Sunday, April 24, 2011

Questions the Skins Need to Answer Heading Into the Draft (WR)

This is question #3 of a 5 part series of questions about the current talent on the Skins roster. The answer may or may not indicate that the Skins need to address that position in either the draft or free agency.
Question 1
Question 2

3. Can Malcolm Kelly and Terrence Austin fill the void at WR?

(Can Austin* be a 2011 standout?)

2010 had many things happen to the Redskins WR corp. Santana Moss has a career high in receptions. Anthony Armstrong emerged from a practice squad player/backup to become a legitimate deep threat. Joey Galloway's long tenure in the NFL looks like it has come to an end. One thing did remain that has been a problem since the 2008 season: Devin Thomas was still inconsistent/ineffective and Malcom Kelly can't get on the field because of injuries.

The 2008 draft is starting to become the "epic fail" of many epic fails during Vinny Cerrato's tenure as GM/Executive VP football ops. (Ed Note: I'm just talking about his reign as head guy during the 2008-2009 seasons; we'll leave the rest of the Dan Snyder era out of this discussion for right now). Thomas, the top pick of the 2008 draft (2nd round, #34 overall) was cut early in 2010. Kelly, (2nd round, #51 overall) was put on IR. Only Fred Davis has had some success as an early round pick in this draft and yet he's still the #2 TE on the team (behind Chris Cooley).

As the Skins head to what may or may not be the 2011 season, they have some serious questions to address at the WR position. First, is whether to re-sign Santana Moss (his contract voided at the end of the 2010 season and is currently a free agent). Moss has been a pretty consistent WR for the Skins since he was traded from the Jets for Laveranues Coles in 2005. Moss has had some of his better games playing against the Cowboys. While many seemed to have to adjust to the new Shanahan scheme, Moss seemed to excel in his role in 2010. The Redskins moved him more inside to the slot position and allowed Moss to take advantage of the interior matchups. The only concern with Moss is his age and one has to wonder if/when he'll start to lose the speed which is significant in his game.

Beyond Moss is a corp of receivers that pose more questions than answers. Can Anthony Armstrong repeat and improve upon his 2010 performance? Is there a way to use Brandon Banks more as a WR on the team without getting him destroyed on the field or taking away from his KR/PR duties? Is Roydell Williams more a special teams contributor than WR? Two of the biggest questions may come from two WRs that didn't see much time on the field in 2010. Malcolm Kelly is a player that Mike Shanahan really would like to see playing for the Skins. Kelly has the size and the hands that could be very useful in this scheme. However, since 2008 Kelly has only played in 21 games and has 28 receptions. Kelly seems determined to make an impact in 2011 but to not have a backup plan in place if he can't would be a big risk.

(Where's Malcolm**? Can the WR take the field in 2011?)
On a more positive note, the Redskins did get some production from rookie WR Terrence Austin last year. Playing in only 5 games, Austin had three catches in his final two games including a 28 yard catch against the Giants in week 17. Austin looks like he can be a speedster in the mold of a Santana Moss. Plus, he can be used as a return man in punt and kickoff situations.

Even if these two players are significant contributors, the Redskins still may want to address depth and starters at the position. Much like the corner position, 2011 should have plenty of players available for the Skins to find talent whether in free agency or in the draft. While the 2011 draft class only has 2 potentially elite prospects (A.J. Green and Julio Jones), the draft is deep in WR talent that can be had throughout the draft. If the Skins pass on a WR at #10 and are unable to trade back, don't be surprised if they take a WR in the 5th round. Free agency also throws out a great deal of prospects including Sidney Rice, Mike Simms-Walker, James Jones, Braylon Edwards and Steve Breaston just to name a few.

While the Skins hope to get production from their drafted talent, it may be prudent to look elsewhere if only to prevent a worst case scenario at this position.

* original photo from Redskins Blog
** Original photo from DC Pro Sports Report

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