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Washington Redskins' Free Agency and Draft Wish List

Matthew BrownCorrespondent IFebruary 3, 2014

Washington Redskins' Free Agency and Draft Wish List

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    Jay Gruden's first offseason as a head coach may be his most important offseason.

    The Washington Redskins will have around of $30 million in cap space to play with and finding a way around not having a first-round pick would do wonders to start Gruden's tenure.

    In a perfect world, the Redskins would be able to sign or draft the best players available to fill their needs.

    Success this offseason may come down to tempered expectations, but Washington has nothing to lose from aiming for the stars with their free agent and draft targets in 2014.

    Here's a look at the Redskins' offseason wish list.

Tackle

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    Free Agents: Eric Winston, Arizona Cardinals and Eben Britton, Chicago Bears

    Tyler Polumbus was serviceable at right tackle for the Redskins, but he is by no means irreplaceable. The market for long-term starting right tackles is thin this offseason.

    Still, there are upgrades to be found.

    Winston is a veteran tackle who would be an immediate improvement over Polumbus. He has more experience and is better in pass protection, which is something the Redskins sorely need.

    Britton is solid, if unimpressive. He's more of an all-around tackle than anything else, but would be better for the 'Skins than Polumbus.

     

    Draft Prospect: Ja'Wuan James, Tennessee

    More of a sleeper pick, James is athletic for his size and managed to keep South Carolina's Jadeveon Clowney without a sack, albeit with some help from double-teams. He's a better at run-blocking than pass protecting, but he's not a liability by any means.

    He is tough and reliable and would be a great value pick in the third or fourth round.

Guard

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    Free Agents: Zane Beadles, Denver Broncos and Wade Smith, Houston Texans

    Chris Chester had a disappointing campaign in 2013, particularly in pass protection. Along with center Will Montgomery, he was blown up to the tune of 2.5 sacks by Minnesota's Kevin Williams.

    Beadles is a younger, pricier option for replacing Chester, but the investment would pay immediate dividends in pass protection and there should be no drop-off in run-blocking.

    Smith is a more experienced guard. He is probably more of a stop-gap than anything else, but would be cheaper than Chester and provide a solid veteran presence along a needy Redskins offensive line.

     

    Draft Prospect: Cyril Richardson, Baylor

    Say what you will about Baylor's offense, which is designed and built to put up video-game numbers, Richardson still is a legitimate second-round pick and would be as good as Chester is now, if not better.

    While not a great athlete, Richardson's power and strength can pave the way in the run game, and he isn't the type to get blown up in pass protection.

    He may have a lot of hype behind him, which could inflate his stock a bit, but he should fall well within Washington's range.

Center

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    Free Agents: Alex Mack, Cleveland Browns and Brian De La Puente, New Orleans Saints

    A good center can change the makeup of an offensive line—Will Montgomery is not that type of center. He's been good for the Redskins, especially for Alfred Morris and the running game, but he leaves a lot to be desired in pass protection.

    Mack is the top center in the NFL and would provide a strong presence in the middle of the Redskins offensive line. He's apt at reading defenses and would help Robert Griffin III identify fronts, which was not a strong suit in 2013.

    De La Puente is right behind Mack in terms of ability, and if the Redskins can't have the best in the NFL, the next best thing is still better than what they have. With a franchise left tackle in Trent Williams, an experienced and reliable center would give Washington a much better offensive line than any it's had in the last several years.

     

    Draft Prospect: Weston Richburg, Colorado State

    Richburg isn't likely to be known worldwide, both because he played at Colorado State and he's a center, but he's an intriguing prospect whom the Redskins should consider.

    He isn't an incredible athlete, but Richburg is a smart player around whom the Redskins could build their line. His unit blocked for 200 rushing yards per game in 2013 while allowing just 20 sacks on the season.

    His line mates also deserve some credit, but successful offensive lines start with a center who knows how to make the calls necessary to picking up blitzes and rush schemes.

Wide Receiver

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    Rich Schultz/Getty Images

    Free Agents: Jeremy Maclin, Philadelphia Eagles and Eric Decker, Denver Broncos

    Aside from Pierre Garcon, there is no one currently on the Redskins roster who can be counted on in terms of wide receivers. Josh Morgan all but disappeared and was eventually benched; Santana Moss also was invisible; Aldrick Robinson remains one dimensional, and Leonard Hankerson got hurt again.

    Maclin may be coming off of a torn ACL that landed him on IR for the entire 2013 season, but he has the potential to be a 1,000-yard receiver and a great complement to Garcon.

    Decker is a bigger receiver and is coming off of Peyton Manning-inflated numbers in Denver. Still, he did manage 612 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011 while catching passes from Tim Tebow and Kyle Orton. He's certainly better than anything the Redskins have on their roster at present.

     

    Draft Prospect: Tevin Reese, Baylor

    If ever there was a reason to reach back into RGIII's history for a player, Reese is it. He may not have any 1,000-yard receiving seasons, but he averaged 16.6 yards per catch during his career, including 22.8 yards per catch as a senior.

    The Redskins could nab a second receiver in free agency and draft Reese to work out of the slot. A playmaker like Reese who can turn a five-yard slant into a touchdown is exactly the type of target Griffin needs to thrive in 2014.

