The NFL's annual scouting combine is underway in Indianapolis and will stretch from now until Tuesday afternoon.
What does it mean? That's hard to define. I'm not sure if there is one right answer to that question, but clearly it is an important information collection period.
The process began many months ago, but one thing I am keeping an eye on based on conversations with a lot of different sources and analysts in terms of the Redskins is:
I. Will the Redskins find a top flight defensive back in Indy?
- They still need two in my eyes, despite signing DeAngelo Hall to a new deal well before he hit the open market and unrestricted free agency. Anybody that has a problem with the deal, should reevaluate how they watch football. Hall was very good last year, and the thought that the Redskins should not re-sign players from a (3-13) team is preposterous.
Free agency will bring at least one dose of fresh blood, probably two. A hybrid safety to keep an eye on for the Redskins might just be Carolina's Mike Mitchell.
The draft is loaded with defensive backs that fit the trend the Seahawks created with taller, more physical bump-and-run guys who can also play off-man and actually tackle.
In talking to a couple of my draft analyst friends on ESPN980 this week,Josh Liskiewitz of GMJr.com and RussLande.com touted the praises of Clemson's Bashaud Breeland, who Liskiewitz said no matter what he measures in at - plays and looks like he's 6'2".
"He looks every bit like Richard Sherman aesthetically. He looks 6'2", 215 and he plays like it. He's so physical at the line of scrimmage. He can simply knock wide receivers right over, with his jam. He's fluid in coverage. He can track. He can run probably a little bit better than Darqueze Dennard from Michigan State. "Bashaud Breeland is the guy to pay attention to this week." Not only is he big, but I think he has the complete game," Liskiewitz said. "He's that strong, he's that physical. He certainly has length."
Ryan Lownes of DraftBreakdown.comsays "I wasn't blown away" by any of the taller, physical corners that were gathered at the Senior Bowl. He did mention Virginia Tech CB Kyle Fuller, a six foot plus corner. Another guy to keep an eye on is Florida State's Lamarcus Joyner, a hybrid safety/cornerback.
Mike Mayock of the NFL Networkdid a fantastic conference call before the combine started and highlighted another defensive back that the Redskins could absolutely be in the hunt for.
"My favorite nickel (slot CB) in the draft is Jason Verrett from TCU, and the only reason I wouldn't say he's a top 20 pick is because of his size. He's 5 9, he's probably 185, but he's ideal for the slot because he's quick footed, he's tough, and remember, the slot guys, what gets overlooked is you have to tackle and this kid is a tough kid even though he's undersized. I really like Verrett. And I think the other guy that's kind of interesting and I've got him listed as a safety is Lamarcus Joyner from Florida State. He played corner. I think he's a little bit like Tyrann Mathieu in that he was a corner in college, but I think he's going to have to kick inside and either be a safety or a nickel or both and he's an explosive kid like Tyrann Mathieu. Those are the two guys right off the top that I like at nickel."
Defensive backs do not work out until Tuesday but arrive in Indianapolis this weekend for interviews, medicals and measurements.
The Redskins made a series of roster moves here on Tuesday at Redskins Park, and while no move was terribly shocking or unexpected, the team officially parted ways with Malcolm Kelly.
Kelly, was waived with an injury settlement, after not being able to practice for almost the entire month of August, with a bruised foot.
It was a matter of when, not if. Kelly knew it. Mike Shanahan knew it. The world knew it.
It was really sad, watching Kelly just stand around. Knowing, that it just wasn't going to work. Not here, not now.
“When I hurt my foot, I was like, ‘Alright, whatever.’ I got upset a little bit, but then I was like, ‘It is what it is.’ Nobody had to tell me. I’m smart enough.”
Kelly caught 28 passes as a member of the Redskins, in a career hampered by injury. The Redskins once thought they may have been getting the next Andre Johnson http://bit.ly/9jZzjr, but the only thing they really took away was the "O" in Johnson's name.
As in virtually, zero. 28 catches, 365 yards, NO touchdowns - for the Oklahoma product who was taken two spots after Philadelphia's DeSean Jackson.
