Along with the team at NFLdraftinsiders.net, I will be analyzing this year's 2012 NFL draft. As the featured columnist for the NFC East, I will give each team a profile on their 2011 season and what they need in the draft to improve in 2012. First up are the Washington Redskins.
Redskins 2011 Record: 5-11
Strengths: Linebackers, Secondary, Kick and Punt Returns, Tight End, Youth on Defense
Despite finishing fourth in the NFC, the Redskins have a pretty good defense. They have an above average linebacking core composed of Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, and Perry Riley. Although Fletcher is near the end of his career, Orakpo, Kerrigan, and Riley are all under 26 years old. Along with a good linebacking core, the Redskins also have a pretty good secondary, led by LaRon Landry. Although Oshiomogho Atogwe had a good season, Reed Doughty struggled to fill in for Landry. Also, when DeAngelo Hall is on top of his game, he is one of the best corner's in the league, but he is very inconsistent and has stretches of really bad games where he gets routed by wide receivers. A second cornerback to complement Hall wouldn't be a bad pick. At 5'7, Brandon Banks is a solid returner, averaging a little less than 10 yards per punt returns and 23 yards per kick returns. Finally, both Chris Cooley and Fred Davis are good options at tight end, but injuries and personal issues kept both of them out for extended periods of time this season.
Weaknesses: Quarterback, Running Back, Wide Receiver (1 and 2), Offensive Line, Injuries
It's really hard to win games when you have no threats on offense. When you play in the same division as the Eagles, Cowboys, and Giants, three explosive teams, you need to be able to keep up. With Rex Grossman at quarterback that's virtually impossible. It also doesn't help when your running backs are Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Also, Santana Moss has also been a more than good wide receiver in the NFL, but he's running out of time, and isn't nearly as dangerous as he used to be. The Redskins have a young offensive line, every player being under 30 years old, but that doesn't mean they are good. Rex Grossman and John Beck were sacked a combined 40 times, which ranked third most in the NFL. Clearly the Redskins have a vast amount of improvement needed on offense.
Possible options for the Redskins 1st round pick (6th overall):
Robert Griffin III- If the Redskins were to pull this one off, they would probably need to trade up with the Rams or Vikings, because the Browns are also looking for a quarterback. Griffin could still fall to the Redskins at six, but if the Redskins know that RG3 is the answer to their offense, they better make sure they can get their hands on him, because Ryan Tannehill is no substitute. Griffin could strive under the Redskins offense, just like how Cam Newton turned around the Panthers' gloomy offense. Griffin's speed, throwing power, and throwing accuracy are all assets that will help him succede in the NFL. With a weak offensive line, Griffin would be more likely to evade pressure than Rex Grossman, and his throw on the run ability will help him at a higher level of play. Personally, I like this pick, but the Redskins would need to give him more help in later picks.
Trent Richardson- In another weak running back class, Richardson emerges as the top gun. Matter of fact, Richardson is the only running back projected to go in the first round. What Richardson provides, is a combination of strength and speed. Think of him as a bigger and badder (tougher not skill-wise) version of his predecessor, Mark Ingram. At best, Richardson can become the next Michael Turner. He is a downhill back, who defenders don't want to run into in the open field. Like the Griffin III pick, Richardson would be a good fit for Washington, but he would need a better supporting cast.
Justin Blackmon- If you've watched any college football this year, you know how dominant Justin Blackmon was. His combination of strength, speed, height, and hands make him one of the best draft prospects in years. He is a two-time Biletnikoff Award winner, and also captured the Fiesta Bowl MVP, after a stellar performance. He's like a combination of Anquan Boldin and Dez Bryant, but will need a good quarterback to get him the ball. A huge part of his success at Oklahoma State was because of their offensive style, and their quarterback, Brandon Weeden. I don't think Blackmon would be a good fit with the Redskins because wide receivers who are drafted by teams with bad quarterbacks (think Braylon Edwards), usually aren't very happy.
Jonathon Martin- Whether it's Martin, Riley Reiff, or David DeCastro, the Redskins couldn't go wrong with an elite offense linemen. With Trent Williams already becoming a strong left tackle, adding DeCastro to the inside of the line, or putting Reiff or Martin on the right would help make the Redskins' offensive line more stable. They do always say an offense starts with a good offensive line. I would be surprised if the Redskins didn't use their pick on a skill-set position, but then again the Redskins are one of the more unpredictable teams in the draft.
*In the later rounds expect the Redskins to select the following positions: Wide Receiver, Defensive Tackle, Running back (if Richardson isn't taken), Offensive Guard
Recap: The Redskins have a lot of holes to fill this offseason. They need to make sure they wisely use their first pick on a future offensive star, be it Griffin III, Richardson, or even Blackmon. Although Morris Claiborne may be a popular pick, the Redskins have spent so many past first round picks on defense, it's time for a change. And remember, one offensive pick in the first three rounds isn't enough. They need to stack up their offense and add some new weapons. Look at the Bengals this year, Andy Dalton wouldn't have strived without AJ Green, and AJ Green wouldn't have been a pro-bowler if it weren't for Dalton. Think about it skins fans its time for us to strive again.