5 Positions the Redskins Must Upgrade Before the 2013 Season
While the majority of the pieces have been filled, there are still some answers the Skins' front office will need to address this offseason.
Without a first-round pick and salary-cap infractions, the Redskins will need to position themselves to defend their NFC East title.
Even after a 10-6 year, the Redskins will not have the same starters they had this year. Upgrades are going to be made; below is a list of that.
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After falling to 3-6, it appeared that DeAngelo Hall’s future with the Redskins was in doubt. However, during that seven-game winning streak, Hall was playing at a Pro Bowl level, including impressive performances against top-tier receivers.
It has been reported that DeAngelo Hall is willing to take a pay cut in order to stay in Washington. As effective as he was in those final seven games, the Redskins simply cannot afford to pay $7.5 million to him next season. With this being considered, I would expect Hall to remain in the starting lineup.
Either way, cornerback is a position that needs more depth. While Hall’s counterpart Josh Wilson is a solid starter, they lacked any talent after that.
With the league focusing more on the pass, the need for a valued third cornerback is imperative to a successful defense.
Addressing this need early in the draft can prove to pay huge dividends for the secondary. Names like David Amerson, Xavier Rhodes and Jordan Poyer are all sticking out.
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No disrespect to Madieu Williams, but his days as a starter are no more. Earlier in the season, the Redskins were often victimized on the big play in which the free safety’s prime responsibility is to eliminate that from happening.
Williams was limited athletically and would consistently lose foot races to faster receivers.
Similar to cornerback, upgrading this need in the draft is the smart thing to do. There are a lot of solid prospects who could be in the Redskins' grasp in the second or third round.
Players like D.J. Swearinger, Bacarri Rambo, T.J. McDonald and Eric Reid all could potentially be in a Redskins uniform next season.
Other than quarterback, the free safety position has been a major issue ever since the tragic passing of Sean Taylor. Chris Horton, Reed Doughty, Kareem Moore, O.J. Atogwe and Tanard Jackson have all held the position, but none of them have panned out.
Jim Haslett loves to blitz, and by doing so, it sets up the offense to potentially make a big play if protected properly. This is where a valued free safety is so vital.
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I understand Reed Doughty had the game of his life against Seattle in the playoffs, but he isn’t the long-term answer.
Right now, the Redskins are hoping they can get Brandon Meriweather back from a torn ACL. In one half against the Eagles, Meriweather provided a spark in the secondary that was supremely missed throughout the year.
Even with the potential emergence of Meriweather, he’s not the long-term answer. So while this is redundant, this is another area that can be upgraded via the draft where Meriweather can be relied upon for a couple more years while grooming a rookie into that role.
As we enter year four of the Mike Shanahan era, each draft has really had an overall theme. Year one was getting that bookend left tackle (Trent Williams), year two was upgrading the defense (Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins) and year three was mortgaging the future for a franchise player (Robert Griffin III).
This year, the Redskins' front office needs to continue focusing on building an overall team of talented and youthful players who are high-character athletes.
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In run-blocking, Tyler Polumbus did a great job, but in pass protection, he was a liability. After Griffin’s knee injury, the Redskins will not take their quarterback for granted again.
Upgrading the right tackle position via free agency is the best option. This leaves the Redskins the opportunity to improve the secondary from the draft and invest in a right tackle for the future (Sebastian Vollmer maybe?)
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The good news is that the Redskins are getting Brian Orakpo back next year. The bad news is we are uncertain of Rob Jackson’s future in Washington.
Jackson will be looking for a starting gig and rightfully so. Therefore, the need for depth at outside linebacker will need to be assessed.
Outside linebackers are hard to find; they are basically “tweeners.” They are undersized defensive ends in a 4-3 and an oversized outside linebacker in a 4-3.
While Ryan Kerrigan has been a workhorse for the defense since his arrival, Orakpo’s health is a potential concern, which is why the need for quality depth at this position is required.
With two fifth-round picks this coming draft, this can be addressed in the later rounds.