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Jay Gruden is ushering in a new era of Washington Redskins football, but all signs point to this one looking awfully similar to the last.
Robert Griffin III will remain the starting quarterback and the team is expected to rely on a heavy dosage of Alfred Morris and the running game. Defensively, the unit will remain a 3-4 base. The team just needs to upgrade its personnel.
The Skins struggled in a lot of areas last season, including the secondary, offensive line, and in the receiving corp. Given those specific areas, strong upgrades could make the difference between 3-13 and vying for a division title.
It’s difficult for Griffin to have a lot of success in the passing game when Pierre Garcon is the only true playmaker out there. Santana Moss will be 35 at the start of the 2014 season, and both he and Josh Morgan are impending free agents. Leonard Hankerson, who has some skills, is coming off of a torn ACL and some reports indicate the Skins don’t view him as a starting-caliber player.
Washington doesn’t own a first-round draft pick because of the RGIII swap with the St. Louis Rams two years ago, making their second-round selection all the more important. The team should look to add a receiver opposite Garcon, and because of the depth, there will be a lot of talented prospects around early in the second round. Oregon State’s Brandin Cooks or Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews both make sense as outside threats to pair with Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed.
The entire offensive line is under contract beyond this season, but the team could afford to upgrade at the interior slots. Kory Lichtensteiger struggled in 2013 and the team may want to upgrade at right tackle just to keep RGIII healthy. David Yankey and Xavier Su’a-Filo should be available in the second round if the team elects to upgrade.
On the defensive side of the ball, the team will try to sign linebackers Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley, and will have to replace London Fletcher as he heads off to retirement. Kyle Van Noy, who was a sack artist at BYU, could be available in the third round, while Jeremiah Attaochu is considered a 3-4 pass specialist and also may last a little longer. The team could also wait on Florida State’s leading tackler, Telvin Smith, as a successor to Fletcher.
Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall are both free agents this offseason and neither are locks to return to Washington, and the team must look to upgrade one of the worst secondaries in the league. Cornerbacks like Marcus Robertson, Aaron Colvin, or Kyle Fuller, a local product, could be fits toward the later rounds.
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