middle linebacker at NC State and has the versatility to play in the 3-4. Cole could be groomed to replace Fletcher and would compete with Riley while also providing much needed depth. Great value selection in the fifth round.
2011 Stats: 35 receptions, 479 rec. yards, two TDs
Dubbed the poor man's Aaron Hernandez, Evan Rodriguez is a big and fast tight end in the same vain as the aforementioned New England Patriot, who was coached by current Owls head coach Steve Addazio while at Florida.
Rodriguez is very versatile and can play in-line tight end, as well as in the slot, full back and H-back. He has good hands and pass-catching ability and is hard to tackle.
Rodriguez would be a great complement to potential star Fred Davis, as well as a replacement for Chris Cooley whose days in a Redskins jersey are likely numbered. Cooley has missed 20 games the past three seasons and counts for $6.3 million against the 2012 cap. Rodriguez's ability to line up in so many different positions makes him a viable option on offense and a threat in the red zone.
The younger brother of Bengals quarterback Bruce Gradkowski is a very versatile offensive lineman.
After transferring from West Virginia, Gino started 11 games in '09 at right guard. In '10, he moved to left guard and started all 15 games. This past season, he started all 11 games, with seven starts at left guard and four starts at center. Gino is a tough player that blocks well and works hard.
The Redskins need to add depth to the interior of the offensive line, especially with guard Kory Lichtensteiger recovering from two torn knee ligaments. Gradkowski is a very athletic player that could thrive in the ZBS and is a great value addition in the seventh round. He provides depth at all three interior lineman positions and could back up Chris Chester and Will Montgomery who are both nearing 30.
Included are five players that are not projected to be drafted. These possible undrafted free agents are all players that the Redskins should sign after the 2012 NFL draft is complete.
Winston Guy, SS, Kentucky
Guy is an above-average player on a below-average team. He's a tackling machine (120 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss) and a hard hitter with good speed and discipline. Guy could be a key contributor in nickle packages.
Bobby Rainey, RB, Western Kentucky
Rainey, a two-time defending Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year, is just the eighth player since 2000 to rush for back-to-back 1,500-yard seasons. A small (5'7") back with quick feet, good power and is a workhorse.
Derek Moye, WR, Penn State
Moye is a raw talent with much potential. He's an experienced receiver with good speed and at 6'5" could be a monster in jump-ball situations.The 'Skins lack height at the receiver position, and a player with his ability and height could present scary matchups, especially in the end zone.
Lance Dunbar, RB, North Texas
Undersized (5'9", 203 lbs) back ran for 1,115 yards and 10 touchdowns this past season, 1,553 yards and 13 touchdowns the season prior and 1,378 yards and 17 touchdowns as a sophomore. A certified workhorse that also totaled 1,033 career receiving yards. Has good speed and runs hard.
Marcus Dowtin, ILB, North Alabama
Transfer from UGA recorded 115 tackles and four sacks. Very athletic and active player whose off-field problems derailed a promising career at Georgia. Versatile 'backer can drop into coverage and rush the passer.