Brian Billick’s thoughts for March 31

Billick examines the Washington Redskins’ draft needs, offensive lineman prospects Rodney Hudson, John Moffitt and Clint Boling, and the NFLPA’s Jeff Saturday.

 

Washington Redskins | Rodney Hudson | John Moffitt | Clint Boling | Jeff Saturday

 

Redskins have plenty of draft needs

 

When Mike Shanahan took over the Washington Redskins last year, this couldn’t have been what he had in mind.

With a top-10 defense and the presence of an elite quarterback in Donavan McNabb, the Redskins were sure to improve their 27th ranked rushing attack. Shanahan alone, whose teams have historically run the ball well, was sure to produce better numbers.

Now, a year later, they are 30th in the NFL in rushing, 31st in total defense, and most likely absent of that elite quarterback presence.

From my perspective they will need to address the quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line positions sometime this offseason. Picking 10th in April’s draft will give Washington plenty of options.

Defensively, it added O.J. Atogwe via free agency and if it can keep Carlos Rogers, its first round pick in 2005, that should improve the secondary and the 31st ranked pass defense in the league.

Brian Orakpo — their 2009 first-round choice — is Pro Bowl caliber, but the Redskins could use another rush presence at outside linebacker for Jim Haslett’s version of the 3-4 defense.

If Maake Kemoeatu returns fully healthy that will help to firm up the nose tackle position but getting depth in the draft wouldn’t hurt. I not even going to attempt to predict or pretend to know what will happen with Albert Haynesworth.

Shanahan has said tight end is the only position on the team where he has total confidence. So that appears to be the only position that is not an option in the draft.

Washington does get a break after facing the tough AFC East in its out-of-conference schedule picking up the NFC West, Minnesota and Carolina in its out-of-division games.

 

Size a concern for Hudson

 

Florida State lineman Rodney Hudson was a unanimous first team All-American and is quite possibly the most decorated lineman in ACC history.

I tend to believe that he can be just as successful in the NFL. Hudson’s size of 6-foot-2 3/8 and only 299 pounds at the Combine, is really my only true concern.

Hudson has an excellent week at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. He dominated in one-on-one pass protection drills, and shined in the 11-on-11 team sessions throughout the week of practice. He has tremendously quick and nimble feet that continue to chop while engaged with a defender. While his quick feet are impressive, his hands are even faster.

He shot his hand inside on the numbers first every time, giving himself a total advantage off the snap of the ball. He uses those inside hands to control the defender and influence him opposite the direction of the play.

Hudson also shows great field awareness in the interior stunt game that defensive lineman use to throw off timing and traditional blocking schemes. He stuns one defender to pass him off to either the center or tackle, and is always in position to block the next defender that flashes in his gap. I would like to see him work on his balance and fight the urge to bend at the waist.

He also needs to become more comfortable getting to the second level and maintain that same athleticism that he shows on the line of scrimmage.

Like the other top interior lineman in this draft, Hudson has the versatility to play both guard and center in the NFL. With his overall body of work and skill-set, I think he be a great value pick for a team in the late second round.

 

Versatility to serve Moffitt well

 

Similar to my analysis of Gabe Carimi, Wisconsin’s John Moffitt plays with a mean streak that will benefit his career in the NFL. Moffitt has started 42 of 45 career games for Wisconsin, which is impressive alone, but he also played through a pectoral muscle injury as well as a sports hernia that was operated on after the 2009 season.

Throughout his college career, Moffitt saw extensive action at both guard and center, with his 13 games as a senior all at left guard. This versatility will only make him more valuable moving forward.

On tape, he is a solid run blocker that uses his positioning and lower body strength to his advantage. By using a strong and violent punch, he is able to get the defender off balance right from the snap. He is a hard worker that fights on every play, often finishing his block all the way through the whistle.

He may be a little bit of an overachiever meaning that his work ethic has carried him further than his talent. That isn’t a bad thing, as he continues to build his skill set and mature as an athlete, he won’t ever lose that blue-collar mentality.

Sometimes his overaggressive style gets him overextended, but that is something that his position coach will be able to work with on.

As I have said before, you really can’t go wrong by taking a Wisconsin Badger offensive lineman. They have the "nasty" streak and playing style that are very much desired in the NFL.

 

 

Boling picking up steam

 

Georgia’s Clint Boling is a prospect who is gaining a lot of momentum. Throughout his career at Georgia, he played both guard and tackle and finished his career with 49 starts (final 38 in a row).

Thirteen of those starts came his senior year, six were at left tackle, but he is better off playing inside in the NFL. Overall, Boling isn’t the most athletic offensive lineman, but he is agile enough to be effective. He has better than average feet and does a nice job of anticipating where the defense will be flowing. Often, you will see a lineman attempt to block a second-level defender and miss because he didn’t take the proper angle.

Similarly, he is a good pulling lineman, but often looks most comfortable in zone block schemes. One thing that concerns me about Boling’s tape is his lack of knee bend and hip flexion. This was a really exposed when matched up against Auburn’s Nick Fairley, and Fairley is the caliber of athlete he will face each Sunday in the in NFL.

Boling is a smart and durable lineman that will obviously benefit from his four years of starting experience in a pro-style offense. Look for him to be grouped within the second crop of interior lineman to be selected in the draft.

 

Saturday a great representative for NFLPA

 

I really enjoyed doing "Total Access" on the NFL Network with Jeff Saturday of the Indianapolis Colts. Jeff is a member of the NFL Players Association Executive Council and an excellent spokesman for the group.

Jeff has a very deeply held belief in the NFLPA’s position and has an evenhanded approach to the relationship with the owners. At the end of the day, Jeff knows that whatever form the new CBA takes, it will be a negotiated one. Unfortunately, the legal action the NFLPA has taken to dispute the owners’ lockout is one that it feels was unavoidable.

Because of the time frame involved, it had to decertify when it did to give them time to force the action of the owners to avoid the loss of game. At least that is what they believe.

At the heart of the players’ request is the need to know what the true operating costs of the owners are, compared to those costs that are associated with a family business that virtually every teams, except for the Green Bay Packers have.

Jeff contends that they are not out to embarrass the owners nor are they interested in what they do with their own profits as long as it can be quantified and considered with regards to what should be included in the players’ percentage.

I believe Jeff strongly thinks that some type of agreement will be reach, or at the very least, some type of court judgment will allow for the season to be played. Like the late NFLPA boss Gene Upshaw, Jeff believes that part of the problem is the divergent views that owners like Jerry Jones and Mike Brown have on the view of the economic model the owner wants. The haves and the have-nots among the owner fraternity may indeed be as much as a problem as the differences between the owners and the players.

There is no question in my mind that a deal can be reached, and that both sides are simply waiting for the courts to decide who has what leverage before they can proceed. The players who are going to be most harmed are those who would have normally been free agents.

They, on the sort term, will simply be the causalities of the negotiation wars. Some may recoup their loses because of a subsequent increase in player revenues, but many are going to see lost wages that will never be recouped.

The NFLPA would do well to put a gag order on their entire member community and simply let guys like Jeff, who have a genuine love of the game and a thorough understanding of the issues, explain their views. Unfortunately for the owners, they do not have a counterpart to Saturday to present their points of view in as a believable way.