Heading into the 2011 offseason, the Redskins had many needs for a team that went 6-10 the previous season. It didn't help that the lockout delayed free agency until just before training camp. This forced the Redskins to be much more strategic in the 2011 Draft, and much to the excitement of Redskins fans scattered across the nation, the 2nd-year regime didn't disappoint.
The Redskins entered the Draft with 7 picks (no 3rd or 4th round picks) and exited with 12 new players. Of these 12 players, 8 made the 53 man roster. Second round pick Jarvis Jenkins was assured a roster spot before a knee injury knocked him out in the preseason. Undrafted free agent Willie Smith surprised with a solid preseason, and ended up making the team as a back-up offensive tackle. Three of our draft picks currently sit on our practice squad. So overall, we have 13 rookies on this team in some capacity. The most amazing part is that 5 rookies have seen playing time in our first 2 games.
A new direction, a new attitude, and new leadership have started to turn the ship around.
With four preseason games, and two regular season game having been played to this point in 2011, we can see the direction this teams wants to go in for the forseeable future. There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to turn this team into a perennial playoff contender, but if the 2011 offseason was any indication, we are at least on the right path, and are now a team that's committed to building through the draft, and adding young pieces via free agency; not the other way around.
This is an early look at some positions of need the Redskins may choose to focus on in the 2012 Draft, and a list of players that could help fill those needs.
QB - We do not have a QB on the current roster who projects to be the future of the team. It has been 20 years since the Redskins have had stability at the position, and to be a successful NFL franchise, this needs to be priority number one.
CB - It sems like Hall has been in the league forever, yet he is just 27 years old. Still, with the NFL moving more towards passing, it can never hurt to have quality CB's. This draft is loaded at corner, so we would be remissed to not look in that direction sometime within the first 4 rounds.
WR - I have preached this last year, and I'll preach it again in 2012: We need a game breaking WR. Maybe Hankerson can step up his game and eventually become that guy, but until I see results, I consider the position one of need.
LB - The outside is set for the next 8-10 years with Kerrigan and Orakpo. The attention now needs to be on finding London Fletcher's replacement. Riley may be that guy, but even if he is, we could still use an up-grade to McIntosh, who is a better fit in a 4-3, than a 3-4.
OL - The tackles seem set with TW and Brown, and we now have a promising young player waiting in the wings in Willie Smith. Center and Guard could still use an upgrade. Both Montgomery and Licht have played well at their respective positions so far this season, but it doesn't mean we can't look to upgrade the position. There are some excellent mid-round prospects that could become valuable additions to this team.
Round #1 - It is obviously too early to project where the Redskins will be picking in the 2012 draft, so for now, I'll leave that blank. The number one need in the 1st round is obviously QB, and there are some great prospects who could be avaliable. If the Redskins don't like the choices when their selection rolls around, they could opt to go MLB, or CB, with the return on each position being very high. Depending on where they select, WR could also be an option.
Landry Jones - The Oklahoma gun-slinger has every attribute you would look for in a franchise QB: Size, athleticism, strong arm, accuracy and leadership. The question is, would the Redskins mortgage future picks to move up and draft him if we are out of the top 10?
Nick Foles - If we end up selecting in the later half of the 2012 draft, Foles could be an option. Although not the athlete that Jones or Luck is, he does have excellent size, a good arm, and improving accuracy. I liken him to a Matt Schaub type, and you all saw how effective Schaub was running Shanny's offensive in Houston.
Vontaze Burfict - Although Te'o is ranked slightly higher, I believe Burfict fit our team mentality a little better. Te'o is the better run stuffer, but Burfict is the more complete of the two, having an edge in pass coverage.
Manti Te'o - He and Burfict are 1 and 1A. I would be happy with either of the two with a mid first round pick, IF the QB we covet is gone.
Dre Kirkpatrick - They're are a few CB ranked higher than Kirkpatrick, but none, I believe, have as high a celing as this kid. Kirkpatrick possesses a rare combination of size(almost 6' 3'), speed(4.38), and instincts that make him a coaches dream. Janoris Jenkins may be a little more refined, but from a talent perspective, he's one of the best I've seen in all of college football. He shouldn't be the first corner off the board either, which makes the likelihood of him being avaliable later in the first round a possibility.
Alshon Jeffery - Could you imagine what it would be like having a 6' 4" 235 lb WR, with 4.5 speed to throw the ball to? I couldn't either.
Round #2 - The question here is did we land our future QB in round 1? If that answer is yes, now's the time to look at OL, LB, and WR. If we are still in need of a signal caller, we need to make it happen now.
Ryan Lindley - I put Lindley as my best option in round 2 because of the arm strenght. He is heads and tails above Tannehill, Cousins and Weeden in this catagory, and although a bit raw, and erratic on his passes at times, he would be my QB of choice if we were still committed to Grossman, and we had the time to let a young QB learn and grow for a year.
Ben Jones - This may be my favorite 2nd round pick in 2012. I love the intensity, leadership and intelligence Jones brings to the table. He would be a much welcomed addition to the front 5.
Dont'a Hightower - Hightower is a notch below Burfict and Teo when it comes to pass coverage, and athleticism, but to be able to get a kid of this calibur in round 2 would be a steal IMO.
Mike Adams - Adams is a kid who can play RT or G. He is adapt in blocking in a spread offense for Pryor, so his athleticism shouldn't come into question. He would be too good a value to pass up should he make it to the later part of the 2nd round.
Stephon Gilmore - Here is one of my favorites kids in the 2012 draft. I think Gilmore has a chance to be a big mover this season, and has the talent to move into the 1st round, but if he is avaliable in the 2nd, he would garner serious consideration.
Round #3 - With QB likely out of the way by now, we can finally focus on filling in some missing pieces. If we haven't gotten a LB, some nice options should still be avaliable. This is the round I really look for us to add depth(or a potential starter) to our offensive line.
Mike Mauti - Mauti is an exceptional gifted athlete, who possesses great awareness and instincts. Great against the run, and exceptional in pass coverage, Mauti is a true 3-down LB.
Will Vlachos - The Alabama center playes with athleticism and attitude. A true C with the ability to shift to G if needed, Vlachos versatility will be coveted by many teams.
David Molk - Molk was recruited by Rich Rod to run his spread offense at Michigan. He is an excellent zone blocker, who can get to the second level with the best of them. His weakness is taking on 330 lb nose tackles.
Devon Still - We spent a lot of resources in 2011 along the defensive front. Still, you can never have enough quality D-linemen, so if Still slips into the 3rd, he would be a steal.
Mock Draft: (3 rounds)
RD #1 - Vontaze Burfict - Landry Jones was gone, and Shanahan wasn't ready to mortgage the farm to get either him or Luck. We select the replacement to Fletcher, who retires after the 2011 season, after making his 3rd straight Pro Bowl.
RD #2 - Ryan Lindley - Not my first choice at QB, but with a better than expected year from Grossman, we can afford to let him sit, and learn the offense from a veteran.
RD # 3 - Will Vlachos - A solid all-around linemen from a great program. Vlachos will push Monty for a starting spot as a rookie.