Now that the major free agent signings have been finalized, the Last Word On Sports NFL department will be looking at the top three needs for each team heading into the 2017 NFL Draft. In this article, the Washington Redskins are the focus.
The Redskins have the 17th overall pick in the draft (ten picks overall with three in the top 100 and four after the 200th selection) this year. When the draft arrives, head coach Jay Gruden and the Redskins front office (less a general manager since no new general manager will be hired to replace Scot McCloughan, who was fired, until after the draft), will continue to try to fix Washington’s roster since the team finished the 2016 season with an 8-7-1 record and missed the playoffs.
Washington Redskins 2017 NFL Draft: Top 3 Needs
The Redskins signed Stacy McGee (previously with the Oakland Raiders) and Terrell McClain (from Dallas Cowboys) this off-season. Both are young, 27 and 28, respectively, but the team lost three of their top four players on the defensive line, including Chris Baker to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this off-season. Washington needs to add both youth and depth along their defensive line.
The Redskins signed D.J. Swearinger (from the Arizona Cardinals) this off-season which should definitely improve Washington at that position. And Su’a Cravens will move from linebacker to safety, but DeAngelo Hall is coming off of a torn ACL and both he and Will Blackmon are over 30 years old. The Redskins need to add help, depth and youth at safety, particularly at free safety.
Luckily for the Redskins, the 2017 draft is really deep at safety. It probably won’t make sense for them to select a safety at 17 unless an absolute stud is somehow available, but there will be plenty of talented safety prospects to choose from in the second and third rounds.
This was a position of need before it was reported that Cravens was switching positions. The Redskins did add Zach Brown (on a one-year deal) which should help and they have Mason Foster, but Washington also needs to draft a player at the linebacker position.
It’s been far too long (11 years) since the Redskins used a pick in the first three rounds to bolster the linebacker position. It’s time they recognize the importance of improving at linebacker at the beginning of the draft.
With ten picks the Redskins certainly can and probably will address other areas of need besides those listed above. Below are three other positions that Jay Gruden and the rest of the Redskins organization will probably try to shore up through the draft this year.
DeSean Jackson hauled in 56 balls for 1,005 yards last season, but he departed Washington this off-season and signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Pierre Garcon had 79 catches for 1,041 yards in 2016, but he is now with the San Francisco 49ers. The Redskins losing both Jackson and Garcon marked the first time a team has lost a pair of 1,000-yard receivers in the same off-season.
Washington did sign Terrelle Pryor, who had 77 receptions for 1,007 yards in 2016, to a one-year deal. And they drafted Josh Doctson out of TCU last year. But it remains to be seen if that will be enough. Pryor was great in 2016, but that’s a really small sample size and it’s doubtful that Doctson will be able to replace the production of either Jackson or Garcon.
Washington does have Rob Kelley, who signed as an undrafted free agent in 2016, Matt Jones (a third-round pick in 2015) and Chris Thompson on the roster. But Jones didn’t play the final two months of the season due to fumbling issues and Thompson is really only a great third-down option. The Redskins should look to make additions to their backfield through the draft.
Washington placed the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins yet again this off-season. Cousins is probably in the top 15-18 quarterbacks in the league, but if the Redskins don’t think he’s their guy (that would be a mistake) they need to move on after the 2017 season and that could mean drafting his replacement next Thursday.