Redskins officials turn their attention to the NFL draft this week, traveling on Wednesday to Indianapolis where the NFL Combine gets underway Thursday.
Here in the mailbag, we continue to discuss roster construction and examine a couple of position areas as well as the methods the team has used to structure things over the past several years.
Thanks as always for taking part. Keep the questions coming. You know the drill by now: e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line of “Mailbag question,” and we’ll do it again next Tuesday.
Here we go for this week’s questions and answers:
I was wondering about Jordan Reed. He went out last season with a concussion and never returned. Is there any concern that this is a more serious injury than first thought? Assuming Fred Davis will be gone, do you see the Redskins picking up another tight end? Also, do you think a Gruden offense will make good use of Reed or any tight end?
– Kerry Triplett
Reed has recovered from the concussion symptoms that ended his rookie season prematurely, and he is back to training in preparation for his second NFL season. He very well could take over as the starting tight end, although Logan Paulsen also is no slouch. While Reed is a versatile pass catcher, Paulsen is more complete as a blocker, and also has the ability to line up at fullback. We can probably expect to see a number of formations that feature both of them on the field at the same time, just as we did last season. Remember, former tight ends coach Sean McVay is now the offensive coordinator, so if anyone knows how to maximize Reed and Paulsen’s talents, it’s him. Jay Gruden obviously will be heavily involved in the running of the offense, but his schemes in the passing game had a lot of similarities to Washington’s under Kyle Shanahan. Gruden’s playbook did play well to the strengths of tight end Jermaine Gresham, who last season recorded 46 catches for 461 yards (fourth on the Bengals’ roster) and four touchdowns. Could the Redskins add another tight end? Hard to say. They already have three on the roster, counting Niles Paul. If they continue to go with only one fullback, you could possibly add another tight end. But it’s rare that they would dress four, as we saw last season.
Are the Redskins considering playing DeAngelo Hall at free safety some this season?
– Emil Trueh
From what I gather, there aren’t any plans to move Hall to free safety this season. There were times in the past two seasons where we saw Hall or Josh Wilson drop back to that area of the field while the free safety came up, and this caused some confusion for quarterbacks. But those are just wrinkles in Jim Haslett and Raheem Morris’s schemes – not actual position changes. I think he does have the capability to make that switch. He has the range, coverage skills and willingness to tackle. But that’s further down the road. For now, the Redskins still see him as a cornerback.
For 20 years, the Redskins have done a bad job of drafting and acquiring free agents. Even if Dan Snyder, Vinny Cerrato or Mike Shanahan made the final decisions, weren’t Scott Campbell and Morocco Brown mainly to blame? I’m sure you see my point.
– Christopher Bird
I don’t know that you can say 20 years, because Snyder only bought the team in 1999. And, the Redskins have had some quality draft picks and free agent signings. But as a whole, I agree with you that there certainly have been more misses than hits. You can’t blame Brown and Campbell for a lot of it, though, because on some of the biggest blunders, Redskins’ ownership/management received warnings from the underlings, and they were ignored. Take Malcolm Kelly, one of the Redskins’ second-round picks in 2008. He came out of Oklahoma with a number of concerns hovering over him because of health. I’ve been told that Washington’s medical staff had red-flagged him, but Snyder and Cerrato really wanted him. Turned out Kelly wound up having microfracture surgery in 2009, never managed to beat the injury bug, and was out of the league by 2011. That’s just one draft blunder for you. When it comes to free agency, members of Washington’s front office had serious reservations about the acquisition of Albert Haynesworth. Some thought there was no way he was worthy of the contract the team ended up rewarding him with, and members of the coaching staff also didn’t like him as a player. Their concerns were ignored as well. Another move: Donovan McNabb. Snyder and Bruce Allen approached Mike Shanahan with the possibility of trading for him, but after studying game film, neither Mike Shanahan nor Kyle Shanahan really wanted the aging quarterback. Mike Shanahan did allow himself to be talked into pulling the trigger on the move, and that ended poorly as well. There obviously have been a lot of other players drafted and signed since then. Some have worked out, some have not. Some have come highly recommended by Campbell and Brown. Others have not. Now, more than ever, their input will be welcomed now that Allen is in charge. We’ll see what kind of a job they do as they try to reshape this roster.
This team (owner and fan base) has had a habit over the past few years of always overvaluing free agents from another team and undervaluing its own. … Orakpo and Riley are just the latest examples of players we have brought in, and everyone will say we should keep, but only at a discounted price, otherwise they are easily replaceable. Haven’t we seen this song and dance with guys like Carlos Rogers, who we replaced with Josh Wilson for more than it would have cost to keep Rogers? When do we start to appreciate guys that we drafted, even if they aren’t megastar QBs?
– Dirk Jordan
The Redskins have certainly had a track record of letting quality players get away while replacing them with other highly touted players who don’t pan out. This have changed somewhat in the past four years, however. Yes, Carlos Rogers departed for San Francisco, but he didn’t want to be here, either. (He and Wilson signed their contracts with San Francisco and Washington, respectively, for around the same price of roughly $4 million for that year). LaRon Landry is another example of a drafted player departing. His injury history and insistence on avoiding surgery on his problematic Achilles’ tendon caused Redskins management to let him walk rather than meet his asking price. The Redskins have yet to find stability at safety, however. The past two years, otherwise, Washington officials have tried to keep the roster intact and build through the draft and with smart free agent signings rather than flashy big-name has-beens. They aim to hold onto draft picks like Orakpo and Riley this offseason. They still need to do a better job of drafting, though. Outside of Brian Orakpo, Trent Williams, Riley, Ryan Kerrigan, Jarvis Jenkins, Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris and Jordan Reed, none of the other 40 players the Redskins have drafted since 2009 have developed into starters.
Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at email@example.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.
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