Redskins mailbag: Draft needs, name debate and linebacker coaches


Would Virginia’s Morgan Moses be available at pick No. 34, and if so, would he fill a need at right tackle? (Chuck Burton/Associated Press)

At last, it’s draft week. The NFL draft is only two days away, and the second round, where the Redskins currently are scheduled to make their first selection, is three days away.

In today’s mailbag, we tackle questions involving what the Redskins should do with that 34th overall pick, which areas rank among their biggest needs, how the rest of the roster has begun to take shape and more.

Thanks, as always, for taking part. And keep the questions coming for next week’s Redskins Mailbag. Just send your questions to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question.”

Okay, here we go.

Just wanted to ask your take on the Skins fan base’s current obsession with the right tackle position. I get it you want to protect RGIII considering we gave up the equivalent of half a draft on the guy. And yes we could likely use an upgrade at the position at some point. But really, there are fans and media persons saying that the redskins should at all costs get a right tackle at No. 34, and someone even mentioned they should do whatever it takes to trade up into the draft to get a right tackle. I get it that the majority of the Skins nation has placed this kid on a pedestal on the one hand, and will make every excuse for him on the other. I just don’t get where a right tackle would trump every other position on the field all of a sudden. Most Skins fans would smash their TV if say Florida State wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin was there at 34 and we took him over, say, Virginia’s Morgan Moses or Alabama’s Cyrus Kouandjio. Just wondering your take. Should the Skins take the mulligan and simply draft whomever the best OT on the board is at 34, even if a Benjamin or Texas Tech tight end Jace Aramo is sitting there for the taking?

– Dirk Jordan

I do agree with the notion that right tackle should rank high on Washington’s shopping list. But it’d be foolish to force the pick and make a big reach on a guy just because he played that position. If the players that the Redskins regard as the top right tackles no longer remain on the board, they should go with the best player available at another position of need. A big-target wide receiver like Benjamin would be nice, but I’m not so sure that’s actually a need — it’s more of a luxury pick right now. Tight end depth could improve because of the uncertainty of Jordan Reed’s ability to stay healthy, but I don’t know if it’s that dire a need that Washington should spend a second-round pick on that position, either.

There have been recent talks in the news/media about the possibility of quarterback Teddy Bridgewater dropping down to the second round. So if that happens, would it be crazy for the Redskins to select him and use him as trade bait down the road? Sure doesn’t sound too crazy to me. So my noble sir, what says ye?

– Olufemi A. Adepoju

I think that’d be an unnecessary move. The Redskins have more pressing needs with right tackle, inside linebacker, safety, cornerback ranking among them. They don’t have the luxury of wasting a second-round pick on a quarterback just so they can trade him down the road for a future pick. They’ll use the pick to address a need area.

I see the Redskins name is creeping back to the lime light. All of the heat referencing the so-called racial slur seems to be directed at Daniel Snyder. Remarks seem to come from places other than massive groups of Native Americans. Why is this action directed at a man who had nothing to do with naming the team? In fact, Snyder hadn’t even been born at that time, it’s even possible his parents may not have been born at that time. Is this someone’s campaign to try to force Snyder to sell the team?

– Rufus Abanathey

A handful of critics last week did call for NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to follow the example of NBA commissioner Adam Silver, who banned Clippers owner Donald Sterling for life. But that’s kinda silly. Snyder’s stance that the name isn’t offensive in nature isn’t the same thing as Sterling not wanting to associate with African Americans and not wanting them at his games. And, Goodell has supported Snyder’s efforts to hear Native Americans’ views on the name, and the founding of an organization that will help solve poverty in the Native American communities. The commissioner himself has called support for the name “overwhelming,” so, to think that he would ban Snyder because he didn’t want to change the name isn’t exactly intelligent. That being said, no, the campaign against the Redskins name was not launched – or re-launched, or wherever we are, because this debate has gone on for years, died down, and come back to life a couple of times – in an attempt to get Snyder to sell. The critics, however, have zeroed in on Snyder because he owns the team. If he wanted to change the name, it’s highly unlikely that the league would prevent him from doing so. But, if fellow owners spoke out against the name, and if corporate sponsors threatened to withdraw from bargains with Washington and the NFL, the league probably would step in and prompt a change. But, there’s no indication that anything of the sort is close to happening.

Tanard Jackson … Any news? Do you believe Ryan Clark plays the whole season at free safety or is overtaken mid-way through the season by someone else?

– Dave Shockey, Sacramento, Calif.

Your question came in a couple of hours before it was learned that the NFL will reinstate Jackson. The move is expected to be made official today. Where does his reinstatement leave the Redskins’ safety position? It creates a ripple, but not a drastic impact as of yet. Redskins officials hope that Jackson has something left in the tank, but they know it’s hard to count on a guy who hasn’t played in two years. They still have to find out what kind of shape he’s in. He likely will have to work his way up the ladder all over again. As of now, Washington has eight safeties on the roster. Coaches currently have Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark penciled in as the starters. The team also has 2013 draft picks Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo vying for roster spots. Jose Gumbs, Trenton Robinson and Akeem Davis also are on the roster. From what I can gather, the Redskins really don’t know what to expect from Jackson just yet. He’ll use the offseason to work his way back into the flow. Meanwhile, the team isn’t pinning a lot of hopes on him, people within the organization say. If he does well and earns a roster spot, then great. If he doesn’t, it’s not like it’s a huge loss, because they already have planned as if they wouldn’t have him. Now, as far as Clark goes? It’s still way too early to call on that front either. Coaches would certainly hope that he can hold up and play at a high level all season, but we still have quite a while to go before training camp even gets here.

