Top 7 Positional Needs For The Washington Redskins In The 2017 Offseason

Redskins

Dec 13, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Kedric Golston (64) practices before the game against the Washington Redskins at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins were a borderline playoff team in 2016. If they can find some upgrades in the 2017 offseason, they could make it back to the big postseason.

The Washington Redskins endured one of the most frustrating ends to the season of any NFL team. With multiple chances to lock up a playoff berth, the team was unable to get the job done when it really counted. The team has already started to change things up, as they fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry and lost offensive coordinator Sean McVay to the Rams, but they need to make some personnel changes.

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Frankly, the team’s defense is what needs the most work, but they still have some holes on the offensive side of the ball. The offseason has to be spent finding upgrades at the most important positions in order to ensure that they have a fighting chance in what will be one of the most competitive divisions in football.

With that said, it is time to look at some of the areas that the Redskins desperately need help in. Here is a look at their top seven positional needs for the 2017 offseason.

Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams (83) catches a touchdown pass against Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 24, 2016; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Terrance Williams (83) catches a touchdown pass against Washington Redskins cornerback Bashaud Breeland (26) in the second quarter at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

7. Cornerback

Josh Norman was an absolute stud for the Redskins last season, but he did not get any quality play across from him. Bashaud Breeland struggled in his third season, and the team may want to consider moving him to safety. Because of that, they should look to find an extra corner on the free agent market or in the draft.

Two names to keep an eye on in the free agent are Morris Claiborne and Captain Munnerlyn. Claiborne put together an excellent season with the Cowboys, but it was the first solid one of his career. He could have to settle for a one year deal and if he does, the Redskins could try to lure him away from their rival. As for Munnerlyn, he is a great slot corner, but the Vikings have a lot of talent on the defensive side of the ball. They may opt not to pay him and due to his lack of size, the Redskins may be able to get him at a discount.

If the Skins are confident in Breeland, they could opt to just select a high upside cornerback with their mid-round picks. Desmond King (Iowa) and Jourdan Lewis (Michigan) are both Day 2 options who could develop into potential No. 2 cornerbacks. Regardless of what happens, the team has to add depth to ensure that they have enough quality coverage players.

Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins guard Shawn Lauvao (77) prepares to block against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins guard Shawn Lauvao (77) prepares to block against the Buffalo Bills during the first half at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

6. Left Guard

Shawn Lauvao was absolutely the weakest link on the Washington offensive line. There is no denying it. The team needs to find an upgrade at the position and they have a few different ways that they could do it.

The first is to consider moving Spencer Long to the left guard position. He is a natural guard after all, and though he did well as a center, the team could have a chance to find a center on the market. Still, it would make more sense to keep Long at center for the sake of continuity. That said, they will look at all options and the market has quite a few good ones.

The guard options on the free agent market for 2017 are absolutely stellar. Among the names available are stellar Bengals guard Kevin Zeitler, longtime starter T.J. Lang of the Packers, and former Cowboy Ronald Leary. Those are just three of the plentiful options, and the Redskins could opt to bring one in for a workout. Adding a lineman in free agency would allow them to focus on defense during the draft which would be hugely beneficial to the team.

Of all the available options, I would imagine that Lang would be the biggest upgrade. Granted, he has mostly played right guard for the Packers, but switching sides would not be a big deal for him. However, the player that may be most likely to come over is Leary. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan worked with Leary for three years in Dallas, so perhaps that connection could work in the Redskins favor. Leary would be a big upgrade, so it will be interesting to see if anything happens on that front.

Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) carries the ball as Arizona Cardinals safety D.J. Swearinger (36) defends during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins running back Robert Kelley (32) carries the ball as Arizona Cardinals safety D.J. Swearinger (36) defends during the first half at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

5. Running Back

At the beginning of the season, it looked like Matt Jones would have a chance to emerge as the team’s featured back. At the midseason point, Rob Kelley looked like he might be the workhorse. By the end of the season, it became clear that neither was a true top option, and the team is going to have to find a running back to carry the load for them.

This is a position that is often easy to address in the draft. Running backs carry little value in the modern NFL, considering that there are many talented players. Yes, some are talented than others, but still the difference between at first and second round running back is not always huge. Also, the free agent class for runners is fairly weak in 2017.

That said, if the Redskins want a first round runner, they would probably only consider Dalvin Cook. Leonard Fournette will be long gone by the No. 17 pick, but there is a chance that Cook could fall to them. Cook put together a stellar career at Florida State and has game breaking speed and explosiveness. He would essentially complete the Redskins offense, so he could get the nod if on the board.

If they go for a back later, Clemson’s Wayne Gallman, Wyoming’s Brian Hill, and Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine would all be in consideration. Joe Mixon, also of Oklahoma, could get consideration as well, but his off-the-field issues in regards to punching a woman in the face could keep him off the Redskins board.

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Ziggy Hood (90) lines up against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 18, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Ziggy Hood (90) lines up against the Dallas Cowboys at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

4. Defensive End

Chris Baker is one of the best 3-4 ends in the NFL, but the team has absolutely nothing next to him. Making matters worse, he is scheduled to be a free agent this offseason, and the Redskins cannot afford to lose him. Because of this, they need to focus on re-signing Baker to a lucrative deal while adding a defensive end in the draft.

