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Washington Redskins: 6 Creative Moves Bruce Allen Should Make on Draft Day

James DudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2014

Washington Redskins: 6 Creative Moves Bruce Allen Should Make on Draft Day

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    Evan Vucci

    After signing DeSean Jackson, Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen can get creative in the 2014 NFL draft. There are still obvious positions of need, such as the offensive line and secondary, but Allen has a little more wiggle room after bolstering the wide receiver corps.

    Two big decisions at quarterback highlight the ways Allen can get really creative this May. One choice is to re-examine a trade deal involving Robert Griffin III's backup.

    The other is to throw a new challenger into the mix in case 2012's second overall pick endures more struggles.

    Allen should also engage in some shrew maneuvering to position Washington to stock up on extra picks or to move the team into Round 1.

    Here are six creative moves that Allen can make on draft day.

Trade Kirk Cousins

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    Colt McCoy's arrival in D.C. could put Kirk Cousins on the trading block.
    Colt McCoy's arrival in D.C. could put Kirk Cousins on the trading block.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    The decision to sign Colt McCoy, as reported by Redskins.com writer Andrew Walker, will inevitably reopen trade discussions involving 2012 fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins.

    Washington was apparently keen to deal him this offseason but only at the price of a second-round pick, per Mark Maske of The Washington Post.

    No team was prepared to offer that value for a player who tossed 10 interceptions in only eight appearances. But by bringing in McCoy, Allen has given himself leverage, a sort of safety net that could allow him to lower the asking price for Cousins.

    The ex-Michigan State passer claimed to be open to a trade earlier this offseason, according to ESPN.com reporter Adam Schefter. Allen might still be able to tempt one of McCoy's old teams to deal away a pick for Cousins.

    The Cleveland Browns are obvious potential trade partners, given the presence of ex-Redskins assistant Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator. Even in limited action, Cousins has proved he can operate the Shanahan offense and its bootleg, play-action passes.

    The Browns still have a gaping hole at quarterback. They recently hosted a workout for Blake Bortles and are planning to do the same for fellow prospects Teddy Bridgewater and Jimmy Garoppolo, per Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain Dealer (h/t ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen).

    While they are doing due diligence on the draft's top-rated passers, the Browns might be tempted by an immediate, scheme-ready fit like Cousins.

    Allen could wrangle a third-round pick from Cleveland if he sold the deal the right way. That would give Washington the second and seventh picks in a round that is loaded with talent.

Draft a Quarterback

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    Tom Savage is a rocket-armed passer who would create tension at the quarterback position.
    Tom Savage is a rocket-armed passer who would create tension at the quarterback position.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Quarterbacks are always good potential bargaining chips, and Allen won't want to be an injury away from McCoy starting under center. Adding another passer to the mix would be a good move to generate some creative tension behind Griffin.

    Pittsburgh's Tom Savage is projected to go in the fifth round by CBS Sports scribe Derek Stephens. Savage has the right attributes to suit Jay Gruden's penchant for attacking defenses vertically.

    Stephens highlights Savage's awesome arm strength and accurate ball placement:

    Big, tall strong-armed gunslinger who can make all the throws from the pocket, with a quick, fluid throwing motion. Could have the strongest arm in the 2014 class. Consistent drop exhibiting light feet to slide and move within the pocket. Senses pressure to side-step or elude to buy time. Leads receivers nicely on crossing routes, slants and out routes.

    Given Griffin's history of serious knee injuries, it makes sense to keep the depth behind him well-stocked. Gruden has talked about making Griffin "comfortable," per The Washington Post's Mike Jones.

    But it would also be smart to prevent a player whom many believe is too close with owner Dan Snyder from getting too sure of his place as the starter.

Draft a Running Back to Ease the Burden on Alfred Morris

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    There is no denying Alfred Morris is a superb workhorse. But the two-time 1,000-yard runner could use a little more support in the Washington backfield.

    Neither of 2011 mid-round picks Roy Helu Jr. or Evan Royster has provided enough competent support. That should convince Allen that the Washington ground game needs another runner to split time with Morris.

    In that scenario, ex-West Virginia star Charles Sims would be the perfect pick. Unlike Morris, Sims is a true all-rounder.

    The 6'0", 214-pounder is a shrewd inside runner with good cutting skills to get to the outside. He is also a terrific receiver, a talent Morris does not offer.

    In 2013, Sims rushed for 1,095 yards on 208 attempts and added 45 catches for 401 yards, per cfbstats.com.

    Sims doesn't have to operate as a featured back but certainly has that potential. He would form a dynamic tandem with Morris.

