Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Starting From Scratch: Building Through The Draft

Scot McCloughan is a proven GM with his thumb on the pulse of the college game and I believe the best possible choice for
the Washington Redskins moving forward.
Via washingtontimes.com



    Hail RedskinsNation !!!! It's been a while since I've posted and boy oh boy plenty has happened after yet another disappointing season. Under first year head coach Jay Gruden, the team showed some potential but once again consistency and execution were the downfall of another season. The media once again stirred the pot of unnamed sources and unfounded reports which always seems to happen here in Washington. Our once thought to be franchise quarterback, Robert Griffin III didn't have the bounce back season many had hoped (including myself) but he did show some progress. His reading of defenses and fundamental footwork are a working progress but now it's time for it to show on the field,
Via Rich Tandler's www.RealRedskins.com
consistently.  With the 2016 option picked up it shows that the Redskins believe they have their man at QB.The offensive line also showed some promise but the interior is still the weakest link and I believe it will be addressed by our new GM during the upcoming draft (more on the new GM later) .The wide receivers showed some of the potential of how explosive the offense could be. Only issue is  that position taking up almost 24 million of the upcoming salary cap, some restructuring may need to be done to keep this core in tact. The running back situation is a little more undecided, with Roy Helu Jr, leaving via free agency it leaves a big hole for a third down back and backup to Alfred Morris. Left on the roster at running back are Chris Thompson and Silas Redd. I don't believe the team wants to go into the upcoming season with such inexperience in the backfield. The offense as a whole showed what they can do with some of the right pieces in place. Now it's time to get the missing pieces on the team, become more consistent and become relevant again.
Alfred Morris Is looking to have yet another 1000 yard  season in 2015. With new offensive line coach Bill Callahan and new lineman on the horizon, does the change from zone blocking scheme to more of a power scheme help or hurt Morris next season.
Via csnwashington.com

   With the Redskins and Jim Haslett mutually agreeing to part ways and the hiring of Joe Barry  (via www.redskins.com) the ex-linebackers coach from San Diego will hopefully help this defense gain an identity and consistency. With the addition of quality free agents such as Dashon Goldson (via trade with Tampa Bay), Jeron Johnson (via free agent from Seattle), Justin Rogers (via free agent from Kansas City), Terrence Knighton (via free agent from Denver), Chris Culliver (via free agent from San Francisco), Ricky Jean Francois (via free agent from Giants), and Stephen Pea (via free agent from Chicago) this defense has already gotten younger and gained more depth at key positions of need. The secondary, which has been a great weakness since the untimely death of Sean Taylor in 2007 (#RIPST21) looks to be a position of strength for a team that badly needs some consistency and accountability from its members.
Dashon Goldson I believe will be a key addition to this secondary
that badly needs some leadership and accountability.
(via blog.sfgate.com) 
With DeAngelo Hall returning from two Achilles injuries, Bashaun Breeland coming off a stellar rookie season and David Amerson coming off a some what disappointing sophomore season. This will be a interesting training camp for all of these returning starters and new editions. With OLB Brian Orakpo departing via free agency it leaves a big void in the pass rushing department. Most fans would say he didn't produce numbers wise, but you can see how the sack production dropped once he was out. Trent Murphy is expected to step up as a second round pick in his second season. With all the additions at LB this offseason and potentially drafting a pass rusher in the first round, I believe he wont be a starter but a solid contributor on special teams and get more involved in the defense. With a new defensive coordinator, it will be interesting to see how Joe Barry plans to use the new additions to this underachieving unit and make the defense better. The fact that they got younger and more physical on the D line should automatically increase the pass rush which should improve the secondary. I can't wait to see how the draft unfolds with the new GM at the helm. He sees the importance of drafting well and developing your own talent, which has been a major issue with this franchise for decades.


   Now in my opinion Scot McCloughan was the biggest signing of the offseason. For years this franchise has lacked the leadership of a quality football mind calling the shots. With Scot's resume with the 49ers and the Seahawks I'm sold on him building this team for success now and in the future. I've liked every move he's made so far via free agency. Getting younger, bigger and more hungry players is a key to getting this team back to the top of the NFL. If you look at the Seattle team that won the Super Bowl a couple years ago, they had 17 undrafted free agents. That is a unheard of in this day and age of free agency. The team not only gets quality young players that make an impact, but also save money under the cap and mold them into the players that you want them to be. Just look how Seattle has been able to keep their core together and resign their key players also. This could help our franchise immensely, especially coming off the BS cap penalty from 2012. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying the Redskins are going to the Super Bowl this year but I feel we will see a more consistent and focused on the details type of team in 2015. Hopefully we will see more of this in the future (see below). As always #HTTR4LIFE. #RedskinsTweetTeam

   You can follow me on Twitter @TattooedScorpio or like my page on Facebook, Porter III for all Redskins news and notes.

