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Is keeping RG3 the right move for the Redskins?

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Is keeping RG3 the right move for the Redskins?

It appears that the Robert Griffin III saga with the Redskins is going to go on, at least for a while longer. According to a report all of the major decision makers in the organization have concluded that the best thing to do is to keep Griffin on the roster as the No. 2 quarterback behind Kirk Cousins.

But is it really the best thing to do? There are a number of sound reasons for the Redskins to move on from Griffin sooner rather than later.

—If he gets injured in practice or during a game, the team could be on the hook to pay him over $16 million next year.

—It puts a lot of pressure on Cousins. If he makes a mistake could be looking over his shoulder at the guy who was once the savior of the franchise.

—The very presence of Griffin in the building tends to create distractions. He can say the wrong thing to the media, put up a social media post that invites intense scrutiny or do any number of things that can put the spotlight on him and take it away from the other 52 players on the team.

—Giving Griffin a chance to move on and find another team could be the best for him. A fresh start could revive his career and give him a chance at success.

But there are valid counter arguments to each of these:

—The chances of him getting an injury severe enough to have him fail a physical next March are pretty slim. Practice is non-contact for quarterbacks. He could get hurt in a game but that is a chance they are willing to take.

—If Cousins can’t handle the pressure of having a quarterback who hasn’t played well for two seasons, how is he going to go into Dallas and win? Cousins has earned his opportunity but a quarterback in his position has to expect to have a competent backup behind him. Whether it’s Griffin, Colt McCoy, or someone else, Cousins should have a backup who is a threat to take his job behind him until he earns the right to be fully trusted.

—Griffin has every incentive to be a model citizen for however long he remains with the Redskins. He will spend the season auditioning for a 2016 backup job either in Washington or, more likely, elsewhere. If he ends up being a distraction his options will be extremely limited when he is looking for a job next spring. He is probably going to be on his best behavior.

—An NFL contract perhaps is unfair but it is what it is. If it is in the best interest of the team to keep him the contract gives them the right to do so. What the player wants is secondary to what the team wants. I recall that not too long ago many thought that Cousins should be let go or traded to give him a chance to start and prosper elsewhere. Things change and now Cousins has his chance to start.

The arguments for him to stay don’t necessarily invalidate the case for him to go. This move ultimately will be judged by results. If he takes over as the starter at some point and is productive the decision to keep him will be a success. If he should get injured and become a drag on the 2016 salary cap the decision for him to stay will be a disaster.

It is most likely that the outcome will be something in the middle. We will see how it all plays out.

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

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