With the draft still a few months away, opinions will change and shift and go back and forth between players. But right now it's hard to ignore two juniors: Kellen Winslow and Sean Taylor, both of Miami. At No. 5, the Redskins would get exceptional value from picking either one.
But will they? Or can they afford to? With so many other pressing needs, it might be hard to justify Washington selecting a tight end or a safety. Yes, both spots have holes that must be filled. Yet the Redskins had a major hole at safety two years ago and had the NFL's fifth-best defense. They need a stud defensive lineman in the worst way. Free agency could be the way to fill that hole.
They haven't had a top tight end in a while, but they need a running back (if Michigan's Chris Perry falls to the second round, snatch him in a heartbeat).
At least a tight end would give them something they haven't had in forever and pose so many matchups problems for a defense it would be ridiculous. Safeties haven't had to cheat toward a Redskins tight end in years. Imagine them having to do so now, freeing up Laveranues Coles, and Rod Gardner, on the outside even more.
Here's the thing: Winslow could eventually become the best at his position. Just see what Todd Heap has done for Baltimore's offense. And check out the playoff game vs. Tennessee to see his impact, when he caught a long touchdown pass to tie the game. The Titans put a safety on him, so Heap went long as he's supposed to do. Put a linebacker on him and he'll do the same. Put a corner on him and he can beat him inside because of his size. It's a matchup nightmare.
As for Taylor, my stance on safeties always has been that they're a final piece. You start with the line, go to cornerbacks then linebackers and finally safety. The Redskins have zero players up front worth getting excited about and there are two ends in this draft who will get heavy, heavy attention.
But here's the argument, right now, for Taylor. Scouts are saying that he might be better than Dallas' Roy Williams -- and he's the best impact safety to come around in a while. Baltimore's Ed Reed ranks high on that list, too. If Taylor is better then those two, he immediately transforms a defense. Look what Rodney Harrison has done for New England's defense (of course, he also has Richard Seymour up front).
OK, Taylor's tackling can be a bit sloppy, but the guy possesses two qualities every safety now needs: great range and an ability to line up as a linebacker on occasion. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams loves using his safeties in that manner and the Redskins lack two players of that caliber now.
If all things are equal, the Redskins need to look up front first; they won't improve until their defensive line does. But if Taylor is ranked far and above the other defensive players, then he could be the guy. To be a special defense, the Redskins need special players. Taylor is that kind of a guy.
The big problem is paying a safety that kind of money. But paying Williams a lot of money has worked well for Dallas. Also, Joe Gibbs never had a stud safety in the past -- but he always had solid defensive linemen. That could work against Taylor as well. Thing is, Taylor has too much talent to ignore. So, too, does Winslow.
Redskins Look for Exceptional Value
Breaking Burgundy Top Stories
Morning Manny: 2017 NFL Draft RankingsManny Benton ranks his top-five defensive draft prospects for the Washington Redskins at positions of need, including LB where Temple's Haason Reddick leads the pack.
Breaking BurgundyYesterday at 6:53 AM
Morning Manny: 2017 NFL Draft RankingsManny Benton ranks his top-five offensive draft prospects for the Washington Redskins at positions of need, including QB.
Breaking BurgundyMonday at 6:06 AM
Quick Move: Redskins Add Veteran ReceiverFormer Rams second-round pick Brian Quick is the newest receiver for the Redskins.
Breaking BurgundyFriday at 7:35 AM
The Potential Flaw In Manusky's PlanThe Redskins need a nose tackle. It sounds like that might come via the NFL Draft. Ben Standig on why that's a risky plan.