Draft Preview: 51. Washington Redskins

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Barring a trade, the Washington Redskins won’t select a player in the first round of the NFL draft until 2015. That was the cost of one Robert Griffin III, the man who solved the franchise’s quarterback quandary, but he’s now blowing stuff up while rehabbing a shredded knee. He shows no remorse for the demise of trophy cases and entire football stadiums.

When the Redskins traded up to secure Griffin last spring, they gave St. Louis first- and second-round picks in that draft, in addition to first rounders in 2013 and 2014. Part of that debt has been paid, but two more years of potentially elite prospects remain as their sacrifice for RG3. Even with his injury, after watching him run over and around defenders in his rookie season on his way to being named the offensive rookie of the year, the immediate reaction is to say the payment for Griffin is easily justifiable. Right now, you’re not wrong. Right now.

A trade of that magnitude involving multiple high picks can’t truly be measured for many years. So far, the Rams have used their picks to select promising young corneraback Janoris Jenkins, and then Michael Brockers, Isiah Pead, and Rokevius Watkins through a maze of other draft-day trades involve multiple picks.

This year, the Griffin trade leaves the Redskins waiting until the 51st overall pick on Day 2 in the second round to make their first selection. Their secondary is a significant weakness after Washington gave up 281.9 passing yards per game this past season. Desmond Trufant could fall into the second round, although someone like Jordan Poyer is likely more realistic in that spot if cornerback help is the priority, and LSU’s Eric Reid could be targeted at safety.

To kick off our-team-by-team draft previews, I talked to Kevin Ewoldt from Hogs haven, and asked him five questions. Thankfully, he answered them, because people look at me weird when I talk to myself.

1. After the release of DeAngelo Hall, cornerback should be a focus early. Is that the direction you’d like to see the Redskins go in the second round?

Yes, CB definitely should be a focus and it will be. Redskins fans wanted to see a cornerback early and often last year, but the guys Mike Shanahan coveted most (Casey Hayward especially) were gone by then. I’d expect to see at least one safety and CB drafted. The Skins also lost Cedric Griffin, their starting third cornerback, so the cupboard is bare right now.

2. What about a safety early? Madieu Williams is gone, and an upgrade over Brandon Meriweather would be nice.

Yeah, it’s a tough situation. The $18 million salary cap penalty leaves the Redskins no choice but to build through the draft (again). I’d be shocked if the Redskins did not draft a free safety. Tanard Jackson’s one-year suspension continues into training camp, so the Redskins have some tough choices. They need to free agent dumpster dive at some point though to bring in a couple veteran guys to help out the youngsters during minicamps and build some competition. Brandon Meriweather played exceptionally the one game he played before getting injured.

3. Rounding out the possible early directions, what about an inside linebacker? 2013 will most likely be London Fletcher’s last season.

For the third year in a row, yes, I will be predicting this is Fletcher’s last season. It was clear 2012 was different in that he was noticeably worse in coverage and tackling. He’s still much better than anything the Redskins have, but given the amount of injuries and dizziness he played through last year, this will surely be the final year.

4. Early picks should be concentrated on the defensive side of the ball. But if the value is right, is a tight end a possibility in the mid to late rounds? Or are the Redskins fine with either re-signing Fred Davis, or rolling with Logan Paulsen?

A tight end is definitely a possibility. The Redskins will always draft the best player available, so that means a TE in the second round is possible. Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen are decent, but there is room for upgrade there.

5. Any late-round sleepers you’re eying?

Ricky Wagner, a tackle from Wisconsin, can play both sides and it would be a big win if they got him late. Roger Gaines would be the other sleeper tackle. He played at Tennessee State and is raw, but huge. Matt Furstenburg from U-MD is a sleeper at tight end, most likely available in the seventh round or as a UFA. The Terps had a Linebacker as their starting quarterback at one point due to injuries, so he should be under the radar. At Safety (FS), I like Daimion Stafford out of Nebraska.

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