AP Sports Writer
WASHINGTON (AP) — Here’s a not-so-subtle message delivered by general manager Bruce Allen on the day Mike Shanahan was fired: If Shanahan had listened to his underlings more, the Washington Redskins wouldn’t be in such a mess.
This week, at the NFL draft, there’ll be another chance to find out if that’s so.
In addition to being the head coach, Shanahan had final say on all personnel matters, notably free agency and the draft. When Shanahan was dismissed after a 3-13 season, Allen decided to retain two front office employees who had toiled mostly in anonymity, giving advice on which players to pursue.
“The personnel department of Scott Campbell and Morocco Brown actually do a very good job at what they do. … To blame them, I think, would be unfair,” Allen said. “We believe that we have the right people in place.”
Both Campbell and Brown were given greater authority by Allen, with Campbell focusing on the draft and Brown handling free agency. When Campbell speaks to reporters this week, it will be his first formal news conference in his 13 years in various roles with the team.
“I think Scott Campbell running a college draft will be as capable as any personnel director in the NFL,” Allen said.
OK, Scott, the board’s all yours.
Here are five things Campbell is sure to be contemplating as the Redskins make their final preparations for the 2014 draft:
FINAL PAYMENT: The Redskins are finally paying off the final installment of the Robert Griffin III invoice, the last of three first-round picks given to the St. Louis Rams in 2012 for the chance to move up and select the former Heisman Trophy winner. It’s still too early to judge which team got the better of the trade, but the Rams are reaping a major benefit this year: Because Washington had such a lousy season, St. Louis has the No. 2 overall pick.
WAITING FOR ROUND 2: Without a first-rounder, a last-place team that could really use another impact player will have to hope it can snag one with the second pick of the second round (No. 34 overall). The Redskins could package some lower-round selections and trade up, of course, but that would make sense only if one impact player was all they needed. If anything, they need more picks, not fewer.
RIGHT TACKLE? It’s not easy to project who’s going to be around at No. 34, so Campbell and Co. can’t target one position and stick with it. Still, one of the priorities has to be the offensive line, particularly right tackle. Tyler Polumbus has held the job for two-plus years and played better in 2013, but an upgrade would help keep Griffin upright and balance a line includes two-time Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams. Possibilities include Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama, Morgan Moses of Virginia and JaWaun James of Tennessee. Even if the Redskins opt for another position in the second round, expect them to select at least one or two guard/tackle prospects in later rounds.
INSIDE LINEBACKER? Defensive captain/linebacker London Fletcher has retired. Filling his leadership role is one thing, but someone also needs to take his spot in the heart of the 3-4 defense. Starter Perry Riley was re-signed, and a trio of veterans with special teams experience — Darryl Sharpton, Adam Hayward and Akeem Jordan — were added during free agency. One of them could step up and hold down the job, but the Redskins might also be tempted by someone like Christian Jones of Florida State at No. 34.
SOMETHING ELSE? A pass-rushing defensive lineman would certainly help the cause. The Redskins got only 5½ sacks from their line last season, not counting the times when Brian Orakpo or other linebackers lined up as at defensive end, so that could be an option in the second round. Safety was also an issue in 2013, but the Redskins went heavy at that position a year ago, selecting Phillip Thomas in the fourth round and Bacarri Rambo in the sixth. Thomas missed the season with a foot injury, and Rambo struggled after winning the starting job in training camp, so it’s too early to tell whether either one is a long-term solution.
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