Redskins

Recapping the Redskins’ Draft: The New Nine

by Grant Paulsen
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(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

Grant Paulsen Grant Paulsen
Grant Paulsen is the Redskins beat reporter for 106.7 The Fan and...
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ASHBURN, Va. (CBSDC) — The NFL Draft has come to an end and the Washington Redskins have added nine players.

Washington selected a pair of quarterbacks, three offensive linemen, a linebacker, a running back, a cornerback and a safety with its assortment of selections — which spanned three days and seven rounds.

The team’s draft class will forever be remembered as Robert Griffin III’s.

The Heisman Trophy winner went No. 2 overall, with the Redskins picking him in the hopes that they have found the franchise quarterback the organization has been clamoring for over the last two decades.

Griffin has a strong arm (he completed 51 percent of his passes that traveled over 20 yards in the air, connecting on 18 touchdowns on those deep-balls), and brilliant speed (he ran a 4.41 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine). He’s also one of the most revered personalities to enter the draft in some time.

Washington didn’t make a pick in the second round. The Redskins had to package this year’s No. 2 selection — along with three first round picks — as compensation to move up four spots to draft Griffin.

In the third round the Redskins made Southern Methodist guard Josh LeRibeus their highest-drafted offensive guard since the team took Tre Johnson at No. 31 overall back in 1994.

LeRibeus describes himself as being “very quick and playing with a lot of strength.” He also said he’s “very aggressive and definitely not one to finish a play early.”

“Here’s a guy that has pretty good size, does have quickness, can play the center or the guard positions,” head coach Mike Shanahan said. “We were very happy to get him.”

Washington then made a pair of fourth round picks, including the team’s most surprising move of the day, selecting Michigan State quarterback Kirk Cousins at No. 102 overall. With the pick, the Redskins became the first team since the 1989 Dallas Cowboys to draft two quarterbacks in the first four rounds.

“Everbody knows that any time you get a quarterback like Robert with the second pick in the draft, and you give up two No.1’s and a No.2, he’s your franchise quarterback,” Shanahan said. “He’s going to be your quarterback for the next decade. He’s got everything I look for in a quarterback and a person.”

Taking Cousins just three rounds after making Griffin their highest-drafted passer in 51 years was a stunning development but it speaks directly to how impressed Mike and Kyle Shanahan must have been when they spent a week around Cousins (who played for the North team that the Redskins’ coaches opposed) at the Senior Bowl earlier this offseason.

“It is a little surprising,” Cousins admitted about being drafted to the same team that added Griffin III. “I was trying to forecast which teams would be looking at quarterback, and didn’t see the Redskins thinking along those lines, but Coach [Mike] Shanahan’s words to me were that he couldn’t pass me up.”

Drafting Cousins — viewed as a cerebral talent with plus leadership qualities — means that Washington likely added its first and second string quarterbacks of the future.

“In that fourth round, you’re trying to find people that can make your football team,” Shanahan said. “You’re two plays away from being the starter. We have to have depth on the football team to win, and you want quality. If you see a guy, a quality player, that you can get in the fourth round like we did.. I thought it was a steal for us at that position.”

With Rex Grossman still under contract, Cousins may end up serving as the team’s No. 3 throughout much of the 2012 season. The selection also meant the end of the John Beck era in Washington. The Redskins released the journeyman-passer not long after calling Cousins’ name.

“I thought I owed it to John, before the draft was over, to let John know that [he and his agent] can talk to anybody as quick as he can so that if somebody wants John instead of drafting somebody, they’d have the ability to do so,” Shanahan said.

The Redskins’ second fourth-round addition was the first defensive pick the team made.

Texas linebacker Keenan Robinson, who played outside-backer in college but will play on the inside of Washington’s 3-4 alignment, was the 119th player taken overall. “We like his speed,” Shanahan said. “We had him at the Senior Bowl. Just a quality young man. We liked the way he practiced and handled himself.”

A college teammate and good friend of Brian Orakpo’s, he’s a safe bet to contribute on special teams immediately. He’ll likely also be groomed behind London Fletcher as a future defensive starter as well.

The 6-foot-3, 235-pound linebacker played in 51 games and made 39 starts over his five-year career with the Longhorns. A two-time Butkus Award semifinalist, Robinson tallied 25 career tackles-for-loss while posting 5.5 sacks.

“The Redskins obviously run a 3-4 defense,” Robinson said. “I played a 3-4 under Will Muschamp for three years at Texas, so I definitely have a good background for the 3-4. While I was training for the Combine, training for everything, I trained for the inside and the outside linebacker so I really didn’t narrow my options.”

In the fifth round, the Redskins grabbed former Iowa Hawkeyes offensive guard, Adam Gettis. Standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 293 pounds, Gettis spent the majority of his collegiate career at right guard.

