Washington Redskins NFL Draft Updates: Latest News, Trade Rumors, Storylines

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2012

Washington Redskins NFL Draft Updates: Latest News, Trade Rumors, Storylines

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    The questions facing the Washington Redskins as they near the 2012 NFL draft, surround what exactly the team plans on doing with the six picks they hold outside the first round.

    Anticipation has reached a frenzy concerning the Redskins' obvious intentions with the draft's second overall selection. This is the year the team will finally land its franchise quarterback. At least that's what every Redskins fan has to hope.

    The presumptive choice is Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III, although there is still an outside chance the team has to choose Stanford's Andrew Luck. Either way, don't expect too many broken hearts in D.C. on draft day.

    As for the rest of the picks, secondary and inside linebacker appeared to be obvious defensive needs. However, the Redskins have a signed a number of stop-gap defensive backs and finally moved to retain London Fletcher.

    This leaves offensive line as the most glaring need. This slideshow will look at some of the linemen who could intrigue the Redskins in the mid rounds, such as Florida State's Andrew Datko.

    There will also be some information on players who have interested the Redskins staff, such as Vanderbilt cornerback Casey Hayward. Less obvious areas of focus, like the need to add another pass-rusher, something this author has advocated for a while, will also be addressed.

    Here is the latest news, rumors and storylines regarding the Redskins' potential plans in the 2012 NFL draft.

Latest Washington Redskins Draft News, Rumors and Speculation

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    Rumored Interest

    On March 30th, Hogs Haven reported that the Redskins have genuine interest in Vanderbilt corner Casey Hayward. Apparently Hayward wowed the Redskins coaches at the Senior Bowl. Hayward would be a great pick in the third round. He has excellent ball skills that would help improve the turnover ratio of the defense.

    Nbcsports.com lists safeties Phillips Thomas from Syracuse and Arkansas State's Kelcie McCray, as players the Redskins have an interest in. Despite the free-agent acquisitions of Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson, the Redskins could still use another safety and could find help in the later rounds.

    On April 13th, Rich Tandler at realredskins.com, reported that Utah State running back Robert Turbin has visited the Redskins. No specific date or further information about the visit was given. Yet Turbin is an intriguing option for the Redskins. With Tim Hightower still unsigned, adding a third runner to provide competition to 2011 draftees Evan Royster and Roy Helu would be a smart move.

    Pro Days Attended

    The Redskins were in attendance at Baylor's pro day, as reported by the Washington Times on March 21st. This was the first chance for the coaches to take a close look at Griffin following the trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up from No. 6 to No. 2 in the first round.

    The Redskins also attended Stanford's pro day to catch a glimpse of Andrew Luck, as reported by Sports Illustrated. While this may well have been due diligence on the part of Mike Shanahan, there is no doubt Luck would be a good fit for the Redskins.

    Private Workouts

    LSU standout defensive tackle Michael Brockers is said to have visited the Redskins. Rich Tandler at realredskins.com, reported the visit on March 30th. However, since the trade to move up, Brockers will no longer be an option.

    Profootball.scout.com reported on April 12th that the Redskins had welcomed Arizona State cornerback Omar Bolden for a visit. Bolden impressed scouts by running a 4.5 at his pro day, demonstrating the vertical speed Washington's secondary currently lacks.

    On April 5th, Rich Tandler at CSNWashington.com reported that the team worked out West Virginia cornerback Keith Tandy. He is at his best in zone coverage, making him a fit for the Redskins schemes and could be available as late as the sixth round.

    The Washington Post reported on April 13th that Oklahoma offensive tackle Donald Stephenson visited the Redskins. Stephenson posted the fastest combine time of any offensive linemen, showcasing the kind of athleticism Mike Shanahan covets for his zone-blocking system.

Latest Washington Redskins Trade Rumors and Speculation

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    On Friday, March 10th, the Washington Post reported that the Redskins had engineered a trade with the St. Louis Rams to move up from the sixth pick in the first round, to the second overall selection.

    The deal sent this year's second-round choice, as well as first-round picks in 2013 and 2014 to the Rams. By agreeing to pay such a steep price, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen declared their intention to finally solve the quarterback problem.

    The trade will enable the Redskins to select either Griffin or Luck and be confident they have landed a day-one starter.


    In the opinion of this author, two pass-catching veterans represent the best tradeable commodities for the Redskins. Aging flanker Santana Moss and often-injured tight end Chris Cooley could find themselves forced out by Shanahan and Allen's continued commitment to youth.

    Moss finds himself in a crowded position group and his place is under threat from youngster Leonard Hankerson and free-agent arrivals Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon. Cooley has been overtaken by the more dynamic Fred Davis and carries a high-cap figure for 2012.

    Moss' age may overshadow his still-considerable talent and mean that the soon-to-be 33-year-old may only fetch a fifth- or sixth-round pick in a trade. While Cooley's contract numbers certainly count against him, he has put up impressive career numbers and is a good fit for most offenses.

    Cooley could yield a fourth- or even third-round-pick in a trade. The Redskins could use one or two more picks for general depth and to help patch up the offensive line and secondary. At the very least they may be able to identify younger alternatives to Cooley and Moss.

    On defense, motormouth cornerback DeAngelo Hall may have finally outstayed his welcome in Washington. Hall was maddeningly inconsistent last season, but his reputation as an opportunistic corner could yield a low-round draft choice in trade.

