Dissecting Washington Redskins' Biggest Needs in 2014 NFL Draft
A crushing loss to the Minnesota Vikings is more than enough to put the rest of the season in jeopardy, so draft talk isn't so much pessimism as it is a precaution. The Washington Redskins have some needs to fill, and it doesn't feel too early to start talking about them, even with half a season left to play.
Some needs may be handled through free agency, but the bulk of them should be addressed through the draft.
The Redskins will be without a first-round pick as a result of the trade for the rights to pick Robert Griffin III in 2012, but they have at least one pick in the rest of the rounds, which should help bring in some much-needed talent.
Here's a look at the needs and 2014 draft possibilities for the Redskins.
Before you grab your torches and pitchforks and scream about how great Jordan Reed is, hear me out. Fred Davis has been inactive for five of Washington's eight games and is all but officially deactivated until it can let him walk at the end of the season.
Logan Paulsen is a capable receiving tight end, but he has dropped too many easy balls and has not been the consistent blocker he showed himself to be last season.
I would not want the Redskins to reach for a tight end when they have more pressing needs elsewhere, but an underrated player like C.J. Fiedorowicz from Iowa would be a huge asset on offense.
At 6'7", 265 pounds, Fiedorowicz is a big body with more talent than his modest college numbers reveal. Where Paulsen is a functional receiver, Fiedorowicz can be a red-zone threat, and he is already a sound blocker.
If the Redskins don't upgrade their receiving corps, they can wreak havoc on defenses with a pair of multitalented tight ends in Reed and Fiedorowicz, who could play high-low on routes and cause serious matchup concerns.
Who would have thought that the loss of Brandon Banks would leave the Redskins return game in such upheaval?
Rookie Chris Thompson lost his return role to Josh Morgan, Morgan has been ineffective and sloppy with the ball, and only Niles Paul seems capable of returning kicks for positive gains.
Unlikely as it may be, the Redskins would be wise to make a play for Alabama's Christion Jones. A capable offensive asset, Jones has three special teams touchdowns, which is precisely the ability the Redskins need to energize their anemic return game.
Jones has had 32 special teams touches, converting a pair for touchdowns, which equals his total offensive touchdowns for the season.
Though not an immediate need, the depth at guard is nothing to write home about. Former third-round pick Josh LeRibeus has not progressed, and Adam Gettis remains a work in progress, even with Chris Chester struggling at times at right guard.
Depth is invaluable along the offensive line, and given Kory Lichtensteiger's injury history, the Redskins can't afford to leave the backup guard duty to chance.
USC's Aundrey Walker made the move to guard in 2013, and it has paid dividends. He's massive for a guard and has a very natural bulldozer style of run blocking that fits right into the Redskins offensive scheme.
Though just a junior, Walker would be a solid sleeper pick and make for excellent depth behind Chester or Lichtensteiger.
In the loss to the Minnesota Vikings, it was abundantly clear that center Will Montgomery could not handle the likes of Kevin Williams, who used finesse as well as strength to collapse the pocket to the tune of 2.5 sacks.
Montgomery, though durable, does not have the skills to stand up to the better defensive tackles in the NFL.
Colorado State's Weston Richburg would be an amazing replacement for Montgomery on reputation alone. He has a ton of scouting buzz around him and has the talent to be a great addition in the middle of the offensive line.
Colorado State has been working with the triple option, even if only to refine its defensive approach to the scheme, but the experience would be invaluable to the read-option the Redskins offense runs.
London Fletcher, if he's smart, will call it a career at the close of the 2013-14 season and ride off into the sunset as one of the best middle linebackers in NFL history.
The Redskins would be wise to fill that void with a young player who can learn and grow next to Perry Riley, rather than plug-and-play with veterans moving forward.
Fletcher, an underrated playmaker with 23 career interceptions, is borderline irreplaceable, but the Redskins could find a ball-hawking tackling machine in the '14 draft class.
Iowa's James Morris has been a leader and a playmaker, intercepting five passes and notching 6.5 sacks in his career. He figures as a late-round pick, but he's got the tools to be an excellent stand-in for Fletcher until he can show he's capable of being the man in the middle of the defense.
As much as it pains me to admit it, DeAngelo Hall has been a bright spot on the Redskins defense. That being said, the brightest spot on one of the worst defenses in the NFL doesn't amount to much. Josh Wilson has been losing ground to rookie David Amerson and has never been a reliable corner.
E.J. Biggers has been inconsistent, and along with Wilson, he is a free agent at the end of this season.
Pencil in Hall as the top guy, Amerson as the second corner, and that leaves the Redskins in need of a capable slot corner. Richard Crawford could be that guy if he comes back healthy, but the team can't count on that as an absolute.
Oregon State's Rashaad Reynolds lacks the ideal height to be a top corner, but he is gritty and instinctive, which is the sort of player the defense needs.
He has eight career interceptions and is a great tackler as cornerbacks go. If the Redskins could count on their top three cover guys, it would mean a huge improvement to their ailing pass defense.
Aside from Pierre Garcon, the Redskins have not seen much production from their wide receivers. Whether the blame falls on the scheme or the players is up for debate, but there needs to be improvement in the receiving corps.
Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson and Leonard Hankerson have failed to complement Garcon, and the offense cannot function with just one go-to receiver.
The 'Skins can go one of two ways if they do pursue a receiver. They can seek out a big-play receiver to keep teams from rolling coverage to Garcon, or draft for a reliable slot receiver to open up the rest of the field.
Baylor's Tevin Reese would be an excellent deep threat and spent two seasons catching passes from RGIII. Reese caught 96 passes for 1,278 yards and seven touchdowns with Griffin running the offense, and he has only improved.
As a senior, Reese has caught 33 passes for 824 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging a lofty 25 yards per catch.
If they opt for a slot receiver, Oregon's Josh Huff has the ability to spread the field.
He can go deep, underneath and he can line up anywhere in the formation and pose a threat to make a play. So far during his senior season, he has caught 41 passes for 745 yards and six touchdowns.
Tyler Polumbus has had a solid season run blocking for Alfred Morris and Co., but he is still the weak link in pass protection. His inability to stop pass-rushers from collapsing the pocket or forcing Robert Griffin III to step up into even more pressure.
Right tackle has been an issue since Mike Shanahan started coaching the Redskins, and it needs to be addressed in this draft class.
Tennessee's Ja'Wuan James is a big body with run-blocking ability and, if not for his less-than-ideal athleticism, could be a nice left tackle in the NFL.
As it stands, he would fit perfectly opposite Pro Bowler Trent Williams, giving the Redskins the bookend tackles they need to run their offense to perfection.
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