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How others graded the Redskins' draft

How others graded the Redskins' draft

Yesterday I graded the Redskins’ 2015 draft. Now let’s take a look around and see how others viewed what Scot McCloughan and company did last week.

Before we dive in to the analysts’ specific comments, here are a few of the general themes from their evaluations:

—The main concern was that taking Brandon Scherff in the first round may have been a reach, especially with defensive lineman Leonard Williams on the board. That’s understandable and it’s now up to Scherff, Jay Gruden, and Bill Callahan to prove them wrong.

—Preston Smith was a widely praised pick, showing that some analysts can look beyond the players who receive the hype and look at the players who are good fits for the team that drafted them. Smith fits the big, tough guy mold that McCloughan has established.

—The most astute observation came from Evan Silva of Rotoworld. He noted that McCloughan didn’t try to hit home runs in the later rounds of the draft, he focused on building up the back end of the roster. Even if players like Martrell Spaight, Kyshoen Jarrett, and Evan Spencer may never end up contributing much from scrimmage they have a chance to be valuable as reserves and as solid special teams contributors.

—You don't have to be a math major to figure out that the average grade given from this group was B-. That's a little lower than I had. I was more impressed by McCloughan having a philosophy of big men win (and if you're not big, you need to play big) than others were, perhaps due to the helter-skelter shifts in the type of players the Redskins have coveted over the last 15 years.

Note: Only partial comments are quoted here, click on the links for the writer’s full analysis.

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com: B-

The skinny: GM Scot McCloughan is one of the best evaluators in the league, but Brandon Scherff was a big reach, even if he lives up to his potential. Failing to trade down and passing on the best player in the draft (Leonard Williams) is going to be something the team might regret, even if Scherff becomes a top-flight tackle or guard.

Doug Farrar, SI.com: B

New general manager Scot McCloughan made it clear in his first Washington draft that he's going to do with the Redskins what he did in his stints with the 49ers and Seahawks: fill the roster with height/weight/speed monsters who can play the game. Some may question taking Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff with the fifth pick, but he's a perfect right tackle or guard who could fill in should left tackle Trent Williams get hurt. Second-round end Preston Smith from Mississippi State can play all over the formation. He's not a speed-rusher, but he can do just about everything else.

Evan Silva, Rotoworld: B-

. . . He attacked special teams and was willing to use picks on role players. I absolutely loved his first- and second-round haul; both Scherff and Smith project as high-level NFL starters. Beyond rounds one and two, however, I don't think McCloughan was trying to hit home runs. He's got a 53-man roster to build and he wanted to stockpile useful football players, even if they're unlikely to become NFL stars.

Dan Kadar, SB Nation: B-

Best pick: Preston Smith - For Washington Smith will be able to come in and do a variety of things. He can play down in four-man fronts and is athletic enough to be a linebacker.

Questionable pick: Matt Jones - Washington had a need at running back, but I had a low grade on Jones.

With players like Scherff, Kouandjio and Smith, Washington did a really nice job of starting a culture to one that is more gritty and tough.

Mark Maske, Washington Post: B-

Brandon Scherff is a good player and if he becomes a reliable starter at right tackle, all is well. But if he ends up playing guard, he might not have been worth the No. 5 overall pick. Will the Redskins regret passing up DE Leonard Williams, perhaps the draft’s top defensive player?

Pete Prisco, CBS: B-

Best Pick: Second-round pick Preston Smith played defensive end in college, but will move to linebacker for the Redskins. It will be a transition, but he has the tools to make it work . . .

Analysis: They added some solid pieces, and ended up with a solid haul. Scot McCloughan does a nice job with the draft. Scherff is a good player, but that seems high to me. Even so, it was a nice draft.

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Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 24, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 143 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 109 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 20
—Training camp starts (7/27) 64
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 78

Is the 2018 Cousins tag threat a bluff?

On Monday, Redskins president Bruce Allen reiterated that the team is willing to use the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for the third straight year.

