Yesterday may have been the coming out party for Redskins RB and University of Nebraska product Roy Helu. With Fred Davis and Trent Williams liable to miss the rest of the season with a ‘joint’ four game suspension, Helu is the best remaining player on the Redskins offense. And he is only a rookie. Which is awesome.
As a complete back, Helu is still very much a work in progress. His pass blocking still needs work. And as an offense, the Redskins can not afford to be as reliant on Helu as much as they are right now for success. The Redskins need another running back. They need another running back arguably more than they need a quarterback.
Remember, we’re dealing with need here, not so much with value. What in football is more valuable than a franchise quarterback? Nothing, perhaps outside of an elite pass rusher to limit the opponents franchise quarterback. There is no need the Redskins could possibly have worthy of passing on a player like Robert Griffin III or Matt Barkley in the first round. There’s probably no player worthy of passing on Nick Foles, Ryan Tannehill, or Kellen Moore. In terms of need though, the Redskins need a complete back to pair with Helu, and a go to receiver who can beat man coverage.
The Redskins need guys like Jeff Fuller from Texas A&M or Kendall Wright from Baylor, or a slot guy like Jairus Wright from Arkansas or Ryan Broyles from Oklahoma. They need a runner like Boise State’s Doug Martin, Cincinnati’s Isaiah Pead, or Washington’s Chris Polk. The Redskins tried to build a team that could succeed with Rex Grossman and John Beck running the show, but because they lacked players like the ones listed above, they failed. The need for help at the skill positions is perhaps greater than it has ever been before.
All of these are reasons why the Redskins can not afford to trade up in the first round for a quarterback. The Redskins could pick as high as fourth overall if they do not win again this season. Fourth will be plenty high enough to take the quarterback of their choice. A pair of four win teams: Cleveland and Tampa Bay are unlikely to win again. They could be joined by San Diego or Jacksonville after tonight. It’s going to be a huge struggle for Minnesota to get to four wins, and the Rams close out with Bengals, Steelers, 49ers in their final four games, so there is a really good chance they will pick second overall.
A fifth win probably puts the Redskins looking at dropping three spots or so in the draft order from fifth or sixth to eighth or ninth. Picking in the top six, the Redskins have a good chance to land either Matt Barkley or Robert Griffin without having to move up. A lot depends on the Rams this year. If they look at Sam Bradford and look at Robert Griffin and decide they have the wrong guy, I think they could take Griffin at second overall, which would prevent the Seahawks from getting him, and then if Cleveland gets to take Matt Barkley fourth overall, the Redskins are looking at choosing between Ryan Tannehill or Nick Foles down about five picks later. However, if St. Louis decides Sam Bradford is their guy, and we can safely assume that the Vikings will stick with Ponder, then the Redskins are looking at being in position to control traffic on the quarterback demand at the top of the draft.
Depending on who does and does not come out of college early, I would at least consider not taking a quarterback high in the first round. There’s a number of guys the Redskins should not pass on, but Justin Blackmon or Trent Richardson may make a lot more sense for the Redskins than Ryan Tannehill, all else equal. I think the need there is greater. And while I believe there are quarterbacks that the Redskins should not pass on, any of those players being in the draft relies on an early committment. And I think Redskins fans need to understand that.
After the third round, I think the Redskins should start looking at offensive line and defensive talent, but the focus before that should be entirely on offensive skill players. Ask yourself: if we take the top 100 players out of this draft class, can the Redskins add enough pieces to their OL and defense to be competitive next year? I think they can. Can you take the top 100 players out of this draft class and have the Redskins get enough RB and WR help to compete? I don’t think they can. All I can ask for is a strong set of triplets from this class, whether it is Justin Blackmon, Ryan Tannehill, and Isaiah Pead, or Robert Griffin, Doug Martin, and Marvin McNutt, or Nick Foles, Kendall Wright, and David Wilson. Three players to handle the football for the next eight years and grow together as the hope in Washington.
And then address the weaknesses with the rest of the team.