Last year Mike Shanahan and his coaching staff had the privilege of coaching the South team at the Senior Bowl.
This is where Mike Shanahan found players like Alfred Morris and Josh LeRibeus.
Even though Shanahan isn’t coaching future rookies this year, the same emphasis will need to put on finding more players to fit the Redskins scheme.
At the moment, the biggest weakness on the roster is the secondary. While DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson steadily improved throughout the season, Hall’s future with the Redskins remains questionable.
Additionally, a reliable third cornerback will be needed. Richard Crawford’s contributions will be used primarily as a punt returner and Cedric Griffin isn’t the long term answer.
Also, both safety positions need significant upgrades. Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes are best suited in reserve roles and on special teams, Brandon Meriweather is recovering from a torn ACL so there’s no guarantee he can return to his once Pro Bowl status and Madieu Williams has no business being a starting free safety anymore.
On the offensive side of the ball, there’s always more room for playmakers that could be found in the later rounds and an heir apparent to Santana Moss’s slot role, while depth on the offensive line is always a necessity.
Rather than entirely confuse you all with potential draft prospects, let’s focus on what the Redskins front office should be studying: free and strong safety, cornerback, inside linebacker (if London Fletcher retires – everyone cross their fingers), wide receiver and offensive tackle.
Below is a scouting guide for the 2013 Senior Bowl and who you should keep an eye on.
Denard Robinson is always a great player to put on mock drafts because he’s a name. Anyone that watched an ounce of college football over the last two seasons should recognize the former Michigan product.
Denard Robinson is making the switch to wide receiver and as a return specialist.
If Robinson’s natural athleticism, elusiveness and instincts have anything to do with his future as a receiver at the professional level than he should be in good shape.
The problem is that there is a lot more to it than that. Running routes is a science and the ability to evade defenders without getting your head knocked off is easier said than done and that’s been his biggest challenge thus far.
Needless to say, Denard Robinson has a long way to go. However, he has until April 25 to get acclimated to his new position.
With the signing of Pierre Garcon and the draft selections of Aldrick Robinson and Richard Crawford, you can see that Mike Shanahan likes playmakers; that’s exactly what Denard Robinson is.
If he’s available late in the draft, the Redskins front office needs to entertain the idea of drafting one of the most productive college players of the last decade.
During the Senior Bowl practices, TJ McDonald has been credited for his range. (via Matt Bowen from the National Football Post)
The “range” comment is what struck me because that’s where the Redskins lacked at the free safety position.
Madieu Williams often had poor angles or his lack of speed allowed for opposing offenses to make big plays.
Drafting a great athlete like McDonald is certainly an interesting idea.
He’s also coming from a Monte Kiffin coached defense, someone who has excelled at the professional level thus preparing his personnel for the next level.
Jordan Poyer has been flirting with a first round grade, so this may be a bit of a stretch for the Redskins late in the second round.
Poyer has been credited with his physicality and quickness. Poyer’s athleticism can be used to matchup against opposing receivers like Victor Cruz and DeSean Jackson.
Let’s say DeAngelo Hall remains a Redskin. So that leaves the Redskins with two starting cornerbacks (Josh Wilson being the other), but defenses need three starting caliber cornerbacks. Especially since the Cowboys and Giants emphasize the pass over the run.
Coming out of Fresno State, Phillip Thomas led the nation in interceptions with eight. He’s also a Redskins fan, which is always an added bonus.
Thomas was one of the most productive defensive players in the country and is climbing up draft boards after an impressive Senior Bowl week so far.
Similar to Poyer, Trufant falling to the 51st overall pick is going to be a stretch. He’s emerged as the top cornerback this week in Mobile.
Trufant has been impressive in 1-on-1 drills and showed the confidence that is needed to be an elite corner in this league. (via Matt Bowen at National Football Post)
Swope was one of the most productive receivers in the country while at Texas A&M. He showcased versatility in his ability to work out of the slot and on the outside as a downfield threat.
He’s also being credited as being an excellent downfield blocker, something that the Redskins covet.
Let’s look at the Redskins receiving corps: Pierre Garcon has solidified as the team’s number one wideout. Josh Morgan’s overall productivity wasn’t anything to marvel at, but I’m assuming the Redskins staff will give him another year.
Santana Moss is due a signing bonus this offseason, but he was excellent as the offense’s “sixth man”. Leonard Hankerson is a big question mark and Aldrick Robinson didn’t see the field enough.
Does that mean there’s room for Swope? That’s difficult to answer, how does "sort of" sound? Wide receiver isn’t a glaring need for the Redskins, but if Ryan Swope is available in the fourth or fifth round, it’s worth consideration.
Xavier Nixon is considered to be an athletic lineman who has played primarily at left tackle and has been impressive thus far at the Senior Bowl, according to NFLdraftscout.com.
Athletic linemen is exactly what Mike Shanahan looks for with his zone blocking scheme.
The Jammal Brown experiment is essentially done in Washington and Tyler Polumbus is set to become a free agent.
While I don’t expect Nixon to turn into an immediate starter, he could be a great value pick in the late rounds and provide competition for last year’s rookie tackle Jonathan Compton.
Rambo’s Senior Bowl week has been up and down thus far according to the Washington Post:
However, Rambo had a very productive career while at the University of Georgia. He’s a versatile defender than can play both the free and strong safety positions, which is vital to being a mid to late round pick.
With Madieu Williams’ contract expiring, Tanard Jackson’s indefinite suspension and Meriweather’s knee injury, there are a lot of potential prospects the Redskins will need to consider – including Bacarri Rambo.
In addition to that, I like the fact that Rambo is coming from the SEC. That’s where the most talented players are coming from and the transition to the pros is easier.
Williams appears best suited as a strong safety, where he can play close to the line of scrimmage and can fill gaps against the run.
Even though Williams struggled in 1-on-1 drills according to the National Football Post, playing the strong safety position in Jim Haslett’s defense doesn’t require his strong safeties to play a lot of man coverage.
If you start for Alabama on defense, you should be given a serious look regardless of how you work out. Lester didn’t have the best year while in Tuscaloosa this season and he’s currently getting a mid-round grade.
Either way, Lester will have an opportunity to prove he belongs in the elite safety corps over the next couple months.