    The Redskins have signed two corners in free agency and their rumored pre-draft interest in Tandy, Bolden and Hayward, could indicate that the position is set for more change.

    However, at this point, each of these scenarios are pure speculation on the part of this author.

    In terms of giving away picks, that seems unlikely given the paucity of picks available to the Redskins, following the deal with the Rams.

    Although one scenario which could appeal to the Redskins would be parting ways with one of their two fourth-round picks, in exchange for a veteran offensive lineman.

Storyline 1: Would Andrew Luck Be a Better Fit Than Robert Griffin III?

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    Perhaps the most intriguing storyline concerning the Redskins heading into this draft, is the outside chance that the Indianapolis Colts swoop for Robert Griffin III with the first overall pick.

    Nbcsports.com reported that the Colts could be tempted by Griffin. The interesting part if Griffin's potential suitability for the system of new Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. 

    Arians incorporates a lot of elements of the spread attack into his playbook and has his quarterback works out of the shotgun more often than the Shanahan system does. Griffin played in a spread-style offense at the collegiate level and is very experienced working from the shotgun.

    That would leave the Redskins with Andrew Luck. However, there is plenty to recommend the Stanford ace as a great fit for the Shanahan offense.

    He possesses tremendous pocket athleticism and mobility and is a superb play-action passer. These are crucial requirements for the Shanahan system.

    Having operated a version of the West Coast offense at Stanford, Luck is familiar with the same principles which helped shape Mike Shanahan's football philosophy. Luck's pro-style experience could help him get off to a faster start than Griffin.

    Nbcsports.com has also reported that the Redskins intend to make a series of visits to Stanford to see Luck. It's a smart move by the front office to cover all the bases pre-draft.

    Ultimately though, the Colts will make the Redskins decision for them. Whomever they select, the Redskins will receive a major upgrade in terms of arm strength, accuracy and playmaking skills, at the quarterback position.

Storyline 2: How Much Attention Will the Redskins Pay to the Offensive Line?

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    After doing little to address a shaky offensive line during free agency, the Redskins should consider adding two linemen via the draft.

    California's Mitchell Schwartz could appeal in the third round. The Washington Post highlighted Schwartz as a prospect who could fit at the right tackle spot for the Redskins.

    Jammal Brown has endured a host of injuries since joining the team in 2010 and has struggled for form on the field. At 6'5" and 318 pounds, Schwartz has good size and is a quick-footed blocker with the agility to play in a zone-based system. He has the upside to justify the Redskins using the sixth pick in the third round to take him.

    In exploring possible tackle options, redskins.com suggested Florida State's Zebrie Sanders as a possibility for the Redskins. Sanders is versatile, having operated on both sides of the line at the collegiate level.

    Knowledge and experience of zone techniques makes Sanders a very appealing choice in the third or fourth rounds. The 6'6", 320-pounder's pass-protection ability would be a welcome addition to a line that surrendered 41 sacks in 2011.

    It is the opinion of this author that either Schwartz or Sanders would be excellent value picks by the Redskins, as both offer starters potential.

    The Washington Post has also profiled Virginia Tech's Jaymes Brooks as a potential late-round steal for the Redskins. Brooks could slide inside and play guard in Washington.

    He performed well in a zone-based system at the collegiate level and is an accomplished run blocker.

    Florida State's Andrew Datko remains a player the Redskins may be tempted by on draft day. A teammate of Sanders, Datko played as a tackle in college, but should operate at guard at the pro level.

    He is a mobile and intelligent zone blocker, who is very effective in space. If the Redskins can look past his lengthy injury record, Datko could be a sleeper pick in the fifth round.

    After re-signing Will Montgomery and Kory Lichtensteiger, the Redskins are set at center. Lichtensteiger may be able to hold down the left guard spot, but his own injury history is cause for concern.

    Adding a scheme-suitable swing player for the interior would be a wise move. Upgrading right tackle remains a priority, particularly given the quality pass-rushers in the NFC East.

Storyline 3: Which Areas of the Defense Will Be Addressed?

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    Secondary ranked as the obvious position of need on defense. However, the Redskins have added safeties Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson, as well as corners Cedric Griffin and Leigh Torrence.

    In today's pass-happy league, another quality cover corner who could operate in nickel and dime fronts would certainly be useful. A rookie would also push the underperforming Hall.

    Defensive line depth also once appeared to be an issue. Yet re-signing Kedric Golston and Darrion Scott and the return from injury of Jarvis Jenkins, makes the line rotation well-stocked.

    The return of London Fletcher settled the situation at inside linebacker. However, the Redskins could use the mid rounds to find Fletcher's eventual successor. Arkansas plugger Jerry Franklin would make an excellent sixth-round choice.

    One interesting possibility could see the Redskins add another pass-rusher. Depth behind outside linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan is weak.

    Another pass-rusher would increase the flexibility of the Redskins nickel packages and prevent Kerrigan and Orakpo from having to play three downs. Pittsburgh's Brandon Lindsey has the ideal frame and quick first-step quickness to justify a fifth-round pick.

    Amidst all the attention paid to the prospect of landing Griffin and bolstering his supporting cast, there are still needs on defense which shouldn't be ignored.

    Check back with this tracker for more Redskins pre-draft updates.