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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. 

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MORE Redskins: Washington's depth at outside linebacker

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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.

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