Kelly's shining moment? An 84-yard catch and run from Jason Campbell in the final game that he played as a member of the Redskins in San Diego. That was also Jim Zorn's final game. Jason Campbell would never play for the Redskins again. While we are at it, oh that's right -- the mastermind of the 2008 draft, Vinny Cerrato -- well he was already gone for that game. The Vinster, was fired two weeks before by Dan Snyder.
You remember that draft, right? Devin Thomas, # 34 overall. Gone. Fred Davis # 48 overall, still here and quite alive, but still one pick ahead of Jackson, who was selected 49th overall out of California. The Redskins then took Kelly at # 51 overall, and well, disaster was lurking.
The 2008 draft is why Vinny Cerrato is doing what I do for a living. The Redskins did not have a first round pick that year. The organization did have a third round pick, who lasted even less time then Thomas and Kelly in Washington.
That would be...wait for it....TA-DA....Chad Rinehart. El Rhino! That's really all you need to know.
Technically, Kelly still might be a part of the Redskins organization -- at least for a little while.
Per the Washington Post, "The exact term for Kelly’s release is “waived injured.” Under collective bargaining agreement rules, Kelly — as a player released while injured — would be added to an injured reserve list if he clears waivers, as expected. Once Kelly is physically sound in the judgement of team physicians, he would be released."
That part is interesting, of course. Malcolm won't say it -- but he was BEYOND frustrated with what he felt was the mis-handling of his injury last year. Kelly was ready to go and fully healed in his words over many conversations I had with him, by Week 3 of the season - yet because he practiced one time; on the very first day of Mike Shanahan's first camp - he was DONE-ski.
He was ineligible to be put on the six-game season PUP list, that would have allowed him to try and contribute to the team in the 2nd half of the year. Instead, the choices were season ending injured-reserve or "waived injured." Clearly, that situation affected his standing forever with Washington.
Mistakes happen, but they happened in other cases as well. Mike Williams was another classic case of this. Both players expressed frustration about their respective situations, at various points in several discussions.
It's one thing to be frustrated, that's understandable. It's another to feel that you were mis-diagnosed and/or mis-treated, (physically or procedurally) and that's what both players felt strongly about.
Again, they won't say it publicly - but that is what they felt over several conversations.
I suppose, it doesn't matter now -- but that draft class and the 'Vin-dog's' .250 batting average in the first three rounds in 2008, is why the Redskins have stunk up the joint the last two years.
In addition to releasing Malcolm Kelly, the Redskins also let go of LB- Eric McBride, DB - Tyrone Grant, DB - Dante Barnes, QB - Ben Chappell, OL - Xavier Fulton, PK - Clint Stitser, OL - Corey O'Daniel and TE - Joe Torchia.
The Washington Redskins did something they rarely do -- and haven't done in seemingly forever. They got better, significantly -- without spending a penny.
They traded down, did the unthinkable, bypassed the golden boy, cashed in, changed the philosophy, reached just a tad bit, stole a gem, moved up, picked some corn, three ears to be exact, all in a row, added some DeJon (correct pronunciation is like the mustard) for flavoring, took a calculated risk, cranked up the speed, went all Chantilly (VA.) Lace on a running-back who once wore a star, took a road grater that calls himself 'truck;' tried to help not 'Hurt' the at times woeful offensive line, and actually made the passionate fan base shake their head in disbelief.
They went from 6 picks during the middle part of March Madness to just over a month later, making Redskins Nation mostly happy with an astonishing 13 picks at one time, finishing with 12 -- but how and why they did it -- is more the real story.
Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen knew they needed depth, youth, talent, versatility and warm bodies that would be willing to charge headfirst through a brick wall. Oh and it help$ that for right now and maybe for a while the Redskin$ will keep their expenditures under tight control.
They did it because that's what the great organizations do. New England does it, Philadelphia does it regularly. Pittsburgh, Baltimore -- the Giants & Colts are pretty decent at it. Mike Shanahan all but gave away their philosophy the day before Round 1, and they still got away with it.
