Gruden: Norman signing played in to Redskins going offense in first round

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Gruden: Norman signing played in to Redskins going offense in first round

Everyone knows that if the Redskins are going to make progress they are going to need to improve their defense, which ranked 28th in the NFL last year. They took a big step towards doing that when they signed All-Pro cornerback Josh Norman last week. That gave them some flexibility to go after the other side of the ball in the first round on Thursday, when they took wide receiver Josh Doctson with the 22nd pick in the draft.

“There’s arguments there – you could take defense, but, you know, like I said before we took the best player,” Gruden told the media shortly after the Doctson pick was made. “We addressed defense the other day with Josh Norman. We gave them [the defense] a first-round pick, so they should be happy [laughter]. It’s about building a football team and taking the best players to help us and we thought Josh was a perfect fit.”

We’ll never know if the Redskins would have used that first-round pick on a cornerback or on another defensive position if the Panthers had not rescinded the franchise tag on Norman, leading to a whirlwind 48 hours that ended with him signing a five-year, $75 million deal with the Redskins. If you believe Gruden, it made the decision to go with an offensive weapon was made easier by the move.

“It played into it a little bit, getting Josh Norman the other day,” he said. “Obviously it helped with the defensive back depth. I don’t know if it would’ve matter, really, because like I said before we’re going to take the best player on the board and he was clearly up there. We’re happy to get him.”

Still, the needs on defense remain. Gruden is confident that they can be addressed later in the draft. The draft is said to be particularly deep along the defensive line, which is near the top of their needs list.

“Yeah, you look into all that – depth of other positions on defense,” he said. “It is a good draft for that. We’ll address other positions obviously later, I don’t know which ones yet, we’ll see who’s available. But, it is a very deep draft at a lot of positions for that matter. We feel like we can still add to this roster and get some quality players – second, third, fourth, fifth rounds.”

That last part is something that many fans tend to forget. There are six more rounds and there are plenty of good players left on the board. The first-round pick is very important but the rest of the draft is where Scot McCloughan earns his money and his reputation. Fans should wait until the whole picture is painted before evaluating it.

Doctson on joining Redskins: 'I'm happy and ready to get to work'

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Doctson on joining Redskins: 'I'm happy and ready to get to work'

The Redskins traded back one spot in the first round of the NFL Draft, then used the No. 22 pick to nab TCU’s Josh Doctson—the big wide receiver they currently lack.

Doctson, who is listed at 6-foot-2, 202 pounds, hauled in 79 passes for 1,326 yards and 14 touchdowns as a senior. He finished his TCU career with the school record for receiving yards (2,785) and receiving touchdowns (29), despite beginning his career at Wyoming.

“My game starts with the most dominant trait a receiver should have, and that’s catching the football,” Doctson said via conference call from Chicago. “I want to make sure I catch the football in all situations if the quarterback decides to throw it to me and trusts me to catch it. I want to make sure that I have all that trust.”

Doctson is the first wide receiver to be drafted by the Redskins in the first round since Rod Gardner in 2001. The Redskins entered the draft with the No. 21 overall selection, but traded it to the Texans for the No. 22 pick and a sixth rounder in 2017. Houston selected Notre Dame wide receiver Will Fuller with the 21st pick.

Doctson joins a Redskins' receiving corps that includes Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Andre Roberts and Rashad Ross. Doctson is two inches taller Garcon, four inches taller than Jackson and six inches taller than Crowder.

“Josh was obviously a very productive receiver at TCU and made a lot of big plays in his career,” Coach Jay Gruden said. “He’s got height. He’s got the mad leaping skills, which are very appealing in the red zone. And he’s another guy who is going to bring great athleticism to this offense, and we’re excited to have him.”  

Gruden added: “Josh was clearly the best on the board at that time for us.”

Gruden also said he expects Doctson to contribute immediately.

“You check all the boxes with him, as far as person [and] off the field,” he said. “He’s got great work ethic, too. We did our due diligence on that. So you bring in a receiver with the great skill set that he has, and a guy that’s willing to get better and learn and work. I anticipate him challenging for a lot of balls in this offense.”

Doctson expected to be drafted in the mid-to-late first round. He did not, however, expect to end up in Washington. But he’s glad he did.

“I wasn’t expecting it all,” Doctson said. “I met with them one time—and it was an informal interview at the combine. I didn’t really think they were interested in me at all. Which is why I’m saying it was so sudden and really abrupt, being picked by the Redskins. But, hey, I’m happy and ready to get to work.”

MORE REDSKINS: TEAMMATES WELCOME THE ROOKIE TO D.C.

Doctson may not start in 2016 but should have major role

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Doctson may not start in 2016 but should have major role

The Redskins’ wide receiver depth chart is going to be shaken up this year and it likely will look very, very different by the time the 2017 season starts.

The selection of Josh Doctson in the first round of the draft today was more about 2017 than it was about 2016. But the immediate effect will be that he will need to get some snaps this year to prepare for a bigger role next year.

It seems likely that Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson will remain the starters on the outside with Jamison Crowder taking a lot of snaps as the slot receiver. Doctson will compete with holdovers Ryan Grant and Rashad Ross for playing time. It will be a major upset if Doctson didn’t win that competition by the time the season starts.

It should be noted that Andre Roberts is still on the roster but he does not appear to be in the Redskins’ plans and is likely to be released sometime before training camp.

We also can look for a lot of sets with four and five receivers with the 6-2 Doctson and the 6-2 Jordan Reed in the slots. That will create some severe matchup problems for opposing defenses, particularly if they do it in the red zone.

Taking a peek ahead to 2017, both Jackson and Garçon will be over the age of 30 and both will be free agents. It seems likely that one or both of them will walk, leaving Doctson as the No. 1 receiver with Grant, Ross, and perhaps another draft pick and/or free agent will fill in the rest of the depth chart.