As I continue my rigorous pre-training camp reading regimen (which really is not all that rigorous), Ill keep bringing you interesting items as I come across them.Todays nugget comes from Pro Football Weeklys Eric Edholm, who ranks last seasons cellar dwellers and their prospects of making a significant improvement this fall.Edholm considers the Redskins to be the third most likely to enjoy a major turnaround, putting their chances of improving on 2011s record of 5-11 at 65-percent and their chances of making the playoffs at 35-percent.The reasons? Edholm points to three in particular:The addition of potential big-play threats Robert Griffin III and receivers Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan.The Redskins longest rushing play last season was 39 yards, and they had exactly two (two!) pass plays that went for 50 yards or more, he writes, in part. The team needed offensive juice badly and addressed it That should help a ton.Some soft spots in the schedule that includes four last place opponents. Those teams are: St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Minnesota and Cleveland. (It should be noted, though, that only the Vikings are coming to Washington.And, finally, a young defense thats on the upswing.When you consider that the defense is in pretty good shape and that the Redskins beat the Giants twice last season and lost three other divisional games by one score, the chances for a bump is there, Edholm writes.I cant argue with any of those reasons (mostly because Im a glass-half-full-kind-of-guy). But, like Edholm, I also subscribe to the school of thought that believes the Redskins fortunes in 2012 will mirror RG3s.RG3 still must prove himself amid sky-high weekly hype, the pressure of playing in D.C. and in a division that remains a gauntlet, EdHolm concludes.
Mel Kiper's latest mock draft has the Redskins selecting Stanford RB Christian McCaffery with the 17th overall pick, while Florida State RB Dalvin Cook remains on the board until the Packers with the 29th pick.
Mel Kiper Jr.'s latest mock draft: pic.twitter.com/pAuxNLvnLF— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 22, 2017
Both runners put up ridiculous stats in college. Cook posted nearly 5,400 total yards to go with 48 touchdowns in three seasons as a Seminole. McCaffery went over 5,100 total yards to go with 31 touchdowns in three seasons.
Until the NFL Combine, however, Cook seemed certain to go before McCaffery. The Stanford product impressed coaches and scouts, particularly with his 40-time of 4.48, a tenth of a second faster than Cook.
Like many high-profile prospects before him, Cook's game is being picked apart, as is a track record with multiple arrests. From Cook's NFL.com Draft Profile:
Very talented runner with outstanding balance, footwork and burst. Cook lacks the power that you may find with some running backs in this year's draft, but he is a homerun hitter with a resume featuring monster games against his most highly regarded opponents. Cook creates for himself with elusiveness and speed, but his value could be diminished by injuries, character and issues in pass protection. If everything checks out, he could become a rookie of the year candidate right away.
Now is a good time to note that even with the questions, Cook's draft grade from NFL.com was a 6.47. McCaffery's was a 5.99, but has much fewer questions. Additionally, McCaffery might project as a player that could line up as a slot receiver or work on special teams, two things not expected from Cook.
Multidimensional runner with flex appeal for teams looking for a player who can carry the ball 20 times or catch it 10 depending on the game plan. McCaffrey's size, power and speed are just average, but he is able to create yardage for himself with his vision and elusiveness. McCaffrey's ability to return punts and kicks could be the value sweetner that pushes his name into the first round.
Beyond the draft grades and abilities of each player, the question remains if the Redskins should even consider a running back at 17. The team has much bigger holes on the roster, but, McCaffery or Cook present possible game-changing talents. Going into 2017, Robert Kelley holds the 'Skins RB1 job, with Chris Thompson expected to return as a restrcited free agent.
Matt Jones and Mack Brown are also on the roster. Jones, remember, was a third-round pick in 2015 and held the starting running back job until about the halfway point last season, then was inactive the second half of the year. Drafting an early RB might signal the end of Jones' tenure in Washington.
Cook? McCaffery? Defense? What should the Redskins do at 17? Let us know what you think in the comments.
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The Redskins went 8-7-1 last year and finished a half game out of their second straight playoff appearance. Despite that modest success, the organization is undergoing some fairly substantial roster churn that started in the last month or so and will continue right up until the final 53-man roster is set in early September.
RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0
Of the 53 players who were on the 2016 Week 1 roster, these nine will not be back.
- DE Chris Baker (signed with Bucs)
- WR Pierre Garçon (signed with 49ers)
- WR DeSean Jackson (signed with Bucs)
- C Kory Lichtensteiger (retired)
- DL Ricky Jean Francois (released)
- WR Rashad Ross (released during season)
- DL Kendall Reyes (released during season)
- S David Bruton (released during season)
- C Austin Reiter (released and then signed off practice squad)
These four players are unsigned veterans and even if the Redskins do bring any of them back they will have to compete for a roster spot:
- LB Terrence Garvin
- S Duke Ihenacho
- DL Kedric Golston
- CB Greg Toler
That makes a total of 13 players who are unlikely to be on the 2017 Week 1 53-man roster, a 23 percent turnover rate. That initial 2016 roster had 13 players who were new to the organization. It seems likely that the Redskins will surpass that number this year.
There are some other players who were on the roster for a substantial amount of time in 2016 such as S Donte Whitner, DL Cullen Jenkins, and C John Sullivan, who also are unsigned and unlikely to be back. They are not counted in the turnover percentage here but the still represent a degree of roster churn.
Who will replace the departed players? They have signed five unrestricted free agents. Four of them, DL Terrell McClain, DL Stacy McGee, WR Terrelle Pryor, and S D.J. Swearinger, are locks to make the roster. LB Chris Carter was signed but he will have to compete for a spot.
MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock draft roundup: Will Foster fall?
The team has 10 draft picks and they will sign around a dozen undrafted players. It seems likely that six or seven of the draft picks and one or two UDFAs will be on the final 53 as well.
One other player who is likely to be on the 53 in September is OLB Junior Galette. He spent last year on the non-football injury list. Galette has been on the roster for two years without having played a single snap, preseason or regular season.
Some other roster spots could be filled by players who were on the 2016 practice squad such as DL A.J. Francis.
Still, more than 13 players from last year will be gone come September as there are at least 11 returning players who are on the bubble and vulnerable to having their jobs taken by one of the draft picks, UDFA’s or perhaps by street free agent signees such as CB Tharold Simon or NT Phil Taylor.