As he looks over the roster as it stands on the eve of the NFL Draft, Redskins general manager Bruce Allen says he doesn’t see any “gaping holes,” but that the organization has the goal of improving future depth.
Washington during free agency made moves to improve the interior of the offensive line, wide receiver, inside linebacker and defensive back, which ranked among the most pressing needs on the roster. Because of those accomplishments, Allen believes the team will have the freedom to draft the best player available.
“There’s no one position,” Allen said when asked if one position carries a greater priority than the others.
Further assessing the Redskins’ situation, Allen said, “The draft is going to be a great way to add to the team. We’ve been active in free agency, so we feel there are no gaping holes on the roster. But as we look at our team, we really look at where our roster is in 2015 and 2016 as well. It allows us the flexibility to make sure we follow the draft board that’s been set up with everyone’s communication. We’re not looking at a particular position as we address the draft.”
The Redskins must approach the draft with flexibility, because as was the case last season, they enter the draft without a first-round pick. That selection, which would’ve been second overall, now belongs to the St. Louis Rams as the final installment of Washington’s agreement in 2012 to send three first-rounders and a second-rounder to the Rams in exchange for the pick that gave the Redskins rights to draft Robert Griffin III.
Washington first gets on the clock with the 34th overall pick, the second of the second round. Washington then currently has a pick in each of the next five rounds: 66th, 102nd, 142nd, 178th and 217th.
So, a number of dominoes must fall before Washington makes its first selection.
The team does have several areas where long-term depth requires attention, however.
On offense, right tackle is believed to rank high on Washington’s shopping list. The team also could use a big-target wide receiver, and improved tight end depth. On defense, Washington lacks long-term options at inside linebacker, cornerback and safety.
But it remains to be seen which order, and exactly which of those areas Washington will attempt to address in the draft. Allen called it “unlikely” that the Redskins would move up in the draft because they have limited resources to dangle in front of teams in the first round. He said Washington has had “no discussions” regarding packaging backup quarterback Kirk Cousins with a pick, or picks, to move up in the draft. Allen said the Redskins also haven’t had any discussions at all regarding trading Cousins.
Allen said he would listen to inquiries from teams when it comes to moving down in the draft if it meant acquiring more picks, but no deals are imminent.
Allen stressed that Washington must do a better job of not only selecting, but also developing prospects. In the past two offseasons, the Redskins have drafted players with the intention of improving the line, linebacker position and the secondary.
But guards Josh LeRibeus (third-rounder in 2012) and Adam Gettis (fifth-rounder, 2012) and tackle Tom Compton (sixth-rounder, 2012), linebackers Keenan Robinson (fourth-round, 2012) and Brandon Jenkins (fifth round, 2013) and safeties Phillip Thomas (fourth-rounder, 2013) and Bacarri Rambo (sixth-rounder, 2013) have all either scarcely played, or in some cases, haven’t played at all because of injury.
The Redskins in the last four years have hit on tackle Trent Williams, linebacker Perry Riley Jr., quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris. But Allen admits, that the draft success has not been what it needs to be.
“I don’t think you can say we’ve done well because of our record,” he said referring to three last-place finishes in the NFC East in the past four seasons. “I don’t really believe in grading drafts because we have a record. The Washington Redskins have a lot of flags and hardware up there, but not through the draft, but through other means of player acquisition. We’re looking forward to changing that and developing our players. We still have some young players on our roster who haven’t really played yet, and I think that’s a big task for the coaches, who got to see them at this first minicamp, and have started to develop opinions on them.”
Washington, because it has a new head coach in Jay Gruden, held its first minicamp last week, and that afforded coaches to get a look at the players on the roster in advance of this week’s selections. But Allen said that nothing seen in those practices have dramatically swayed the opinions of where the roster stands, or sentiments on draft needs.
The Redskins on Monday received word that suspended safety Tanard Jackson will be reinstated by the league, and he was at team headquarters Tuesday morning. But Allen described the move as a “conditional reinstatement.” He said the return of Jackson, who was slapped in 2012 with an indefinite suspension for repeatedly violating the league’s substance-abuse policy, will not impact draft plans.
“It won’t affect the draft at all,” Allen said. “When he was suspended, we were aware that he had to comply with a lot of rules and regulations that the league and players association agreed to. It’s a compliment to him, but I have not talked to him yet, because he isn’t really reinstated yet. But it’s a compliment that he has a desire to play. I look forward to talking to him and the coaches look forward to talking to him.”
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