In a division dominated recently by Eli Manning, Michael Vick and Tony Romo, the Washington Redskins realized they couldn't compete in the NFC East without a star at the position.
The sacrifice, three first-round picks and this year's second-round selection, will be worth every penny, coach Mike Shanahan said. The Redskins had been slotted to draft sixth, but pushed their draft chips to the Rams to assure they'd land one of the two elite quarterback prospects of the 2012 draft. Expectation is the Redskins will bring electric Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III on board, but management maintains the pick isn't theirs to make just yet -- it's still in the hands of the Colts, who could take Griffin or Stanford' s Andrew Luck No. 1.
General manager Bruce Allen has never been shy about spending owner Daniel Snyder's money during free agency and this offseason was no different, even in an offseason in which the NFL stripped Washington of a large chunk of salary-cap space for misuse of the cap two years ago.
Building a pass-catching nucleus around their future quarterback was clearly a priority with Shanahan entering his third season at the helm.
The Redskins have finished last in the NFC East with Shanahan as the head coach and are just 11-21 during that time.
The defense is in good hands with coordinator Jim Haslett, though help in the secondary and finding replacements for inside linebackers London Fletcher, Rocky McIntosh and Keyaron Fox -- all unsigned -- rates as a priority.
The Redskins enter the 2012 draft with seven selections. Beyond the No. 2 overall pick, the Redskins will have to be sure to find a player who can help immediately with the sixth selection of the third round (No. 69, overall).
Five picks Mike Shanahan should contemplate:
QB Robert Griffin III, Baylor (NFLDraftScout.com overall ranking: 2)
Donovan McNabb is in the vast minority that RG3 won't be an ideal fit in Mike and Kyle Shanahan's version of the West Coast system, which requires accuracy, arm strength, mobility and intelligence from the quarterback position.
Don't discount Griffin's charisma as another factor in why the reigning Heisman Trophy winner would be an ideal fit. The franchise desperately needs a face of the organization beyond owner Dan Snyder.
Considering the weapons already signed in place to put around him, Griffin could enjoy a more memorable rookie season than Andrew Luck, widely anticipated to be the Colts' choice as the first pick.
OT Jeff Allen, Illinois (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 77)
At first glance, the Redskins seem stable at offensive tackle. Trent Williams has shown flashes of the form that pushed the Redskins to draft him No. 4 overall in the 2010 draft, but is just one failed drug test away from a year-long suspension.
Furthermore, veteran Jammal Brown hasn't been the steadying force the Redskins expected after adding the former New Orleans Saints' standout. Willie Smith, an undrafted free agent signed last year out of Memphis, played well when given the opportunity but the team still may look to the draft for reinforcements.
Allen is rising up the board as the draft approaches and has the athleticism Shanahan prefers at the position. He'd be considered a bit of a reach at No. 69 overall, but better to be in that position than investing all of those picks in a trade up for a quarterback the line cannot protect.
ILB James-Michael Johnson, Nevada (NFLDraftScout.com ranking 118)
The current ILB situation could be remedied quickly should the seemingly ageless London Fletcher re-sign. If he doesn't, the Redskins are stoked about the potential of third-year linebacker Perry Riley, who started eight games and saw action in all 16 contests last season.
Nevertheless, the physical tone-setting Johnson would make sense as a fall-back option with one of the team's two fourth-round picks, No. 102 and 109 overall.
FS Brandon Hardin, Oregon State (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 125)
Having cut ties with each of last year's starting safeties -- LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe -- because of injuries, the Redskins addressed this position in free agency, signing former Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather and agreeing to a deal with Madieu Williams.
Hardin, a former cornerback at Oregon State, missed the entire 2011 season with a shoulder injury but is viewed as a prospect with intriguing upside.
DT/NG Hebron Fangupo, BYU (NFLDraftScout.com ranking: 168)
The Redskins have a solid defensive line but every club is looking to develop interior linemen, especially those with the strength and frame to handle the invaluable nose guard position.
What Fangupo lacks in name recognition among fans, he makes up for with strength and tenacity.
Some clubs have concerns about Fangupo's health, which could push him down the board a bit. Assuming they do not have the same concerns, the Redskins could pounce if they see him available with their sixth-round pick, No. 173 overall.
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