The Washington Redskins don’t have a first-round pick in this year’s NFL draft, which begins Thursday evening and runs through Saturday. But Coach Mike Shanahan said that he and his staff will closely monitor Thursday night’s activities because of how it will impact the second round, and that the team has prepared for multiple scenarios.
A total of 50 players will have come off the board by the time the Redskins pick, making it difficult to project precisely who will be available for Washington. But the team has a plan, Shanahan says.
“You take a look at your board at each position and try to get a priority of which guys you feel are a certain skill level — first-round draft choice or second,” Shanahan said. “And you get a game plan, and if a certain player’s there at that time, you’re going to take him. If not, you try to go back, you try to go forward. A lot depends on how things fall into place. You never know. You have to be ready for a lot of different scenarios.
“What I’ve learned over the years is, you’ve got to be true to your board, and you’ve got to look at every player,” Shanahan added, also remarking that when the team is on the clock and it comes down to a player with only a slightly higher draft grade than a player at a position of need, Washington likely would draft for need.
After that 51st pick (21st selection of the second round), Washington has six picks in the five remaining rounds.
The Redskins retained 21 of 22 starters this offeseason — re-signing 12 players — but still have needs at several positions:
●Safety, where strong safety Brandon Meriweather is coming off of a torn anterior cruciate ligament and would-be starting free safety Tanard Jackson is suspended indefinitely and isn’t eligible for reinstatement until Sept. 3.
● The team also could possibly use additional speed and explosiveness in their wide receiver and running back units.
Shanahan believes starting-caliber players can be found in the top half of the draft, even without a first-round selection. He recalled how his Denver Broncos selected running back Clinton Portis 51st overall in 2002. Portis wound up starring for Denver and Washington, rushing for a total of 9,923 yards over nine seasons.
However, 51st overall is also the pick the pre-Shanahan Redskins used to select wide receiver Malcolm Kelly, who lasted only two seasons in the NFL.
The Redskins obviously hope to hit on all of their picks, discovering gems such as starting inside linebacker Perry Riley (fourth round, 2010) and running back Alfred Morris (sixth round, 2012) as they try to fortify a roster that went 10-6 and won the NFC East last season.
“There’s guys that make it second, third, fourth round and you say, ‘Fourth-round player, why wasn’t he a first-round player?’ Why wasn’t Alfred Morris a first-round player? He should’ve been based on his production. So, you back through your mind and look at all the scenarios and try to figure out why a guy does last to the sixth round and try to find those guys out there. Sometimes you’re lucky enough to find a guy like that, and other times you miss out. That’s why we look at a lot of film.”
Shanahan said it depends on talent and a player’s “football-related intelligence,” but that it’s definitely possible for a rookie cornerback or safety to come in and start this year if the team should select one.
Shanahan, meanwhile, said it would be “a long shot . . . like one-hundred million” that the team would trade into the first round.
Once the Redskins do complete their draft selections and any undrafted rookie signings, the team will have to create financial flexibility to fit them under the cap. Shanahan said the Redskins have “a game plan” for how they will sign their rookies despite having about only $30,000 in cap space.
Notes: Shanahan says Robert Griffin III is still doing well, working to strengthen not only his anterior cruciate ligament, but the muscles and ligaments around it. Shanahan said he tries not to get too excited about the progress he sees in Griffin because he doesn’t want the quarterback to risk a setback. “Do what you can with the muscles around the knee,” he said. “But don’t push too hard, because you don’t want a setback.” Shanahan said going forward, “What we’re going to make sure, is we’re never going to play Robert if he’s not 100 percent.” . . .
Shanahan said that running back Roy Helu Jr., who missed most of last season with a torn ligament in his toe, suffered a recent setback in his rehab, but that the team is hoping he will return to full health this offseason. . . .
Linebacker Brian Orakpo (torn pectoral muscle last season) is now 100 percent, and fellow linebacker Keenan Robinson (same injury) is expected to be back to full health some time during OTA season (in May or June). . . .
Tight end Fred Davis (ruptured left Achilles’ tendon) is nearing complete recovery, and Shanahan said the team should gain “a better idea” of his health during OTAs. Meanwhile, defensive end Adam Carriker (torn quad muscle) isn’t close to returning yet, and that the team will not know about his status until later this summer. . . .
Discussing the condition of FedEx Field, Shanahan said “any time you have a field like we had, we’re going to take care of it ourselves,” and that the team has upgraded its drainage system, and will re-sod the field at midseason if needed.
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