“He’s got the quickness that we look for,” Shanahan said. “[He’s] kind of like Kory Lichtensteiger, he could play center or the guard position. He’s got speed.”

By pairing LeRiebus and Gettis together in the third and fifth rounds, Washington drafted two offensive linemen in the first five rounds for the first time since 2000 (when the team drafted Chris Samuels and Michael Moore No. 1 and No. 4).

A second-team All Big-10 selection, Gettis’ draft stock was enhanced by what scouts evaluated as above-average competitiveness. “That’s what football is all about,” Gettis said. “Just getting after people, working hard, putting guys on the ground and getting back up and doing it again. That’s what I believe football is all about.”

The Redskins then continued to address their offensive needs in the sixth round, selecting Florida Atlantic running back Alfred Morris.

In addition to providing tailback depth behind 2011 draftees Roy Helu and Evan Royster, Morris said that he would look to earn a spot on Washington’s roster as a fullback. But Shanahan stated that Washington’s decision makers evaluated him as an intriguing tailback.

While at Florida-Atlantic Morris played under Howard Schnellenberger, who the Redskins drafted in the 21st round back in 1956. He is the first-ever player a Mike Shanahan coached team has drafted out of the Sun Belt Conference. Like Robinson, he played for Shanahan and the Redskins’ coaching staff at the 2012 Senior Bowl.

“I just liked his running style,” Shanahan said. “He’s got the ability to make people miss, he’s got great lateral quickness, he can cut on a dime. Now we’ll get a chance to see how he’ll come in and compete with the other backs.”

The Redskins’ second sixth-round selection was used on a third offensive lineman. The Redskins took South Dakota left tackle Thomas Compton at No. 193 overall.

Compton is just the second player the team has ever drafted out of South Dakota, joining defensive back Johnny Vann (who Washington chose with the 258th pick in the 1974 draft).

By turning in a draft-card with Compton’s name on it Washington drafted three offensive linemen for the second time in three drafts under Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen. Those two drafts mark the only two times the Redskins have picked three offensive linemen since the NFL reduced the draft to seven rounds.

“You never have enough depth on the offensive line,” Shanahan said. “I think it was big for us to get three offensive linemen that we were hoping we were going to get before the draft started. All three guys we got, we had targeted and that doesn’t happen very often. We are very happy with the depth at the offensive line.”

Having started over 40 career games at South Dakota, Compton produced 270 knock-downs / key blocks (8.44 per game) and 30 downfield blocks in his final 32 games as a college-starter. His 89.00 percent blocking consistency grade was the highest among active blockers in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.

With Trent Williams and Jammal Brown currently slated to bookend the Redskins’ offensive line at left and right tackle, Compton may enter training camp competing with 2011 free agent additions Willie Smith and Tyler Polumbus for a reserve spot on Washington’s active roster.

The Redskins then put the finishing touches on their newest draft class by adding a pair of defensive backs in the seventh round with the 213th and 217 overall selections.

Southern Methodist cornerback Richard Crawford and Iowa safety Jordan Bernstine were both the second players taken by the Redskins from their respective schools. The last time the Redskins drafted two sets of college teammates was 1992 (when the team took Desmond Howard and Matt Elliott from Michigan and Paul Siever and Terry Smith from Penn State).

Crawford will try to win a roster spot behind veterans DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson and Cedric Griffin at cornerback. The 5-foot-11, 189-pound defender is the third Mustang the Redskins have drafted in two seasons and the sixth Conference USA player selected by a Shanahan-led team.

“I knew the Redskins were really interested in me,” Crawford said. “It’s not really surprising that they picked me up because I kind of had a feeling they would in the seventh round or free agency.”

Bernstine, a safety who made 89 tackles in his final season in the Big-10, stands 5-foot-11 and weighs 205 pounds. In addition to excelling as a run-stuffing strong safety during his final season at Iowa, Bernstine ranked seventh in the Big Ten in kickoff returns (23.8 yards per return) and 10th in tackles per game (7.4) in 2011.

Six of the Redskins’ nine picks were made to help Kyle Shanahan’s offense, including six of the team’s first seven selections. Washington ended up making three trades, one before the draft and one on both the second and third day of the three-day event.

While it remains to be seen how many members of the Redskins’ newest draft class end up starting for the team this coming fall, there’s no denying that Washington was able to accomplish their goal of bolstering the depth along the offensive line and in the secondary.

The Redskins ended up drafting four of the senior bowl participants they saw first-hand in Mobile, Ala.

“It really helped us a lot,” Shanahan said about coaching in the college showcase game. “Anytime you’ve got a football team, you get a chance to be around your squad and these players all week. That’s a big advantage to get to know them. And also, being with the other squad for a day you really get a chance to be around them. That was special for us.”

Shanahan and his coaching staff will begin working with their new rookie-class on Thursday, when Washington’s first-year players will have the chance to take part in an organized rookie mini-camp at Redskins Park.

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