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How much cap space will the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

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How much cap space will the Redskins need to sign their draft picks?

After signing Josh Norman, the Redskins go into the draft with about $4.2 million in salary cap space. They will need a chunk of that to pay their draft picks but perhaps not as much as you might think.

Going into tonight’s first round the Redskins have eight picks. They have one in each of the first six rounds and two in the seventh. Thanks to the rookie salary slotting system, we know with a reasonable amount of accuracy what the 2016 cap hit will be for the contracts of each of those players.

Their top pick is the 21st overall. That player will carry a $1.84 million cap hit this year according to Overthecap.com. Here are the cap hits for each of the other picks currently held by the Redskins, rounded to the nearest $1,000.

Round (overall)-Cap hit

2 (53)-$804,000
3 (84)-$629,000
4 (120)-$585,000
5 (158)-$509,000
6 (187)-$484,000
7 (232)-$469,000
7 (242)-$466,000

The 2016 cap hits for the eight draft picks the Redskins have total $5.8 million. If you subtract that from the $4.2 million available you get a team that looks like it is $1.6 million in the hole.

But you don’t subtract nearly that much from the remaining cap space due to the Rule of 51. That rule applies during the offseason, from the start of the league year in March until Week 1 of the regular season. Teams have to be under the NFL salary cap of $155.27 million during that time, but since they can carry up to 90 players on the roster they can’t count everyone towards the cap. So the rule is that only the top 51 cap hits on the roster count towards cap during the offseason.

That means that when you add a player into the top 51 you drop the player with the lowest cap hit. So when the Redskins sign their first-round draft pick, OLB Desmond Bishop, who has a cap hit of $600,000, will drop out of the top 51, so you subtract his money from the cap total. So that $1.84 million deal counts a net of just $1.24 million.

When the second- and third-round picks are signed, they also will replace players who also have cap numbers of $600,000, making their net cap hits $204,000 and $29,000, respectively.

And when the draftees from the fourth round on sign with cap numbers of less than $600,000, they will be outside of the top 51 so they will not count against the offseason cap number at all.

If you add up the cap hits from the first three rounds, the only draftees who will count anything against the cap, it comes to $3.273 million. But then you subtract out $1.8 million ($600,000 X 3) for the cap hits removed due to the Rule of 51, the net is $1.43 million.

Subtract that from the $4.2 million and you get about $2.8 million in remaining cap space. They can fit their draft picks under the cap pretty easily.

What if they make trades? The net cap hit could go up or down some but when all of the adding and subtracting is done, unless they do something crazy like trade next year’s first-round pick for a second-rounder this year there really won’t be any significant difference. They will still be able to sign their picks and have some money left over.

To be sure, $2.8 million isn’t really enough to get through the season with the possible need to pay players on injured reserve and pay their practice squad. But they have a few moves in their pocket that they can pull out to do that when they need to.

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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

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.