(via redskins.com)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Meaningless Mock Draft 1.0 (2015 edition)

(It's that time again.......A Mock that is Meaningless!!!!)
Let's get started shall we?
In my previous article, I discussed the many needs the Redskins would target in this year's draft. Now we need to know what GM Scot McCloughan is looking for in his players. Based on previous drafts and his own comments, he looks for players that fit the team's needs while targeting the "Best Player Available" at the position the team is drafting.

What we know so far:

1. McCloughan likes bigger OL and DL. Both Jay Gruden, McCloughan and offensive line coach Bill Callahan are looking for bigger linemen who can be physical at the point of attack and can win one-on-one battles. The goal of the 2015 Redskins and beyond is to revert back to a more power based run game. So, throw out what Mike Shanahan liked in his OL, that plan is no longer being used. Although, the Redskins may not do a lot of drafting OL early. They felt that the majority of last year's sacks fell on the QB and RB/TE positions.

2. McCloughan likes taller, more physical WRs and DBs. Think Richard Sherman and Michael Crabtree. The Redskins do need more size at WR and they have been trending with drafting taller CBs as far back as 2013 (David Amerson).

3. The Redskins may draft a quarterback. It's pretty clear that the GM and the coaching staff are not sold on the three QBs currently on the roster. All three will be free agents after 2015 (unless a last minute pick up of RGIII's 2016 option) and the Redskins may look to a player to develop for the future. McCloughan did attend the pro days of Marcus Mariota and Connor Halliday, so its possible that the team could make a move given the right situation.

4. The Redskins will probably draft a running back. Alfred Morris and Chris Thompson are in their final years of their rookie contracts. Jay Gruden would like a running back who can catch passes out of the back field and pass block. This is a really deep draft class for running backs, So I would expect the Redskins to at least target somebody on day three.

5. Depth, Depth and more Depth. McCloughan has stressed depth and that the team lacks a lot of it in many key areas. Since BPA has been stressed, don't be surprised to see players drafted where you may think the team is relatively set. In particular TE, DL, ILB and CB come to mind.

6. There will be surprises. I think the Redskins will be very active during the draft. That means trades of picks and possibly even players during the draft. McCloughan is known for his drafting skills. We'll get to see him do some magic come April 30th.

Since this is the 1st Meaningless Mock, I'm going to assume no trades. In reality, I expect the Redskins to trade back at least once or twice during the draft and possibly even trade up on day three.

1st Round (#5 Overall)
Vic Beasley, OLB, Clemson
The Redskins have only a few position for which they can make a choice: QB, DT/NT, WR and OLB. At this point I believe that both Leonard Williams and Marcus Mariota will be off the board. I also don't think they'll take Danny Shelton here with Knighton and Baker on the roster. Wide receiver is possible but OLB, especially a pass rushing OLB, fills a more immediate need and would be helpful with a weaker secondary.

So why Beasley? Randy Gregory is off my board based on his drug issues. We don't need another Fred Davis or Tanard Jackson on the team. Shane Ray seems better suited to be a 4-3 DE than 3-4 OLB. Dante Fowler looks like an ideal 3-4 OLB, but I wonder if he'd be another Brian Orakpo and not be the double digit sack producer that we'd like to see.

When I watch Beasley's tape, I see a player with an amazing first step that will blow through slower, less agile left tackles, but he has an ability to power through if a tackle gets his hands on him. I also like that Beasley is very good at attacking the ball while trying to make the sack. If he doesn't get the sack, he has a good chance of generating a fumble.

The biggest concerns on him are of his size/weight and ability to play the run and drop into coverage. Beasley has put on some weight and still showed explosion at The Combine. I'm not that concerned about dealing with the other aspects because he'll learn to develop into a 3-4 OLB just like Orakpo, Kerrigan and Murphy did. Also, speaking of Trent Murphy, the Redskins could use Murphy more in running downs and focus Beasley more on pass rush as a rookie.