It's astonishing how transparent Mike Shanahan was last Wednesday, during a 25-minute press conference with the media in the Redskins Park auditorium.
I remember walking away with three things specifically. They were very much looking to trade down, NOT UP, whenever they could, they were not in love with the Quarterback class at the top, and they knew they were in desperate need of stockpiling picks to be more like the teams mentioned above, which connects with the first stated philosophy.
All of the quotes used in this story were from last Wednesday's pre-draft news conference, for context and while I appreciate Shanahan being somewhat forthcoming -- I suppose another team could have walked away with some clues.
Some of them -- you have to read between the lines on, but I feel like you can do that with Shanahan somewhat easily.
Shanahan has preferences for players -- as we all know that fit his system. Smaller, lighter, more agile offensive lineman. One-cut, zone running backs. As for quarterbacks, you have to be smart, willing to work just as hard as Shanahan does, and be able to bootleg.
On the position of most importance in a lot of peoples minds, quarterback, Shanahan seemed very leery of taking a gunslinger early with a high pick, but judge for yourself.
Shanahan: “Well, number one, you better have a lot of confidence in whoever you’re drafting because you want them to be a part of your organization and team for a long time. I think there are probably more mistakes made on quarterbacks if you look through history. If it’s first, second, third round, all the way through the draft, everyone looks for something differently in the quarterbacks."
How I read that: There isn't an Andrew Luck. Can't take a chance on Newton. We like some guys but aren't sold on any to take a major chance. It's a deep class of QB's & next year, led by Luck, is expected to be even deeper.
Shanahan, Bruce Allen & Scott Campbell (who oversees all Redskins scouting) deftly traded down once in the first, three times in the 2nd from # 49 to #53 to dropping out of the 2nd round completely, while picking up a 3rd & a 4th that they didn't have to begin with.
Shanahan: “I’ve been in situations before where we haven’t had a lot of picks and all of a sudden you’ve got the 10th pick in the draft and all of a sudden you get a couple of phone calls and you make a decision you want to go back because the player you were looking for is not there. Somebody wants to move up or a couple of people want to move up and all of a sudden it’s pretty easy to make a trade. Other times, you’re sitting there hoping someone is going to call and nobody calls and the guy that you wanted just went the pick before, but you have to pick somebody. So you have to have a plan for all of those scenarios. Sometimes, maybe it’ll be the seventh or eighth pick in the draft and you’re sitting there, a guy that you think will be there is there and you want to move up and make that decision. But obviously, it’s a little bit tougher when you don’t have multiple picks, especially in the third or fourth round.”
How I read that: We're screwed in terms of moving up because the McNabb deal was a disaster, we gambled and the result was cloudy on Jammal Brown, the previous regime sucked & now we are paying the price because we don't have the ammunition we need.
The following was classic Shanahan where he gave away absolutely nothing & danced around the direct question that he was asked.
Shanahan: “Well, I’m not going to go through our philosophy, but, we have a game plan. We’ve got a game plan with free agency, we’ve got a game plan with the draft. You really don’t know how the draft is going to unfold, so you’ve got a priority of picks and, if guys are there, you may go in that direction. Your guy might be gone, you’ve got one guy you’re interested in or maybe two. Sometimes, you don’t have anybody that you’re interested in and maybe you’re interested in somebody if there is free agency at some time. We do have a plan though and hopefully it works out for us that our guys are there when we have our pick.”
How I read that: A lot of gibberish, and nothing of usefulness. Probably the way it should be, but it's Shanny at his best or worst, depending on who you talk to.
Shanahan and the Redskins were practically begging for somebody to step up & ring the phone -- and basically allow Washington to rake them over the coals.
Shanahan: “I think, like we talked about before, if somebody (that's based in North Florida, and is desperate to sell tickets) comes up and, all of a sudden, at the 10th pick, they have somebody that they want(Blaine Gabbert) and we’re willing to move back (please, we're begging) to pick up extra picks (like a 2nd rounder), yeah, that could happen very easily, especially if we get good value (like a mid round pick that we can turn in to two more picks)
How I read that: Jacksonville, Miami, New England, St. Louis any other contestants. Step right up, bend over and say 'thank you sir, may I have another.'