     

Defensive End

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    Free Agents: Greg Hardy, Carolina Panthers and Arthur Jones, Baltimore Ravens

    Adam Carriker has missed most of the last two seasons due to injury and, along with Stephen Bowen, costs far too much to not produce for Washington.

    Hardy made his first Pro Bowl in 2013 after notching 15 sacks to lead the Panthers defense. "Kraken" would be an expensive addition, but the prospect of a healthy, young and productive defensive end installed in a 3-4 front desperate for playmakers is tantalizing.

    Jones is more of a utility player than Hardy, able to play either defensive end or nose tackle in a 3-4 if necessary.

    Adding Jones, who has 8.5 sacks over the last two seasons, would give the Redskins flexibility up front, and give them a player experience in the scheme, which they have lacked since changing from a 4-3 alignment in 2010.

     

    Draft Prospect: Daquan Jones, Penn State

    A defensive tackle at Penn State, Jones has some pass-rushing ability to go along with his big body. As a senior, Jones finished the season with 11.5 tackles for loss and three sacks. 

    Though 3-4 defensive ends are more concerned with controlling the line of scrimmage than making plays in the backfield, it doesn't hurt that Jones can move his man and collapse the pocket enough to rattle the quarterback.

Inside Linebacker

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    Free Agents: Pat Angerer, Indianapolis Colts and Daryl Smith, Baltimore Ravens

    Regardless of London Fletcher playing a little slower in 2013, his retirement leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the Redskins defense. Perry Riley will likely be re-signed, but that still leaves an opening next to him.

    Angerer and Smith both have experience as 3-4 inside linebackers and have the ability to be tackling machines and playmakers.

    Smith has nine career interceptions and 11 forced fumbles to go along with 26.5 sacks and three 100-tackle seasons. Angerer, just a four-year veteran, has forced six turnovers and has 2.5 career sacks while averaging 118 total tackles over the last two seasons.

    The Redskins need someone who can make plays, even if they cannot truly replace Fletcher.

     

    Draft Prospect: Shayne Skov, Stanford

    As playmakers and leaders go, the Redskins could do a lot worse than Skov to fill in the middle of their defense. In his final season at Stanford, he notched 109 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 13 tackles for loss.

    Skov is an instinctive player who knows where he needs to be to make plays. The Redskins need a player like him to create havoc against the run and the pass.

Cornerback

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    Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

    Loucheiz PurifoyFree Agents: Alterraun Verner, Tennessee Titans and Aqib Talib, New England Patriots

    With Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall headed for free agency, and only the latter deserving to be re-signed, the Redskins need to improve their cornerback depth. Hall can come back and work as part of a rotation with David Amerson, who requires some seasoning, but he doesn't need to be relied on as the top corner.

    Verner had a superb year for the Titans, rivaling that of the much louder Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks. He may have played himself out of Tennessee's price range. He has shutdown skills and would from day one be the top corner for a Redskins' defense that allowed 29 passing touchdowns in 2013.

    Targeting Talib makes sense as well, seeing as how he was on his way towards becoming one of the NFL's top corners in Tampa Bay under then-head coach Raheem Morris, currently the Redskins' defensive coordinator. Talib made the most of his one-year deal with the New England Patriots, earning his first Pro Bowl nod.

    He would be an instant upgrade over Wilson and could help Morris mold his secondary the way he desires.

     

    Draft Prospect: Loucheiz Purifoy, Florida

    Purifoy can do things all over the field. If he isn't hassling a receiver, he's picking up sacks on blitzes. If he's not forcing turnovers on defense, he's blocking punts.

    Though an unreliable tackler, Purifoy's ability to make plays sideline to sideline would give Washington's defense, and even special teams, a huge boost.

Free Safety

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    Free Agents: Jairus Byrd, Buffalo Bills and Malcolm Jenkins, New Orleans Saints

    The Redskins have had the worst luck with safeties in the last few years, with Brandon Meriweather and Bacarri Rambo offering the latest disappointment. Meriweather can't tackle and is a liability in coverage, while Rambo proved unprepared for the starting free safety role in his rookie season.

    Byrd is the top free safety on the market this offseason and rightfully so. He's entering the prime of his career, is a turnover machine and is likely the perfect player to fill the void in Washington's defensive backfield.

    Jenkins is a lower-tier option on the market, especially now that the focus in New Orleans defensive backfield has shifted to the up-and-coming Kenny Vaccaro. But by no means is Jenkins a consolation prize.

    What Jenkins lacks in sexy stats like turnovers and defensive touchdowns, he makes up for by being where he should be in coverage and making smart plays as opposed to going for the highlight-reel hit.

     

    Draft Prospect: Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois

    The 5'10", 196-pound Ward is undersized for a safety, but he doesn't shy away from tackling or hitting, as evidenced by his tackling numbers: 95 tackles in 2013, 104 in 2012 and 100 in 2011.

    His value, however, is in coverage.

    Ward grabbed seven interceptions as a senior and would be excellent in the deep middle of the field, an area in which opposing passing offenses were especially ruthless last season in shredding the Redskins secondary. He should be available in the middle rounds assuming the position is not addressed via free agency.

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