Thursday, April 25, 2013

Grading The Redskins Draft Needs Pt. 1: Offense

If I asked you what are the biggest needs the Redskins need to address during the draft you would probably say the secondary, either safety or corner. You'd be right. But have you thought about all of the improvements that the Redskins could make to make the team better for the upcoming season and beyond?
Believe it or not there are more areas of need than you think or even want to think about.
This article is going to take a look at every position on the roster; look at the starter and the depth behind him and then give a grade based on how badly the Redskins need to improve upon the position.
The grading is simple and is based on a five point scale with 5 being a priority need and 1 being a doubtful need. Below is the point scale and explanations for each point:
5) Priority Need- There is currently no starting talent at the position. There may or may not be depth at the position but if there is they are not ready to be a regular starter.
4) Probable Need- There is a starter or starting talent at the position. However, the position could use an upgrade at the starting position. There may or may not be depth at the position but if there is they are not ready to be a regular starter.
3) Need- There is a solid starter at the position. There may be little to no depth behind the starter or the roster could use an upgrade or even more depth at the position. Also, the team may want to look at future years by finding new, long-term and probably cheaper options.
2) Questionable Need- There is a solid starter at the position. There may be sufficient depth at the position but the team may want to bring in competition to push the current players or to address potential needs in future years.
1) Doubtful Need- There is a solid starter at the position. There is sufficient depth at the position. It's highly unlikely a draft pick is needed for this position.
While it's most likely that the team will focus on the defense in this draft let's start off by looking at the offensive needs. Then we'll look at the defensive needs and finish by looking at special teams.

