Redskins mailbag: How the draft picks fit into the puzzle


Tackle Morgan Moses, center, poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, left, and retiring Redskins linebacker London Fletcher after being selected 66th in the NFL draft. Moses is expected to compete to start at right tackle. (Jason DeCrow/Associated Press)

The NFL Draft has now come and gone, and the Redskins added eight players that they see as building blocks for the future.

In today’s mailbag, we discuss the outlook for those players, and what it means for veterans already on the roster.

Thanks, as always, for taking part in the Redskins mailbag. Keep the questions coming. To submit your question for next week’s edition, e-mail me at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line of “Mailbag question.”

Let’s go!

I would like to know more about where Trent Murphy will play and more about what they will do with him and the defense. I would like to know what they might do with the running back they got from Baylor. Will he play at all, and more about what they will do on offense. I am a 12-year-old kid and I love the Redskins.

– Ethan Darrenkamp

The Redskins will find spots to use Trent Murphy for sure, but it sounds as if he could require some development before he has a clearly defined role on the defense. Jim Haslett will likely find situations where he has Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan and Murphy on the field at the same time. We’ve seen some of this with Rob Jackson, and here and there with Brandon Jenkins in the limited times that Jenkins dressed. Sometimes you might see Orakpo rushing from one edge with Kerrigan lined up as a defensive end on the left side, and Murphy rushing as the outside linebacker on Kerrigan’s shoulder. Other times Murphy could join Orakpo on the right side. There could be instances where a pair of outside linebackers are on one side and one dips to the inside while the other goes around the outside as they try to confuse offensive linemen and quarterbacks and get into the backfield. If you add Jason Hatcher to the mix, the Redskins potentially could have a very disruptive group of pass rushers. Now, as far as Lache Seastrunk goes, the Redskins see him as a back who can come in and spell Alfred Morris. A change-of-pace back can really help an offense. A defense keys on a back and gets used to his style, and then boom, you bring in a smaller, faster, shiftier, more elusive guy and he has the ability to throw off a defense and rip off a couple big runs. The Redskins would like for Seastrunk to also develop into a good pass-catching back as well. He doesn’t have a lot of experience in this capacity because Baylor didn’t use running backs in the passing game much. But Redskins coaches believe he has the ability to learn and excel in this capacity. With his shiftiness and speed, he could prove rather dangerous on screen passes. Early on, Seastrunk will be used primarily as a change-of-pace runner. But as he continues to grow, he will become involved in the passing game.

RGIII has had a full year to recover from his second ACL surgery, and they added tackle Morgan Moses, but the question for me is whether the defense and special teams have sufficiently improved for the team to be competitive. Do you feel the Redskins have sufficiently upgraded the defense, especially the secondary, and special teams? Who will start alongside Riley at inside linebacker? Will Cofield, Bowen, Hatcher, Orakpo, Hall and Clark be strong in terms of level of play and leadership?

– Tim Foisie

Adding Hatcher to the defensive line rotation definitely should help things, and the pairing of Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather should produce better results. The Redskins believe Clark still has something left in the tank, and Meriweather is now two years removed from ACL surgery, and will be able to play his natural position of strong safety. Jay Gruden also said safety Phillip Thomas has looked good during the early offseason practices. Coaches also think that David Amerson is ready to become a starter opposite DeAngelo Hall. Questions remain at inside linebacker. But all of the players signed to compete at that position (Adam Hayward, Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton) excel on special teams. Redskins decision-makers also drafted players that have a history of playing well on special teams. It’s still early, but it’s hard to get worse than last season.

Mike, after the draft it is pretty clear that the coaches either like what they see or have high hopes for Keenan Robinson. What’s his ceiling in 2014, assuming health?

– Big John Little

It sure sounds like it. I had already heard that coaches were encouraged by Robinson’s showing during the minicamp and offseason workouts. If healthy, he could compete for that starting job next to Perry Riley Jr., and contribute on special teams. He has good size, speed and athleticism. It’s hard to say exactly what his ceiling is, because it’s been so long since he has played a full season. This could serve as a catch-up year for Robinson. But, it’s also possible that he could be raring to go and beat out his three veteran competitors. Fortunately for Robinson, he remained at Redskins Park and continued to attend meetings the past two years, so he knows the defense.

