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Grading the Washington Redskins draft

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Grading the Washington Redskins 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. Here's my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—C+

They came in with the handicap of not having a first-round pick, with that selection going to the Rams as the final payment in the deal to land the rights to Robert Griffin III. There is no way at the time that they thought the pick would be the second overall but it was what it was. We won’t know for a while if the trade will prove to be a good deal but in the short term the fact that the Redskins do have a quarterback in place obviated the need for Redskins Nation to spend the last four months debating the relative merits of Johnny Football and Blake Bortles was a positive.

Because of that deal the Redskins went in with six picks; they ended up with eight. They picked up an additional third by moving back in the second round from the 34th overall pick to the 47th. That deal was with the Cowboys and the Redskins did quite well in the deal. Looking at the draft value chart, such a move back should have netted Washington Dallas’ fourth-round pick. But they were able to take advantage of the Cowboys’ desperation for a pass rusher and they extracted a third-rounder from their division rivals.

A few players the Redskins could have used did go off of the board in between their original pick and the one they traded for. In particular, offensive tackle Joel Bitonio and defensive lineman Stephon Tuitt were players many had connected to the Redskins. It seemed that Washington liked the guy they ended up getting, outside linebacker Trent Murphy. Some saw that pick as a reach but not a crazy one. They took guard Spencer long with the additional third-rounder from the deal.

Late Saturday afternoon they pulled off a similar deal on a smaller scale, dealing with the Titans to move back eight spots in the sixth round, collecting Tennessee’s seventh-round pick in the process. They likely got the same player with the 186th pick as they would have with the 178th, running back Lache Seastrunk of Baylor.

You can debate how wisely the Redskins used that extra seventh as they took a kicker, Zach Hocker of Arkansas. Some say it’s dumb to ever draft a kicker, especially when you have a pretty good one in Kai Forbath. I disagree on the first part, if you like a kicker, take him rather than scramble through the chaotic undrafted free agent process. I do agree that Forbath is a quality kicker and that burning a draft pick to challenge him is not good strategy.

Many thought that the Redskins should have taken a safety somewhere along the line given that Brandon Meriweather and Ryan Clark are both on the wrong side of 30. Gruden said that they didn’t have the chance to take one who they thought could make the roster. It was generally thought that this was a very weak draft at the position and Gruden’s explanation is quite plausible. Still, it could come back to burn them if Bacarri Rambo and/or Phillip Thomas, the two safeties they drafted last year, can’t develop into starters or at least solid reserves.

Talent/Fit—B

Morgan Moses is the best fit on the Redskins’ board. The team clearly wants to move on from right tackle Tyler Polumbus at some point. Moses is a good candidate to unseat him, perhaps sooner rather than later.

Some question the Murphy fit but those people need to look at Brian Orakpo’s contract. He’s a free agent after this year and the Redskins will have to decide if they want to sign him, franchise him, or let him leave. The first two options will be expensive and the team will have more leverage if they have a replacement for Orakpo on the roster. For this year, Murphy will play a few hundred snaps on defense in addition to being a full special teams contributor.

Spencer Long, the Redskins’ third-round pick, will be a good fit if, as some believe, he can become the team’s starting center. Ryan Grant will have to work to overcome his shortcomings (mainly pedestrian speed) to become a productive receiver. Bashaud Breeland and Lache Seastrunk both left college a year early and could become assets if they mature. Seventh-round tight end Ted Bolser will have to justify the team carrying four tight ends.

Overall—B-

In the lead up to the draft, the Redskins let it be known that they were looking for hard-working, hungry, overachieving players who love playing the game more than they love what the game can get for them. And an ability to play special teams was a major resume enhancer as well.

The players they picked fit the criteria. Not all of them precisely fit, of course, but well enough to where you can say that the draft class has a reasonable chance of developing into a successful group.

In particular, scouting reports on Murphy and Long noted a “first on the field for practice, last one off” mentality. And Murphy, Grant, Breeland, and Bolser played special teams in college and spoke as though they expect to do the same thing in Washington.

They keys to this draft could end up being Breeland and Seastrunk. Breeland could be a starting corner in a year or two if he develops. If Seastrunk can learn to catch out of the backfield his home-run ability could make him a great asset.

If those two and, say, two of the top three picks pan out, this would be quite a successful draft. Anything else would be gravy.

But that’s easier said than done. This franchise has not done a very good job of developing mid- and late-round picks into starters or even key reserves. Bruce Allen noted this failure in last week’s press conference and said that the solution was to focus on high effort players with the belief that they will put in what it takes to grow as a player.

Will it work? We will have to wait and see. For now, we can give Allen and the organization some credit for recognizing the problem, having a plan to fix it, and sticking to that plan.

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With Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl, Kirk Cousins will make Pro Bowl, per report

With Matt Ryan in the Super Bowl, Kirk Cousins will make Pro Bowl, per report

Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.

Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.

Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards. 

The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.

Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.

It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade. 

RELATED: 2017 NFL MOCK DRAFT 1.0

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Redskins announce coordinators, addition of Tomsula as D-line coach

Redskins announce coordinators, addition of Tomsula as D-line coach

The Redskins have made official some coaching staff changes that have been reported over the last few days.

The team announced that they have filled both coordinator jobs with internal hires. Outside linebackers coach Greg Manusky is the new defensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh is now the offensive coordinator.

RELATED: REDSKINS DEFENSIVE COODRINATOR RESUME - GREG MANUSKY

The team also announced the hiring of two assistant coaches, one on each side of the ball. Kevin O’Connell will replace Cavanaugh as the QB coach and Jim Tomsula will coach the defensive line.

Tomsula was the 49ers head coach in 2015. He was fired after that one season after posting a 5-11 record. But it was his eight seasons as defensive line coach in San Francisco that the Redskins care about. Tomsula did a solid job there, working under Mike Nolan, Mike Singletary, and Jim Harbaugh. He also was the defensive line coach under Manusky when he was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco.

RELATED: REDSKINS MAY STAY IN-HOUSE

He is known as a fiery motivator, something that will work well with Manusky’s similar style. The line was one of the weakest areas of the defense last year. They are likely to add some talent to the line this offseason and Tomsula is a good choice to coach them up.

The Redskins still need a defensive backs coach. They have a strong in-house candidate in Aubrey Pleasant and now attention will turn to getting a deal for him. It remains to be seen if they will fill Manusky’s former job or if current inside linebackers coach Kirk Olivadotti will add the outside backers to his responsibilities.

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