    NFL.com draft pundit Nolan Nawrocki projects Sims as a third- or fourth-round selection. Nawrocki's final assessment highlights how smoothly Sims would fit into the Washington offense:

    Athletic, competitive, tough, upright slasher who is an asset as a receiver -- hands rate among the best on a RB in recent years. Cannot project as a bell cow, but offers playmaking ability as part of a tandem in a zone scheme. Speed and durability could determine ultimate draft value.

Select a Tight End with First Pick

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    This offseason has been all about stocking up on weapons for Griffin, as shown by the signings of wide receivers Jackson and Andre Roberts.

    Allen can continue that trend by selecting a tight end with the team's first draft pick. This wouldn't be to replace last season's third-round choice Jordan Reed.

    Reed has the potential to be a truly outstanding "move" tight end. The problem is he's the only one on the roster.

    Logan Paulsen is a blocker with limited field-stretching quality as a receiver. Niles Paul has never mastered the transition from wide receiver. This offense needs a replacement for Fred Davis.

    Jace Amaro fits the bill. The former Texas Tech standout has enough talent and versatility to convince Allen to sacrifice need in favor of the best player on the board at the top of Round 2.

    Amaro is a 265-pounder more in the mold of Jimmy Graham than Rob Gronkowski. Like Reed, he is a roving weapon who can attack defenses from multiple alignments.

    Having a pair of "Joker" tight ends will increase the potency of a suddenly prolific-looking passing game. Gruden knows the value of a deep rotation at the position.

    As offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals, he had Tyler Eifert and Jermaine Gresham. Reed and Amaro would be an even more destructive partnership.

    CBS Sports analyst Dane Brugler projects Amaro as a late first-rounder or an early second-round selection. That leaves him hovering on the radar for the Redskins.

    This franchise has a proud tradition of winning with a high-scoring offense. It's time to revive that this season.

Continue Stocking Up on Pass-Rushers

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    Jason Hatcher doesn't have to be the only new pass-rusher brought to D.C. this offseason.
    Jason Hatcher doesn't have to be the only new pass-rusher brought to D.C. this offseason.Gregory Bull

    Despite a dearth of marquee talent in the secondary, the solution to fixing last season's 20th-ranked pass defense has been to stock up on pass-rushers rather than pass-defenders.

    That explains the signing of ex-Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, one of the finest interior pass-rushers in the NFL. It also makes sense of using the franchise tag to keep 10-sack outside 'backer Brian Orakpo in town.

    Entering the draft with the same needs in the secondary, Allen can continue to stock up on players who will get to quarterbacks before they can trouble a weak defensive backfield.

    That could put a player like Carl Bradford, the ex-Arizona State outside linebacker, in Allen's thoughts at the top of Round 2. Alternatively, he could look at a pair of conversion projects like defensive ends Jackson Jeffcoat and Demarcus Lawrence in the third round.

    Any of that trio would boost the depth behind Orakpo and fellow starting rush linebacker Ryan Kerrigan. They would also give defensive coordinator Jim Haslett more license to get creative when scheming blitz packages.

    So would a player like flexible interior D-lineman George Uko, who could join Hatcher on nickel fronts.

    Allen knows his team has to be more of a force getting to the quarterback after Washington managed just 36 sacks in 2013.

Trade Back, Not Up, in Round 2

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    Allen could load up on more picks.
    Allen could load up on more picks.Evan Vucci

    Back in early March, WalterFootball.com writer Charlie Campbell suggested Washington was considering trading up into the first round:

    According to sources, one team that could be on the move up this year is the Washington Redskins. Sources with the Redskins tell WalterFootball.com that they believe some good talents are going to fall to the Nos. 30-34 range. Washington's first selection is the second pick of the second round, so moving up into the Nos. 30-32 range could cost as little as a mid-level third-day pick.

    Considering there is rarely a significant difference in quality between the final picks of the opening round and those at the top of Round 2, the smarter move would be to trade down.

    That would enable Allen to stockpile picks to help continue revamping a roster that was horribly short of depth and talent during last season's 3-13 fiasco.

    Potential trade partners could be tempted by the knowledge that the second pick in Round 2 can likely still offer first-round-caliber talent.

    The Redskins have already secured an infusion of marquee ability by snaring Hatcher and Jackson in free agency. The team that gave away three prime picks for Griffin might benefit more from adding another choice or two this May, especially since Washington only has six selections this year.

    As Mike Jones of The Washington Post points out, a successful foray into free agency has given the Redskins a lot of flexibility heading into the draft.

    Allen can now get creative and prove his credentials as the right architect for this franchise in the post-Mike Shanahan era.

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