With the Saints’ inspiring win in the Super Bowl behind us, and the NFL combine looming, draft time is in full swing. For the Washington Redskins, the main question on everybody’s mind is whether they will take an offensive tackle or a quarterback with their first round selection. There is always the possibility that they will take neither, as there will be talented players at other positions, and the Redskins aren’t really set anywhere other than Tight End. However, in all likelihood they will be looking to aid one of the worst offensive lines of all time with an elite left tackle, or groom a young quarterback to be Mike Shanahan’s guy. Both of those positions currently include two players that could interest the Redskins, who own the fourth pick overall in the draft.
At offensive tackle, those two players are Russell Okung of Oklahoma State and Anthony Davis of Rutgers. Okung might be the best pass blocker in the nation, using tremendous balance and footwork in conjunction with long arms and his 6’8″ frame. He also plays nasty as a run blocker, and is sound technically in that area as well. Davis came out early as a junior for this draft, and has the potential to be an extremely physical tackle at the next level. He’s 6’5″, 330 lbs, and moves well for his size. While his size and strength will be an asset, he will need to show more consistency and better technique to be an elite player in the NFL.
The quarterbacks who could draw the Redskins’ interest in the first round are Oklahoma’s Sam Bradford and Jimmy Clausen out of Notre Dame. Bradford is a Heisman winner, who has superior accuracy and touch. It is believed that he very well could have been the number one pick last draft had he come out early. By staying at Oklahoma for his senior year he may have shot himself in the foot. He injured his throwing shoulder not once, but twice last season, and his arm strength was already average. Bradford is also somewhat difficult to evaluate because Oklahoma was such a talented offense, with open receivers everywhere and great pass protection.
Clausen’s stock is rising and he could very well be the number one quarterback on most teams’ draft board when it’s all said and done. He shows great accuracy and intelligence, with sufficient mobility and arm strength. His touch on deep passes is also very impressive. Playing in Charlie Weis’ pro-style system at Notre Dame will give him a distinct advantage over Bradford, who played in a spread offense. That knowledge, along with his competitiveness, could make a good impression in interview sessions at the combine. He will not throw at the combine however, due to a foot injury. He and Bradford will hold private workouts that could determine which of them is selected first, being that they are very closely rated at the moment.
Whichever of these positions isn’t addressed in the first round will very likely be addressed in the second, because offensive tackle is the biggest need position and Shanahan has reportedly stated that he will select a quarterback at some point in the first two rounds. However, they could always select a guard, a runningback, or a defensive back in the second round. Also, if the Skins fall in love with some of the elite players in this draft, such as defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy, or Tennessee safety Eric Berry, they make take such a player if they somehow fall to pick number four.
The NFL draft is a fluid situation, and the NFL combine will shake up a lot of things. Keep an eye out for the Combine Recap in the blogs, as well as mock drafts and opinion pieces. Who knows how much will change between now and April.