The Washington Redskins rattled off an unexpected seven-game winning streak to finish the regular season at 10-6 with the NFC East division crown. Things only get harder for the 'Skins now as they get ready to host the Seattle Seahawks.
Just because they now have a better idea of where they will be drafting come April 2013 does not mean the Redskins have the time to focus on who they will have their eyes on.
Let's get ahead of ourselves and speculate who the 'Skins might want to draft to bolster their surprising 10-6 squad.
Washington traded two first-round picks to the St. Louis Rams for the opportunity to draft Robert Griffin III in the 2012 iteration of the draft. The 2013 is the first draft the Redskins will have without a first rounder, but that is not a reason to mourn as it might have been in the past.
RGIII has proven himself worth every bit of the king's ransom the 'Skins paid to draft him, and can easily be seen as a nice consolation for not having a pick in this or the next draft.
If anything, not having a first-round pick validates Mike Shanahan's bold move, because he was not expecting the team to be at the top of the draft anyway. They rattled of an unexpected seven-game winning streak to get to the playoffs, which would have landed them in the 20-32 range of the first round.
The Redskins would have liked to add first round talent, but considering the alternative, they will take Griffin and a playoff berth.
In plain terms, DeAngelo Hall is an overpaid and overhyped coverage liability who talks more trash and starts more fights on the field than any player should.
The Redskins secondary was easily the biggest problem this season, and as such, the Redskins should open the draft by upgrading the cornerback position.
Jordan Poyer is excellent in coverage, which Washington desperately needs to upgrade after yielding over 4,500 passing yards this season, including allowing over 100 receiving yards to 11 different players. Poyer's run support could use some work, but the Redskins front seven has done exceptionally well in stopping the run.
Even with the emergence of Richard Crawford in nickel coverage, the Redskins need a top corner. Poyer could be the guy.
Next Best Option: David Amerson, NC State
Assuming the Redskins do not make a serious run at some of the projected free agent free safeties, like Jairus Byrd or Dashon Goldson, they will need to fill the void in this draft.
It may be a stretch to think that D.J. Swearinger makes it this deep into the third round, but stranger things have happened. The Redskins desperately need help at the free safety position.
Swearinger is talented both in coverage down the field and around the line of scrimmage. A strong performance at the Senior Bowl will boost his draft stock greatly, but he could easily slip to the third round with a lot of teams looking at other needs.
The Redskins expected free agent Tanard Jackson to be their starter heading into the season, but another substance abuse violation earned him an indefinite suspension from the NFL. He is eligible for reinstatement on August of 2013, but it is unlikely the Redskins will bank on him as their long-term solution at free safety.
Next Best Option: Bacarri Rambo, Georgia
Jammal Brown's frustratingly unmemorable tenure with the Washington Redskins is likely to come to an end, leaving the right tackle position wide open. Tyler Polumbus performed admirably as the de facto starter, but he is not the bookend the 'Skins need to protect RGIII.
Ricky Wagner has displayed versatility, and proven himself to be an asset both pass and run blocking. More importantly, his flaws are largely coachable, whereas the players he would be replacing suffer from being injury prone or simply outmatched at right tackle.
He struggled during his senior season as the Badgers had to work through offensive coaching changes, and a lack of cohesion along a line that had three new starters.
Next Best Option: Xavier Nixon, Florida
Fred Davis has the ability to be among the best tight ends in the NFL, proving too strong to cover with a safety and too fast to cover with a linebacker. The biggest thing standing in his way is Fred Davis.
After having a career year in 2011 cut short by a drug suspension, Davis saw this season end with a torn Achilles after just 24 catches for 325 yards and no touchdowns in seven games.
Jake Stoneburner is an accomplished blocker and an underrated receiver who could bring a similar playmaker to the Redskins at a fraction of the price, and without the red flags of drug use Davis has raised.
Stoneburner is not perfect, however, having been suspended for the first game of his senior season for public urination and running from police.
Nevertheless, Stoneburner could be a nice combination of Davis' playmaking ability and Logan Paulsen's blocking ability.
Next Best Option: Michael Williams, Alabama
Washington cannot do enough to revitalize their thinned and outmatched secondary. Having selected a corner to start their draft day, the Redskins look to add some depth with a bit of a sleeper pick.
Rod Sweeting had a solid season for the Yellow Jackets, but did not live up to the expectations of a strong senior season to bolster his draft stock. What is lost in his stat line, 55 tackles, five pass deflections and zero interceptions, are his cover skills.
Sweeting did not have an eye-popping season, but he could be a huge asset as a sleeper pick late in the draft. The Redskins have Crawford stepping up, and saw promise in Chase Minnifield to keep him on IR, and don't seem sold on Kevin Barnes, which could be the type of opening Sweeting would need to make an impact.
Next Best Option: Josh Johnson, Purdue
London Fletcher is not getting any younger, and Keenan Robinson didn't show very much before landing on IR for the season. Perry Riley has solidified himself alongside of Fletcher in just his third season, but the Redskins need to think about depth and the future at inside linebacker.
A.J. Klein is a talented linebacker who earned All-Big 12 honors this season and finished his college career with four interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Klein is a playmaker, a tackling machine and could blossom into a leader for the Redskins after Fletcher has moved on. A season with Fletcher as a mentor would go a long way towards his development, and Washington's defense needs the type of presence Klein can provide.
Next Best Option: Bruce Taylor, Virginia Tech
T.J. Moe is a versatile receiver with the ability to play the slot, as well as get involved in whatever exotic formations the Shanahans devise for RGIII.
With Brandon Banks on the outs after not producing in the return game, and the likes of Dezmon Briscoe not guaranteed a roster spot next season, adding a player like Moe would be a boost in depth, and give the Redskins a player who can make an impact from anywhere on the field, particularly as a slot receiver.
In a very basic sense, Moe would be a Wes Welker type of player. He caught 92 passes for 1,045 yards and six touchdowns as a sophomore, showing he can be a go-to receiver as well as run underneath routes, take bubble screens for solid gains and even run the ball on occasion.
Next Best Option: Jasper Collins, Mount Union
It is not a Mike Shanahan draft without the token late-round running back. Even with Alfred Morris topping 1,500 yards as a rookie sixth-rounder from little ol' FAU, the draw of another sleeper back is too tantalizing to pass up.
Cameron Marshall is a player who had his best year in 2011 before a coaching change at ASU brought about a committee approach to the running back position. After rushing for 1,050 yards and 18 touchdowns last season, Marshall's numbers were cut in half as he split carries with Marion Grice.
Marshall rushed for 582 yards and nine touchdowns at 4.6 yards per carry, but Grice's 14 carry, 159 yard performance in ASU's bowl victory left him overshadowed.
He possesses good speed and agility, but has a tendency to run a little high, which can be coached. He is an asset both carrying the ball and receiving out of the backfield.
With either Roy Helu or Evan Royster possibly being released or traded, Marshall would provide depth and a nice versatile, change-of-pace back for the Redskins offense.
Next Best Option: Zac Stacy, Vanderbilt