Virginia OT Oday Aboushi would be of great help to the Redskins next season.
The headlines are all about Robert Griffin III right now, but the Washington Redskins still have other concerns about their roster. Mike Shanahan and his coaching staff will be evaluating players for the 2013 season and drawing up plans for the draft and free agency.
Since the Redskins don’t have a first-round pick, evaluating “sure thing” draft prospects gets even cloudier. It’s never easy to second-guess Shanahan’s roster moves, anyway, so I’m not going to try.
Instead, this is a list of three players who, at this stage, would represent great additions to the team. That assessment is based on talent, value, upside or even just a gut feeling.
The truth is no one really knows who is going to break out in the NFL next year—in many ways, the predictions are the fun part—but the following players all have the potential to make their mark.
Blidi Wreh-Wilson has the potential to be a shutdown corner.
I listed Wreh-Wilson as a potential Redskins target last month, but the more of his tape I watch, the more I’m convinced of his suitability for the team.
The improvement on defense is what sent Washington to the playoffs—and likely saved Jim Haslett’s job—but the secondary remains an area in need of upgrades. Wreh-Wilson would represent that upgrade and would also give the Redskins some much-needed depth at cornerback.
What stands out when watching him play is his natural ability in coverage. He has great instincts, turning his hips well to locate the ball and stay with the receiver. His pace, while not incredible, is enough to keep him in the hunt down the field, and he plays well in both man and zone coverage schemes.
Wreh-Wilson is a riser, but the Redskins could still pick him up in the third round. This would represent excellent value for a player with a high ceiling, and he could find his way into the starting lineup with the right coaching.
At 6’1” and 190 pounds, Wreh-Wilson is a long, rangy corner who has big-play potential. He has recovered well from a knee injury suffered in 2011 to demonstrate real shutdown ability. In a division where the secondary has to regularly deal with Dez Bryant and Hakeem Nicks, this could prove invaluable.
He has an excellent work ethic and is a player of high character. Playing under Paul Pasqualoni has given him a pro mindset, which is exactly what the Redskins need from their rookies.
Wreh-Wilson would find a good home in Washington, and the NFC East would be the perfect place for him to hone his skills.
Oday Aboushi has excelled at Virginia this year.
Although he started all his games at left tackle for Virginia, it’s Aboushi’s skill set that makes him such a good fit for the Redskins.
He is ideally suited to a zone-blocking scheme, with quick feet and a natural athleticism that Shanahan looks for in his linemen. He is totally reliable in pass protection, which is something the Redskins have been missing at right tackle this year.
The more time Griffin has to throw, the less he’ll need to scramble. Considering that nearly all his injury problems this year occurred as a result of scrambling, that alone should ease the minds of Redskins fans.
Aboushi previously had problems with run-blocking, but he showed noticeable improvement in that area this year and continually strives to get better. Moving him to right tackle shouldn’t affect his performance, and he would be a great addition to the Redskins offense.
His consistency has occasionally let him down, but he has stepped up a level this year to show that he can be a dominant force along the line.
He has an invitation to the Senior Bowl, so it will be interesting to see how he grades out against some of the best defensive players in the country.
I had previously earmarked Brennan Williams as a Redskins target, which I stand by. Williams would also be a great fit in Washington. However, the only knock against him is his injury, so it’s still unknown how he will play after recovery. Aboushi is a safer bet at this point.
Ray Ray Armstrong is worthy of a late-round pick.
A player who is certainly not a safe bet is Ray Ray Armstrong, the ex-Miami Hurricanes safety who inherited Sean Taylor’s jersey and then threw it all away.
There are many reasons not to draft Armstrong. He takes plays off, is sometimes selfish with his football and demonstrates a me-first attitude—which translated to the off-field incidents that eventually led to his dismissal from the football team.
However, he’s also a freakish athlete who could excel under the right circumstances. The Redskins are building a young team that entirely believes in the coaches’ vision for the franchise.
Raheem Morris is a vocal defensive backs coach who doesn’t tolerate laziness among his players, so getting Armstrong to buy into the team would result in a different player from the one seen in Miami from 2011 onwards.
Comparisons to Sean Taylor have pursued Armstrong throughout his career due to his athleticism and penchant for big hits. Redskins Nation would welcome him with open arms, and if he could finally live up to his early promise, they would have a safety worthy of following Taylor.
This is all conjecture, obviously, and there’s no guarantee that any of these things happen. Armstrong remains an enigma, but his potential is worth a late-round pick.
Vontaze Burfict was considered undraftable before the Cincinnati Bengals took a chance on him. Burfict not only became the starter by Week 3, he also became the Bengals’ leading tackler by the end of December.
Armstrong could be all this and more for a team willing to take a chance on him. The Redskins should be that team.
In the NFL, sometimes all it takes to inspire a player is to be told that he isn’t good enough, or that he doesn’t have a shot at getting drafted. When given that shot, those players are often the ones that make the best use of them.