Washington Redskins: Five Positions in Need of an Upgrade This Offseason
Coming off almost a decade of poor drafts, free agent busts and head scratching trades, the Washington Redskins are a team in serious need of talent upgrades across the board.
In Mike Shanahan’s and Bruce Allen’s first season, they did their best to upgrade certain positions. However with a high number of restricted free agents, and a possible lockout looming the free agent pool was weak. Combining that with a shortage of draft picks, the first offseason was tough to do much with.
The additions of veterans Joey Galloway, Willie Parker, Larry Johnson and Donovan McNabb did not pay the dividends the front office had hoped for, but they did find several new contributors.
Players like Brandon Banks, Trent Williams, Jammal Brown, Anthony Armstrong, Ryan Torain, Keiland Williams, Adam Carriker and Vonnie Holliday all played lots of snaps and seem as though they will be in Washington next season.
Still with all of the moves made last offseason, there are several positions in need of substantial upgrades.
Outside Linebacker: Brian Orakpo is very good, and I love Lorenzo Alexander and Andre Carter but neither should be a starting OLB in a good defense. Carter will most likely be gone next year, and I would love to see Alexander as depth across the LB position and a special teamer.
Kicker: Graham Gano was awful this year. He cost the Redskins several games and missed 11 field goals on the season, several of them chip shots. He certainly has talent, but there better be some good competition in training camp come August.
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Rex Grossman and John Beck are currently projected to be the two quarterbacks on the Redskins roster heading into 2011. Donovan McNabb will most likely be traded or released at some point in the offseason, so the front office is moving on as if he is no longer with the team.
With the 10th pick in the draft, the possibility of drafting a quarterback is high. Shanahan wants to groom a quarterback; in 2006, he selected Jay Cutler with the 11th pick overall. So if Shanahan sees a quarterback he loves, he will take him. Jake Locker, Cam Newton, Ryan Mallett, whoever, just please do not screw this pick up or else the franchise will be set back another three years.
In the NFL it is almost impossible to win a Super Bowl without an elite quarterback, unless your name is Joe Gibbs.
If Shanahan is not in love with any of the quarterbacks, I expect Grossman to be the starter with Beck as his backup, meaning another long season in 2011 for the Redskins. That might not be the worst thing in the world for a team that is supposed to be rebuilding.
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While Santana Moss finished third among wide receivers with 93 receptions, and Anthony Armstrong averaged 19.8 yards per catch behind only DeSean Jackson and Mike Wallace among starting receivers, that Redskins still need to upgrade this position. The receivers lacked red zone production, and without a powerful running game and a consistent kicker, there is still need for bigger and better playmakers on the outside.
While a big time free agent is always an exciting option, the Redskins would be better off developing their own stars. That is something they have failed to do over the past decade.
The team is set at tight end, but a big physical receiver is still a necessity for the Redskins. They have Malcolm Kelly, but he has yet to prove he can play in the NFL or stay healthy.
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This would be my ideal first round draft pick, specifically a left guard. If the Redskins selected an offensive guard with the 10th overall pick, they would in theory have shored up the left side of their line for the next decade.
This would allow Kory Lichtensteiger to move to center, replacing Casey Rabach, and allow Will Montgomery to start at right guard, next to Jammal Brown. In my opinion this line would be about middle of the pack in relation to the rest of the league. Average is much better than far below average, which is what the offensive line has been the past few years.
Remember when the Jets drafted D'Brickashaw Ferguson and Nick Mangold to bolster their line? That worked out pretty well for them.
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Kareem Moore just did not get it done in 2010. After starting the season with a penchant for being around the football, he struggled with knee injuries and tackling as the season wore on. His counterpart Laron Landry excelled as the strong safety, making plays closer to the line of scrimmage.
The 2011 Redskins starting free safety is not on the current roster. Reed Doughty, Anderson Russell, Chris Horton and Macho Harris are not starting-caliber free safeties. Those four all saw playing time at the position this season, but with a defense ranking 31st in total yards, expect a new face to be starting at the position next season.
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This is probably the most important position in the 3-4 defense. The nose tackle is the anchor that holds the defense together. The Redskins brought in Maake Kemoeatu and Anthony Bryant to compete for the position that they were hoping Albert Haynesworth would learn and be dominant in.
We all know what happened with Haynesworth. Kemoeatu looked like he was injured all season, and Bryant played adequately in limited snaps as the season wound down.
When the Packers switched to the 3-4, they spent one of their first picks on B.J. Raji, and he has turned into a dominant player. With his presence, the whole defense came together in their first season of the 3-4. The Redskins' first season in the 3-4 was a disappointment, and much of that can be credited to the lack of a good nose tackle.
Expect the Redskins to draft or sign a big body to fill that void in the offseason.