(photo by Joel Auerbach)
For the 31 teams who did not win the Super Bowl the previous year, NFL draft weekend represents hope – hope that through hard work and a little bit of luck they’ll walk away with the missing pieces to help propel their respective franchise to championship level.
Like anyone else, fans of the Washington Redskins are cautiously optimistic that this weekend will be the next step in seeing their favorite team return to glory. To help prepare folks for this weekend’s festivities we asked some local experts to share their take on how things might possibly shake out when the Redskins are on the clock. We’ve heard from Redskins official blogger Matt Terl, up next – beat writer Ryan O’Halloran of the Washington Times.
Before we get started, let’s take a rational look at the Washington Redskins roster as currently constructed. Which areas are most in need of an upgrade heading into the draft?
Strong-side linebacker. There isn’t an established starter currently on the roster and the Redskins seem to be downgrading the importance of the position even though it’s a position of importance in the NFC East because of the physical style of their rivals. Granted, Marcus Washington had become strictly a two-down player but finding a new starter at strong-side linebacker is important because we don’t know how long Rocky McIntosh’s knees are going to hold up at weak-side linebacker and if he becomes a liability on third down, it amplifies the importance of the strong-side linebacker.
Left defensive end. Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn are great guys and everything but do the Redskins really want to head to the Meadowlands for Week 1 with a two-man rotation of over-30 ends? They shouldn’t. The Redskins need to boost their pass rush or it won’t matter how good DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers are in coverage.
Offensive line. This rebuilding effort has to start sooner rather than later and the Redskins have to take it seriously. The “Todd Wade Left Guard Experiment” didn’t work in 2006 and Pete Kendall cost them two draft choices. The Chad Rinehart Project won’t pay a dividend this year, which forced the Redskins to bring back Derrick Dockery.
Assuming the Redskins can’t trade out of the 13th pick, who would be the smartest pick at that spot? Safest pick? Riskiest pick?
Smartest pick: A defensive end who is big enough to play in a 4-3 scheme yet as an ability to rush the passer. Candidates would include Penn State’s Aaron Maybin and Tennessee’s Robert Ayres. I don’t expect Texas’ Brian Orakpo to be around.
Safest pick: Probably USC linebacker Brian Cushing. He’s capable in coverage and appears to be physical enough to play the run right away. He didn’t rush the passer much in college so that part of his game would require development.
Riskiest pick: A trade into the top 10 that nets them USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. It would probably cost the Redskins their 2010 first-rounder and I always hate when a team deals a future first-rounder and the return isn’t a veteran player. And Sanchez has started for only one year. How long will it take for him to get ready? Can he be a franchise passer?
If everything fell into place for the Redskins front office, which player do they end up with and what draft spot do they take him from?
Now this is dangerous stuff, trying to get inside the minds of The Danny and The Vinny. If it’s up to them, they trade into the top 10 and grab Sanchez. More than likely, they stay put at No. 13 and draft a defensive end. But for all I know, they could be targeting a receiver … again.
Can you give us two or three players who don’t play quarterback who the ‘Skins could possibly be interested in?
Since I talked about Cushing already, I’ll mention Maybin. He has good height (6-3.5) and weighed in at 250 pounds during the Combine. But he was very productive as a senior (20 tackles for lost yardage, 12 sacks) and his athleticism would give Greg Blache some options and move him around.
Everette Brown from Florida State put up some huge numbers last year (14.5 sacks, 21.5 tackles for lost yardage). The Redskins could trade down in the low teens or high 20s to get him. At 6-2 and 256 he would pose match up problems for bigger offensive tackles.
I’m interested to see what kind of interest the Redskins have/had in Rey Maualuga. The Redskins are set at MLB but maybe they think Maualuga is smart enough to make the quick transition to outside linebacker.
We’ve covered their dream situation. We’ve identified potential targets. When it’s all said and done, who do you think the Redskins end up with after the first round is complete?
As Vinny put it the other day, the scenarios are trade up, trade down or stay put. The most likely I think is trading down. The Redskins have only one of the first 79 picks and that’s not the ideal way to get younger. If they like Michael Oher from Mississippi and they see him slipping, expect a trade down.
Ultimately, I’ll predict they trade down and draft Florida State’s Everette Brown.