Saturday, October 29, 2011

Washington Redskins 2012 Draft and Offseason Needs

I know, it's a little early to be talking about the NFL draft.  But with
so many questions facing the Washington Redskins I can't help but start breaking it down early.
Who are the Washington Redskins?  What is their identity?  Can you answer that?  I, for one, cannot.  This is a franchise that has been struggling for an identity for many years.  This would suggest that the team is rebuilding, however, Washington until recently has not taken any steps that would indicate a team in the process of recreating its identity.  On the contrary, until recently the team has made big name free agent signings, traded draft pick, and took the field as if they were a team in contention.  The club wanted to be a contender so badly, that they proceeded as if they were a playoff favorite that only needed a few more pieces to put them over the top.  With recent changes to coaching and management the atmosphere around the Washington Redskins has been of a different nature.  They are now showing themselves to be a team in need of rebuilding, a team that will reinvent itself, and, when again ready to chase contention, it will be with a gameplan and identity all its own. 
The term rebuilding mode, or transition period generally brings to mind thoughts of rookie quarterbacks, 2-win seasons, poor ticket sales, and uncompetitive play.  This isn’t necessarily the case, but many times the shedding of veterans, and stockpiling of draft picks and young players leads a team to a few very poor seasons before paying dividends.  With Washington appearing to head in the direction of rebuilding it is possible that ‘Skins fans are in for a couple of long seasons.  
I don’t think that this is a necessity for this club.  I think they can be competitive, can win games, and perhaps vie for a division title all while undertaking a rebuilding project. 
Step one, resigning key players.  Currently the Washington Redskins have only 35-40 players under contract for the 2012 season.  Many of the current starters are slotted to hit the free agent market after the 2011 season. 

2012 Notable Free Agents:
Adam Carriker
Fred Davis
London Fletcher
Graham Gano
Rex Grossman
Tim Hightower
LaRon Landry
Kory Lichtensteiger
Rocky McIntosh
Will Montgomery

The above list includes a large portion of the team’s actual talent.  Resigning Will Montgomery, LaRon Landry, Kory Lichtensteiger, Fred Davis, and Adam Carriker are absolute necessities.  The team MUST retain these players.  London Fletcher should be on the list of “must resign,” but he is an aging player, that is probably reaching the end of his playing career.  I would love to see him resigned, but I certainly would hope that this team will begin planning for an heir to that position. 
The Middle Linebacker is arguably the most important position  on defense.  He is the team leader, the quarterback of the defense.  This is a need that must be addressed.  I think the team would be better off not signing Rocky McIntosh.  Remember how long they waiting in 2011 to resign him.  He hasn’t taken well to being an interior linebacker in the 3-4 scheme.  Another option may be needed.  Several players that I’m personally very high on are slated for free agency and could very well be available.  Geno Hayes is a free agent and with Tampa Bay looking to revamp it’s linebacking corps he may not be retained by the Bucs.  Former Terp EJ Henderson is scheduled for free agency, and he has seemed a little out of favor with Minnesota recently.  Not a dynamic play-maker but he has proven to be a tackling machine.  And finally a name you may not recognize, Ikaika Alama-Francis of Miami is slotted to hit the market.  The Dolphins have stockpiled quite a few line backers recently, I think he may be the odd man out.  In any case, the Redskins need to address interior linebackers, and there are options available that can step right in and produce.  With so many question marks already, the last thing the team needs is to be searching for a find late in the draft to start at Middle Linebacker. 
Fortunately, with the emergence of Ryan Kerrigan and the dominance shown by Brian Orakpo, the Redskins have 2 great Outside Linebackers and will not be needing to address this position much.  They have some depth with  Markus White, Perry Riley, Rob Jackson, and Lorenzo Alexander under contract for the 2012 season.
In the defensive backfield, ONCE Landry is resigned, they will really only need to add depth as they will have DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, and Phillip Buchanon all returning.  And with OJ Atogwe and Reed Doughty both under contract this formidable group is set for the next few seasons.  Again, this hinges on Landy being resigned.  I’m  confident that he will be back in burgundy and gold. 
If the team resigns Adam Carriker, as I would suggest, the team will have a defensive line pretty much set.  Stephen Bowen, and Barry Cofield are all under contract and Jarvis Jenkins returning from injury will have the D-Line in good shape.
Defensively the Redskins appear in good shape.  Offense is another story.  The offensive line needs depth in a bad way.  This season seems to be slipping away, and a lot of it is due to injury along the O-Line.  If the team resigns Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery they will have their starters in line.  But there is so little depth there with Sean Locklear and Erik Cook being the only 2 reliable back-ups signed for next season.  I would look for the middle to late rounds of next years draft to be spent looking for O-Linemen and for some depth  where I spoke earlier of Middle Linebacker.
The Wide Receiver corps is okay.  Not spectacular, but okay.  There is an absolute throng of notable free agent Wide Receivers scheduled to hit the market.  I look for Washington to get involved in the bidding.  The only real qualifier that I would have for a free agent Receiver would be youth.  Don’t sign them unless they will be here and productive a while.  The biggest concern the Redskins have with signing pass catchers is at the Tight End position.  Fred Davis has been exceptional this season.  He is scheduled for free agency.  He must be retained, but with Chris Cooley already signed it might make for negotiations.   Cooley is the de facto starter, when healthy.  But, with injuries in recent season, how reliable of an option is he?  He’s another question mark.  Fred Davis must be retained.
Running Backs face a lot of scrutiny in this league.  Many times they are the scapegoats when a team struggles to run the ball; even when, many times, it’s poor line play that results in no yardage on the ground.  This is an area where a little depth could go a long way.   With Ryan Torain and Roy Helu both under contract for next season I would look for the team to add another rusher via free agency to be a complement to the backs already in the system.
Well folks, that about does it.  Broke down about every position and…What’s that you say?  I’m forgetting something?… Oh…Yeah…Quarterback.  This one is simple, John Beck is the only quarterback under contract for next year.  That means that you have to draft one.  It’s an absolute must, 1st round, as early as you can get.  Probably not getting Luck(y).  But there are numerous Quarterbacking options available in the draft.  Later I’ll be breaking down the quarterback draft class of 2012.  But for now, suffice to say, Washington NEEDS to draft a quarterback.  They need a face to the franchise on offense.  They need a future.  Even if Beck plays well, he will not be leading this team to a Super Bowl.  Until the Quarterback position is filled long-term, Washington will struggle.  They will still be without an identity.  With so many quality options in the upcoming draft at the quarterback position, not taking advantage of the opportunity would be nearly unforgivable.


