The Washington Redskins have the benefit of flexibility when previewing their options for the 2014 NFL Draft. The team has needs at virtually every position, except for quarterback, wide receiver and running back, although some commentators have even suggested using one of their six draft picks on a third down back. With Robert Griffin, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy, the Skins are set at quarterback and the addition of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts take care of wide receiver. The team needs to acquire young talent at right tackle, tight end, inside linebacker, defensive tackle, cornerback and safety. The team’s pass defense was abysmal in 2013 and any effort at upgrading the team must include some new bodies on the defensive side of the field.
The historically poor 2013 pass defense must be corrected if the Skins have any hope of contending in the NFC East. Without a first round pick due to the RGIII trade with the Rams in 2012, the Skins will have difficulty finding a true game changer like Jadeveon Clowney or Khalil Mack. Given the host of needs on the defensive side of the ball, the team can still find quality depth at all positions on defense. Predicting the direction the team will go is difficult because the number of positions of need allow the Skins to pick the best player on the board for virtually every pick. Given the numerous needs to fill, a strong possibility exists that General Manager Bruce Allen will trade down to acquire more picks in what is viewed as talented draft pool.
On offense, the focus rests on right tackle. Trent Williams will likely man the left tackle spot for years to come and the team has quality starters at all positions on the offensive line except for right tackle, the position currently filled by Tyler Polumbus. The Skins signed an offensive guard, Shawn Lauvao, and Kory Lichtensteiger is expected to shift from guard to center. Given the importance of keeping Robert Griffin upright and injury free, the team will likely use its second or third round pick on a tackle. If they go for an O-lineman in the second round, Morgan Moses of University of Virginia, is a likely target. If the team waits until the third round, then look for Cyrus Kouandjio, if available, as the Redskins’ pick. Given the multitude of needs, previewing the Washington Redskins 2014 NFL Draft strategy is more guesswork than usual.
With Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan rushing the passer from the outside, with the help of Defensive End Jason Hatcher signed as a free agent from the Cowboys, the Redskins must use at least one pick on a defensive tackle to pressure the quarterback from the middle. With the retirement of London Fletcher, inside linebacker provides another hole to fill. As to safety, the Skins have often injured Brandon Meriweather and recently signed Ryan Clark currently penciled in as starters. The team hopes that last year’s fourth round pick, Phillip Thomas, will show some progress, but the team will likely pick up a safety in the draft as well. The cornerback depth chart shows Deangelo Hall and David Amerson as the probable starters, with Tracy Porter as the nickel back. The Redskins will probably attempt to shore up the porous pass defense with another cornerback or two selected in the draft.
Predictions – Morgan Moses, offensive tackle from University of Virginia, second round; Chris Borland, inside linebacker from University of Wisconsin, third round; Ed Reynolds, safety from Stanford, fourth round; Jaylen Watkins, cornerback from University of Florida, fifth round; Shamar Stephen, defensive tackle from University of Connecticut, sixth round and Chris Davis, cornerback from Auburn, seventh round. If Bruce Allen does make a trade to stockpile picks, then a tight end could be an additional choice to give Jay Gruden another target for his modified west coast offensive scheme.
The Redskins have finally moved beyond the $30 million two-year salary cap penalty. Unfortunately, the team now feels the after burn of the 2012 RGIII trade with the second pick in the entire draft going to the St. Louis Rams. If Jay Gruden helps put Robert Griffin’s development back on the right track after last season’s debacle between the franchise quarterback and Mike Shanahan, the team will perform better. Hopefully, restocking the cupboards with some young talent will help as well. With the numerous needs, the team has the “luxury” of picking for talent instead of looking for only a couple of slots to fill. Previewing the Washington Redskins 2014 NFL draft strategy is simple and complex at the same time. The simple part is the need to draft players at many positions; therefore, talent will prevail over a particular position. The difficult part of the prediction game is figuring out which needs are filled first. Given the huge investment with Robert Griffin, protecting him probably is priority number one and then restocking the defense comes next.
Commentary by William Costolo