The Washington Post

Jackson, Clark acquisitions give Redskins flexibility entering draft

Ryan Clark helps fill a need at safety, but the Redskins still need a long-term solution. (Jared Wickersham, Getty Images)

With the additions of DeSean Jackson and Ryan Clark this week, the Washington Redskins met two pressing needs while also giving themselves some flexibility as they prepare for next month’s NFL Draft.

This time last week, Washington still could have used another explosive wide receiver to pair with Pierre Garcon and Andre Roberts. The team also needed a free safety capable of starting alongside strong safety Brandon Meriweather.

But Washington now has a potent pass-catching unit comprised of Garcon, Jackson, Roberts and tight end Jordan Reed, if he can stay healthy. And they have a solid pair of starting safeties, if Meriweather can use his head and not hit with it, and if the 34-year-old Clark still has some left in the tank.

That doesn’t mean that the team doesn’t need additional help in those areas. But those are far less pressing needs now.

We’ll get more into the draft in the coming weeks as pre-draft visits and workouts will begin taking place. And we’ll take a close look at every position on the roster. For now, here’s a quick glance at where things stand:

Quarterback: Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins remain, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see Jay Gruden carry just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. But it’s not out of the question that the team would take a project quarterback to develop this year in case they trade Cousins next year (if he doesn’t draw trade interest this year). Update, 11:20 a.m.: The Redskins announce the signing of QB Colt McCoy. McCoy will more than likely be used as an offseason practice/training camp arm to ensure Griffin and Cousins don’t shoulder too heavy a workload.

Offensive line: The Redskins added two guards in free agency: One potential starter in Shawn Lauvao, and a likely reserve who could compete for playing time in Mike McGlynn. The team seems to have little confidence in Josh LeRibeus, and they have questions about Adam Gettis, too, so adding another guard/center in the draft makes sense. Taking a more athletic right tackle in the draft would make sense. Gruden said Tyler Polumbus did a “pretty solid” job last year, but his contract expires after this season.

Fullback: Darrel Young is a reliable player both on offense and special teams.

Running back: Alfred Morris is the workhorse, but the team would like to find a speedy, pass-catching back to complement him. Is Chris Thompson the answer? Health is the biggest concern for him. Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster remain, but Gruden and his assistants don’t seem content there. It’s very possible the Redskins draft a player to compete for that change-of-pace back role.

Tight end: If Jordan Reed can stay healthy, he could develop into a Pro Bowl player. Logan Paulsen is reliable, although not very explosive. But he is a strong blocker and can play special teams. Niles Paul is a special teams ace. Could the Redskins use another guy here because of concerns about Reed’s durability?

Wide receiver: The starters should be Garcon and Jackson, with Roberts joining them out of the slot. Santana Moss, Nick Williams and Aldrick Robinson will battle for spots, as will Leonard Hankerson if he can make a full recovery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Apart from Hankerson, the Redskins lack size. It’s very possible that they could look to the draft for a big target to throw into the mix.

Defensive line: This unit appears pretty solid with Barry Cofield and Jason Hatcher leading the way. Jarvis Jenkins needs to continue to develop. Chris Baker is a nice, rising player. Uncertainty hovers over Stephen Bowen, who is coming off microfracture surgery and seemed to lose effectiveness last season even before injuring his knee. Chris Neild, Doug Worthington, Clifton Geathers and Kedric Golston (also a good special teams guy) should compete for time as backups.

Linebacker: Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are set as the starting outside linebackers. For now, the only backup is the unproven Brandon Jenkins. He was rarely in uniform for games last season. The team could use another option or two here in the event of injury, or to help keep Orakpo and Kerrigan fresh. Inside linebacker, meantime, has plenty of bodies with Perry Riley Jr., Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton, Keenan Robinson, Josh Hull, Will Compton and Jeremy Kimbrough all in the mix. The team needs to find a starter opposite Riley. Jordan could be the favorite. It’s also a big offseason for Robinson, who must show that he can be the player the Redskins hoped he could be when they selected him in the fourth round of the 2012 draft only to see him miss much of the past two years because of injuries.

Cornerback: DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson likely are the starters. Tracy Porter and E.J. Biggers will compete for that nickel back role. Richard Crawford  is recovering from surgery to repair torn ligaments in his knee and is said to be walking with a slight limp. Chase Minnifield spent the bulk of the year on the practice squad. He seems to have a lot of potential. But there are questions as well. Cornerback also could rank among the need positions in the draft.

Safety: Meriweather and Clark would seem to be the starters. But they’re not long-term solutions. Coaches have high hopes that Phillip Thomas can develop into a talented player as he returns from a rookie season ended by a Lisfranc injury. Bacarri Rambo has to show that he can tackle. Jose Gumbs and Trenton Robinson are good special teams guys, but are they anything more? If a talented safety lands in the Redskins’ lap in the draft, I could definitely see them pulling the trigger.

Special teams: Kai Forbath is a solid place kicker, although leg strength on kickoffs could improve. The Redskins are looking for a new punter after releasing Sav Rocca. The team signed kicker Jake Rogers to compete with Forbath, and Rogers also has experience as a punter. The Redskins also have Robert Malone.

So, it appears that safety, offensive line help, cornerback and a big receiver lead the team’s needs. But the team does have at least some temporary options at many of those spots. It could wind up being a situation where the Redskins take the best player available. We’ll see how things play out.

Have a football question? E-mail Mike Jones at with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag.

More from The Post:

Griffin plans to keep wearing No. 10

D.C. Sports Bog: Wall and Durant helped recruit Jackson | More Bog

‘Humbled’ Jackson eager to join Redskins’ rebuilding efforts

Jackson gets $16 million guaranteed in three-year contract

Reid: Opposing defenses should worry | Wise: This seems familiar

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

Post Sports Live:

The Post Sports Live crew discusses how DeSean Jackson could fit into the Redskins offense. (Post Sports Live/The Washington Post)
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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Mike Jones · April 3, 2014

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