The draft remains the focal point in the NFL and, therefore, is the topic of the week. I'll take a look at the likelihood the Washington Redskins draft defense in the first round, Scot McCloughan's draft misses and the impact of Chris Culliver's knee injury on the draft. Thanks to @Papa_Bear_51, @mcollyer71, @stevenbradford, @stew_PDM, @ThUgNiF1c3nT, @FoFotyFo and @dchomer4life.
On the chances the Redskins go offense in the first round. Well, it’s a 50-percent chance considering it’ll be either offense or defense. But, snarkiness aside, I still see them going defense. There is no pressing area they must address offensively. Yes, they would like to upgrade center and Alabama’s Ryan Kelly would be an intriguing option. But they also will consider Spencer Long switching to the position in the spring, just to see if he can handle the job. Drafting a center in the first round seems a bit unlikely given what else might be available that pairs with their needs. They need another running back, but Ezekiel Elliott would be gone by then most likely and by all accounts the next best choice, Derrick Henry, won’t go in the first round. And then there’s receiver. While I advocate taking one to improve depth and prepare someone for next season when they might lose either DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garcon to free agency, I have a tough time seeing them take one in the first round. Again, if someone they love falls to them, then all bets are off. I anticipated them taking a defensive player last year at No. 5, even knowing Brandon Scherff was an option. But they really need an infusion of good, young talent defensively -- especially along the line. They’re well aware of this. Some goals I know Scot McCloughan had for this offseason: get younger along the line and keep looking for pass rushers. He’s also big on believing you can never have enough corners. That doesn’t mean they’ll automatically go defense, but, based on conversations I’ve had, I’d put the chances around 75 percent right now. There is good defensive talent available and that’s what they need more than anything.
On whether or not Scot McCloughan has ever had a bad draft. Of course. Anyone in his position will have picked some real clunkers -- even guys like Ron Wolf and Bill Polian had bad drafts. Bobby Beathard missed on guys, too. It’s what you do over the long haul and other moves you make that also matter. And when you’re evaluating people, you will always get some wrong. Always. In San Francisco, McCloughan’s 2008 class was brutal. The best player from the ’08 class: receiver Josh Morgan. Kentwan Balmer was the first pick. McCloughan’s ’09 draft was mixed -- Michael Crabtree in the first round; Ricky Jean Francois in the seventh. But there were some big misses, too. So, in other words, he’s human. I’ll take his drafting record over the long haul, but there will be misses. It's why you must be good at building depth and finding undrafted free-agent gems.
On Chris Culliver's knee injury and draft implications. Culliver might not be ready until the start of the regular season, which means he won’t be sharp for a while. Even he acknowledged after the season that it takes a year to recover your form -- he went through this with his other knee in 2013. The Redskins' other corners as of now are Bashaud Breeland (solid, continues to get better), Will Blackmon (veteran they like for versatility; he will play some safety, too) and Quinton Dunbar (still learning the position, but promising). If they ask me, I’d tell them to draft a corner in the first three rounds just to add more young talent at a premium spot. Dunbar is the wild card here; if he improves, then he lessens the need. But they won’t know that until the spring and likely the summer. Therefore, draft another one and develop a deep group if nothing else. You always need depth here. They know this and while they’re optimistic about Dunbar, they’re also not assuming anything. Also, for those wondering, I'd take a minimum of one corner and one safety in this draft. One reason they're waiting on re-signing Dashon Goldson is because they want to see what happens in the draft and how pressing their need is for another safety. First-round corner options: Eli Apple or Mackenzie Alexander. Apple has more of the length they favor; Alexander isn't as big, but is excellent in press coverage.