Notable players: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman 
Analysis: Even with RGIII's injury, with the re-signing of Grossman and the signing of Pat White, it makes little to no sense to waste a draft pick on a quarterback. That's a good thing because this year's QB draft class is dreadful.
Grade: 1
Running Back/Full Back
Notable players: Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, Evan Royster, Darrel Young
Could the Redskins find another Alfred Morris in this year's draft?
Analysis: Alfred Morris had a brilliant rookie season. He shattered records and looks to be the workhorse RB that the Redskins have been looking for since Mike Shanahan took over in 2010. That said, the Redskins would like to add more speed and pass catching ability to the roster. Last year the RBs had 41 catches for 340 yards. In 2011, with a speedster like Roy Helu, the Redskins more than doubled the 2012 number with 84 catches for 686 yards. Helu could be the solution.
Roy Helu has been great when he's healthy. The problem is that he's missed significant time due towards injury in both 2011 and 2012. In two seasons, he's only played in 18 games. Maybe the Redskins feel confident that Helu can be more durable in 2013 and beyond, but I doubt it. I expect Mike Shanahan to work his magic and draft another "diamond in the rough" RB like he has done before.
Darrel Young is the lone FB on the roster and has been a huge asset to the 'Skins in both the run game and passing game. That said, the Redskins aren't big on keeping two fullbacks on the roster and they won't draft a FB when they can use other players in emergency situations or pull a player off the practice squad.
Grade: 3
 Tight End
Notable Players: Fred Davis, Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul 
Analysis: With the re-signings of both Davis and Paulsen there is little need at the position for 2013. Beyond this year may be a different issue. The Redskins like Fred Davis and are giving him another "prove it" year to show his abilities and prove that he can last a full season without a suspension or significant injury. The Redskins could draft a TE but I doubt it would be early unless they are willing to keep 4 TEs on the roster or aren't convinced that Davis is healthy enough to play. Most likely if they draft a TE, it will be in later rounds in order to push Niles Paul to develop further.
Grade: 2
Wide Receiver
Notable Players: Pierre Garcon, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson
Analysis: On paper this looks like a really good group with a good mix of experience ans potential. Last year this corp. put up some pretty decent numbers despite injuries and touch competition. But there are issues that may be addressed during the draft. Both Garcon and Morgan are coming off of injuries from 2012. Morgan had various surgeries and should be 100% when training camp starts in a few months. Garcon did not require surgery to a damaged ligament (not that surgery would have fixed the issue) but is doubtful that he'll be 100% next year. The Redskins did not have a solid #2 WR last year across from Garcon and it really showed when Garcon missed six games with his injury. Also, Santana Moss will be 34 in June and the Redskins may need to look for his potential replacement for 2014 and beyond.
Santana Moss will never be forgotten for the "Monday Night Miracle", but is it time to move on?
While there are issues, there is some significant promise in this group. Leonard Hankerson will be in his third year which is normally a break out year for developing WRs. Hankerson will have his first full off-season to work with the team (in 2011, there was the lockout and in 2012 he was recovering from a hip injury). One hopes that he can show why the Redskins used a 3rd round pick for him in 2011 in the 2013 season. Aldrick Robinson also made a few big plays during last season and could also push for more playing time.
If the Redskins feel that their players will be healthy enough to start camp and that Morgan or Hankerson can become that #2 WR this season, then I would expect the team to only look at the position in later rounds or if the best player on their board is a WR. If they don't feel comfortable with this group or if an amazing talent somehow falls further than expected, then they might use a pick in rounds 2-4. RGIII never can have enough options to target.
Grade: 3.5
Notable Player: Will Montgomery
Analysis: It's a fair statement to say that Montgomery was the 2nd best OL on the team last year behind pro-bowl LT Trent Williams. With the exception of a few bad snaps in the Seattle game and a couple of missed assignments, Montgomery was a key component of the Redskins success in 2012. In prior years, some had argued if the position was in need of an upgrade. At this point I would say no. That said, the Redskins do have depth behind him in Kory Lichtensteiger and Josh LeRibeus.
I do like Cal's Brian Schwenke as a perfect fit for the Redskins scheme if they decided to draft another interior lineman, but I just don't see the Redskins going that way or Schwenke falling into a later round where the 'Skins could afford the luxury of drafting an interior lineman to develop.
Grade: 2
Notable Players: Kory Lichtenstiger, Chris Chester, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Maurice Hurt  
Analysis: This is a pretty solid group. As individuals, many sites that rank players don't grade them out that well, but they fit well in this scheme that relies on creating multiple options for the running back. Behind the starters are players that have shown (even in limited snaps) that they can step up if needed. Maurice Hurt and Josh LeRibeus have taken snaps in regular season games. Adam Gettis also showed potential during the pre-season when he filled in for an injured Chris Chester. I don't see the Redskins taking a guard in this draft after addressing the position with two draft picks last year.
Grade: 1
Offensive Tackle
Notable Players: Trent Williams, Tyler Polumbus, Maurice Hurt, Jeremy Trueblood
Analysis: Trent Williams is living up to the potential Mike Shanahan saw in him three years ago. While almost everyone expected Shanahan to take the more polished Russell Okung, he went for the more athletic Williams. It has taken a few seasons, but Williams has become the all-pro talent that Shanahan envisioned. As long as Williams can stay healthy and avoid recreational drug use, he could be an elite left tackle for years to come. Tyler Polumbus had a good 2012 with some ups and downs but for a player who was supposed to be a backup (remember Jammal Brown was to be the starter and never took the field because of a reoccurring hip injury) he fared well.
The Redskins re-signed Polumbus to a two year deal recently but one wonders if they could use an upgrade and/or long term solution at the right tackle position. They do have some options with former draft picks Maurice Hurt (who started one game last year at RT) and Tom Compton and recently signed veterans Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood but the veterans may be towards the end of their careers and the younger players have little experience and may not be regular starters at the NFL level.
The Redskins could also use a long term solution at their back up "swing tackle" position. This would be a #3 OT who could play either LT or RT if one of the starters goes down. In past years, Mike Shanahan has had Willie Smith and Jordan Black play the role. Tom Compton or Tyler Polumbus seems like the best option but the Redskins may look at the draft to bring in a player who could develop in his first year by playing as the #3 OT and then being a starter in year two.
Grade: 4

Tomorrow we look at two of the Redskins biggest needs as I review the defensive side of the ball and the special team specialists.

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