NFL draft: Breaking down the best players available for the Redskins

April 26, 2013

Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan and his team make their first selection of the draft tonight. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The Washington Redskins, as expected, sat tight during the first night of the NFL draft and tonight will spring into action with picks in the second and third rounds, the first of which begins at 6:30 p.m.

Washington picks 51st overall (21st pick of the second round) and 85th overall (23rd pick of the third round).

Plenty of quality players remain for the Redskins to pick from, but with 20 picks coming ahead of them, it’s still a challenge to project exactly who will be available when Washington finally gets on the board. But, here’s a look at some of the best available at positions of need:

Safety

Situation: Strong safety Brandon Meriweather is coming off of a torn anterior cruciate ligament, the team still doesn’t know when/if free safety Tanard Jackson will be reinstated, and Reed Doughty, DeJon Gomes and Jordan Pugh are more suited as backups than top of the line starters.

Top prospects available: Johnathan Cyprien (Florida International), Phillip Thomas (Fresno State), D.J. Swearinger (South Carolina), T.J. McDonald (USC), Bacarri Rambo (Georgia), J.J. Wilcox (Georgia Southern), Shamarko Thomas (Syracuse), Shawn WIlliams (Georgia), Duke Williams (Nevada).

Cornerback

Situation: DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson return as starters, and E.J. Biggers presumably would have the edge over Richard Crawford and Chase Minifield for the third corner spot. But the team needs to add talent to this position, especially with Hall, Wilson and Biggers all in the final year of their respective contracts.

Top prospects available: Jamar Taylor (Boise State), Johnthan Banks (Mississippi State), David Amerson (N.C. State), Blidi Wreh-Wilson (Connecticut), Robert Alford (Southeastern Louisiana), Dwayne Gratz (Connecticut), B.W. Webb (William & Mary), Tyrann Mathieu (LSU).

Right tackle

Situation: Tyler Polumbus was re-signed over the offseason, and Jeremy Trueblood and Tony Pashos were brought in to compete, but none appear to be the long-term solution as each has his limitations and question areas.

Top prospects available: Menelik Watson (Florida State), Terron Armstead (Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Vinston Painter (Virginia Tech), Oday Aboushi (Virginia).

Wide receiver

Situation: Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan both are coming off of injury and hope to be more effective this season. Meanwhile, Santana Moss soon turns 34 and is in the last year of his deal, and Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson are inconsistent. Dez Briscoe rarely sees the field.

Top prospects available: Keenan Allen (Cal), Robert Woods (USC), Justin Hunter (Tennessee), Terrance Williams (Baylor), Quinton Patton (Louisiana Tech), Markus Wheaton (Oregon State), Stedman Bailey (West Virginia), Marquise Goodwin (Texas).

Inside linebacker

Situation: London Fletcher turns 38 next month and last year’s fourth-round pick Keenan Robinson is coming off a torn pectoral muscle that kept him out much of the season. Perry Riley is locked in as the starter next to Fletcher, but a long-term solution could be in order in case Robinson isn’t the answer.

Top prospects available: Manti Te’o (Notre Dame), Kevin Minter (LSU), Jon Bostic (Florida), A.J. Klein (Iowa State), Kevin Reddick (North Carolina).

Running back

Situation: Alfred Morris is the undisputed No. 1 on the depth chart, but the team needs a change of pace back to help lighten the load and provide another speedy, pass-catching weapon on third downs. Morris’s backup from last season, Evan Royster, is steady, yet not explosive, and struggles in pass protection. Roy Helu would challenge for backup duties, but he has yet to fully heal from the toe injury that kept him sidelined for all but three games last season.

Top prospects available: Eddie Lacy (Alabama), Giovani Bernard (North Carolina), Johnathan Franklin (UCLA), Andre Ellington (Clemson), Mike Gillislee (Florida), Kenjon Barner (Oregon).

Mike Jones covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. When not writing about a Redskins development of some kind – which is rare – he can be found screaming and cheering at one of his kids’ softball, baseball, soccer or basketball games.
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