In the first round, it seems likely that the Redskins would be able to land a solid five technique. Both Michigan’s Chris Wormley and Michigan State’s Malik McDowell would fit well into their scheme, and both are projected to be available in the latter half of the first round. That said, the Redskins could opt to take a different player at that juncture, but they could still land a quality player in the later rounds.

In free agency, if they were to target anyone it would probably be a rotational guy. They could focus on re-signing Ziggy Hood to serve as their starter or they could get someone else. Lawrence Guy of the Baltimore Ravens is a guy to watch solely because of how well he plays against the run.

It seems more likely that the team will add Hood and maybe another upside veteran. Perhaps the team would take a risk on another former Jaguar, Tyson Alualu. He was once a top 10 pick, so perhaps the Redskins could coax some talent out of him.

Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins linebacker Will Compton (51) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 4, 2016; Glendale, AZ, USA; Washington Redskins linebacker Will Compton (51) against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. The Cardinals defeated the Redskins 31-23. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

3. Middle Linebacker

The Redskins have some quality players at the middle linebacker position, but they do not have enough talent to get by. Frankly, their starters would be better as high caliber backups, though a case could be made that Will Compton is too valuable to bench due to his ability to organize the defense. Still, the team needs an injection of talent at the linebacker position and will get help in the offseason.

Free agency offers some intriguing names that have experience in a 3-4 defense. Notably, Zach Brown of the Buffalo Bills is hitting the market this offseason. Brown found himself in Rex Ryan’s 3-4 defense and put together the best season of his career. He could offer an instant athletic upgrade, and if the Redskins hire Rob Ryan, then he would have a reason to come here.

The team also could opt to try and sign a player with upside Kiko Alonso of the Dolphins is a free agent. He has dealt with some bad injury problems but was once considered a potential star in the making. If they can get him cheap, he would be worth the risk. The only concern is that he does not fit nearly as well in a 3-4 defense as he does in a 4-3.

In the draft, one of the most popular names being associated with the Redskins is Reuben Foster. The Alabama linebacker could be available with the No. 17 pick, and the team would definitely be interested in him. If Foster is off the board, Vanderbilt’s Zach Cunningham is another player that the team would certainly consider.

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2. Safety

Throughout the entirety of the 2016 NFL season, there was practically no position on the roster that changed as much as the safeties. The team started DeAngelo Hall and David Bruton at the two position to start the year, and cycled through as many as three other starters as players got injured. All of the options were inconsistent, and it became abundantly clear that the Redskins need to upgrade the position in the offseason.

Luckily for the Redskins, there are going to be a lot of talented safeties hitting the free agent market in the offseason. The team should almost certainly add one in free agency, since it is unclear whether or not Duke Ihenacho, Donte Whitner, and Hall will be back with the team in 2017. A couple of the options that should intrigue them are current Cowboys safety Barry Church and Packers defensive back Micah Hyde.

Church has been a four year starter for the Cowboys but he put together one of the best seasons of his career in 2016. He is a solid tackler who has worked hard to improve his coverage skills. He could play either safety position and would be a big get for the team. Meanwhile, Hyde is a do-it-all player that is a great kicker return but can play multiple positions. He could man the nickel back position or start at safety. He needs to improve his consistency, but he has the talent to be an upper echelon safety.

In the draft, the Redskins likely will not land one of the top safety prospects, but Texas A&M’s Justin Evans could interest them on Day 2. Evans is a ballhawk that would be an excellent fit at free safety. If they like him enough, he could end up being their second round pick.

Of course, it helps that the team is moving Su’a Cravens back to the safety position. He could emerge as the starter at strong safety if he can hold up in coverage.

Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Kedric Golston (64) attempts to tackle Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush (22) at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 26, 2016; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins defensive end Kedric Golston (64) attempts to tackle Buffalo Bills running back Reggie Bush (22) at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

1. Nose Tackle

The glaring weakness for the Redskins defense was their complete and utter lack of a nose tackle. The team entered the season with Kedric Golston as their starter, and he was mediocre before being lost for the season in Week 2. Considering how bad the run defense was, the Redskins may opt to spend a good chunk of money on a nose tackle this offseason, as the market is saturated with some good options.

One of the popular candidates amongst the fans is Eagles nose tackle Bennie Logan. Logan is a terrific run stuffer who has been instrumental in the success of Jim Schwartz’s defense. He has the ability to push back interior linemen and blow up plays. If he hits the market, the Redskins could look to steal him, as they would weaken a divisional rival by signing the tackle.

Elsewhere, if they are looking to make a big splash, they could opt to pursue Dontari Poe of the Chiefs. Poe is one of the best nose tackles in the league, as he is a monstrous run stuffer that offers a bit of pass rushing ability as well. He dealt with a back injury in 2016 and the Chiefs have to decide whether or not he would be worth tagging or signing to a long term deal. It will not be easy, but the Redskins could pony up and give Poe a big contract. It would fix one of their major problems and could infinitely improve their defense.

The draft this year does not offer a lot of solid prospects. Montravius Adams of Auburn is one guy I like, but it seems like getting a tackle via free agency would be the best move for the Redskins.

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