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Hard to be sure, but Redskins seem to have found value, areas of need in NFL Draft

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Sports,NFL,Redskins,John Keim

Picks hard to judge right now

1 It's difficult to gauge a draft immediately afterward. Two years ago the perception was that Washington would find numerous starters from its 12-member class. Now it looks like it might have found two starters -- Ryan Kerrigan and Jarvis Jenkins (if Adam Carriker isn't ready) -- and a few key backups. That's good but not great. This class? The Redskins stressed playmakers, something every team could use. Because of their depth, the Redskins could take a shot or two on a player they might not have ordinarily. They also opted for players who would have gone higher if not for an injury (running back Chris Thompson, linebacker Brandon Jenkins) or off-field concerns (safety Bacarri Rambo). It's asking a lot for all these players to come through, but if a couple of these value picks do, then the Redskins' draft could look a lot different. Thompson, in particular, gives them something they could use: a speed back on third downs. Evan Royster is not best-suited for that role, and Roy Helu lacks durability (though Thompson is coming off two serious injuries in college, so that could be an issue as well).

2 Cornerback David Amerson has a ways to go to become a complete player. But the Redskins don't quite need the second-round pick to be one just yet. They have two starting corners in DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, and if Amerson isn't ready to help much, then E.J. Biggers can serve as a third corner. Amerson has excellent ball skills and good measurables (size, speed), so there's reason to be optimistic. But he absolutely must improve against the run and with his tackling and also become a little more disciplined. Otherwise he'll be boom or bust.

3 Tight end Jordan Reed is an intriguing prospect because of his athleticism. He can become a mismatch for defenses because he's more of a glorified receiver than a traditional tight end. Reed runs well after the catch and is more nimble than most big guys. He routinely made the first defender miss at Florida. But the converted quarterback needs to get a lot stronger and refine his technique to become a quality blocker. It's a big weakness right now, though in the open field or on the move he fares better.

4 The Redskins wisely added two young safeties, one of whom ultimately could become a starting free safety. Could either Phillip Thomas or Rambo become an opening game starter? It's not impossible, but it's asking quite a bit. Thomas played a lot of strong safety at Fresno State and must learn the nuances of free safety in the NFL; that means anticipating plays and routes based on alignment. And that takes time. But in both cases, these picks represented good value at an area of need. That's how you build a roster.

5 The Redskins still have a few minor needs such as another young inside linebacker. But they like Keenan Robinson, and he eventually could become London Fletcher's replacement. They did not need more young linemen as backups; if they weren't going to get an early starter at right tackle, there was no need to pick players they already had (and they want to see how Tom Compton develops at this spot). The Redskins have made 28 draft choices in three years; the key to their future is how the coaches develop this talent.

jkeim@washingtonexaminer.com

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