Most Redskins fans can agree on one thing, this team has a lot of needs heading into the 2014 season. First, you have the free agents that are set to hit the market in March. Of these guys, Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley, DeAngelo Hall and Chris Baker are top priorities for the team to re-sign. Once this is done, we can turn our attention to signing other team's free agents. Then we must develop a comprehensive draft plan that takes advantage of the strengths in the 2014 draft, and can match those with our remaining needs.
This is where things become tricky.
Our 2014 offseason plan has to take into account Need vs. Value in the draft. It would be nice to go into the draft with Best Available Player as the focus, but the Redskins are not really in a position to be so fortunate. We are going to have some major needs that are not met through free agency, and it's very important we make a wise choice with our top pick(number 34) to address those holes.
Below is a look at some of our top needs, and some projections for the 2014 draft that weigh Need vs. Value. I have scored Need vs. Value on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the best value in the draft at pick 34 based on the prospects who could likely be available vs our team needs.
Right Tackle: This is a major need heading into the 2014 offseason. It's also a tricky one to tango with. We can't afford to have a developmental prospect protecting our young quarterback, and any pick in the draft will carry this risk. The offensive tackle class in the draft is top-heavy, with prospects like Jake Matthews, Greg Robinson, Taylor Lewan, Zack Martin, and Cyrus Kouandjio all projected to be taken in the first round. The next best on the board will be Antonio Richardson and Morgan Moses, but both of these players are at their best on the left side, and have a serious drop-off in talent from the previously mentioned five. We obviously don't need a left tackle, and if one of these two were selected for this team they may eventually want to bolt(after we have committed to developing them)to a team who will pay them big money to be a franchise left tackle. Aside from this concern, I don't feel either player is a plug-and-play guy.
In my opinion, this is a position we look to free agency to fill, UNLESS we are fortunate enough to have a player like Kouandjio slip into the second round. Players such as Saffold, Oher, or Schwartz, all who are much more right tackle than they are left tackle, would be smarter options via free agency.
Need vs. Value score: 3
Defensive Tackle: Defensive linemen is another area of need for the Redskins. Both Adam Carriker and Stephen Bowen have been battling injury, and their play hasn't lived up to their contract. Both could be potential cuts. Former second round pick Jarvis Jenkins has dealt with his own injury, and has yet to show much ability on the field. Barry Cofield and Chris Baker are good players with versatility, but we need to surround them with some more young talent.
The NFL draft is weak this season at both nose tackle and 3-4 defensive end. There are three top prospects who could fit our needs, Louis Nix, RaShede Hageman, and Stephon Tuitt. All three are likely to go in the first round, especially the top two, but even if Tuitt were to fall into the second round, I have many questions surrounding his work ethic and overall skill.
I feel the best route this offseason is to sign a young, proven defensive tackle in free agency such as Linval Joseph, or Cam Thomas, and target a mid-round developmental pick in the draft like Daniel McCullers or Deandre Coleman.
Need vs. Value score: 4
Wide Receiver: We have one legitimate wide receiver on this team, and that is Pierre Garcon. After that, our roster is filled with injured players, role players, and guys who have barely seen time on the field. To say this is a major need is an understatement.
The NFL draft is loaded with good top-end talent this year, and it would be wise for the Redskins to take advantage of the best wide receiver class in decades. It's very likely, due to the amount of top prospects this season, that at least one player with first round talent will fall to us at pick 34. Some players to keep an eye on are Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson, and Jordan Matthews. The Redskins would be blessed to get either of these three prospects at pick 34.
Need vs. Value score: 9
Middle Linebacker: I feel re-signing Perry Riley is a top priority for us. After that, we need to worry about the void left by the retirement of London Fletcher. The NFL draft is weak in top-end talent at the position, with only one prospect that I have a first round grade on(C.J. Mosley). I don't feel there is another prospect worthy of a high second, so my option for the Redskins would be to look to the free agent market, and go after a good young talent such as Donald Butler, Arthur Moats, Pat Angerer, or Joe Mays. We should also have Keenan Robinson returning healthy, but remaining that way is another question.
Need vs. Value score: 2
Cornerback: If DeAngelo Hall is re-signed to a reasonable contract, we will be in a bit better shape here, but still, we will need to look to the future for better options. David Amerson should be ready to fill the role as CB1 this season, but a young player to pair opposite Amerson would be ideal. This draft does not boast the top-end talent we have seen in the past at the position, but there are quite a few prospects who could be available at pick 34 that could make the position stable for the long-term. Marcus Roberson, Bradley Roby, and Louchiez Purifoy could all be considerations in the second round. All three are big corners who have very good athletic ability, and have shown press-man skills. There is still value beyond the early second round in prospect like Kyle Fuller, and Stanley Jean-Baptiste if a trade-back were to happen.
Need vs. Value score: 8
Safety: This position is tricky, as I believe the 2014 safety class is very weak(unlike last season), but the need is there for the Redskins. Two prospects at free safety have first round grades; HaHa Clinton-Dix, and Calvin Pryor, but because of the shortage of quality prospects this year, both should be chosen before our selection. Free agency, or a switch of Hall to free safety may be the best option.
Need vs. Value score: 4