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2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 8.0: Toughest Team On The Board

2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 8.0: Toughest Team On The Board

You know that impossible-to-shop-for relative when it comes to birthdays and holidays? When it comes to mocking the 2017 NFL Draft, that relative is the Washington Redskins.

This isn't some clickbait ploy. Trust me — I spend way too much time pondering picks for such nonsense.

For the first round, the Redskins are damn tricky and, frankly, frustrating. Their needs simply don't mesh with the overall draft board. That's based on my projections for their 17th overall pick, but my mock isn't out of whack compared to others.

For say the Cowboys and Ravens, no sweat. Whether we're talking about their top need on offense (wide receiver) or defense (pass rusher), Baltimore will have options without having to reach or causing future roster issues. Dallas won't have any issue adding help for its suspect secondary and defensive line. Things just don't fit as nicely for the Ashburn crew.

Based on straight needs, the Redskins ideally land defensive line help. However, there might be just a single option — Michigan State's Malik McDowell — considered worthy of the 15-25 range and he's not a coveted a nose tackle.

NFL: See the 2017 NFL mock draft 8.0

Washington could consider drafting an inside linebacker for the long haul even after signing free agent Zach Brown, but the top two options — Rueben Foster and Hasson Reddick — are not available in this version. Wide receiver and cornerbacks could end up getting pushed down into the Redskins' range, but those aren't areas of need now and arguably the future.

The best prospect available might Forrest Lamp. He plays guard. Washington needs a better option on the left side, but selecting an interior offensive lineman in round one for the second time in three years might make coach Jay Gruden's head explode.

All of this is why some mock drafters are slotting the Redskins a running back even though Gruden has done nothing but praise Robert Kelley.  Maybe Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey make sense if available, but the idea of going RB in the first isn't terribly appealing and either player could squeeze out the effective Chris Thompson.

Regardless, the Redskins can still land a stud and someone capable of helping immediately. Just remember that team president Bruce Allen said in light of the current transition with the organization's general manager role, the team's "draft board" would make the final decision. Combined with the way the early picks might shake out, seemingly anything is possible for Washington in round one. Heck, that could even include quarterback, which would mean every single position unit is in play at 17. 

Send help. 

MORE Redskins: Washington's depth at outside linebacker

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Standouts and scrubs: Looking at Bruce Allen's track record with quarterbacks

Standouts and scrubs: Looking at Bruce Allen's track record with quarterbacks

Much can be learned looking to the past, at least that's what thousands of college students hear every fall when they sit down for History 101. Assuming the premise is true, perhaps something can be learned from looking back at Bruce Allen's tenure across the NFL and the quarterbacks that started for those teams. 

A refresher, Allen worked with the Raiders and Bucs before coming to the Redskins. Allen started with the Raiders in 1995, and worked his way up through the front office, earning the NFL's Executive of the Year award in 2002. He left the Raiders to work with Jon Gruden in Tampa in 2004, after the pair experienced much success together with the Raiders. Tampa fired Allen in 2008, and he came to work with the Redskins in 2010. 

His tenure with the Raiders showcased the best QB find in his file: Rich Gannon. Before coming to Oakland, Gannon earned the journeyman title, starting 58 games over 11 seasons for the Chiefs, Vikings and, yes, the Redskins.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Once Gannon and Gruden worked together, everything clicked. The Raiders started winning games and Gannon started to pile up impressive offensive stats. He was the quarterback when Oakland lost the infamous 'Tuck Rule' playoff game against New England, and won an NFL MVP award in 2002 while guiding the Raiders to the Super Bowl (which they lost to a Jon Gruden coached Tampa team). 

Gannon was a find, undoubtedly. Beyond that, Allen's resume on quarterbacks gets pretty ugly.

In fact, Kirk Cousins would probably rank as the second best QB of all Bruce Allen teams. In Tampa, the quarterback position was a revolving door, and included luminaries (sarcasm font) like Chris Simms, Brian Griese and Bruce Gradkowski. The Bucs added Jeff Garcia in 2007, and he had some success, but was 37 years old at that point. 

Once he got to Washington, the Redskins trotted out a collection of subpar passers like a past his prime Donovan McNabb, never actually good John Beck and Rex Grossman. Rex needs no introduction. 

In 2012, the Redskins quarterback fortunes changed. The team made a very aggressive trade to draft Robert Griffin III. RG3 was supposed to be the franchise savior, and for much of his rookie season, that plan seemed to be working. 

