As an NFL fan, you never stop tracking the personnel of your team. Once they are out of the playoff hunt, you find yourself already looking forward to the next season—a better one, of course.
This is where free agency, contract stipulations, potential early declarations and the draft starts getting recognition.
Free agency is so unpredictable mainly due to the questions that constantly surround the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).
As it stands right now, the NFLPA has decertified, taking the NFL to the courts. For those free agents waiting on the new CBA to be completed, teams looking to sign them will also have to wait.
The 2011 NFL Draft actually brings some consistency to the offseason. There is no denying that fans analyze their team's personnel. More so, those teams with a Top 10 pick.
It's the first step to address multiple positions for teams rebuilding or anticipated to be a few players away from competitiveness. The draft is also the compliment to make good teams even better.
As for Washington, they're a little more than few positions away.
The following slide show predicts what players will be available when the Skins have their first pick of the 2011 NFL Draft.
QB Missouri Blaine Gabbert
With the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, you have the honor of having the most scrutinized choice of the year.
Ranked dead last in pass offense, the new regime in Carolina will have to assess the potential talent in Clausen, who wasn't drafted by Ron Rivera. Based on his 2010 performance, it seems that he is not the QB of the future. In addition, when there's a new head coach, he likes to bring in his own guy.
As for the defense, a bright spot for the Panthers was being ranked 11th against the pass. However, they still ranked 23rd against the run. Adding to the defensive line will heavily be considered here also.
Carolina's pick needs to have an immediate impact on the team whether on offense or defense. What better position to begin the rebuilding phase than QB?
Since Clausen isn't the QB of the future, to improve their passing attack in a division that already has franchise QB's Brees, Ryan, and Freeman, the Panthers select the top QB, Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.
Previous Pick: Auburn DT Nick Fairley
DE/DT Alabama Marcell Dareus
What looked like a promising start to the McDaniels' era, it was the exact opposite in the end. The questionable personnel decisions didn't help.
They were 25th against the pass and 31st against the rush which makes adding to the defense is obvious.
With John Fox at the helm and running the 4-3, he begins with the defensive line by adding Alabama DE/DT Marcell Dareus. He'll be a force in the middle as a three technique.
Denver will continue to address the defensive line and a compliment to RB Moreno the rest of the draft.
Previous Pick: Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers
DT/DE Auburn Nick Fairley
A lot of questions surrounded Buffalo, especially due to how they began the season. But something clicked, and then there was no question of whether the Bills were ever going to win a game, just when?
They were competitive in games no one thought they would be but fell short in the end. Especially when the rush defense was last in the entire league.
To shore up the defensive line and improve against the run, Buffalo takes Auburn DE/DT Nick Fairley.
The Bills would have taken a QB here, but Fitzpatrick did enough in 2010 to earn another year. They'll draft a developmental QB in the later rounds along with some receiver help and continue to address the defensive line.
Previous Pick: Alabama DE/DT Marcell Dareus
QB Auburn Cam Newton
Last year was a promising year for Cincinnati, and they won their division which led to a playoff berth.
However, it was just the opposite this year. Now, questions surround the personnel of the head coach and starting QB.
QB Carson Palmer showed signs of greatness this year, but there was also questionable decision making, leading to turnovers.
Ochocinco had a down year and there is a question if he'll back with the team. Terrell Owens still proved that he has worth despite his age but will be gone also. Cedric Benson was consistent in the running game.
With Ochocinco and T.O. both on their way out, there is a hole at the receiver position.
Drafting the top WR in Georgia's A.J. Green would be the logical choice, however, too many questions surround QB Carson Palmer.
Palmer wants to be traded, and if he does not get a trade, he stated he will retire. The Bengals stand firm that he will not be traded.
Minus the drama, Cincinnati would have had to address the QB position at some point in this year's draft. The Bengals would have preferred to take a developmental QB in the later rounds to learn behind Palmer, but they know they might not have that luxury. With that said, the Bengals take Auburn QB Cam Newton.
They'll also look to drafting a compliment to Cedric Benson later on.
Previous Pick: Georgia WR AJ Green
DE/OLB Texas A&M Von Miller
The Arizona Cardinal's season truly proves how one player can affect a team.
When Kurt Warner retired, the ultimate question that surrounded the offseason was: Who was going to be the starting QB on Opening Day?
The obvious assumption was Leinart, however, Whisenhunt decided differently.
It then became not a question of who was going to start Opening Day, but who was going to start each week? The inconsistency led to the offense becoming ranked last in rushing and second to last in passing.
Because the QB position needs to be addressed, Arizona will strongly consider one here. But with some added depth to the offensive line, especially with the skill players on offense, the Cardinals can win by adding a veteran QB. With Gabbert and Newton off the board, the decision is made easier and the Cardinals address the defense instead.
Arizona ranked 30th against the rush and 23rd against the pass. Arizona addresses the defense by drafting Texas A&M DE/OLB Von Miller.
The Cardinals will continue to add both to the defensive and offensive lines in the draft.
Previous Pick: Texas A&M DE/OLB Von Miller
Cleveland found out this year that they have some promising stars in QB Colt McCoy and RB Peyton Hillis. Despite their efforts, the offense still ranked 20th in rushing and 29th in passing. To improve on both, McCoy is going to need some receiver help and Hillis needs a compliment.
On defense, the Browns improved their pass defense from the year before, but still ranked 27th against the run. There is a lot of talent on the defensive line in this year's draft, and Cleveland will address the line in the later rounds.
