Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What I Learned This Week About The Redskins From Watching The Combine

(Because "Johnny Football's" shuttle and 40 time is why you'd draft him #1 overall. Photo: Brian Spurlock/USA Today)
If you read or have read my takes on The Combine from either here at IIWII or at Son of Washington, then you probably know that I don't think you get much from the television coverage of The Combine.

So this year, I took my own advice and didn't watch much of it. I kept track of some of the rumors and numbers that came out of the event and watched enough to see Jay Gruden in the stands, but overall I avoided the coverage.
(Hey Look...It's Coach Gruden at the Combine! Photo via Redskins).

That said, here's a few things I did learn from The Combine this week. The good news is that there are some tasty tidbits here dealing with draft position, draft needs and maybe where the Redskins are headed with the 34th pick in a few months.

1. Which Players Have Spoken With The Redskins?
Mike Jones of The Post and KFFL both mentioned that the Redskins have talked with the following players at The Combine: Cyril Richardson (OG, Baylor), Michael Campanaro (WR, Wake Forest), Stanley Jean-Baptiste (CB, Nebraska), Odell Beckham (WR. LSU) and Ja'Wuan James (OT, LSU). So you can add these names to the list of other players the 'Skins have talked with and you can start to get a feel of what the Redskins may be looking for come May.

Of course, these are the only players that mentioned they spoke with Washington. Jones indicates that the team could have had formal interviews with up to 60 players in Indianapolis and met with many, many more briefly during the event. Also worth noting is that the team will have opportunities to meet players during college pro-days or private workouts and can bring up to 30 players to Ashburn for more interviews.

2. The Draft Is Deep In Need Positions
Let's just assume that the Redskins either franchise or re-sign Brian Orakpo, so the biggest needs for the team right now in no particular order are: S, ILB, OL, DL, CB, WR.
Here's the good news - This draft class is incredibly deep with starting talent in the following positions: WR, CB, ILB and you could argue OL and DL as well.

The Redskins could probably either wait until their 3rd round pick to target a ILB and still get the player they want (or trade down in the 3rd, get an extra pick or two and still get their man). I also think they will be able to get a good WR and a developing big corner prospect in rounds 4 through 6 with little issue.

So, if a really talented safety somehow falls to #34, then the Redskins should snap that player up. Same goes for a 1st round caliber offensive or defensive line prospect.

Then again, since the Redskins need bodies and this draft is incredibly deep, maybe the most prudent move would be for the Redskins to trade out of #34 and get an additional 4th for moving down a dozen spots.

3. The Redskins May Not Consider The O-line a Critical Priority
Jay Gruden spoke at The Combine and while this is "lying season" in the NFL, it sounds like Gruden feels like he can work with the current group and that he doesn't want to lose the athletic abilities the current O-line has. That said, Gruden had a caveat that the O-line needed to get better at pass blocking and doing other things than the outside zone stretch.

What this means to me is that with exception to Trent Williams, the O-line is on a short leash. Chris Chester may be a cap casualty and it's clear that Gruden is looking for better consistency from this group. Would the Redskins invest in a guard, center or tackle that fit more with what Gruden is looking for in his O-line? Probably. But I don't think it's a crisis to the Redskins as much as replenishing the secondary and the defense as a whole.

Also, Gruden isn't sure about his OL reserves. Can Hurt, LeRibeus or Gettis be starters and improve upon the interior. Is Tom Compton a long-term solution at right tackle or do they need to find the next Jon Jansen at that spot?

4. It'll Be Hard To Tell The Redskins Draft Targets Until After Free Agency Starts
The Redskins have so many needs that it will be difficult to determine where the team is going until they make some moves during free agency. This includes which current players will be re-signed that will become free agents on March 11th. If Chris Baker signs elsewhere, it would be imperative for the Redskins to draft a DE if they don't find a free agent to replace him. Same can be said with the ILB position. Safety needs a full upgrade and no matter what the Redskins need two starters at that position. Likely one will come from free agency since I can't see the Redskins drafting two safeties or having a rookie start alongside unproven players like Bacarri Rambo, Phillip Thomas or Jose Gumbs.

And there's Brian Orakpo's contract looming. If the Redskins can't re-sign him, then they will have to decide whether to franchise him. If 'Rak hits the open market, he will not be a Redskin in 2014. Again, if he were to go, that would mean the Redskins have another position to fill and would have to determine if OLB is the top target at #34.

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