The wide receiver David Gettis, was an awfully good receiver in his first year in the NFL, but no one’s talking about him. I guess it’s because he’s been injured. He’s 6-foot-3, 220 pounds and ran a 4.3 out of college. Is he fully healthy?

– Butch

Gettis, who signed with Washington this past winter, is fully healthy and eager to make an NFL comeback. As a rookie for Carolina in 2011, he started 13 of 15 games, recording 37 catches for 508 yards and three touchdowns. But late that season, he tore his anterior cruciate ligament and spent the next two years trying to work his way back. Now reunited with former college teammate Robert Griffin III, Gettis aims to make the roster, and is the tallest wide receiver on the team. It’s hard to say for sure what Gettis has to offer, but his size and the speed he boasted pre-injury do make him an intriguing prospect.

I don’t mean to beat a dead horse, but why, with so much young potential at the position (including Perry Riley), has Washington not had a linebackers coach? Unless Haslett was the de facto position coach, that is just really upsetting.

– Otis Mason Collins

Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett does work heavily with the linebackers, and the Redskins did have a linebackers coach – Bob Slowik. Whether or not he was well-suited for the job is very debatable. When Mike Shanahan hired Haslett as defensive coordinator, Haslett brought Lou Spanos with him to serve as linebackers coach. Kirk Olivadotti, who held the title of defensive assistant, also worked with the linebackers. But Olivadotti left for a position with Georgia following the 2010 season, and Spanos departed following the 2011 campaign to become UCLA’s defensive coordinator. Haslett would’ve preferred to have hired Spanos’s replacement, but Shanahan instead made that call. The week before, he had fired Slowik as defensive backs coach, but when Spanos resigned, Shanahan – while on vacation with Slowik (his friend since college and also his defensive coordinator in Denver – offered Slowik the linebackers coach position. Slowik of course accepted. The most troubling thing of all about that situation was that for two years, Slowik’s son, Bobby – a former Division II wide receiver, in his mid-20s – worked with the outside linebackers on pass-rushing techniques. It was never clear why Shanahan saw this as the best possible situation for his young linebackers. But Haslett’s first moves under Jay Gruden, who gave him freedom to hire his own staff, involved improving the linebacker coaches. He brought Olivadotti back to work with the inside linebackers, and he hired an outside linebackers coach/pass-rushing technician in Brian Baker. Haslett believes these moves will help Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Perry Riley Jr. take leaps forward in their development, and it makes sense. If the players did as well as they have despite the circumstances the last couple of years, an improved position coaching situation should breed success.

With two very competitive wide receivers, in Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson, do you see any jealousy forming between the two, perhaps if one is not getting the amount of targets they had hoped for? Or will DeSean, Pierre, Jordan Reed and Andre Roberts form a bond in which they are in it for the team only? We all saw that sort of bond between Peyton Manning’s targets last year. Ironically, both Knowshon Moreno and Decker found new homes. I realize that the Redskins’ main passing targets are locked in for at least the next two years, thus forcing them to deal with what situation they are presented with. Will there be a meltdown, or will a brotherhood between the four be formed?

– Rhett

Only time will tell, but I don’t think you have to worry about Garcon rocking the boat. All he cares about is winning. Yes, he likes to have the opportunity to help his team win, but he understands that on a given week, a particular receiver may have a big day, and the next week, it could be another pass catcher. Having played with Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne and Dallas Clark, he’s used to having the ball spread around. I don’t know Jackson, though, so I can’t tell you what his mind-set is. I do know that he’s hungry and eager to help the Redskins win. But, if the ball doesn’t come his way as often as he’d like … I can’t predict how he’ll react to that. Hopefully, he’d understand that game plans change from week to week depending on what the defense throws at an offense, and that his time would come. When Griffin is at his best, he’s spreading the ball around and keeping all of his pass catchers involved, provided they carry out their assignments properly. Griffin knows that the key to success for an offense is balance. Sean McVay and Jay Gruden will preach this, and also come up with an attack that gets everyone involved. If the wins come, then peace and unity probably will remain. But if the losses mount, frustrations could as well. But, the hope on the Redskins’ part is that the improved collection of weapons translates to success.

Have a question about the Redskins? Send an e-mail to mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question,” and it might be answered on Tuesday in The Mailbag.

More Redskins and NFL from The Post:

Draft’s move to May meets mixed reviews

Safety Tanard Jackson reinstated

Pre-draft reading: When players will be picked

Early Lead: Lions say they won’t trade Suh

Fancy Stats: Sam might not be drafted

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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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