What to expect from the 2012 draft class

June, 24, 2014
Jun 24
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The Redskins could end up with at least three starters and perhaps four from the 2012 class. That would be considered a good haul by any measure (if they play well especially). Of course, this draft always will be measured by Robert Griffin III’s performance because of what they surrendered and the position he plays. Still, there’s a chance for the overall group to be productive.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
John McDonnell/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesRobert Griffin III, the cornerstone of the 2012 draft class, is looking to bounce back after a rough second season.
QB Robert Griffin III (first round): He’ll enter his third season as the Redskins’ starter, coming off a tough season for a variety of reasons. He has had a productive offseason, and though he had some tough days throwing the ball in practice, he’s in a better place than he was a year ago -- mentally and physically. It’s hard to imagine him repeating his 2013 season -- no knee issues; more weapons will help. Griffin wants to re-establish the career path he was on pre-knee injury. He needs to improve as a pocket passer -- not just in terms of throwing from there but in knowing when to flee, etc. -- but he also needs more help from his protection and receivers.

OL Josh LeRibeus (third round): He’s been one of the most disappointing picks in recent years because of how he handled last offseason, which led to him being inactive every game last season. But LeRibeus has had a strong offseason. This is most definitely when he should be ready to challenge for a starting job. The coaches have been pleased with him, but is he ready to unseat Chris Chester at right guard? If he’s not, then LeRibeus was way overdrafted (as some contended at the time). If you can’t unseat a struggling veteran who would save a team $2.7 million in cap space by your third year then what are you doing? Also, they drafted guard Spencer Long and signed free-agent guard Shawn Lauvao so they're clearly not sold on LeRibeus long term.

QB Kirk Cousins (fourth round): Trading him was never a legitimate option because the Redskins never received a tempting offer. Even the Browns, who had multiple people there who liked him, offered only a fourth-round pick (Kyle Shanahan can fight for him; he had zero authority over what the Browns could offer). Cousins still offers the Redskins good insurance if Griffin doesn’t hold up or if he struggles. Cousins still has to cut down on his turnovers, but there is confidence in what he can do. I do not expect him to pout about his situation. It’s not what Cousins is about. His only point all along is that he knows Griffin is the guy in Washington, and he wants a chance at some point to be that guy somewhere else.

LB Keenan Robinson (fourth round): Has a chance to start next to Perry Riley on the inside. Robinson looked good this spring, but these sort of workouts were made for him: He could showcase his ability to run and cover sideline to sideline and down the middle. But the key here always will be his ability to play the run. Still no idea how he’ll do in that role after two straight seasons that ended with torn pectoral muscles. Washington envisioned him one day taking over for London Fletcher, but the coaches figured he’d have a lot more experience behind him when doing so. Robinson has 11 career tackles. It’s fine to be excited about his potential, but no one really knows yet how he’ll handle this job. Washington has veteran depth with Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan.

OG Adam Gettis (fifth round): Has a fight on his hands. LeRibeus’ strong spring plus the drafting of Long means the Redskins might not have a spot for Gettis. Remember, too, that veteran Mike McGlynn can play guard and center. Gettis improved as a run blocker in space last summer and must continue to do so. He still has a tendency to get driven back, though still anchoring, in pass protection. The numbers might not add up for him.

[+] EnlargeAlfred Morris
Brad Mills/USA TODAY SportsAlfred Morris has rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns in his two seasons.
RB Alfred Morris (sixth round): He’s their guy and a terrific fit in this run game. Jay Gruden was smart not to change much from a ground game that works, especially with Morris in the game. He can improve as a pass-catcher (both with his hands and his routes) and he can get extra yards downfield. But he has rushed for 2,888 yards combined in his first two seasons, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be anything but productive again. I do wonder how many carries he’ll get; the knock on Gruden in Cincinnati was that he’d consistently get away from the run. With the weapons Washington has in the pass game, will that happen here?

OT Tom Compton (sixth round): Another young player in a tough spot. The Redskins drafted Morgan Moses for a reason, to ultimately start at right tackle. I’m really curious to see what happens with Compton because they do like him -- Gruden praised him without prompting at the end of minicamp. Also, if he shows improvement this summer -- he had a good camp in 2013 because he added strength, allowing him to handle counter moves better. As a rookie he struggled there because when he’d jab a defender it wouldn’t budge him. So when they’d counter or duck inside, Compton would get beat. He improved there last summer and needs to keep doing so. But, again, the numbers. Would they really keep four tackles?

CB Richard Crawford (seventh round): Still not fully recovered from his torn ACL suffered last summer. Crawford worked off to the side throughout spring workouts and feels good about his progress. He improved in the slot last summer and would have been the starting punt returner. But Washington has Andre Roberts to handle the return duties if necessary. If the Redskins keep five corners Crawford would need a lot of help to make the roster. If they keep six then he’ll have to fight Chase Minnifield. Crawford is a smart player and would make a good coach someday. But he’ll have to show a lot this summer.

S Jordan Bernstine (seventh round): He suffered a brutal knee injury in his rookie year and was only recently cleared, at least according to what he said on Twitter. He remains unsigned.

John Keim

ESPN Washington Redskins reporter

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