When the Redskins found a willing dance partner in the first two rounds (several times) they accumulated more picks then they knew what to do with. Surely they had to take a quarterback, right? With 12 picks? You have to right..Ummm
Shanahan: "This is deeper than most of the drafts that I've been in at the quarterback position. In fact, it's much deeper than I'm accustomed to since I've been in the National Football League."
How I read that: There's a lot of guys in this draft that have some good things you like, but nobody close to Sam Bradford last year (who they coveted) and because of the horrible McNabb trade -- we can't afford to have it backfire on us again. So we'll say no, nyet, nada, nothing to everyone and then people will complain about that.
So being that this is a copy-cat league -- is it your intent to try and be the NFC version of the Patriots or the new decades NFC East equivalent of what the Philadelphia Eagles have been?
Shanahan: "The two teams you mentioned, obviously, they have won a lot of football games and have done a good job in the draft, good job in free agency. To be consistently on top, that's what you have to do. You got to run an organization. You got to minimize mistakes and when you do make mistakes you got to be able to go on, jump ahead, and that's what the good ones do. That's what we'll being doing hopefully here in the near future. Limiting some of those mistakes, making some good decisions in the draft. The free agents that do come in, hopefully they're the type of quality guys that get you over the hump. Hopefully, you do your homework and you got the right type of guys, and do the things that give you the best chance to win."
How I read that: Shanahan might have been thinking 'oh boy, how do I answer this without giving away our plan' so he gave some typical Shanahan, but when I asked him the question -- you could see a different body language (at least I could) which gave me the impression that they have a philosophy that Redskins fans have been begging for.
So now the question is ....Now that you have it -- are you happy??
-Chris Russell // RussellC@Redskins.com // www.twitter.com/russellmania980
What will the Redskins do over the next three days?Nobody but the company insiders has any clue and that’s a good thing.Thankfully, Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen are a lot more difficult to read than their predecessors were.The NFL is a competitive business and too many times in the past the Redskins gave up competitive advantages by talking too much.This group has a plan with tons of contingencies and we’ll all know about all of them when the draft is over.
The Skins have so many needs it's hard to figure out where to start. We should all feel confident that early round picks won’t be used on a tight end or safety.The addition of O.J. Atogwe filled a need at free safety and Chris Cooley and Fred Davis are good enough for now at tight end.Every other position on the football team including punter is a need area.In order, I’d list the need areas as follows with a guess on a player they might pick.
Quarterback- Unless it’s John Beck, the Redskins don’t have a long-term solution at this position.The guess is that they’ll add someone they think has a chance to start sooner rather than later.If they don’t draft one in the early rounds, then it should be an indication that they either really like Beck or that they’ll use free agency to add a 2-3 year starter and wait till next year to get their young quarterback.
***Early Round Possibility***Jake Locker/Washington as a late first round pick after trading up using 2nd rounder and other picks.
Defensive Line- The Redskins front three last year was a disaster.Nose tackle is obviously a huge need.Anthony Bryant was a pleasant surprise down the stretch but they don’t view him as a space-eating full-time talent.Adam Carriker seems to be the only obvious defensive end starter at this point…they desperately need someone on the other side.This year’s draft is heavy at this position.
***Early Round Possibility***Cameron Jordan/Cal at #10 overall.Jordan played def. end in a 3-4 at Cal.
Offensive Line- The Redskins must add offensive linemen.This is the area they’ve neglected the most over the years and the results have been catastrophic.Last year’s pick of Trent Williams should provide stability at the left tackle position for years to come.They still need another tackle, a guard, and perhaps more importantly a center.
***Early Round Possibility***Derrick Sherrod/Ole Miss in the 2nd round.They would be very lucky if Sherrod were there at #41 in the 2nd round.He along with Trent Williams would give the Skins plenty of tackle talent at both the left and right spots. Sherrod has all the physical attributes with no off-the-field red flags.
