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Pass-Rushing Linebacker Is Redskins' Top Need


The Redskins have one elite pass rusher in outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, who has 19.5 sacks and two Pro Bowl berths to his credit.

Mike Shanahan said on Friday the Redskins need another pass-rushing linebacker to complement Orakpo in the team's 3-4 defense.

It's a priority for the club, Shanahan said.

"I think it ranks right at the top [of Redskins' personnel needs]," Shanahan said in a media briefing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

He added: "Obviously when you have any consistent defense, using the 3-4, you've got to have two great outside pass rushers, a great nose tackle and a great safety."

Certainly Shanahan is aware that two teams that run a successful 3-4 – the Green Bay Packers and Pittsburgh Steelers – competed in the Super Bowl.

Those two teams have elite pass rushing linebackers in Clay Matthews, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison, among others.

In the draft, Texas A&M's Von Miller is the top outside linebacker available, followed by UCLA's Akeem Ayers.

Miller could be off the draft board by the time the Redskins pick at No. 10. Ayers should be available.

Green Bay and Pittsburgh also have two outstanding nose tackles in Casey Hampton – a six-time Pro Bowler – and B.J. Raji.

Asked where nose tackle fits in as a team need, Shanahan replied: "You're always looking for that great nose tackle. They don't come around every day. We've got a plan in free agency, we've got a plan in the draft.

"We're just going to have to let that play out. We do have a couple of guys there, but we don't have a dominant guy there."

Shanahan said he felt better prepared to address the Redskins' needs heading into his second season with the club.

"You know what offense you're running, the type of defense you're running, you have an idea of what players fit in and what players don't," he said. "So then, when you hit free agency and the draft, you have a game plan.

"When you first come in, you're not really sure. Not sure about the people you have and the personalities. So it is a process the first year."

Shanahan indicated that the team still has "a ways to go" in terms of developing the roster.

He said several times that improving the depth across the board is another critical goal of the offseason.

"The only place we're really deep at is the tight end position," he said. "That's why we've got to have a good game plan for free agency and the draft and build it the right way. It's not going to happen overnight, it never does.

"But we're going to focus on character and guys that want to be a part of this football team long-term. We want to try to get younger. But we're not going to do it all overnight."

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