The Washington Redskins have several holes on their 2009 roster that should be addressed in training camp and the preseason. Here is a rundown of each of the positions where the Redskins need to make adjustments to cover their weaknesses.
Offensive tackle is the biggest team need for 2009, and the Redskins did little to address the position through free agency and the draft.
Chris Samuels, one of the most reliable and effective offensive linemen going into the 2008 season, ended up tearing his triceps in Week 14. Samuels should be healthy for training camp, but whether his injury will hamper his overall effectiveness is yet to be seen.
Jon Jansen is losing effectiveness as the other Redskins' starting tackle. At the age of 33, it may be time for the Redskins to put him into a full-time reserve role.
Replacements for the offensive tackle position are scarce. Second-year pro Stephon Heyer emerged last season as a potential starter for 2009. The 6'6”, 314 lb. force has size, and still has room to improve as a pass blocker.
Another second-year pro that could make an impact is Rueben Riley. A three-year starter at offensive tackle for the Michigan Wolverines, Riley is probably best suited as a situational/backup player.
Offensive tackle is undoubtedly a position of need, and the Washington Redskins will need their younger offensive linemen to grow up fast if they want to protect Jason Campbell successfully.
The Redskins have solid depth at the outside linebacker position, but hardly any standout names. It is possible that the team may have top pick Brian Orakpo move to the strong side linebacker position, which would greatly bolster this position for them. However, if the 'Skins elect to keep Orakpo at his natural defensive end position, then they will be in real trouble.
The outside linebacker group is led by Rocky McIntosh, who has emerged as one of the leaders of the group. Questions continue to surround McIntosh and the health of his legs—if his legs are not healthy, he is not the same player.
H.B. Blades, a former standout linebacker for the Pittsburgh Panthers, provides good depth for the Redskins as a situational player. However, H.B. is a bit undersized for his position, and his 5'10” height may mean he will never develop into a top-tier outside linebacker. He has good potential, but should not be in a starting role.
Robert Thomas is a mid-aged veteran in this group, and his skill set is fairly average. While he is athletic, he is valuable as a reserve player. Thomas has good tackling ability, and is also a useful player for the Redskins special teams.
Cornerback is a position of potential need for the Redskins, especially after losing veteran CB Shawn Springs to free agency this year. The cornerback corps are led by DeAngelo Hall and former first round pick, Carlos Rogers.
DeAngelo Hall signed a six-year contract worth $55 million in the offseason, and he remains a huge risk for the Redskins coming into 2009. Some analysts have questioned Hall's work ethic and whether he will maintain his high level of play after getting a big paycheck.
Hall's play is one of the keys for the Washington Redskins in 2009—if he does not keep up a high level of play, this position could be in real trouble.
Carlos Rogers also got a pay-raise coming into the 2009 season, and it is yet to be seen how he will play. He was demoted late last season after Hall came into his own.
There were a few times in the offseason when his name was mentioned in trade discussions—but a starting spot opened back up when the Redskins let Shawn Springs go.
Rogers is a great athlete who should cover his starting spot adequately for the 'Skins. A fifth-year pro, Rogers still has some minor parts of his game he needs to polish up—namely, completing interceptions that should be made. All in all, the combination of Hall and Rogers could be great, or could be a complete bust.
The Redskins have a reliable backup in Fred Smoot, who has spent six seasons with the team—and knows the system very well. Former fourth-round pick Justin Tryon is the other primary backup, but he is still a fairly raw player. Losing Shawn Springs may be a bigger loss than most Redskins' fans think.