We have spent the better part of the last 2 months arguing over what positions the Redskins should select with our first two picks in this years NFL Draft. The sentiment on this board has been all over the place. So I'm here to tell you what positions we can write off, and why.
OLB - The OLB in a 3-4 defense is hard to project from the college level to the pro's, and for good reason. Not many college teams run a traditional 3-4. Many times the best pass rusher on a team is put at DE, even though that individule may be undersized, and a liability in the run game. College teams are often willing to sacrifice the solid anchor, in favor of pressuring the QB. NFL scouts see these undersized DE's and immediatly think, hey, I wonder if this guy can play in space? We can turn him into the next great 3-4 OLB. But the transition is not all that easy. All one needs to do is look to former Big 10 greats Aaron Maybin and Vernon Gholston to see how that worked out.
Now, we have one stud OLB in Brian Orakpo. Two Pro Bowls in the last two years isn't too shabby, but the question remains who will play opposite Orakpo? Well, later in the 2010 season, we just may have seen the answer to that question, and his name is Rob Jackson, the 6' 4" 250lb fourth year player out of kansas State.
Jackson showed flashes of his pass rushing ability later in the 2010 season, and that ability was pretty good. Jackson, who is 25, showed good speed off the edge, a nice inside move, and the surprising ability to cover in the flats. If the staff can add a reserve FA for depth, the combination of Orakpo, Jackson, Alexander and a player yet to be named can provide us with a solid corps of OLB's, who could be the future leaders of this defense.
DE - The 3-4 DE plays like many 4-3 DT's, but unlike the penetrating, disruptive force that a 3 technique affords a defense, the DE in a 3-4 is also expected to eat up double teams, and control gaps so the linebackers can roam and make plays. The 3-4 DE is usually a little taller, and can play anywhere between 285lbs and up.
Adam Carriker showed he is more than capable of being an effective 3-4 DE in our version of the 3-4. He showed constant improvement as the season progressed, and definitly has the size and strength needed to play the position.
The question remains who will play opposite Carriker, and where will we find depth. Well, depth can be had via FA, and by re-signing a player like Golston to a modest, incentive-laden contract. A starter can be found in one Mr. Jeremy Jarmon. Jarmon, going into his third year, was a surprise entry to the 2009 supplemental draft, in which the Redskins spent a 3rd round pick to aquire his talents. Had he returned to Kentuck for his senior season, he may have vaulted himself into the late 1st - early 2nd part of the NFL draft. Instead he joined the Redskins a year early, and at a cheaper price. Jarmon spent the 2010 offseason adding weight and preparing for the transition to 3-4 DE. He is now listed at 6' 3" and nearly 290lbs. It wouldn't surprise me if he came into the 2011 season at or close to 300lbs. Jarmon has exceptional quickness, and his added size would make for a valuable pass-rushing presence opposite Carriker.
Filling in around Jarmon and Carriker would be a priority in FA. A guy like Alan Branch from Arizona would be a great fit. Another option is the later rounds in the NFL draft. Carriker, Jarmon, Golston, Scott and an free-agent addition or two could round out a nice young group of DE's. Haynesworth would be nice here too, be we will not go there for now. If he does decide to remain a Redskin, and the coaching staff will have him as part of this team, this area becomes even stronger.
OT - Last year we spent the 4th overall pick in the NFL Draft on Trent Williams, the stud tackle from Oklahoma. We also traded for Jammal Brown, the former Pro Bowl LT from the Saints, who was moved to RT in Washington. Although Brown started the season a little rough around the edges, partially due to his recovery from hip surgery, and partly due to his trasition to the right side of the offensive line, his play improved as the season went on. An offseason of healing and familiarity with RT should do him some good. Brown, who is soon to be 30, is still young in comparison to NFL offensive linemen standards. Backing up these two are Heyer, and seconf year pro Selvish Capers, who could eventually take over for Brown on the right side. The Redskins also have Xavier Fulton, a young OT prospect, who was signed to the practice squad midway through the 2010 season.
SS - Not much to say here. LaRon Landry proved that when healthy, he's more than capable of handling the position. Before his injury, Landry was preforming at an All-Pro level. I expect much more of the same in 2011.
TE/FB - This one is obvious, so no need to go into any detail here.
Now the next two positions I am going to group together, and let me tell you why. MLB and FS are two positions I am going to ignore in the first 2 rounds of the 2011 draft; not because we couldn't use an upgrade or infusion of youth, but rather that the need is not that great, and the talent at the position wouldn't justify such an early pick. Fletcher shows no signs of slowing, and Reiley seems capable of stepping in should either McIntosh of Fletcher go down with injury, of even if Rocky leave for greener pastures. At FS, we will hopefully have a healthy Moore, and possibly Barnes to compete for the starting job. Either way, these two positions can be addressed in FA or later in the draft.
So this leaves us with the following positions that could be considered in the first 2 rounds:
QB - Obvious need
OG/C - Could definitly use an upgrade here.
NT - We need a big-time prospect, or our defense will never be Big-Time
WR - Immediate need. Could become greater if Moss departs via FA. Could definitly use a game-changer
CB - Rogers or no Rogers, we could use youth and talent here.
RB - Not a first round consideration, but not a reach in the second either