“In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract,” said Allen when asked if the team would use the franchise or transition tag on Cousins in 2018. He has said something similar on previous media interviews this year.

This year Cousins is getting the tag for the second time in his career. That gives him 120 percent of his 2016 salary which comes to just under $24 million. A third franchise tag in 2018, which would either give the Redskins exclusive negotiating rights or a possible choice between matching an offer sheet from another team or getting draft pick compensation, would get Cousins a 144 percent increase over this season, or a whopping $34.5 million.

The franchise tag would give the Redskins the power to unilaterally lock up Cousins for the 2018 season. It is expensive, by design. Could the Redskins afford to wield that power? Or is Allen just bluffing?

A look at the numbers makes it look like Allen is bluffing.

According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have $127 million in salary cap commitments in 2018. Based on recent growth trends the salary cap will be an estimated $178 million. That gives the Redskins $51 million in cap room.

Cousins’ $34.5 million salary for a third tag would hit the 2018 cap all at once as soon as the tag is applied. You don’t have to be a master capologist to do the math and figure out that such a move would leave the Redskins with $16.5 million in salary cap space.

A look at the top-line number doesn’t seem that bad. Eight teams would have less cap space than Washington so others, like the Cowboys, Eagles, and Chiefs, would be worse off.

But the problem with the Redskins’ situation is twofold. First, 21 of their current players are slated to be unrestricted free agents in 2018. Not all of them are key contributors. But they would have to squeeze to bring back the likes of Zach Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Spencer Long, and Bashaud Breeland. If they don’t re-sign them they will have to go to the free agent market for replacements and that will tough to do with so little money to work with.

The other issue is that they don’t have any fat to cut from their cap. They could save from $4.5 million to $8 million by cutting one of the four players with the highest cap numbers. But they aren’t going to be better if they cut loose Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams or Ryan Kerrigan.

Going down the list of top cap hits, they would save no money by letting Brandon Scherff go since his salary is fully guaranteed. Washington would take a net loss of cap space by cutting Morgan Moses and releasing Vernon Davis would save just $1.1 million. In fact, other than the top four mentioned above there are no players the Redskins could release who would save more than $1.6 million in net cap space.

The Redskins could create more cap room by restructuring some of their highest-paid players. But a simple restructure, where salary is converted to signing bonus, spreading the cap impact over the remaining years of the deal, doesn’t save any real money. The cap hit is merely pushed back into future seasons. Bruce Allen has been reluctant to do this and he is right to think that way. Restructures should only be used in a “break glass in case of emergency” situations, not as a regular way of doing business.

In short, tagging Cousins for $34.5 million would force the Redskins to lose quality players or to use cap management tactics that run against their philosophy, or some combination of both. While you can’t rule out the tag on Cousins, there is enough there to make the possibility remote.

Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, can look at these numbers and figure out that Allen is bluffing about a 2018 franchise tag as well as I can. It will be close to a non-factor in negotiations.

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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Redskins' draft pick Ryan Anderson just had a baby (partly) named after him

Redskins' draft pick Ryan Anderson just had a baby (partly) named after him

Here's an updated look at second-round pick Ryan Anderson's stats since the Redskins drafted him back in late April: zero career NFL tackles, one career baby named partly after him.

On Tuesday, Alabama defensive coordinator Jeremy Pruitt honored Anderson and fellow ex-Crimson Tide linebacker Reuben Foster by combining their last names and making that combination his newborn son's middle name.

Everyone please say hello to Flynt Anderson-Foster Pruitt:

MORE REDSKINS: JORDAN REED WORKED OUT WITH AN NFL LEGEND ON TUESDAY

The gesture was not lost on Anderson, who said on Instagram that the "little guy will always hold a special place" in his heart:

One gets the sense that Anderson, who comes across as a very intense man and one whose breakfast probably consists of a bowl of motor oil, doesn't use heart emojis very often. Therefore, since he used some in his Instagram caption, you know Pruitt's decision meant a lot to him.