The Washington Redskins go into the NFL draft next weekend and the popular perception is that they have at least three glaring needs. It's considered unacceptable to have either Jon Jansen or Stephon Heyer starting at right tackle, relying on a tag team of Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn at left defensive end is a shaky plan at best and there isn't a starting-quality strong-side linebacker on the roster.
The Redskins can expect to have the opportunity to get an immediate starter at one of those positions on Saturday when their first-round pick comes up at No. 13. If you're reading this, you know the names—Michael Oher and Andre Smith at tackle, Brian Orakpo and Robert Ayers at end and Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing at linebacker.
Or they might elect not to take any of those players if they trade up to take USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Dan Snyder, Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn spent Friday night wining and dining Sanchez at a trendy D. C. restaurant. I don't think that they waste their time doing that unless they are serious about making a move. That doesn't mean that it will happen but it has to be considered to be a possibility.
So, two or three of the above needs will remain after the first day of the draft. You can't count on getting immediate help on the second day so come Sunday night when Mr. Irrelevant is named the Skins still will be unsettled in more than one position.
And many, if not most, NFL teams will be in the same boat. You can't fill every starting position with a high draft pick or with a premium free agent. Sometimes you have to go with someone who is just a guy.
Should the Redskins not land an offensive tackle that guy could be Jansen or Heyer or maybe Devin Clark, a rookie free agent who spent last year on the practice squad. Wynn, Daniels, and Chris Wilson could be the guys rotating at left DE. H. B. Blades was a guy who filled in at linebacker last year and didn't embarrass himself. Or another guy who could end up starting at the Sam linebacker is the recently-signed Robert Thomas, who has started 50 NFL games in six years in the league.
If you're starting just a guy, it's likely that you have to design your schemes to compensate for the average to below-average skills that your guy possesses. For this reason, the Redskins might be well advised to use their top pick on either the linebacker or the end. Since they usually are lined up on the same side of the field it makes it much more difficult to cover the weak spot.
And, again, the Redskins will not be alone if they start a couple of players who are just a guy. Virtually every NFL team has to pull a guy off the bench or sign a guy who is in low demand as a free agent and insert him into the starting lineup.
This isn't to say that this is the ideal situation. That would be to have a young player who you drafted a couple of years ago ready to step in and start. But with 22 starting positions to fill, so much player movement and the uncertainties of the draft it doesn't always work out that way. And, since the Redskins trade away so many draft picks (last year being very much the exception) they have that ready-to-go player available less often than most teams.
But if it's not ideal that doesn't mean that it's a disaster. Nevertheless, Redskins Nation is likely to be fretting and wringing its collective hands on Monday morning, lamenting unfilled needs. Chances are, though, that a few guys will end up working out just fine.