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2015 NFL Draft: Washington's murky future

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We conclude our pre-draft breakdown of the NFC East with a look at our rivals to the south, Washington F.C.

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This is the first year since the Robert Griffin III trade that Washington has had a first-round pick in the NFL Draft. They mortgaged their future to the Rams in the hope that Griffin would elevate his teammates to higher levels of play. That hasn't happened. After a strong rookie year that earned the team a division title, Washington crumbled. Now with some draft ammunition at their disposal, owner Dan Snyder is hoping to recapture some of Griffin's early magic and drag the team out of the NFC East basement.

Quarterbacks

Robert Griffin IIIColt McCoy, Kirk Cousins.

Key Number:

When healthy last season, Griffin's accuracy (78.9 percent) was on par with his 2012 offensive rookie of the year season (79.6 percent). Both numbers were good enough for third-highest in their respective seasons. [via PFF]

Analysis:

It is astonishing how much talk there is about teams shooting up the board in a trade to land Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. Just three years ago, Snyder manufactured a multi-year package of picks to move up to the same spot, second overall, to ensure he landed a different Hesiman-winning can't-miss prospect. That trade stifled all development on this team for the past two years and at this point, it's still unclear as to if Robert Griffin III has worked out at all. The 2013 season was a disaster, but his numbers for 2014 paint a different picture. There still obvious issues, but I don't think Griffin is a lost cause. The team picked up his fifth-year option this week and it's the smart move. Give him this season to see if he recapture some of his early magic or use it to determine his durability as a long-term solution at quarterback.

Draft Target:

An area of need, but probably not one to address in the draft. They have three options at QB who have all seen playing time. Another young gun is not the way to go. If anything, they'd like to get rid of one of these back-ups in exchange for some late-round draft compensation.

Running Backs

Alfred MorrisSilas ReddChris Thompson, Jordan Campbell, Michael Hill.

Key number:

In his three years, Alfred Morris has rushed for nearly 4,000 yards though his average yards per attempt has dramatically declined through each year from 4.8 to 4.1 YPA.

Analysis:

Morris' career trajectory has mirrored Griffin's in many ways except in his ability to stay on the field. It's clear that 2012 was the running back's best season, but the inconsistencies in his play in 2013 and 2014 are a little puzzling. Some of it can be chalked up to the defense keying on the run amid suspect quarterback play, but some of it is on the player too. Behind Morris, they have the little else as free agency saw Roy Helu pack his bags for, well, not greener pastures, but Oakland.

Draft Target:

Washington need someone to pair with Morris in order to keep the running game smooth. A change of pace back who offers something in the passing game is an absolute necessity in this upcoming draft considering the question marks that remain at quarterback. This team will have to rely on the run a lot this season and the addition of a second- or third-round complimentary back would grease the defense for big plays and give this offense a little bit of much-needed range.

Offensive Line

Trent WilliamsShawn LauvaoKory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tom ComptonMorgan MosesJosh LeRibeusTyler LarsenSpencer Long, Ty Nsekhe.

Key Number:

Trent Williams has finished as a top 12 tackle for pass blocking efficiency in each of the last four seasons.

Analysis:

While that statistic may look good, things aren't so bright for everyone inside of the left-tackle. Tom Compton is a liability at right-tackle and should be pushed for a starting spot in training camp by last year's third-round pick, Morgan Moses. Chris Chester and Shawn Lauvao are mediocre guards who could be upgraded. Replacing either with a punishing run blocker would drastically improve this line.

Draft Target:

Mock drafts everywhere could go up in smoke if Washington beat the Giants to Brandon Scherff (Iowa). It would be a great investment in their running game and some extra protection for their injury-prone quarterbacks couldn't hurt. While they do have other needs, I think this would be a home-run (cue Alfred Morris' touchdown celebration).

Tight-Ends

Jordan ReedNiles PaulLogan Paulsen, Chase Dixon.

Key Number:

Washington TEs have combined for just 15 touchdown receptions since 2011. In that same span, Rob Gronkowski has 44 touchdown receptions.