Tie-Cornerback and Linebacker- Both of these positions are major need areas.Bottom line, they need two linebackers minimum.They need a pass rushing outside linebacker and another inside backer if they don’t view Perry Riley to be the answer there.At corner, Kevin Barnes could be the answer but even if he is, they need another with Carlos Rogers likely on the move.
***Early Round Possibilities*** Linebacker:Robert Quinn/UNC at #10 in the first round.He seems like a very good bet for the Skins at this spot.He’d step in and start at the other outside linebacker spot opposite Orakpo.Cornerback:Prince Amukamra/Nebraska at #10 in the first round or after a trade back to the mid-first round area.Amukamara’s short arms are a red flag for some.
Wide Receiver-The Santana Moss is no guarantee to return and even if he does, the Skins need size and speed at this position.The Skins need playmakers desperately.
***Early Round Possibility*** Julio Jones/Ala. At #10 overall.Jones would be the type of player and person the Redskins have needed for awhile.Speed, size, strength, and hyper-competitiveness rolled into one.They haven’t had a threat like him since….I can’t remember when.
Running Back- More speed at this position would be nice but Shanahan has shown reluctance in the past to invest heavily in this position.
***Early Round Possibility*** I can’t see the Skins using an early round pick on a running back.However, if somehow they worked their way back into the draft a few times while acquiring additional picks then Ryan Williams/VA Tech could be an early 2nd round possibility.
Pundit Predictions for Redskins First Round Draft Pick
The Washington Redskins hold the number 10 overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, a pick that has been deemed one of the more challenging to predict for a number of reasons.
The Redskins have various needs, and though the draft certainly provides a great deal of talent to choose from, it is hard to tell what talents will be available to the Redskins by the time the clock starts for number 10.
Some experts have suggested that the Redskins trade down, others value their current position too much. Some experts say that the Skins need to pursue a franchise quarterback, while others feel that other positions are worth more attention.
Here are what some of the NFL pundits predict the Redskins will do with their valuable top 10 selection in this year's draft.
If you've listened to me at all over the last two-plus months (and hopefully you have, otherwise I have bigger issues to deal with), you know that I feel passionately about two things when it comes to the Redskins and the NFL Draft.
# 1 -- they should trade down, preferably twice if they can make it work and try to recover both the 3rd and 4th round picks that they surrendered as part of the Donovan McNabb & Jammal Brown deals.
# 2 -- Terrell Owens used to say "I love me -- some -- me." Well, I don't really fall in too that death trap, but from a quarterback and true value/stud potential angle -- I do love Nevada's Colin Kaepernick.
Quite simply, he did it all. He's the only college quarterback to ever throw for over 10,000 yards and run for over 4,000. If you are not impressed at that point, maybe consider the 6-5, 230 ish pound frame - so you know he's not just running all over the place -- recklessly -- like say Michael Vick does. He was the top scorer of the 2011 crop of throwers when it came to the "Wonderlic" test. What does that mean? Colin has a good answer down below.
He has a rocket for an arm, along with the great speed AND most importantly, he is clean injury wise and clean reputation wise, which you can't say about every quarterback or player in this draft.
A top scouting official in the NFL said the other day to ESPN 980 via text about Kaepernick, "A lot of people are in love with the guy."
Russ Lande of Sporting News and GM JR has consistently had Kaepernick ranked # 2 among his quarterback rankings.
Yet to show you wild this process is, Wes Bunting and the National Football Post have Kaepernick rated # 8 with Florida State's Christian Ponder as the top choice. I have respect for anybody that does this for a living, but Ponder is injury prone and overall, has to be considered a disappointment in his career at Florida State.
In case you missed the entire interview, you can listen here http://redskins.ESPN980.com/ under "Redskins Audio" or if you prefer the right in-front of you method -- here are exact quotes from Kaepernick with my questions slightly edited for brevity.
CR: At this time of the year, you hear a some positives and a lot of negatives about players. What has that been like for you?
