Washington Redskins: Lamarcus Joyner

Taking a look at the different areas the Redskins might address defensively:

Pass-rusher

The case for: The Redskins’ pass rush the past two years has been spotty at best. Does anyone really think it’s solved just by the addition of Jason Hatcher? If something happens to him, will the Redskins have the interior push they hope, and need, to have? Also, if they’re not sold on Brian Orakpo long term then they could draft an outside linebacker, use him as a situational rusher and then groom him to take over. And finding a pass-rusher could mean a guy who plays inside, not necessarily as a linebacker.

The case against: At 34, there might be better value at right tackle than at pass-rusher. They could always trade down to accumulate more picks and take one at each spot. They do have a desire, if possible, to add one. They do have two starting outside linebackers already and two backups in Rob Jackson and Brandon Jenkins.

Names to watch: Jeremiah Attaochu; I do know they like him and feel he’s a good all-around outside linebacker. Kyle Van Noy, though I get the feeling that he might end up playing more inside in the 3-4, but he’s versatile and instinctive. Trent Murphy is another, but I can’t imagine they’d pick him this high – and he can probably be had in the third round. I don’t have a good sense on Ra’Shede Hageman or Stephon Tuitt. Hageman looks the part and occasionally dominated only to end up with only two sacks. Tuitt recorded sacks, but is projected as more of an inside rush guy – nothing wrong with that. But inconsistent effort left some scratching their heads. Kony Ealy is still available, too, and highly thought of by analysts.

Inside linebacker

The case for: While they have options to replace London Fletcher, it’s still uncertain not only who will win the job but who will hold it beyond this season.

The case against: This isn’t a good spot to find what they need. While Chris Borland was a tackling machine at Wisconsin, certain styles (wide open) gave him problems. In the right system he’ll be a strong player, a tone setter who is physical. The Redskins could use a guy like him, but I’m not sold that he’s a fit.

Names to watch: Borland in Round 2. But at No. 34 would be a stretch. This could be a position the Redskins address Saturday.

Defensive backs

The case for: While the Redskins have their top three corners, it’s not like this is one of the best groups in the NFL. So there’s room for improvement if possible. And they only have two safeties under contract for next season (Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo).

The case against: This is a good draft for corners, so there’s no need to get one at 34 unless a player such as Bradley Roby had fallen to them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they drafted one later. The two best safeties projected as second rounders both went in the first.

Names to watch: It’s hard to imagine the Redskins using a second on a safety – and maybe not even a third. Terrence Brooks and Lamarcus Joyner, both from Florida State, might go in the second but the Redskins need to look elsewhere in this round.

Offseason needs: cornerback

March, 7, 2014
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The Redskins already re-signed corner DeAngelo Hall last month, but the work here isn't over. Far from it.

Why it’s a need: The Redskins have only two corners under contract capable of playing a lot in an NFL game in Hall and David Amerson. The Redskins need to find someone who can play in the slot as neither Hall nor Amerson is best suited for that job. Hall played there two years ago, but it was a struggle. I used this stat a couple weeks ago, but it’s indicative of what a team needs: Amerson, as the No. 3 corner, played 67 percent of the defensive snaps last season. Josh Wilson and E.J. Biggers are free agents. I can see Biggers returning, but not Wilson.

In-house options: Maybe Chase Minnifield improves and can help and maybe Richard Crawford shows that he’s healthy after his knee injury and will contribute again. But, for now, both are question marks. Crawford showed good improvement last summer, particularly in the slot where his patience enabled him to mirror the receiver well. Minnifield showed tenacity in press coverage during the summer, but struggled when in zone or off-man coverage. It takes time to learn for some players. I have a feeling one of them will be able to be a solid fourth or fifth corner.

Free-agent options: The one player who could be intriguing is New England’s Aqib Talib, if the Patriots somehow let him get away. Talib has remained close with Redskins secondary coach Raheem Morris, so if he decides to leave, and the money is right, then perhaps he’d come to Washington. Talib would give the Redskins versatility, with an ability to play inside or out. The Redskins could use another quality corner in a league where three is a must. Biggers is an option, but he’s best as a fourth corner, but would provide good depth. I also like Carolina’s Captain Munnerlyn to a degree, but only if he’s asked to play inside (he did both in Carolina but worked a lot in the slot. At times he’d get off-balance, but was overall solid inside). He’s small and at some point the Redskins need to find a bigger corner.

