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Grading the Redskins' 2015 draft

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Grading the Redskins' 2015 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we have to dig in a little more to come up with a grade for Scot McCloughan’s first draft with the team. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—B

McCloughan’s quest to increase his stockpile of draft picks from seven to at least 10 did not get off to a good start during the first round. They were on the clock with Leonard Williams, thought by some to be the best player in the draft, on the board. It seemed like they would have been able to move back a few spots, pick up a mid-round pick, and still get Brandon Scherff, the top player on their board. At the very least they could have waited for the clock to run down closer to 0:00 to exhaust all possibilities rather than turning in the card with about three minutes left on the clock.

Since they ended up keeping the fifth overall pick, you can also debate the wisdom of spending that on a player who is going to play right tackle or guard. A team can generally find players who can do a good job filling those low-impact positions later in the draft.

I’ll ding the grade a little bit for value but we really don’t know at this point. If Scherff turns out to be a very good right tackle who holds the job for the next eight years or so or a Pro Bowl-caliber guard, the value for the pick will be there. If his career turns out to be something less and if Williams lights things up with the Jets, the pick may go down as a mistake.

McCloughan got the deal that he was looking for during the third round on Friday. He traded back with the Seahawks, going all the way from the 69th overall pick to the 95th. Seattle shipped picks they had in the fourth, fifth, and sixth rounds in exchange for moving up. The deal was close to even on the traditional Jimmy Johnson draft trade chart and a steal for the Redskins on the Football Perspective chart, which uses the Approximate Value of players selected in those draft slots to value the picks.

After making a solid deal, however, it looks like they reached with the pick they got from Seattle. Running back Matt Jones may well have been available later in the draft, perhaps much later. Perhaps they could have taken massive guard Daryl Williams of Oklahoma or 6-2 safety James Sample with that third-round pick and then they could have grabbed Jones later on Saturday.

McCloughan pulled off one more deal before it was over, sending fifth-round pick they got in the Seahawks trade to the Saints, who gave up their sixth rounders in this draft and in the 2016 draft. Assuming they didn’t lose anyone they really wanted to have between that fifth-round pick and their first pick in the sixth, this is a decent if not highly significant deal.

Talent/Fit—A-

Most of the “needs” boxes were checked with the exception of a few. Although Jones can pass block and may have been underutilized as a pass catcher out of the backfield at Florida, he isn’t the model third-down back. They entered the draft without a succession plan at free safety behind Dashon Goldson, who turns 31 early in the season and they left it still lacking one. While we are waiting to see if Jordan Reed can stay healthy for a season, some tight end depth may have been helpful.

However, it is important to note that this was not a good draft at the safety and tight end positions. It’s better to bypass the position altogether than it is to take a player who isn’t a fit just to check off the box.

What was clear is that McCloughan went into the draft looking for a specific type of player—big and mean—and he found a bunch of them. In particular the top three picks, Scherff, edge defender Preston Smith, and Jones, are all large and they play with an edge.

The draft picks weren’t all behemoths. Notably they took 5-8 wide receiver Jamison Crowder and 5-10 safety Kysheon Jarrett. But those two players were taken with special teams in mind. Crowder is likely to return punts Week 1 and could bring back kickoffs as well and Jarrett will be expected to jump right in on coverage teams. The two could contribute little from scrimmage and still be very valuable additions.

Given the struggles that the Washington special teams have had over the last couple of years, the attention paid to them represented a solid positive.

Overall—B+

This was a very professional draft by McCloughan, who did what he was hired to do. They went in with a solid plan and, for the most part, they executed it.

The keys to this draft in the long run are Scherff, as noted above, Smith, and the later-round picks. They will be relying on Smith to do a lot of different things on defense. If he does them well, he could be a steal, the edge player that many expected them to take at the top of the draft. If he struggles, the pass rush will likely continue to be mediocre and a secondary that is still shaky will be exposed.

And as with any draft, it’s important to get contributions from the later rounds. If Jarrett and Evan Spencer become special teams aces, if Arie Kouandjio can be a solid backup and spot starter, and if someone picked on Saturday emerges as a solid starter, the draft could be a solid success.

One other factor that could make this draft better is subsequent drafts. Assuming that McCloughan is around for many more drafts to come, the Redskins will stick to the same draft principles. McCloughan has his philosophy that it’s a big man’s game and while smaller players won’t be excluded completely, the move to get bigger, tougher, and meaner won’t be tossed aside for the next draft. The quest for big guys won’t be a short-term fad; they won’t be looking for fast, athletic types in a year or two. Consistency is a key to building a team; the Redskins are likely to have that now, for a change.

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A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

A possible trade destination for Redskins RB Matt Jones?

RICHMOND—The Redskins reportedly have been looking to trade running back Matt Jones since just before the draft. They may be able to find a partner just up I-95.

The Baltimore Ravens are in need of a running back after Kenneth Dixon suffered a season-ending knee injury earlier this week. Terrance West, who gained 774 yards on the ground last year, is healthy and returning but the Ravens want more depth at the position.

That is where Jones could come into play. The 2015 third-round pick of the Redskins was the unquestioned starter going into last season. But fumbling and other issues prompted Jay Gruden to make him inactive the last nine games of the season. Jones further fell out of favor by skipping OTAs this year, a move he made on the advice of his now-former agent.

RELATED: Is Cousins overrated?

Ravens coach Jim Harbaugh said last year that he liked Jones “a lot” in the 2015 draft and he could well still be intrigued by his size and speed. ESPN Ravens reporter Jamison Hensley said that Jones could be a good fit for the Ravens in their current situation.

It should be noted that Hensley seems to be engaging in informed speculation and not relaying anything he heard from the team’s decision makers. He also speaks of the possibility of Baltimore picking up Jones after the Redskins release him.

But there could be some incentive for the Ravens to talk trade with the Redskins rather than waiting for Jones to hit the waiver wire. For one thing, getting their new back in sooner rather than later would benefit the Ravens, allowing the player to get acclimated to his new quarterback and offensive line. While the Redskins are inevitably going to cut Jones, they have no incentive to do so before the final cuts just before the start of the season. Perhaps the Ravens will want to give up some minor compensation, something like a swap of sixth- and seventh-round picks, to get Jones in for the start of training camp.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Hensley also mentions the possibility that the Ravens will look at former Redskin Alfred Morris for depth at running back. He currently is buried on the Cowboys’ depth chart behind All-Pro Ezekiel Elliott and Darren McFadden. However, there is the possibility of a domestic-violence suspension on the horizon for Elliott. While the suspension is likely to be brief the Cowboys probably don’t want to depart with any running back depth until the matter has been settled.

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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Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

Ranking the 2017 Redskins roster, the final update: 1-10

At CSNmidatlantic.com we projected the Redskins’ 53-man roster (offense, defense) right after minicamp. Now we are taking it one step further and ranking the 53 players we think will make the team.

The rankings are determined by who we think will have the most impact on the 2017 Redskins. No consideration was given for past performance or for what a particular player might do down the road. We’ll be revealing the rankings over the next few weeks.

Today we’re updating the list with the players we ranked from 1-10. Here are some of the players in our latest update:

—A 2016 free agent who needs to make more big plays.

—A rookie expected to bolster one of the weakest units on the team.   

—Each of the five highest-paid players on the team.

—What you won’t find: Any players who will be over the age of 29 in Week 1.     

Go here to see our ranking of the 2017 Redskins, players 1-53.

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.