By: Justin Partlow
When the 2013 season ended, the reality started to set in for Redskins fans, London Fletcher was about to finally retire from playing football. Fletcher was a favorite among the fans, and was able to inspire both on and off the field. Fletcher left the game on top, and now has the ability to enjoy the rest of his retirement in happiness. Unfortunately, Fletcher’s retirement has left a big hole at ILB and the Redskins need someone who can replace him and provide value moving forward. So who could provide that? Lets take a look below
Thankful for the Redskins back in the late 2000’s, they were able to sign London Fletcher and provide one of the best and most stable forces possible at the MLB position. The Redskins could look to add that with a few players available in free agency this year. One of the obvious ones is the re-signing of Perry Riley who is also a free agent this year. Riley, who has played above average, but has shown warts in his game still, is seeking a good starting salary for him. The question comes down to value on Riley and if it is right to give him a new contract at a fair and reasonable price. Riley can prove to be a good ILB for the Redskins, he and the Redskins just need to come to a mutually agreeable price tag for each other
If Riley can’t be re-signed, then look for the Redskins to take a good long look at Brandon Spikes the ILB from the New England Patriots. Spikes has had some injury issues and isn’t the best in coverage, but what he provides is being a true “thumper” at ILB. Spikes should be able to come at fairly reasonable price comparable to other 3-4 ILB players, and if signed by the Redskins would provide a very stable presence on the inside of the 3-4 Defense.
While I expect the Redskins to fix the issue at ILB through Free Agency, I can’t rule out the possibility of the Redskins drafting an ILB to replace Fletcher as well. Here are a few of my favorites who could fill into that role and be successful.
Christian Jones ILB/OLB/DE Florida State
Jones has been a very versatile player for Florida State over his years. Jones provides something that not many other ILB prospects can currently provide, and that is coverage ability along with pass rushing ability. Jones had a down year, mainly due to FSU moving him to DE to compensate for losses of other DE’s, but don’t let that confuse you for someone who isn’t that good. In 2012, Jones was very good and showed ability to be a 4-3 SAM linebacker, or someone who could transition into a 3-4 scheme and be a rangy “Lawrence Timmons” type LB. Jones could be a very good value pick in the 3rd round
Shayne Skov ILB Stanford
Until his rough ACL Tear in 2011, Skov was seen as one of the top defensive prospects in all of college football. Skov became a household name after his dominant performance against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in 2010. Skov had a rough 2012 season as it was his first after returning from the ACL surgery, but in 2013 he started to show the same burst and ability he had before the injury. Skov isn’t a star in pass coverage, but plays with great instincts and is able to read and react well to plays. Skov is someone that again in round 3 would be a very good value and someone who you could count on day one to start.
So by looking at the draft prospects and free agency prospects, it’s easy to see that there is market to get ILB players, but it wont be easy and the Redskins will need to strike early on it. If the Redskins can add Spikes in FA and be able to re-sign Riley, then look for them to focus directly on adding pieces to the offense and secondary throughout FA and the draft. Washington is in a good spot right now, and should be able to make some serious moves in the front 7 this offseason, adding an ILB is one of those critical moves