  1. Nice post!

    Yeah the Skins in my opinion need to just take a QB in the first and then grab 3 straight offensive linemen. I agree with you about adding a FA running back, and I'd honestly like to see Torain gone as well.

  2. Good thorough analysis - but I have several observations:
    1) I'd agree with most of your suggested re-signings with the possible exception of Carriker and this may sound ridiculous to most people, LaRon Landry. After yesterday, I think I have just about had it with Landry. He continues to miss tackles while looking for the big hit and apparently he was the one that blew the coverage on that 3rd qtr. TD that made it look like Fletcher blew it. I think he has more blown assignments than what we actually hear about. He loves to talk a good game - I'd rather he PLAY one! Trash talking when you're trailing by 20 and you make a tackle 8 yards downfield is embarrassing. I think they should try and package him in a trade after the season to pick up draft choices or improve draft position.

    2) The offensive line definitely needs help, but more than just as far as depth. Jamal Brown is a huge liability that we have under a fairly long term contract, but the Skins need to find a replacement for him. And I think school is still out on whether Chester is an answer at guard. And I'm not sure we have seen enough of Trent Williams to know whether he's going to pan out or be a bust. I think the Skins should go into the draft and FA with the mindset that they are looking for O-lineman that are going to be solid starters not quality back-ups. Then let the competition in OTA's and camp sort it all out.

    3) I still don't think we should sell the farm to try and move up to grab one of the name college QB's. I'd rather we make a big push to sign Matt Flynn, the back-up in Green Bay who is a FA and then draft O-lineman early and often.

  3. Steve and I disagree on this. I think Torain and Helu can be a very solid running back tandem IF you put them behind a real offensive line. Don't invest a lot in a FA running back - look for one who will be a quality back-up and keep your resources focused on the O-line!

  4. Steveospeak-Thanks and I totally agree that the way to approach O-linemen is through volume. The more Offensive Line talent they can pump into the system the better. I don't necessarily want to see Torain moved, but I can't believe that he will continue to be a good fit for this team. Maybe trading him for a 4th or 5th round pick would be possible. As far as Quarterbacks go, I think the 'Skins are in a good spot to be selecting one from the draft. They won't be able to get an Andrew Luck or Matt Barkely. It's possible to see Landry Jones fall to them, but I'm not sold on his decision making. I like Robert Griffin. I think he would be a good fit and be available with their mid-round pick. If the team decides to go with someone like Nick Foles, or Ryan Tannehill then they may be able to do it in the early second round. They may have to trade up to get one of them there, but i think they fall to early second round. This wouldn't be bad because it would give the 'Skins the ability to use the 1st round pick on a less high risk player rather than a QB. Either way, they need to address this in the draft.

    Willypops-Thank you as well, and I think mot Redskins fans agree on what their needs are, they just disagree with the route they need to take to fill those needs. I don't dislike Torain either, but I feel his injury history is too much of a risk for the team to rely on him as a big part of the offense. Maybe with the recent signing of Tashard Choice we have found some quality very cheaply. And I like Matt Flynn, I just don't know how the fanbase would react to the franchise pulling another backup to open the season as a starter. There are some good finds at QB this year in the draft. It's very QB heavy this year. Even players in the second round could work out to be very successful. I'd say sign Matt Flynn and draft a Robert Griffin or Nick Foles, and let them work it out in camp, see who is better. And I can appreciate your concerns with Landry. He's a huge gambler. But he is a playmaker, and we lack that all over the field. It would be a real tough sell not resigning him. Jamal Brown did earn a hefty contract for mediocre play, but it looks like the team is going for continuity along the offensive line. And that is big. He might work out well there if they can keep the same groupn together. I think that's what they're striving for. And as for Carriker, I like him for depth purposes. I don't think he should be a starter, but he fills in nicely anywhere along the D-Line. He can play either of the DE slots and also has shown good production as the second DT when in a 4 down lineman configuration.