Fans' favorite part of the offseason is getting closer and closer, and they are looking for answers. The NFL Draft blossoms new hope within every franchise around the League, which is why it is the most anticipated part of the offseason. The teams have made their moves in Free Agency, and with that we can all get a better idea of what will happen through the Draft.
The Redskins have had an incredible offseason thus far, adding key players like Jason Hatcher and DeSean Jackson to name a few, and they didn't overspend for any of them. Here is a quick summary of how Free Agency went for the 'Skins:
- Guards Shawn Lauvao and Mike McGlynn were added to "beef up" the Offensive Line
- Wide Receiver was addressed by adding Pro-Bowler DeSean Jackson and former Cardinal Andre Roberts
- More Defensive Line talent and youth was injected with the additions of Jason Hatcher and Clifton Geathers
- Quarterback Colt McCoy was brought in to compete for a roster spot (some believe this indicates a Kirk Cousins trade in the near future)
- Linebackers Adam Hayward and Akeem Jordan were acquired to serve as depth and improve Special Teams
- Free Safety Ryan Clark was signed to add competition and depth at a position that desperately needs a playmaker
- Added Cornerback Tracy Porter to play the slot
Not all of these moves are going to work out for the team, and it is probable that not all of the names mentioned will even make the final 53 man roster. If anything, the newly signed players will provide competition during training camp and preseason. The Redskins did a wonderful job of polishing some problem areas on the roster, and now they can continue to do so through the Draft. What will they do, though? Who will they be targeting?
Nobody can know the answers to these questions for certain, but Redskins fans know that there are still some glaring issues on this team, such as Free Safety. Unfortunately, the team may not be able to get that top tier Safety through the Draft. Washington has no first round pick until the 2015 Draft, courtesy of the Robert Griffin III trade, so the team will have to wait until the second round (34th overall pick) to make their selection. HaSean Clinton-Dix and Calvin Pryor, the top two Free Safeties in this Draft, are slotted to go in the mid to late first round. It is possible that these Safeties slip a little in the Draft, but it isn't probable. Don't expect the Redskins to pick up either one of these guys unless they trade up into the first round.
The Cornerback position is a different story. This isn't a huge position of need because Washington is already looking solid with DeAngelo Hall, David Amerson, and Tracy Porter, but adding another young, talented Corner could make the secondary even better. When considering the Cornerback position, there are two names to keep in mind: Jason Verrett and Bradley Roby.
Jason Verrett is a smaller corner from TCU, and has played spectacularly for the Horned Frogs over the past few seasons. He has matched up well against good competition, and is impressing on paper and film. In 2012, Verrett had the most passes defended in the NCAA, batting down 22 total passes. He also placed 1st in the Big 12 with six interceptions, and earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year in 2013. Bradley Roby was considered, at one time, to be the best Cornerback in this Draft. However, some questions were recently raised about his consistency. During the 2013 season, Roby was torched multiple times by several different Wide Receivers, most notably Wisconsin's Jared Abbrederis. Aside from that, Roby also had a good year in 2012, leading the Big Ten with 19 passes defended. In 2013, Roby returned three interceptions for 120 yards and a touchdown. This statistic shows that when Roby gets the ball in his hands, he knows what to do with it. Roby's ability to make plays after an interception can assist the Redskins by shortening the length of the field on Offensive drives.
The Defensive Line is another area that can be improved, specifically at Defensive End, and there are some prime candidates to help with that situation in the Draft. 2011 second round Draft pick Jarvis Jenkins has underperformed up to this point, and he may need to be replaced after the 2014 season. If Washington does choose to go thisroute, the best prospects at Defensive End are Ra'Shede Hageman and Stephon Tuitt. Hageman has been a very disruptive pass rusher for the Univeristy of Minnesota, and he could bring that same presence to the Washington Redskins' Defense in 2014. His production has steadily increased since his Freshman year in 2010, and he shows no signs of slowing down. In 2013, he tallied 13 tackles for a loss, eight passes defended, and two sacks. On the other hand, we have Stephon Tuitt, who is a true five technique Defensive End, and has learned and played the position at Notre Dame. His statistics aren't as impressive as Hageman's, but he would still be a nice selection for the 'Skins with the 34th pick. In 2013, Tuitt managed nine tackles for a loss, eight sacks, and two passes defended.
The Redskins have already improved their Defensive front seven with the addition of Jason Hatcher. Throwing Ra'Shede Hageman or Stephon Tuitt into the mix would give Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett yet another talented pass rusher to use against opposing Offenses.
Offensive Line is another problematic area that needs to be addressed. This isn't just one position, but the entire Offensive Line as a whole, with the exception of the Left Tackle position manned by Pro Bowler Trent Williams. Center will be left out, because it wouldn't be worth picking someone from that position with so many other talented players on the board. It would be considered a reach for the Redskins to pick a Center with the 34th overall pick.
Newly acquired Guard Shawn Lauvao can be assumed a starter, given his contract, but who will make the start at the other side of the interior? It could be Josh LeRibeus, Mike McGlynn, Adam Gettis, or even Chris Chester. However, the Redskins will have other options in the Draft. Xavier Su'a-Filo and David Yankey could slip to the top of the second round, and if that happens, Washington will have a decision to make. If Head Coach Jay Gruden is serious about "beefing up" the Offensive Line, he would have a hard time passing up the opportunity to draft Su'a-Filo or Yankey.
There are still questions looming about Right Tackle, and those questions can be answered with the 34th pick in the Draft. There is one lone prospect that Redskins fans seem to like most at this position, and he is the hometown player from the University of Virginia, Morgan Moses. He is not the fastest Offensive Lineman in the Draft, but he is a mammoth and can fill the hole at Right Tackle nicely. He can be an immediate starter for this team.Tight End Austin Seferian-Jenkins stiff arms a Defender
Finally, do not be surprised to see a Tight End taken with the Redskins' second round pick. Jordan Reed has had concussion problems and couldn't play out his surprising rookie season. Washington would be smart to go and get another big Tight End to take some of the heat off of Reed. Jace Amaro and Austin Seferian-Jenkins are both possibilities in this situation. Both of these players have the typical size of today's Tight Ends, ability to catch, and make plays after the catch. Head Coach Jay Gruden also likes to use two Tight End sets in his Offense, so it would make sense for him to draft another Tight End to pair up with Jordan Reed to create mismatches on the field.
Regardless of what Washington decides to do with their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, they are sure to get their hands on someone good. Some sports analysts are saying that the talent in this Draft class is the deepest in over a decade. They may draft one of the players mentioned in the article, or they may draft someone you haven't paid much attention to throughout the whole process. Nobody really knows what will happen, but the surprises make the experience all the more exciting!