2nd Round (# 38 Overall)
Eric Rowe, CB/FS, Utah
I feel like I'm cheating a bit since my mock is starting out much like one of Hogs Haven's most recent mocks, but both the 1st and 2nd round picks make sense. Scot McCloughan knows that the secondary is a work in progress and needs to still be fixed for the long haul. You bring in Paea and Beasley to bolster the pass rush. Culliver and Johnson are two possible long term starters. Goldson is more or less a one year stop gap. The Redskins have needed a good FS since the passing on Sean Taylor. Rowe has the height, speed and experience to play the position. He also can play as a corner if needed as well.


vs. UCLA (via Draft Breakdown)
vs. Washington State (via Draft Breakdown)


3rd Round (#69 Overall)
David Johnson, RB, Northern Iowa
A very high motor running back that was converted from WR to RB. Is an excellent pass catcher out of the backfield, with a quick burst. Has experience playing read option and has shown an ability to shake off tacklers. With Alfred Morris and Chris Thompson on the final year of their rookie deals, it'll be key to have a capable RB on the roster for 2016 and beyond.




4th Round (#105 overall)
Daryl Williams, OT, Oklahoma
Morgan Moses is not a guaranteed fix at RT. Tom Compton was re-signed and will be the starter heading into training camp, but he's only signed for one year and has been inconsistent at times. Williams is a big body who can dominate in the run game and is a capable pass blocker who needs to be developed a little at the pro level.




5th Round (#141 Overall)
Andy Gallik, C, Boston College
Kory Lichtenstiger was arguably the best offensive lineman on the team last year and he's under contract through 2017. That said, the 'Skins are still looking to get bigger and need more depth at the position. Gallik isn't the biggest Center and doesn't have the most athletic skill set, but he's incredibly durable, smart and plays nasty.

Video via Draft Breakdown:



6th Round (#182 Overall)
Taiwan Jones, ILB, Michigan St.
Expect Perry Riley to be pushed for a starting spot at ILB and whether that will be from Will Compton or from somebody like Jones, there may need to be a change sooner than later at the position next to Keenan Robinson.

Jones is a solid tackler who can fill holes and make plays. He was a former SS and WR, so he has the speed to cover TEs and RBs in the passing game.


7th Round (#222 Overall)
Connor Halliday, QB, Washington St.

Scot McCloughan has been very intrigued with Halliday during the draft process. He's gone to his pro-day (worth noting Jim Zorn was coaching Halliday at that pro-day) and the word is that the Redskins are going to have Halliday visit Redskins Park soon.

A 7th round pick for a QB isn't much as Halliday will be a project. But if McCloughan is this interested in a player, one has to take note and consider him to be a likely candidate for the 'Skins to target on day three of the draft.



Sorry this has taken so long to write up. Next Meaningless Mock should be up hopefully later this week.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Redskins Draft Needs

(This'll be the only football thing of interest for the next 3-4 months. Gah!!!)
So, I'm a bit behind when it comes to writing about the 'Skins: free agency, Scot McCloughan, new coaches and everything else. That's fine, by the end of May I'll have almost 2-3 months of time to catch up about all of the moves and how it will help the 2015 team (I mean it has to help right? They only won four games last season and seven games in the past two seasons).


Anyway.......

I do want to start my annual Meaningless Mock Draft, which I hope to have a seven round version 1.0 up sometime this week. But, before I do that, I need to explain what needs the Redskins have and why I think they'll address them in each round when they do make a pick. Yes, McCloughan has stressed "Best Player Available" and I do believe that he'll do that, but he's not going to draft five WRs in a row if that's the best player on the Redskins board at that time.

Needs do play a role in draft selections. It's just that the Redskins will rather take a player in the 2nd round with a second round grade over reaching for a safety they need but has a 4th round grade (perfect examples of them reaching recently is with Chad Rinehart and Josh LeRebius - OL taken in the 3rd round of each of their drafts when most draft experts had them as 6th round prospects).

That's why you may be surprised to see them take a WR, RB or QB in this draft despite many people are thinking that the team has talent and depth in those areas and that those positions are set. Trust me, they are not.

Here's a list of positions that I broke down into major, depth and minor needs. Minor needs are pretty trivial, but I'll throw it in there anyway.

Major Needs (In no particular order)

QB - The Redskins have three quarterbacks on the roster and yet there is no confirmed starter on the team beyond 2015. Even the 2015 title is up for grabs for the most part. Colt McCoy had a few moments in '14 but injury and concerns about being just a backup lead his problems. Kirk Cousins looks the part as a starter in this scheme, but turnovers and not getting over said turnovers lead to a permanent benching. RGIII has been inconsistent and pedestrian since he tore his ACL in the 2012 playoffs.

Sadly, this is a horrible draft class for QBs. I don't buy the 'Skins drafting Mariota but It wouldn't surprise me if they took a QB late in the draft (day 3 rounds 4-6) to develop as a potential starter in 2016.