Analysis:

TEs are not asked to pass-block often here but considering they see a lot of snaps, they are required to run-block; an area which needs a lot of improvement. Pass-catching TEs are generally pretty poor at this so it's no surprise that "tweener" types like Jordan Reed and Niles Paul have struggled.

Draft Target:

Maxx Williams (Minnesota) may be too rich for their blood in the second round, but Tyler Kroft (Rutgers) could be a worthwhile late-round pick as a situational player who can bring something to both the run game and the passing game.

Wide-Receivers

Pierre GarconDeSean JacksonAndre Roberts, Ryan GrantRashad Ross.

Key Number:

DeSean Jackson averaged 20.9 yards per reception in 2014 [via PFF].

Analysis:

This seems like a good collection of No.2 wide-receivers who lack a clear cut every snap player. Jackson has had a few 1,000+ yard seasons but he's never going to be a 100-catch possession receiver. Pierre Garcon fits that mold but doesn't have the consistent production to back it up.

Draft Target:

They will most likely have a shot at drafting either Amari Cooper (Alabama) or Kevin White (WVU) but that would be a very expensive bottle of champagne for a party that's yet to get started. Andre Roberts has been underwhelming in the slot with an incredibly high drop rate of 21.21 percent. They could look to upgrade with a mid-round pick if they're particularly enamored with a potential slot replacement.

Defensive Line

Stephen PaeaTerrance Knighton, Jason HatcherRicky Jean-Francois, Chris BakerFrank Kearse.

Key Number:

Jason Hatcher was the third-best 3-4 defensive-end in terms of pass-rushing productivity last year, but the difference between him and the top guy was huge. Hatcher's 40 total quarterback pressures are only one-third of J.J. Watt's league-leading 119 pressures.

Analysis:

Hatcher is really getting up there in age and will be heading into his 10th season (second with Washington). They need a cornerstone player to take over, even potentially next year. Stephen Paea and Terrance Knighton were brought in on affordable free-agent deals so the line is in good shape for this season but there's nothing really to get excited about for the future.

Draft Target:

If Leonard Williams falls, there's a strong chance they take him and worry about their other needs later. They need to get better against the run and having the ability to put Williams next to Knighton with a rotation of Paea and Hatcher on the other end would turn a weakness into a strength.

Linebackers

Ryan KerriganKeenan RobinsonPerry RileyTrent MurphyGabe Miller, Will Compton, Adam HaywardTrevardo Williams.

Key Number:

Presumptive starting outside linebacker, Trent Murphy, gained just 24 total quarterback pressures on 273 pass rushing snaps [via PFF].

Analysis:

Brian Orakpo departed for Tennessee, which leaves a starting role open opposite Ryan Kerrigan. The two possible options on the roster are last year's second round pick, Trent Murphy, and Gabe Miller who has just 30 career snaps since 2011.

Draft Target:

Washington would like to upgrade their edge rushers and will likely spend one of their first two picks in this area. Dante Fowler (Florida) may be in play at fifth overall, or they could snatch someone like Eli Harold (Virginia) at the beginning of Day 2.

Defensive Backs

DeAngelo Hall, Chris Culliver, Bashaud Breeland, David Amerson, Duke Ihenacho, Dashon Goldson, Phillip ThomasTrenton Robinson.

Key Number:

DeAngelo Hall is like a million years old.

Analysis:

After trading for Dashon Goldson and giving Chris Culliver the big bucks in free agency, they hope to revamp a secondary unit that hemorrhaged big plays last year. Young corners David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland were tested after DeAngelo Hall tore his Achilles twice last season (once in his kitchen while getting pizza). Amerson allowed a league-leading 10 touchdowns without recording a single interception. Clearly, a performance on par with T.C. Williams High School's Alan Bosley.

Draft Target:

After the big acquisitions of Culliver and Goldson, I don't expect them to look at any of the top guys. A mid-round pick on a versatile defensive back such as Troy Hill (Oregon) would be a wise insurance policy considering the strong possibility that their young guys could continue getting torched next season.

For more Washington coverage, make sure to check out Hogs Haven.