Do you think the Redskins quarterbacks coach (or anybody else) will work on teaching the actual mechanics of how to slide to RGIII this offseason? Or, is that considered such a basic skill that they just expect him to know how to do it? He clearly needs some help there.

– Andy McDonald 

Griffin this offseason has worked to improve all of his mechanics and techniques, and sliding ranks among the items on his checklist. Redskins coaches will work to ensure that he is technically sound in all areas. And, like anything, the more you do something, the easier it gets. So, we should see improvement out of Griffin in this department.

I am worried that Trent Murphy lacks the explosive first step that is the common denominator among good NFL edge rushers.  Gruden admitted as much, saying “He may not have the explosion right now off the line of scrimmage, which might have knocked him down to the second round, but I look for production, I look for intensity, I look for toughness and accountability. He’s got all those traits and if he has all those traits, I know he is going to work hard in the weight room to get stronger and provide another pass rusher and some depth at the position.” So, Gruden is claiming that he doesn’t have initial burst now, but he can just add it in the weight room.  I know there are exercises that are supposed to help with speed and explosion, but I can’t think of any edge rusher who lacked this trait and draft time and developed it later. Are there any examples you can think of where this happened?

– Brian Mulholland

I don’t think Gruden was trying to say Murphy has no explosiveness at all. The kid did lead the nation in sacks last season, so that requires a good burst. Now that he’s moving up a level of competition, where the tackles are more athletic, bigger and stronger. So, Murphy will need to get better. He could probably gain about 10 pounds, and the Redskins’ strength coaches will take care of that. He also needs to become more explosive. The trainers have programs for that as well, and outside linebackers coach Brian Baker will have a bag of tricks to teach Murphy. The fact that Murphy needs work should not come as a surprise. It’s rare that a college player can come into the NFL and dominate as a pass-rusher right off the bat. But all hope is not lost for Murphy. A guy named Jared Allen in 2004 came out of college with this scouting report, “Overall game lacks explosion, a closing burst to the ball carrier and strength. At times easily ridden from the play or handled at the point. … At first glance, Allen looks like a top prospect based on productivity yet lacks the top upside for the next level. Will find a spot on an active NFL roster if he continues to make plays into the opponents backfield. Projection: Late sixth round.” Coincidentally, a couple of draft breakdowns on Murphy said that he most reminded analysts of Allen coming out of college. Allen, who wound up going in the fourth round to Kansas City, certainly became more explosive and has ranked among the most feared pass rushers for some time now. This isn’t to say Murphy is the next Allen, but that does show improvement is possible, and a realistic expectation.

With 12 offensive linemen, who makes the team and who doesn’t ?

– Bradley Neal

For now, these are your starters: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus. The challengers: RT Morgan Moses, T Tom Compton, G/C Mike McGlynn, G Josh Leribeus, G Adam Gettis, G Maurice Hurt, G Spencer Long. I think Hurt, LeRibeus and possibly Gettis could be in trouble. They have to show coaches a lot this offseason. The same goes for Compton. McGlynn has the experience and versatility edge over them. Long has the potential to develop into a starter. Polumbus will have to fend off Moses for that starting job, but unless he really stinks up the joint this offseason, he probably still has a chance to remain on the roster whether he starts or not. His experience and ability to play both left and right tackle make him valuable as a backup.

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 draft coverage from The Post:

Poll: Who will win the NFC East?

Wide receiver David Gettis is cut

D.C. Sports Bog: Trent Murphy’s Dad | Early Lead: Scouts find so much weakness

Mark Maske’s NFC draft grades | AFC draft grades

NFL coverage: Redskins home | Fancy Stats | The Early Lead | D.C. Sports Bog

Follow: @MikeJonesWaPo | @MarkMaske | @Insider | Insider on Facebook

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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