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Five thoughts: Redskins draft

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Redskins Confidential,Sports,John Keim
  1. Let’s start with the Kirk Cousins selection because it’s the most talked-about (after you know who). While not overwhelmed by the choice – and thinking, like many, that there were other directions they could, or should, go – I’m also not horrified. Cousins is not a threat to Robert Griffin III; nor will he take time away from his development. I’m also not worried that Cousins might be disappointed playing behind a young QB. He’s a fourth-round pick; no matter where he would have gone, he’d sit for a few years. And his intangibles suggest that he’ll handle his situation well. I liked some games Cousins played in college and others not so much. That’s why he went in the fourth.
  2. Look at it this way: The Redskins might have solved their quarterback situation for the next several years. While Griffin starts this season, Cousins can learn the offense and take over the No. 2 job (if he’s ready) in 2013 from Rex Grossman. No more seeking veteran solutions. Was it a wasted pick? Again, here’s a different way to view it: The Redskins added two more picks giving them nine for the draft and 21 combined the past two years (their highest two-year total since the draft went to seven rounds in 1994). They also had two fourth-round picks, so while they still have needs, the reason you add more picks is to take a chance or two. They did, using a fourth-rounder strictly for insurance purposes. Maybe Cousins improves and someone trades a higher pick for him in a couple years; then again maybe he leaves via free agency without the Redskins benefitting from any development. Both are possibilities.
  3. Two intriguing later-round picks: linebacker Keenan Robinson and running back Alfred Morris.  Robinson gives the Redskins a young linebacker who, potentially, can cover – Perry Riley struggled in this area this past season. Robinson will be helped – tremendously – playing behind London Fletcher. There is no one better for him to learn this spot from, be it player or coach, in the organization. One coach I would love to have seen with him: Kirk Olivadotti. Maybe Robinson is the latest in solid fourth-rounders by Mike Shanahan. Here’s his last eight, including his time in Denver: running back Roy Helu, linebacker Perry Riley, lineman Kory Lichtensteiger, defensive back Jack Williams, defensive tackle Marcus Thomas, receiver Brandon Marshall, linebacker Elvis Dumervil and receiver Domenik Hixon. Only Williams is not with a team and at least five of these players will enter this season as starters. Yes, that gives argument to those who didn’t like the Cousins choice. And, yes, there were other attractive options at running back and slot receiver. As for Morris, I'm anxious to see how he fares in training camp, but the 16 fumbles in college is a troubling stat.
  4. After the 2011 draft, you could see four players becoming legitimate full-time starters (not injury fill-ins) and several others as solid contributors. That would qualify as a great draft. But this one will be defined by Griffin. If they find three starters in the later rounds, but Griffin fails then it’s a bad draft (considering the price paid to get him). The good thing for the Redskins is that they’ve added so many young players the past two years, giving them young legs and cheaper labor. Now they must develop them. Will they? It requires excellent teaching and patience, something the Redskins haven’t always had. It’s hard to see this draft providing immediate dividends (aside from Griffin) this season, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Just that it’ll be tough to post a final grade on this group for a couple years.
  5. The Redskins picked two defensive backs late, but they still exited the draft with question marks in the secondary – at the No. 3 corner spot as well as both starting safety positions. Unless either seventh-rounder, corner Richard Crawford or safety Jordan Bernstine, develops quickly. That’s unlikely, so this hole appears unfilled as of now. I did like the depth added along the interior. I don’t know if third-round guard/center Josh LaRibeus can play or not; I’ve talked to some who say though he’s not athletic he does things well that work in a zone scheme. We’ll find out. But between he and fifth-round guard/center Adam Gettis, they have two players to groom. Erik Cook has not improved enough and Maurice Hurt needs to get in better shape – a lot better shape. But if one of the young new guards works out, then, in the future, they could always shift Kory Lichtensteiger to center; I like how Lichtensteiger played early last season but I can also see him as a good center someday. Or one of the guards could take over at right guard for Chris Chester, who was inconsistent at best last season. But, again, there are options.

Robert Griffin III's learning curve.

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