Redskins 2012 Draft Review and Analysis

Today, Hog Heaven takes a look at the Washington Redskins 2012 NFL Draft haul, with one eye on grading how they did, and the other on how the talent projects to help the 2012 team win the NFC East for the first time in 13 seasons.

Here is a link to the draft page for the Redskins on the NFL.com draft tracker.  Clicking on the player’s name in the table will take you to the NFL.com video clip for that player.

Round 1, Pick 2 (2)(From Rams) Robert Griffin III QB 6’2″ 223 Baylor      95.0


Pick Analysis:
 Ultimately (and you can read my thoughts as a class as a whole at the bottom of the article), this is not a class that can excel without a significant contribution from Robert Griffin III.  There’s no one in this class that the Redskins need to perform except for him.

You can make comment about the need to put a team around him.  I look at it like this: before the draft, everyone in the world would have suggested the Redskins had put more around RG3 than the Colts had put around Andrew Luck.  And then the draft came.  And the Colts added Coby Fleener, Dwayne Allen, T.Y. Hilton, and Lavon Brazill.  And now all of a sudden, the supporting casts look pretty similar, and the Colts have more upside and youth.

That’s just the difference between the prices paid for Luck (having the worst record in the NFL) and Griffin (5-11, three first round picks, and a second round pick).  The Redskins have enough for RG3 to win now with.  This isn’t the 2004 Steelers or the 2008 Ravens.  They don’t have enough to make RG3 a great player immediately.  But on his own merits, he can win in 2012.  It’s just worth pointing out that the Redskins can’t exactly follow other recent blueprints for getting to the conference championship game with a rookie quarterback.  For the Redskins to achieve that kind of success this year, Griffin will first have to be the DMV equivelent of Cam Newton.  And then, the Redskins will need an equal contribution from their running game, defense, and special teams.

If everything falls into place this year, Griffin is good enough to lead the Redskins on a special season.

Round 3, Pick 8 (71) (From Bills) Josh LeRibeus G 6’3″ 312 SMU 64.7

Pick Analysis:
 LeRibeus was quite a bit of a reach in the third round, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss the other side of the argument.  If LeRibeus can be a core player on the Redskins, then this pick was well spent.

What do you look for in a core player?  Its not good enough for a player to be smart, quick, and effective.  He must also be highly dependable, and reliable in any role the coach may ask him to handle.  LeRibeus could be capable of filling any one of the three interior offensive line roles effectively.

The plan appeared to be to address offensive line early and often in this draft.  LeRibeus was the most-trusted and first dominio to fall, but he by himself would not have adequately addressed the offensive line in this draft.
 

Round 4, Pick 7 (102) Kirk Cousins QB 6’3″ 214 Michigan St. 73.0

Pick Analysis:
 In general, I believe most observers overvalue the average return of third and fourth round picks.  We get, to an extent, that late round picks are only worth what you make of them, which is not the same as first and second round picks, which typically result in starters.  But third and fourth round picks do not typically result in starters, no matter how hard you hope they do.

And so that defines the LeRibeus pick in that it doesn’t matter if you reach when the expectation is that you don’t get a starter.  The only thing that matters is what you pick up later in the round.  Like the LeRibeus pick, the Cousins pick comes out favorable when you put it in context.

All Kirk Cousins can be for the Redskins is strong depth and trade value.  Call it a glass ceiling if you must.  But he represents better depth at the quarterback position than the Redskins have had since half a decade ago when Jason Campbell was the quarterback in waiting.  Depth is what the Redskins need.  And if you can get sure, quality, reliable depth in the fourth round at any position, it’s hard to pass up the sure thing for a longshot starter at a different position.  The Redskins know how good of a player and how good of a person Kirk Cousins is.  That’s what they need to hang their collective hat on.
 

Round 4, Pick 24 (119) (From Steelers) Keenan Robinson OLB 6’3″ 242 Texas 68.2

Pick Analysis:
 My feeling is that Keenan Robinson best fits as the sub package LB opposite London Fletcher.  Probably not ready yet to take on and shed NFL guards in the run game.  But he looks fluid dropping into coverage and can really get after the passer in a rush assignment.  Flexible enough to play outside linebacker in a pinch.

What I don’t see here is the guy who will eventually replace London Fletcher.  I think either he or Bryan Kehl has to be ready to go if Fletcher goes dow this year.  Robinson is not an ideal jack linebacker (the position Rocky McIntosh and Perry Riley shared last year) in the Jim Haslett defensive scheme, but he could develop into that role given multiple seasons.  I think it would take a little longer than that to develop into Fletcher’s replacement, so while it’s probably not productive to think of him as Perry Riley’s eventual replacement, they have very complementary skill sets, and should share duties this year pretty evenly.  Beyond that, we’ll see.  He very well might end up replacing Fletcher because of need.  But I’d say look for him to get 40% of the defensive snaps this season, and lets take it year by year.  

This was a need-based pick and a good one.  Admittedly, the Redskins left better prospects on the board at the WR and CB positions.  But despite the relative devaluation of the position in the draft, linebacker play is still the driving force in the NFL.  You don’t have to draft them high, but you need good ones in order to excel on defense.  Robinson should be a good one.

Round 5, Pick 6 (141) Adam Gettis G 6’2″ 293 Iowa 52.2

Pick Analysis:
 I didn’t think Adam Gettis was a better player that Iowa OL teammate Markus Zusevics (UDFA – signed with New England), but it’s hard to go wrong on any Iowa lineman.  They’re a well coached group, run almost exclusively a zone-based rushing attack, use a lot of run action fakes, and they’ve all been playing together as a group for years.

