Redskins: Who Is at Risk of Losing Starting Role to 2014 Draft Prospect?
With less than a month to go before the 2014 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins should have their board set and an understanding of their roster needs. While there are holes to be found on the roster, the more interesting questions surround positions the 'Skins could upgrade in the draft.
Even though they lack a first-round pick, the Redskins may be looking to not only improve their overall roster, but find players who can replace current starters.
It is difficult to predict the availability of prospects and where they truly stand in the rankings that teams place them in. However, there is more than enough talent throughout the draft for Washington to find potential starters.
Here are some of the starters from 2013 who are at risk to lose their starting roles to 2014 draft prospects.
Tyler Polumbus, Right Tackle
Tyler Polumbus had a solid 2013 campaign at right tackle, particularly when compared with his revolving door impression from 2012. However, he isn't a reliable pass-blocker, and that is something the Redskins absolutely need in order to protect Robert Griffin III.
Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James, the massive 6'6" tackle, would be an improvement over Polumbus in pass protection.
James would still be a rookie were he to wrest the starting job away from Polumbus, but the Redskins would be willing to deal with it if they believe he can be a long-term solution at right tackle.
Make no mistake, Polumbus is great for the zone-blocking scheme instituted by Mike Shanahan, but Jay Gruden and Sean McVay aren't running the same scheme. Polumbus will need to either step up his pass blocking or get out of the way if he wants to keep his job.
Chris Chester, Right Guard
With the release of center Will Montgomery and the signing of guard Shawn Lauvao, formerly of the Cleveland Browns, there is due to be a shuffle along the offensive line. Kory Lichtensteiger, who started at left guard last season, will slide over to play center with Lauvao taking his place next to Trent Williams.
Chris Chester was arguably the weakest link on the offensive line last season, and judging by the talent in the trenches the 2014 draft boasts, he may be fighting for not only his starting job, but his roster spot.
Mississippi's Gabe Jackson would be a massive upgrade over Chester in every sense of the phrase. Jackson's brings 30 more pounds of beef to the right guard position, which goes along with his excellent mechanics and quickness.
Jackson is projected as a second-round pick, which would mean the Redskins would be using their first pick in the draft on him. If that's the case, Chester is gone from the starting lineup and maybe the team.
The versatile David Yankey out of Stanford may also be an option.
Brandon Meriweather, Strong Safety
Aside from bringing a veteran presence to the secondary, Brandon Meriweather is nothing more than a placeholder at strong safety. He is a hard-hitting run-support specialist with adequate ability in coverage.
More often than not, though, he misses routine tackles and is caught out of place in coverage.
Maybe it was the scheme or how Jim Haslett was made to call the defense, but Meriweather has never been more than just OK for the Redskins.
Even with Phillip Thomas, who missed his rookie season with a Lisfranc injury, the Redskins still have a question mark at strong safety.
Northern Illinois' Jimmie Ward would bring a boost in athleticism and fluidity that is lacking in the secondary. While he may be able to play free safety, Ward's value is at strong safety for the Redskins. If he's on the board in the second round, Meriweather will lose his starting job.
Logan Paulsen, Tight End
Jordan Reed is the unquestioned starter at tight end after a surprising rookie campaign where he finished second on the team with 45 catches. However, Jay Gruden's offense with the Cincinnati Bengals utilized two receiving tight ends in 2013.
Logan Paulsen, while a capable receiving tight end, is not on par with either Jermaine Gresham or Tyler Eifert, whom Gruden had at his disposal in 2013.
As the best blocking tight end on the roster, Paulsen has value to the Redskins in jumbo packages or goal-line scenarios, but he is replaceable.
Tight end talent is deep in this draft, and a big body with excellent hands like Washington's Austin Seferian-Jenkins would supplant Paulsen as the second tight end on the depth chart. He reeled in 21 touchdowns in three seasons playing for the Huskies to go along with 146 total receptions.
Jarvis Jenkins, Defensive End
Adam Carriker missed the better part of the last two seasons due to injury before being released this offseason. In his stead, Jarvis Jenkins has had the opportunity to cement himself as the unquestioned starter for the future.
With Jason Hatcher likely starting for Stephen Bowen, Jenkins will have to step his game up and hope the Redskins don't pick any of the many talented defensive end prospects in the draft.
Jenkins has great size and ability, but he hasn't been able to put anything substantial together, even as an often unheralded 3-4 defensive end.
Virginia's Brent Urban is could stand to fill out his 6'7" frame, but he has the tools to push Jenkins out of the starting spot, even as a mid- to late-round pick.
Should the Redskins spend a higher pick on a defensive end, LSU's Ego Ferguson is a speedier defensive end who would complement Hatcher's power rushing ability.