Injuries and infighting ruined Griffin's time with the Redskins, and opened the door for 2012 fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins to emerge. 

Now, in 2017, Cousins has twice broken the Redskins single season passing yards record and cemented himself as a quality NFL starter. His long-term future with the organization remains uncertain, as Cousins will play this season on a one-year contract and the prospect of a multi-year contract seems slim. 

It's hard to draw too many conclusions looking the quarterbacks throughout Allen's tenure. Before Gannon in Oakland, the Raiders tried a variety of other journeyman QBs (Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George). One could argue they got lucky with Gannon, or that the organization brought out his best tools. Either way it's a positive grade.

In Tampa, the results look much worse. On paper, it seemed the Bucs tried to get cheap, available quarterbacks and make them work, believing strongly in their offensive system. It didn't work. 

In Washington, particularly during the Grossman/Beck season, it seemed the Redskins tried a similar approach. That ended in 2012 with the trade for RG3. The Redskins paid up big time, in the form of draft picks. 

Now it's arguable that a deal with Cousins can even be reached, but if that does happen, it will be because the Redskins pay up. Recent history doesn't suggest it, but this situation has never presented itself either. Cousins is a fourth-round pick that emerged after a few volatile seasons to establish himself as a Top 15 NFL starter.

There's no lesson for that in the history books. 

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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Defensive line

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Defensive line

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Defensive line

On the roster: Jonathan Allen, Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, Ziggy Hood, Anthony Lanier, Phil Taylor, Matt Ioannidis, Joey Mbu, A.J. Francis, Ondre Pipkins, Brandon Banks

Locks: Allen, McGee, McClain, Hood, Lanier

Allen still has plenty to learn. Don’t expect him to dominate from Week 1 on. But he will be a good one, both against the run and rushing the passer.

Maybe, just maybe, the Redskins signed a player on the rise in McGee. Despite missing seven games last year (a red flag, to be sure), he forced the first two fumbles of his career and had 2.5 sack after getting just half a sack in his first three seasons combined. He’s just 27 and perhaps the Redskins can get a good, productive, multi-year run out of a defensive line free agent signee. They are due, that’s for sure.

McClain is the more experienced of the two free agent D-linemen. He also posted career bests in forced fumbles (2) and sacks (2.5). The seven-year veteran stayed healthy last year but he missed 14 games in 2015 so that is something to keep an eye on. He will turn 29 next month.

RELATED: 3 Redskins who are up, 3 down

Hood seemed to be on the bubble all last offseason but the struggles of free agents Stephen Paea and Kendall Reyes opened the door for him. He played out of position at nose tackle for much of the season and he struggled. If things work out as they should he will be a rotational D-lineman, a role better suited to his skill set.

The coaches seem to be very pumped up about Lanier, in part because he pumped iron all offseason. He was listed at 270 pounds last year. Jim Tomsula said that he is now up to 291, a proper weight for a 3-4 defensive end. He will play some in the 3-4 but it’s likely that most of his snaps come lined up inside with Allen when the Redskins go into nickel.

On the bubble: Taylor, Ioannidis, Mbu, Francis, Pipkins

The fact that there are so many on the bubble is a result of the huge question mark that remains at nose tackle. All four of these players are candidates to make it if they can perform when the pads go on in Richmond and when the preseason starts up. Yes, even undrafted free agent Pipkins.

The best-case scenario is that Taylor stays healthy and has enough skill left to make the team and start at NT. Injuries have derailed his career after he had a couple of promising seasons as a first-round draft pick of the Browns. He hasn’t played a snap since 2014 so the 335-pounder is far from a slam dunk solution at nose.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Ioannidis was a fifth-round pick last year who was released in the cut to 53, signed to the practice squad, then later promoted to the active roster. The Temple product played sparingly, baby steps, really. The final tally was just 103 snaps, more than 16 in a game just once. He needs to step up in training camp to make the team.

Their resumes say that Mbu and Francis should be competing to stay on the practice squad, where both spent time last year. But the nose tackle situation opens the door for them. They may be more long shots than bubble players but opportunity is there.

Long shots: Banks

If you put down the odds that all 90 players under contract have of making the 53-man roster, Banks just might be the longest shot. He’s undersized at 285 pounds and he’s an undrafted rookie out of Charlotte. But he is under contract and he will be in camp, giving him a better shot than the guys who are at home wishing they were in camp.  

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.