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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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The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

The seven best undrafted free agent signings the Redskins have made since 2010

Every NFL training camp is different, but there are a few consistent things you can count on happening at each one each year.

At some point, for example, a star will say that he's "just excited to hit a guy wearing a different colored jersey" after about a week of practicing against his teammates. Also on the list: a coach will tell reporters that his defense plans on being more aggressive and hopes to create more turnovers in the regular season.

One of the more pleasant camp traditions, meanwhile, is that undrafted rookie who goes from stand-in to stand out and makes the team by impressing in drills and preseason contests.

But while there will be plenty of time in the coming weeks for trying to figure out who'll do that for the Redskins in 2017, let's instead look back at a handful of the players who've already accomplished that in the past with Washington. Here are the seven best undrafted free agents the franchise has unearthed since 2010.

MORE: PLAYING OVER/UNDER WITH KEY STATS FOR KIRK COUSINS IN 2017

Logan Paulsen (2010)

No one will ever mistake Logan Paulsen's film for Rob Gronkowski's, but the former UCLA Bruin held down the third tight end spot for the Redskins from 2010-2014.

His two best years came in 2012 and 2013, where he posted 25 and 28 catches respectively, scored four total times and was on the receiving end of this magical fourth-down pass from Robert Griffin III against the Giants, a play that might've just been the peak of Griffin's rookie year. Now 30, Paulsen is reuniting with Kyle Shanahan out in San Francisco, continuing to exceed expectations and extending what's been a fruitful NFL career.

Will Compton (2013)

Will Compton's made a steady climb up Washington's roster since entering the league as a free agent linebacker out of Nebraska.

He was cut in his first season back in 2013 but latched onto the practice squad. He eventually debuted near the end of 2013, though, and made the 53-man squad the next go-round. 2015 was when he first started playing regularly, then last year he started 15 contests while also serving as a captain.

In 2017, he'll have to compete with Zach Brown and Mason Foster for a starting gig, but he figures to play plenty no matter the outcome and he's one of Jay Gruden's most trusted defenders. Not bad for a guy who has admitted he "wasn't confident" as a rookie:

Houston Bates (2015)

Special teams often is the avenue a college free agent has to take to make a roster, and Houston Bates is an example of one who's been there, done that. He's appeared in 24 games for the Redskins in his first two NFL campaigns and will look to recover from a torn ACL he suffered last December so he can add to that total in year three.

Before that injury, he was Washington's most active special teams player with 292 snaps in 14 contests.

Quinton Dunbar (2015)

Quinton Dunbar has not only overcome being an undrafted free agent; the former Florida Gator has also made the successful transition from wide receiver to cornerback, too.

Like his classmate Bates, Dunbar has participated often in 2015 and 2016, and like Paulsen, his biggest moments have come against the Giants. As a first-year pro, he picked off Eli Manning in the end zone to the delight of a raucous FedExField crowd, and as a sophomore, he helped complete a risky fake punt and also notched another (absolutely insane) INT in New York:

Rob Kelley (2016)

This offseason, Jay Gruden joked that Rob Kelley has worked his way up from "ninth-string" to starter. He laughed as he said it, but it may not have been that big of an exaggeration.

Kelley never rushed for more than 420 yards at Tulane, but he ripped off 704 last year for the 'Skins. Now he's the top option in a talented backfield, and while Samaje Perine and Chris Thompson are nipping at his heels for carries, Gruden has repeatedly said how much he loves Kelley. He'll be fed plenty in 2017.

Anthony Lanier (2016)

Anthony Lanier's on this list not for what he's done, but for what he's projected to do. Gruden uses not one but two really's to describe how excited he is about Lanier, and a couple of months of working with assistant Jim Tomsula might be all the lineman needs to make the jump from a project to a problem. 

Maurice Harris (2016)

Last on the list is a receiver who displayed sure hands and a knack for converting third downs in limited action last year. Maurice Harris now looks like he'll be an early option off the bench in Gruden's offense and should see the field far more often than he did in the second half of 2016.

You may not be fully sold on Harris, but it sounds like his teammates are, so don't be surprised if he breaks out and develops into another option for Kirk Cousins:

RELATED: RANKING THE REDSKINS ROSTER FROM BOTTOM TO TOP

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Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Need to Know: Redskins by the numbers—First-down rushing, forcing fumbles

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, July 23, four days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 203 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 49 days.

Days until:

—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 18
—Preseason vs. Packers at FedEx Field (8/19) 27
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 41

The Redskins by the numbers

5.01—The average yards per carry against the Redskins on first down last year.

I have noted this before but I took a closer look and it’s even worse. In 2016, four running backs—Isaiah Crowell of the Browns, DeAngelo Williams of the Steelers, Jordan Howard of the Bears, and Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys—gained over 100 yards against Washington on first down alone. It took Elliott two games to get there but the other three made it in one. If the Redskins don’t get this fixed (this is the second year in a row they have been last in the league here) their defense won’t get much better.

3.85—The Redskins average offensive gain per carry on first down.

This is not a very good performance here — the average is 20th in the NFL. But it does represent a significant improvement from 2015, when they were last in the NFL at 3.3 yards per carry. One difference was negative plays. Two years ago, they had 63 first-down plays go for no gain or a loss of yards. Last year they had 48 such plays. Rob Kelley, who was fourth-best in the league as a rookie last year at gaining yardage after being contacted behind the line, can claim a lot of credit.

8—The number of opponents’ fumbles the Redskins recovered this year.

A total of 17 other teams recovered more fumbles than the Redskins did last year and their recoveries were exactly half of what they were in 2015, when they had 16, the most in the league. It wasn’t surprising that their recoveries fell. The numbers crunchers say that fumble recoveries aren’t “sticky,” meaning that there tends to be a lot of variance for each team each year. And that makes sense as a lot of recovering fumbles is the bounce of the ball.

But it should be noted that the Redskins forced just 22 fumbles last year after forcing 36 in 2015. You have to get the ball on the ground to recover it and the Redskins could do a better job of forcing fumbles in 2017

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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