It's a bit surreal, right? We all had that sinking feeling, that feeling of cautious optimism that we knew wouldn't pan out, that the Redskins would sign Julius Peppers and Karlos Dansby and we'd be the talk of the offseason again.
I sure did. But now, here we are, a day and a half since free agency began, and the Redskins haven't spent a dime on anyone who wasn't on their own roster last season. No Darren Sproles, no Brandon Marshall, no Antrel Rolle. No one.
To be honest, I think Karlos Dansby would have been nice. But for the most part, I think we've done well so far in avoiding those big names. With Larry Foote coming to town -- no chance he doesn't sign with Lou Spanos and Mike Shanahan -- we could add another sure tackler to our front seven and valued character guy to our locker room, and have four starting-quality LB's for the 3-4 (Rak, Mac, Fletch and Foote). If they manage to add Tony Pashos, the right tackle from San Francisco, the Redskins will very quietly have acquired competent two starters, with little fanfare, who both have had success previously under members of our coaching staff (our new o-line coach previously worked with Pashos in SF). When you only have 5 draft picks, this is how you start to build a team. I love these moves (if they happen, of course).
But what does this say about our draft strategy? As I can see it, we have a few gaping, gigantic holes left on our squad. Here's how I think we'll address them. And unlike others on this site, I believe Jason Campbell has nothing to worry about.
Here are the major needs the Redskins currently have, in what I believe is the order based on need. This assumes we land both Pashos and Foote, which both sound fairly realistic.
Starting left tackle -- Chris Samuels' retirement means we have Stephon Heyer and Mike Williams to play the most important spot on the line. Yikes.
Starting/complimenting running back -- Our only running back on the roster is Clinton Portis. No Betts, Cartwright, Ganther, Mason. Probably gonna want another 2 solid runners by the time the season starts.
Starting right guard -- Unless this staff believes in Chad Reinhart (or Mike or Edwin Williams -- go Terps), they will need to upgrade here. I think Mike Williams handled himself decently at the end of the year and Reinhart had flashes of competency, so I place this need below another RB and another LT, because we could survive if we absolutely had to here. That said, we should upgrade here.
Backup/another quarterback -- Jason is the only quarterback who's ever played a down in the NFL on our roster now that Todd Collins has been given his walking papers. Rumor has it Rex Grossman is coming to town, but anyone who's seen him play for extended periods of time (any Chicago residents here? For two years when I went to school there I was exposed to him weekly) know that he is a big arm and a really inaccurate thrower. Not going to challenge Campbell anytime soon, trust me. Conspiracy theorists, go ahead, but realists -- Jason so much more capable than Grossman.
Beyond this I think we need some young depth on the o-line, perhaps another cornerback if Barnes or Tryon don't do the trick, another safety if we don't trust Reed Doughty, Chris Horton and Laron Landry (but I do), and we certainly should be resigning Hunter Smith sometime soon.
Another Redskins fan wrote that Jason Campbell's days are numbered in Washington. Frankly, I think that 36 hours into free agency, it's clear that's not the case.
Our team's biggest need is at left tackle. It's glaringly obvious. We have one guy who can start at QB, and no guys who can start at LT. At #4, we are going to take at LT. Simply put, if the Redskins don't have a good left tackle, we could have Peyton Manning at quarterback and struggle (although that guy Manning is decent), let alone Jimmy Clausen or Sam Bradford. It's difficult to see any need superseding that of left tackle on this whole team. Who would even play it if the season started today? Stephon Heyer? Yikes.
There's been a lot of talk that the Rams will take Bradford, the Lions will take Suh, the Bucs will take Berry or McCoy, and we will have Russell Okung or another strong LT (Anthony Davis? Trent Williams?) fall into our laps. Frankly, this is the safe and smart choice at the top of the first. If we draft a quarterback over a left tackle, our team has learned nothing. We all know the arguments about the importance of a good o-line. And we all know we haven't addressed it as an organization since the early 2000's. We had the absolute worst line I've ever seen last year, and drafting a rookie quarterback and starting a non-marquee left tackle is not going to change that. I think anyone with a football brain knows that, and we can finally happily say that our GM and coach fit into that category.
If the Redskins are able to plug the LT hole in the first round, the second round's choice also seems fairly obvious. I think there, you have to go with a running back. CJ Spiller will be long gone, but there is a good chance Jahvid Best, Jonathon Dwyer, or some other very capable guys are still there. Shanahan knows RB's, and if there's one good enough here, I'm sure he'll take one. And frankly, I don't see how that doesn't happen unless there's a great QB on the board (doubtful), another lineman Shanny thinks can start right away, or someone else that catches his eye. But frankly, with one RB on the roster who barely played last year, I'm thinking the Redskins are going to take one or even two running backs in this year's draft.
I would also think Shanahan would draft some combination of another quarterback, another o-lineman, a guy who can play 3-4 DE (although I believe, frankly, Daniels is perfect for one and Carter could definitely play the other), another RB, a guy who can return kicks (maybe that guy is also an RB?), and maybe even another WR.
So, for now, let's pick up Foote, Pashos and maybe some proven linemen and move to the draft, where we can really become a better football team within two days of smart drafting.