Of that group (Reilly Reiff, Zusevics, and Gettis), Gettis was the most athletic and had the best combine of the three.  He also played at the senior bowl.

Ultimately, I think he fits in as an insurance policy against Kory Lichtensteiger going out and taking starter money to sign elsewhere next year when the Redskins would much prefer to keep him on a backup’s salary.  He, like most of the day three picks, should make the 2012 team and provide depth, and then we can go from there.
 

Round 6, Pick 3 (173) (From Vikings) Alfred Morris RB 5’9″ 219 Florida Atlantic 47.5

Pick Analysis:
 This was probably the selection I liked the least that the Redskins made.  We’re at the top of the sixth round, and there are still potential starters on the board.  The Redskins chose a runner who was almost certatinly going undrafted.  But it actually gets worst when you look at where he fits in.

Roy Helu is the de-facto starter and very likely the best RB on the Redskins right now.  He’s a bit of an injury concern.  So the team also drafted Evan Royster from Penn State, who was productive in limited time.  They were both good picks.  Alfred Morris is in the same mold as Royster, and will compete for his spot on the roster.

Again though, you could get the same player from a class of many undrafteds, and then the fact that he’s not all that likely to make the team wouldn’t be much of a concern.  I have little doubt he is capable of executing the rushing scheme as well if not beter than Quinton Gaither when he was here.  But this is a case of one coach trying to find some talent in a place where the other 31 coaches weren’t even looking.  And then when you look at his roster, there would have to be a surprise failure from the top before there is even opportunity for Morris to succeed.

I will say that there’s no guarantee Morris would have signed with Washington had he gone undrafted, and if you like a guy enough, you take him and try to find a spot for him, but I doubt he has enough NFL running back skills to justify this selection.

Round 6, Pick 23 (193) (From Steelers) Tom Compton T 6’5″ 314 South Dakota 68.2

Pick Analysis:
 This was probably the selection I liked the most that the Redskins made.  One thing we knew from the offseason prior to the draft is that the offensive tackle market was slow to develop.  That remained true through free agency and into the draft.  Bobby Massie, tackle out of Mississippi, fell (much like Kirk Cousins) from being a projected late one/early two all the way into the fourth round.  Zusevics didn’t get drafted.  Cleveland misread the market and ended up reaching badly for Mitchell Schwartz.  Nate Potter from Boise fell all the way to the seventh round.

And so the Redskins landed a legit NFL offensive tackle project from South Dakota in Tom Compton in the bottom half of the sixth round.  That’s nice work in both scouting and in reading the market.  Compton’s path is clearest to the right tackle job.  But it’s probably not too early to begin thinking about what may be on the left side if Trent Williams ever becomes a “cap casulty.”  

Compton gives the Redskins that kind of flexibility, and even if they decided later that he’s just not taking to NFL-type tackle technique and coaching and is better off moved inside, he can probably start there as well.  A good pick.
 

Round 7, Pick 6 (213) Richard Crawford DB SMU

Round 7, Pick 10 (217) (From Bills) Jordan Bernstine CB Iowa

Pick Analysis:
 The Redskins took two completely unhyped draft prospects in the seventh round which seems like a waste, and it probably is.  However, there’s a significant need here for the team, and there’s a chance that Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine can both get fast-tracked into playing time.  For Crawford, the Redskins simply lack a slot corner on their current roster behind Kevin Barnes, and well, wouldn’t you know that’s exactly what he has been drafted to play!  If Barnes fails to secure his spot on the team, Crawford could be in for a ton of playing time as a rookie.

Bernstine was a zone corner in college who will be moved to safety in the pros.  He has a reputation as a hard hitter.  The Redskins need guys who can cover, and Bernstine probably doesn’t have the range to play free safety in the NFL.  He sounds like more of a Reed Doughty type to me.  But if he can just make three or four impact plays as a rookie as a role player, his draft selection will have been well worth it.

The Redskins Draft Class as a Whole

The Redskins targeted two main areas in this draft to solve for the future: the interior offensive line, and the quarterback position, and solved both positions for the forseeable future.  It will be problematic that they do not have first round picks in either 2013 or 2014.  With the Cousins selection, there will be opportunity if things go right to recoup some of that lost draft value in 2014.  But there’s only so much value that can be earned back by trading down.  At some point in the near-term future, the Redskins are going to be lacking impact players compared to other teams.  They may already be lacking impact players.

So the onus is on the organization to pull a reverse moneyball here.  You remember the plot: team has no money to spend, finds a number of misfits that can come in and create a winning atmosphere.  Feel good story.  Well, there’s no opportunity for a feel good story.  The Redskins must use their vast financial resources to win games in an equally unfair playing field against teams that have more cap room than they do and more draft picks than they do, not to mention better internal roster talent.

And a lot of that rides on Robert Griffin III and the Shanahans.  Right now, the rookie QB is the Redskins competitive advantage.  He doesn’t have to be for long.  Just for these next two years when the Redskins don’t really have a go-to player on defense who is in his prime (though Orakpo and Kerrigan could get there soon).  It won’t be enough to just execute Kyle Shanahan’s offense.  That will get the Redskins to seven or eight wins.  Griffin must take it upon himself to play above the Xs and Os.

And an interception-less streak like the one he had to begin his college career wouldn’t hurt either. 

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