CK:"Every person in this draft, is going to be picked apart looking for their flaws. No one really wants to talk so much about what you do well, but what you do bad. goes through the positives. Going through this process, it's something you can't worry about, you just have to be yourself and be the player you know you are, and hope an NFL team likes what you are doing." CR: Have you ever had anyone say you throw the ball too hard? (Kaepernick was clocked at 59 MPH at the scouting combine, fastest of draft class)
CK: "I've had a few receivers complain. I had a couple of broken fingers where I was training at. They get used too it over time. There's a time and a place to cut it loose, and a time and a place to put some touch on it."
CR: How would you describe the "pistol offense" that Kaepernick played in at Nevada, under Chris Ault?
CK: "I would say it's a spread offense with the downhill running game of a pro-style offense. It's very unique to be able to run both sides of the field, out of the shotgun formation. There's a lot of different things you can do to try to confuse a defense in that formation."
CR: Did you do a lot of movement out-of-the-pocket throws, that Mike and Kyle Shanahan specifically like to use?
CK: "Yeah we did a lot of bootlegs, a lot of sprint outs. I would say we probably did that about 60% of the time, and drop back the other 40%."
CR: How long did it take you to feel comfortable in the system, where you could just play and not think as much?
CK:"I would say it took about a year. It's something where, when you get in that formation, the hardest part is the running game, because the running back is on you so quickly. That's the biggest adjustment you have to get used too is doing everything you have too, controlled, but fast enough where it doesn't mess with the running back's steps or spacing . The passing game is where it's easy, you can catch the ball, take a nice easy drop and start going through your progressions. So the biggest difference is the run game."
CR: How about some of the mechanical concerns that analysts and teams have about you?
CK: "That's something, I've tried to quicken it up as much as I can, but it's something I don't worry too much about. All of the workouts I've had, the coaches have said my release it's fine, it's so quick. the biggest thing is it looks different then most quarterbacks, so most people assume it's bad. Going forward, you just have to be yourself and when you get to an NFL team, you let them do what they want with you."
CR: How important was your Senior Bowl experience in Mobile?
CK: "For me, it was huge just to get that first introduction to a pro-style offense. Some of the terminology, some of the progressions they go through, which surprisingly enough -- a lot of the progressions aren't too much different then what we did. It's just called something different, and you have to get used to going under center -- which wasn't a big deal with me. I think the biggest thing is, you learn how quickly you have to pick up on things, when you are at the Senior Bowl. They're not going to walk you through everything they're going to tell you something once and you better know if from there on out."
CR: What does scoring such a high grade on the Wonderlic say about Colin Kaepernick? Does it mean anything?
CK: "I think for me, a lot of people thought I was just a running quarterback and didn't go through progressions and didn't check protections or audible or anything like that. I think it lets everybody know, I am not just an athlete out there, I'm a quarterback. I'm very intelligent. I'm capable of going through progressions, checking, audibling, making sure the offense is in the best position to be successful."
CR: Is there any QB in the NFL now, that you model your game after?
CK: "I wouldn't say there is one player I model my game after. I try to steal my favorite bits and pieces of every NFL quarterbacks games, and try to put it in to my own unique style."
CR: I've seen you at ESPN, on Sport Science, NFL Network and for a photo shoot at the Brooklyn Bridge in NYC. Has this been a fun time for you?
"It's been an amazing process for me. I think with opening up a few peoples eyes at the Senior Bowl and the combine, some of those things have come along. My agency, X-A-M Sports, has done a great job for me, marketing me -- and just really making sure I'm in the best position to be successful going through this process. So there's a lot of hard work from a lot of different people going in too this."
CR: The other day you were tweeting about going to "Red Robin" to eat with Nevada TE Virgil Green, did you put them out of business?
CK: "No we definitely had a good time, we ate quite a bit. I ended up eating my food, and a few extra baskets of fries. He ended up ordering two entrees and eating both of them. We're definitely big eaters."
Earlier this week, as part of our 'Road to the Draft' here at ESPN 980 and Redskins Radio -- I had a chance to catch up with some of the players that will be having their names called beginning on Thursday April 28th.
During all the "March Madness" that has engulfed the country over the last several weeks, you may not be aware of all of the uncertainty and 'madness' that is building for an event that is not even taking place until late April.