Pressure point: Redskins

May, 18, 2012
5/18/12
12:00
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NFC pressure points: West | North | South | East
AFC pressure points: West | North | South | East

Examining who faces the most challenging season for the Washington Redskins and why.

Trent Williams was the No. 4 pick in the 2010 NFL draft -- Mike Shanahan's first draft pick after he became the Redskins' coach. There were pre-draft questions about Williams' work ethic and focus, but the Redskins took him super-high because they saw a rare talent -- a franchise left tackle with enough athleticism, skill and technique to dominate at the position for years to come. Over the course of the 2010 season, they would see occasional flashes of brilliance, but Williams did not sustain those, and too often he struggled against the tough pass-rushers of the NFC East. In the early part of the 2011 season, he seemed to be developing greater consistency, and the Redskins began to think he would soon justify his draft position and their hopes for him.

Alas, there were injuries. And then that four-game drug suspension at the end of the year. And now Williams enters his third NFL season with a lot of those same old question marks yapping at his heels. Can he stay focused? Heck, can he stay clean? Can he take another leap forward toward or even into that elite level of which his team believes him capable? Can he project himself as a responsible leader on a young team that needs him to be among its best players? The Redskins spent four very high draft picks on Robert Griffin III as their quarterback of the future, and the protection of that investment against injury falls to Williams as much as it falls to anyone in the organization. Does Williams understand the magnitude of his responsibility?

If he gets busted for drugs again, the problems are probably not fixable. He'd be banned for a year without pay, forfeiting a tremendous amount of the money he got on a rookie deal in the final year before the implementation of the rookie wage scale. But assuming he's not going to make that same dumb mistake again, the Redskins still need more from Williams in 2012. It's not about potential anymore with Williams. It's time for him to play like one of the best in the league at his position. We've seen him do it for a game or two here and there. The Redskins need to see it for 16.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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