"We can have help on the offensive line," the coach said. "We need some depth at wide receiver. The quarterback situation as well. You're always looking for that young guy possibly being a franchise guy.
"On defense, our interior defensive front, switching over to a 3-4, and also a linebacker position as well. So we've got a number of directions we can go."
Lots of ways to go, but there's one other gaping hole that inhibits Shanahan and the Redskins from getting there -- a dry spell of more than 100 selections in prime talent-gathering territory in next week's NFL draft.
The Redskins have picks in the first and second rounds (Nos. 10 and 41 overall), then aren't scheduled to be on the board again until the 144th overall selection in Round 5. The third and fourth rounds are where savvy teams go to find affordable talent that can have a significant impact in the not-too-far future, but Shanahan and general manager Bruce Allen traded away those picks last year for quarterback Donovan McNabb and offensive tackle Jammal Brown.
Giving the Philadelphia Eagles two picks for McNabb ranks as the first big mistake of the Shanahan-Allen era. Before last year's draft, Allen boasted: "When the 37th pick comes up in our draft room, there's going to be a nice cheer that we've selected Donovan McNabb."
It's safe to say there won't be any cheering this year when the second McNabb-traded pick comes around. McNabb proved to be a disappointment after not meshing with Shanahan's offense and being benched for the final three games of the season. McNabb now is in Redskins roster limbo -- the team can't trade him because player deals aren't allowed during the ongoing NFL lockout.
It's nearly impossible to imagine McNabb returning next season, but Shanahan has kept his plans to himself.
"I'm not going to go into that scenario until after the draft," the coach said. "After the draft, I'm going to talk about it."
If the Redskins only needed a quarterback, the expected move would be to maneuver their first-round selection to seek the franchise player whom Shanahan would love to have. But a team coming off a 6-10 season -- and its third consecutive last-place finish in the NFC East -- needs help on so many fronts that the more conventional wisdom has Washington trading down to acquire picks.
"Even though it looks like you don't have any picks in the third and fourth round, there's a possibility you could move back and get a couple of picks very quickly," Shanahan said.
Shanahan even outlined specifically how that could play out in New York. There are two highly touted receivers -- A.J. Green of Georgia and Julio Jones of Alabama -- and many mock drafts have Jones being available for the Redskins at No. 10.
"Let's say there's two wide receivers, and all of a sudden, one wide receiver goes off (the board)," Shanahan said. "All of a sudden, it comes to be the 10th pick, you may have three or four calls very quickly."
But Shanahan also is a cagey veteran of the NFL. His talk of trading down might be his way of creating a smokescreen on plans to, say, trade up to acquire a quarterback such as Missouri's Blaine Gabbert.
Whoever they pick, the Redskins desperately need to have a successful three days. Poor drafts have set the franchise back over the last decade. The last three drafts have produced just two players -- linebacker Brian Orakpo and offensive tackle Trent Williams -- who are safe bets to be starters next season.
"Everybody's got a game plan," Shanahan said. "Some people want to move up. Some people want to move back. You have to feel very comfortable with your board either way, if you're moving back or moving up. You've got to feel confident you can get the players that you want."
Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press