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After drafting 10 players, needs remain for the Redskins

After drafting 10 players, needs remain for the Redskins

The Redskins checked off a lot of their needs boxes during the three days of the draft but even with 10 picks they are still left with some holes. Here are the team’s remaining needs.

Nose tackle—This is a copy and paste job here from just about every season since 2010, when they first started running the 3-4 defense. Stevie Tu'ikolovatu, a 6-1, 331-pound load out of USC was available until early in the seventh round. But they bypassed the defensive line entirely after taking Jonathan Allen in the first round. Maybe Phil Taylor can revive his career after missing the last two seasons. Or perhaps they will try to sign Dan Williams, the 330-pound veteran who was let go by the Raiders last week. But it seems that they are headed towards playing with no true nose tackle, a strategy that resulted in the Redskins allowing a league-high 5.0 yards per carry on first down.

RELATED: Grading the Redskins 2017 draft

Inside linebacker—The word is that if Allen was off the board when the Redskins first-round pick came around, inside linebacker Rueben Foster was on the short list of players they would have taken. But after taking Allen they stayed away from the inside linebacker position the rest of the way. They could have taken Zach Cunningham in the second round but they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson instead. While the Redskins could have used a young, talented addition to the group they will be OK at the position in 2017. It may be a different story in 2018 when Zach Brown, Will Compton, and Mason Foster are free agents.

Free safety—The plan to have D.J. Swearinger play free safety is dicey. He is more of a natural strong safety and although he played free some in Arizona last year, doing it in spots and doing it 1,000 snaps a year are two different things. They don’t have much choice now. It seems unlikely that Montae Nicholson can fill the role, at least not without a year or two of seasoning. Desmond King of Iowa, who may be able to play sooner, was on the board until early in the fifth round. It’s going to be up to Swearinger to hold down the last line of defense.

MORE REDSKINS: Five Redskins who could lose their jobs to draft picks 

Interior offensive line—The Redskins did take one interior O-lineman in Chase Roullier and he could develop into a starter or at least a reliable backup. But the situation at the position may have called for more. Both backup centers are gone as Kory Lichtensteiger retired and John Sullivan left as a free agent. Starters LG Shawn Lauvao and C Spencer Long are both set to be free agents in 2018. It’s possible that Arie Kouandjio can step into Lauvao’s job but that’s not something they can bank on. This was an extraordinarily weak draft for the offensive line so it’s understandable that they didn’t find anyone else.

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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Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Fantasy football: Ranking the top eight rookie quarterbacks in 2017

Rookie camps are in the books as teams now move to organized team activities. Does that mean it's too early for fantasy football rankings? 

Probably, but seeing as the rookies are new to the scene, we might as well start projecting where and how they fit. 

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott, Sterling Shepard and Michael Thomas were among the rookies who produced and then some in 2016.

Based on the early rounds of the 2017 NFL draft, there’s hope for even more first-year standouts.  

Starting with the Bears selecting quarterback Mitch Trubisky second overall, 19 skill players were drafted in the first and second round.

That includes fellow first-round quarterback selections Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson. Several sleeper candidates followed. 

Here’s my look at the Elite Eight quarterbacks with the 2017 fantasy football season -- and beyond -- in mind.

CLICK HERE FOR CSN'S 2017 FANTASY FOOTBALL ROOKIE QB RANKINGS

2017 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings:

Running Backs - No. 1, Leonard Fournette, Jaguars

* Wide receivers - No. 1, Corey Davis, Titans

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Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Redskins 2017 OTAs to-do list: It's time to find a nose tackle

Free agency is done. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview and the 90-man offseason roster has been filled out. Now comes the difficult part for Jay Gruden and his staff: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin on Tuesday, Redskins Insiders JP Finlay and Rich Tandler will examine top priorities on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the team for training camp in Richmond later this summer.

Up today …

Nose tackle

Finlay: There's a lot to do on the Redskins defensive line, and it starts in the middle. Expect free agent addition Stacy McGee to have a big opportunity to take over the nose tackle job. McGee ranked as a +5.5 run defender last season as rated by Pro Football Focus, and at 6-foot-3 and 308 lbs., he has the size to man the middle. McGee has plenty of talent, health has been his hiccup. He has only played all 16 games in one of his four seasons, and in 2016, he played only nine games.

Beyond McGee, the Redskins have some lottery tickets. Practice squad players A.J. Francis and Joey Mbu both have the size to play nose, but neither have the experience. Could Francis or Mbu emerge for significant snaps with the Washington defense? Sure, but it would be unexpected. 

A bigger lottery ticket remains. Phil Taylor, a former first-round pick in 2012, has shown serious talent at the nose tackle position. At 6-foot-3 and 337 lbs., Taylor certainly has the size for the spot. At the same time, Taylor hasn't played an NFL game since 2014, losing both 2015 and 2016 to injury. Counting on Taylor would be short-sighted, but if he can remain healthy, there could be big value.

According to Jay Gruden, the most important piece of the nose tackle puzzle will come from new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Gruden said he expects Tomsula to "make" a nose tackle and improve the Redskins D-line. It's a tall order, but Tomsula has an impressive track record working in the trenches. 

Tandler: The organization’s refusal to get a legitimate nose tackle either in free agency or in the draft will lead to them again spend the spring and summer trying to fit a square peg into a round hole.

That’s what they did last year with Ziggy Hood. He took a lot of snaps at nose tackle and he simply wasn’t a fit for the job. It wasn’t his fault that the Redskins allowed a league-worst 5.0 yards per rushing attempt on first down; he’s an end and he was much more effective there.

Matt Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, also took some snaps at nose, with similar results. At 6-3, 308, he just doesn’t have the size to be effective.

The worst part of it here is that they really can’t get too far in identifying the 2017 nose tackle. In the spring with no pads and no contact allowed they really can’t do much besides work on technique and learn assignments. Tomsula’s effort to “make” a nose tackle won’t really get going until they get to Richmond in late August.

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