With the top receiver in the draft still available, the Browns select Georgia WR A.J. Green.
Previous Pick: UNC DE Robert Quinn
CB LSU Patrick Peterson
With Singletary providing some stability the year before, he was awarded the full-time position at head coach. He installed the mindset of a tough defense which showed by being ranked sixth against the rush, despite being 24th against the pass.
The offense fell in the middle of the heap. RB Frank Gore is one of the most dangerous threats in the NFL when he's healthy. Despite weapons such as TE Vernon Davis and WR Michael Crabtree, there was another inconsistent year behind starting QB Alex Smith, and the passing offense stalled along with its ability to put up points.
Now, a new regime is in.
Installing a new system normally compliments new personnel. Harbaugh will consider drafting a QB for the future here, but since Alex Smith is still present and the top two QB's are gone (Gabbert and Newton), can address the position later.
San Francisco doesn't need to draft a QB this high that isn't ready to play—they need one now. However, they'll address the position with a veteran.
The pass defense is addressed instead by taking the top CB in the draft in LSU's Patrick Peterson.
San Francisco will continue to add depth to the secondary along with some skill players at the WR and RB positions later in the draft.
Previous Pick: Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara
DE Clemson Da'Quan Bowers
When it comes to a Jeff Fisher-coached team, you expect a winning consistency. That assumption didn't hold true this year due to bad defense and inconsistent play at the QB position.
With Jeff Fisher out, and currently no replacement, this pick is the most questioned. Whomever the Titans hire as the new head coach, the QB position needs to be addressed with dire need. Vince Young is gone, and who knows how long Kerry Collins will be able to play?
The drafting of a young QB would be beneficial considering they have a stable veteran in Kerry Collins to learn from, but Gabbert and Newton are already gone. Because of that, the Titans look to improve their defensive line.
Ranked 20th against the run and 29th against the pass on defense, Tennessee takes Clemson DE Da'Quan Bowers.
Previous Pick: Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert
CB Nebraska Prince Amukamara
In the offseason, there was hype that Dallas was going to be the first team to play the Super Bowl in their own stadium. Obviously, that didn't happen.
There is no doubt that there is some promising talent at the skill positions on offense. Dallas can score points when they have Romo protected and actually playing. Once Romo went out, the offense went with him (no complaints here).
On defense, the Cowboys were 26th against the pass. This year showed that the defensive line needs to put more pressure on the QB and that the secondary needs some consistency.
Dallas will heavily consider adding some youth to the offensive line, but they decide to address the secondary instead by drafting Nebraska CB Prince Amukamara.
The Cowboys will then focus on adding depth to both the offensive and defensive lines and the secondary for the remainder of the draft.
Previous Pick: Colorado OT Nate Solder
QB Washington Jake Locker
What I've been waiting for.
It was a promising year for the Redskins with a new regime in Shanahan and Allen. Fans believed that, despite a new head coach and new systems to be installed, the 'Skins would still be competitive. Washington had their moments, but it was obvious that they are more than a few positions away from a win-now attitude.
This mindset was actually a disguise.
Even with the addition of QB Donovan McNabb, it's difficult to have a dangerous offense while installing a new system, especially with an average receiving corps, inconsistent line play and injuries at the RB position.
The pass offense ranked eighth but still had trouble finding the end zone. Despite that, an emerging WR in Anthony Armstrong and RB Ryan Torain were put on display. WR Santana Moss proved his worth.
With McNabb most likely on the way out and the resigning of Moss, they could draft at either position with their first pick.
On offense, Shanahan could either reach for his QB or take the next best WR in Julio Jones. A guard will also be considered here, to improve on their 30th ranked run offense—but not this high.
The Haynesworth situation was just bad. Installing a 3-4 without the personnel for it showed this year. They were 26th against the rush and 31st against the pass. It's not a question of whether the 3-4 works or not (actually I saw a lot more turnovers this year), it's that you need the personnel to do it.
The nose tackle position to replace Haynesworth would be heavily desired and add to the youth movement on the defensive line, but the top ones are gone. The next most important position on defense to be desired is an OLB opposite Orakpo.
This pick will come down to deciding between reaching for a QB and an OLB.
However, the dilemma is only having two picks in the first two rounds and each one needs to have an immediate impact on the team. There is no doubt that the 'Skins will draft a QB in this year's draft—just a question of when.
The 'Skins would prefer to draft a QB that could take the starting position at some point during the season. With that, I see Shanahan reaching for Washington QB Jake Locker.
If Washington doesn't take a QB at 10, they'll have to wait until round two. If not two, then five. If the 'Skins do not take one here, other teams after them in the first round such as Minnesota, Jacksonville, and Seattle will do so. Even in round two, if teams such as Buffalo, Arizona, and Tennessee that pick ahead of Washington did not take a QB with their first pick, they could also be looking for one.
This pick will be heavily examined by all, however, with only two picks in the first two rounds, it makes sense for the 'Skins to take a QB at 10 rather than waiting to see what's left over. Some people also forget how high Locker was ranked last year until he decided to stay.
As for the rest of the draft, I see Shanahan addressing the NT/OG position in the second round. Remaining picks will heavily focus on the defense by adding some needed depth at the CB/DE positions along with an OLB. On offense, hopefully Shanahan can find a gem at the WR and RB positions.
With a combination of smart decisions in this year's draft and free agency, the Redskins can be more competitive sooner rather than later.