So the mission of Coach Mike Shanahan, General Manager Bruce Allen and their assistants at this week’s NFL Scouting Combine is to find impact talent that will remain available after the first round. (The Redskins have six choices after the second round: a third, fourth, two fifths, sixth and seventh).
Washington’s top needs are believed to be safety, cornerback and offensive tackle. Fortunately for the Redskins, draft analysts and NFL executives believe the talent pool at the combine reflects great depth at those positions.
“When I look at it, there are a number of corners in this draft class that can play and they can help teams as a 1, 2 or 3. I would say that’s a strength,” Chicago Bears General Manager Phil Emery said. “There’s a strong safety class. In our minds, there are five or six starters in this class at safety and that’s rare to me. . . . The offensive line class has strength in the front end, when you look at it from tackle, guard and center, and you look all the way through. There are a number of players who would be in the mix as starters.”
NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock agreed.
“This draft is a little bit different than previous drafts, in that because of all those junior underclassmen that have declared this year, I think we probably have better depth than we’ve had in the last 10 years,” Mayock said. “. . . Now the top end of the draft, the top 10 picks, I don't see the difference-makers like we’ve had the last several years. . . . So I think the quick snapshot of this draft is more depth. Not quite the difference makers at the top end and a whole lot of holes in the quarterbacking class.”
In addition to Griffin, the Redskins appear to have found their long-term answer at running back in last year’s sixth-round pick, Alfred Morris. The 2011 and 2010 drafts have produced starters Ryan Kerrigan (linebacker), Jarvis Jenkins (defensive end), Trent Williams (left tackle) and Perry Riley (inside linebacker). The team also has added depth along the interior of the offensive line and among wide receivers, running backs and tight ends in the past three drafts.
But questions loom over Washington’s safety position because strong safety Brandon Meriweather is recovering from a torn ACL while free safety Madieu Williams struggled and is now a free agent.
Cornerback is a concern because veteran DeAngelo Hall is owed $8 million this season by the salary cap-strapped Redskins and faces an uncertain future. Additionally, the team doesn’t have a proven third corner. Meantime, right tackle also is an issue with the oft-injured Jammal Brown no longer with the team and replacement starter Tyler Polumbus set to become a free agent.