Draft options: It’s a good draft for corners, so even if the Redskins sign one in free agency, they could be tempted to select another one in Rounds 2-4. Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner and TCU’s Jason Verrett are two possibilities, though both are small. It’s OK to draft a smaller player if he’s that good. But the ideal would be around 6-foot and both of these players are around 5-foot-9. Nebraska’s Stanley Jean-Baptiste is a bigger corner, but he’ll have to learn to play off, too. It’s not as if the Redskins will only use press man. Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is likely a first-round pick, though he could sneak into the second. Overall, there are probably 15-20 corners who could go in the first four rounds.

In case you missed it

Monday: Receivers

Tuesday: Linebackers

Wednesday: Safety

Thursday: Defensive line

Combine leftovers from Polian, Clayton

February, 26, 2014
Feb 26
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A few combine leftovers of note that could be applicable to the Washington Redskins:

Former general manager and current ESPN NFL Insider Bill Polian listed 14 players Insider among those he considered the most impressive. A handful of them might be available when the Redskins make their first choice with the 34th overall selection.
Odell Beckham Jr., WR, LSU: This is a very explosive player. He ran a good 40-yard dash time (4.43 seconds, tied for seventh among receivers) and a really great triangle drill (6.69 seconds, tied for sixth among WRs). He has good hands and runs explosive routes.

Brandin Cooks, WR, Oregon State: He has great speed (his 40 time of 4.33 was the best among receivers at the combine), great skills and great separation quickness, which will likely be enough to overcome his size (5-foot-10, 189 pounds).

Beckham probably solidified a first round selection with his speed at the combine, which confirmed what scouts had anticipated. He's fast. Cooks, too, could be a late first-round pick; entering the combine he was pegged as someone who could go there or early in the second. ESPN's Mel Kiper listed Cooks among his risers Insider after the combine. Among Kiper's fallers? LSU receiver Jarvis Landry, thanks to his 4.77 in the 40.

Polian then listed two defensive backs that should be intriguing, even if the Redskins should have its starting corners in DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson. However, consider this: Amerson played 684 snaps last season as the No. 3 corner; that's 67 percent of the snaps. If you don't have three solid corners, you're in trouble.

So here are two guys, Jason Verrett and Lamarcus Joyner, who should be around after the first round. The only problem is that Verrett is 5-foot-9, though he moves so well, and Joyner is only 5-foot-8 and might be limited to playing a slot corner and returner (or perhaps safety). But, still, Polian liked them and had this to say:
Lamarcus Joyner, CB, Florida State: A very good college player with really good instincts, Joyner confirmed Tuesday in Indianapolis that he can run well.

Jason Verrett, CB, TCU: He is a really good cover cornerback with outstanding speed (he ran a 4.38 40, tied for second-best among corners) and the ability to stick to receivers in man-to-man coverage.

Finally, here's a tidbit from John Clayton's final observations from the combine that makes a lot of sense to me.

Again, the Redskins want and need more receiver help. Doesn't mean they'll spend big, but with Josh Morgan and Santana Moss both free agents they definitely have spots to fill.

Clayton makes the case, as I would as well, that the draft provides a terrific option:
This receiver class will hurt free agents at the position: With Hakeem Nicks being a slight question mark coming off two years in which he struggled with injuries, there are no great receivers in free agency. Last year it was easy to see Mike Wallace was going to get the most money. He was a No. 1 receiver with speed. Most of the free-agent receivers this year fit more into the slot.

Many of the top receivers in this year's draft project to be No. 1 receivers in the future. [Sammy] Watkins is clearly the best receiver to hit this league since A.J. Green of the Cincinnati Bengals and Julio Jones of the Atlanta Falcons. The draft is loaded with great receiving prospects -- Watkins, Mike Evans of Texas A&M, Odell Beckham of LSU, Marqise Lee of USC, Kelvin Benjamin of Florida State and Brandin Cooks of Oregon State. Teams may prefer the potential of drafted receivers over the track records of the receivers available in free agency.

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