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Just a guy

Just a guy

The Washington Redskins go into the NFL draft next weekend and the popular perception is that they have at least three glaring needs. It's considered unacceptable to have either Jon Jansen or Stephon Heyer starting at right tackle, relying on a tag team of Phillip Daniels and Renaldo Wynn at left defensive end is a shaky plan at best and there isn't a starting-quality strong-side linebacker on the roster.

The Redskins can expect to have the opportunity to get an immediate starter at one of those positions on Saturday when their first-round pick comes up at No. 13. If you're reading this, you know the names—Michael Oher and Andre Smith at tackle, Brian Orakpo and Robert Ayers at end and Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing at linebacker.

Or they might elect not to take any of those players if they trade up to take USC quarterback Mark Sanchez. Dan Snyder, Vinny Cerrato and Jim Zorn spent Friday night wining and dining Sanchez at a trendy D. C. restaurant. I don't think that they waste their time doing that unless they are serious about making a move. That doesn't mean that it will happen but it has to be considered to be a possibility.

So, two or three of the above needs will remain after the first day of the draft. You can't count on getting immediate help on the second day so come Sunday night when Mr. Irrelevant is named the Skins still will be unsettled in more than one position.

And many, if not most, NFL teams will be in the same boat. You can't fill every starting position with a high draft pick or with a premium free agent. Sometimes you have to go with someone who is just a guy.

Should the Redskins not land an offensive tackle that guy could be Jansen or Heyer or maybe Devin Clark, a rookie free agent who spent last year on the practice squad. Wynn, Daniels, and Chris Wilson could be the guys rotating at left DE. H. B. Blades was a guy who filled in at linebacker last year and didn't embarrass himself. Or another guy who could end up starting at the Sam linebacker is the recently-signed Robert Thomas, who has started 50 NFL games in six years in the league.

If you're starting just a guy, it's likely that you have to design your schemes to compensate for the average to below-average skills that your guy possesses. For this reason, the Redskins might be well advised to use their top pick on either the linebacker or the end. Since they usually are lined up on the same side of the field it makes it much more difficult to cover the weak spot.

And, again, the Redskins will not be alone if they start a couple of players who are just a guy. Virtually every NFL team has to pull a guy off the bench or sign a guy who is in low demand as a free agent and insert him into the starting lineup.

This isn't to say that this is the ideal situation. That would be to have a young player who you drafted a couple of years ago ready to step in and start. But with 22 starting positions to fill, so much player movement and the uncertainties of the draft it doesn't always work out that way. And, since the Redskins trade away so many draft picks (last year being very much the exception) they have that ready-to-go player available less often than most teams.

But if it's not ideal that doesn't mean that it's a disaster. Nevertheless, Redskins Nation is likely to be fretting and wringing its collective hands on Monday morning, lamenting unfilled needs. Chances are, though, that a few guys will end up working out just fine.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.