By John D. McKinnon, Jr.
In a little more than two weeks the Washington Redskins will have added new players to their roster. This annual ritual that we know as the NFL Draft can bring along unexpected gems, busts and plenty of surprises. Most of the time the value of draft picks isn’t revealed until the middle or even the end of the season. Some Draft Day decisions can leave us scratching our heads. This year let’s hope that’s not the case for the Washington Redskins.
Assessing the Skins weaknesses last year, it’s fairly easy to identify their deficiencies. The primary problem has been simply not being able to generate a respectable pass-rush from the Defensive Line. Andre Carter gave the Skins the best individual pass-rusher they’ve had since Dexter Manley last season but when Carter was double teamed, the pass rush was nil since the opposing team only had Carter to worry about. Reserve Defensive End Chris Wilson proved to be very adept at getting to the quarterback on obvious passing downs. Wilson however, is undersized for NFL standards (6’4 240) and as a result is too small to play every down. The Redskins could also use a Defensive Tackle that’s adept against the run and can provide a push in the middle to flush Quarterbacks into the Defensive Ends. Cornelius Griffin could be that guy if he stayed healthy but that’s like saying Porky Pig would be a great spokesperson for Looney Toons if he didn’t stutter. Griffin has been oft-injured since he’s been with the organization. The Skins could use a prospect like Calais Campbell (6’8 280) out of Miami to play opposite of Andre Carter. Campbell along with young overachievers Anthony Montgomery and Kedric Golston could provide a big-boost to an aging line.
The second most pressing issue in my opinion may be the cornerback situation. Overall the safeties are solid and the cornerbacks have the potential to be the best trio in the NFL. However, Shawn Springs is getting older and slower while Carlos Rogers has yet to become the “shut down corner” he was expected to be. Rogers is also coming off of a season ending injury and may not be fully recovered by Week 1. Fred Smoot is tough and plays hard but he’s not the type of corner you want on the opposing team’s top receiver. So what did I just say? If the cornerbacks can start the season healthy and remain that way throughout, this unit could be one of the team’s strongest. Also, a strong pass-rush can mask any weaknesses that may exist in the secondary. However, in case the recent trend of injuries continues the Skins should proactively go after a cornerback as a secondary or primary pick. I think Nebraska’s Zack Bowman or Alabama’s Simeon Castille are two good candidates. Both have good size and are pretty physical. If Springs, Rogers or Smoot are out with injuries, the Skins will have a qualified backup that’s ready to step in. After all they’ll need someone to supplant Springs pretty soon.
The tertiary need has got to be wide-out. A big, tall, fast receiver with good hands can open up the running game and give Jason Campbell more options than Wilt Chamberlain at a bachelor party. Did someone say tall receiver? Ok, well how about James Hardy (6’7 220) out of Indiana. I think Hardy or Limas Sweed would provide the big target for Jason Campbell that will improve his passing percentage and help to move smallish Randle El or Santana Moss into the slot where their speed could prove to be more effective. If Jim Zorn favorite Anthony Mix pans out the Redskins could boast a receiver corps to reckon with.
The remaining picks should be used to shore up depth on the Offensive line and other non-glamorous areas that are essential to a winning team. It appears the Redskins are attempting to buck a recent trend of trading away their Draft picks for nothing in return. Could this be the Draft that turns the Redskins around? After the 2008 Draft we should at least have an idea.
Hail To The Redskins!