WR- You look at the roster and think the WR position is set. It's not at all, especially beyond 2015. Pierre Garcon is probably in his final year with the 'Skins. He already has a cap number for this season that's over nine million (9.7 million to be exact). In 2016 it'll jump to 10.2 million. DeSean Jackson had a great 2014, but he also has a high cap number (9.25 million) in 2015 and that number will remain the same in 2016 and 2017. Andre Roberts cap number for 2015 isn't bad (3.75 million) but he hasn't done much in DC so far. The number jumps to five million in 2016.

So, I'd expect the 'Skins to possibly release Garcon and probably Roberts before the 2016 season. That means the Redskins will need some young talent to fill holes. This is a very good draft class to make such moves and I'd expect them to draft at least one WR in this draft. The 1st round pick is not out of the question for a WR.

OL - If Jay Gruden could bring in a entirely new O-line, I think the fans wouldn't have a problem with it. The coaches and front office on the other hand think that overall the line isn't that bad. I see both sides of the story here and would say that the RG and RT positions at least need to be upgraded.

"But what about Morgan Moses and Spencer Long?" What about them? Moses struggled at RT last year at times and is coming off Lisfranc surgery. He may not be ready for OTAs and could possibly start training camp on the PUP list. We didn't see much of Long in 2014 and hopefully that will change. Either way, the Redskins need talent on the roster because Chris Chester really needs to go and I have no faith that Josh LeRebius will ever live up to his potential.

S - Goldson is a nice stop gap who the Redskins only have to pay for one year. His major problems are that he'll be 31 this season and is coming off two horrible years in Tampa. If he can live up to his 49er days then we'll have a decent FS in 2015. If not it's Ryan Clark 2.0 all over again. Johnson is untested and there is no guarantee that he, Phillip Thomas or anybody else on the roster is a long term starter.

Bad news for the Redskins is that this is a very weak/limited draft class for safeties. That said, I wouldn't be surprised if the Redskins drafted a safety or a corner who will convert to safety in this draft.

OLB - While I really wouldn't call this  a critical, major need, I'm putting it here because most likely the Redskins will take a OLB at #5 because that's where the best talent seems to be at that spot. Yes, the Redskins would be fine with Murphy and Kerrigan, but they'd like to find that that elite pass rusher (15 sacks/season) they hoped Brian Orakpo would be but never became.

This is why the 'Skins could trade back...... they can still get a pretty good pass rusher later in the draft because this class is deep with 3-4 OLB talent.

Depth

RB - Alfred Morris is just a running back. He's not a pass catcher and while he can pass block decently, teams don't worry about him going out for passes because he's a poor route runner and has bad hands. Chris Thompson has injury concerns and struggles with pass blocking. Silas Redd runs like Morris but is better with passes although he's rather untested.

This is a good draft to target a RB. With Morris' contract coming up and a very deep class, don't be surprised to see the Redskins look for a future starter in this class.

TE - The 'Skins re-signed Niles Paul but there are some major concerns at the TE position. The 'Skins could use a really good blocking TE that can occasionally catch and stay healthy. Jordan Reed can't stay healthy or block. Paul is a Jack of all Trades who can catch, run, block and play special teams pretty well or at least at an average level. Logan Paulsen is inconsistent in his blocking and is probably being overpaid as the #3 TE.

DL/NT - Most of this position was set during free agency with the signings of Knighton, Paea, and Jean-Francois. However, Jason Hatcher may be a cap casualty in 2016 and Knighton is no guarantee to be back either. Drafting 1-2 players for depth  or to be future starters may not be a bad idea.

CB - The team has three young players in Culliver, Breeland and Amerson but have question marks beyond that. Tracy Porter may not even make it to training camp. DeAngelo Hall is coming off of injury and is in the final years of his career (probably, may become a S).

ILB - Will Compton should be pushing Perry Riley for the starting ILB position next to Keenan Robinson but the team could use more depth at the position and find another good special teams player in the process.

Minor

K - Kai Forbath has been good at FGs under 50 yards. The problem comes back to his kickoffs which he seems to be unable to get to the back of the end zone. While I don't think the 'Skins should waste a draft pick on a kicker, it would be prudent to either bring back someone like Zac Hocker (2014 'Skins draft pick that was cut) or a UDFA to push Forbath for the starting role.

Forbath will also be a unrestricted free agent in 2016, so it would be a good idea to lock down this position.

Hopefully, I will have MMD 1.0 up either for Monday night or Tuesday.
Feel free to leave a comment if you agree or disagree with the article.
Special thanks to OTC.com for cap numbers on the Redskins players.