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Move up, move down. . .or move out?

Move up, move down. . .or move out?

There has been a lot of talk of the Washington Redskins trading down from their #21 slot in the upcoming NFL draft. In fact, Vinny Cerrato has publicly placed a "For Sale" sign on that pick.

Such a move could garner the team picks high in the second and third rounds. That would give the Skins five of the top 100 picks, a great setup for a team not necessarily looking for any immediate starters to come out of the draft but one that needs replacements to groom for aging and/or expensive starters.

According to Jason LaCanfora in the Post, there are some at Redskins Park who could see the Redskins trading up if offensive lineman Branden Albert of Virginia was available at around pick #15. Such a move would cost the Redskins their third-rounder this year (the original; they can't trade the compensatory pick they were awarded) and next. It's probably a moot point as it's likely that Albert will be gone by then, but it's still something to keep an eye on.

How about a third option? Suppose a team calls while the Redskins are on the clock and offers next year's first and some other, lower picks for Washington's pick at #21. Should the Redskins consider such an offer?

We have an example of what such a deal might look like in the Redskins' recent past. A few days before the 2005 draft they traded away their 2005 third-round pick and their 2006 first and fourth rounders for Denver's first '05 pick, #25 overall.

Suppose the Carolina Panthers take defensive Derrick Harvey with their pick and #13 and then decide to make a move for their quarterback of the future. They will need someone to take over when Jake Delhomme is done, something that is likely to be the case sooner rather than later. Brian Brohm of Louisville is there when the Redskins are on the clock at #21. Marty Hurney decides to make his move.

He offers next year's first and third and this year's third for Washington's first. Should Cerrato take it?

If this or something like it is offered, Vinny should take it and run.

The main reason it makes sense for the Redskins to delay gratification is that Jim Zorn is going into his first year as head coach. He doesn't really know who on the team can perform in his version of the West Coast offense and who is going to struggle to adapt.

And while Greg Blache will be running a defense similar to that of Gregg Williams, he will have his own wrinkles and it will take live game action for him to see how his personnel adjust.

Instead of expending a first-round pick when you really don't know what you're looking for, it would be wise to wait a year, make a thorough assessment of what you have and what you need, and then make this year's first-round pick in 2009. Along with that first, the Redskins would have Carolina's third, giving them five of the top 100 picks in the '09 draft.

In the meantime, the Skins would get a third this year (if the deal is with the Panthers it would be the 74th overall) and they would still have four of the top 100 picks.

For a team that needs to get younger in a hurry that's an offer they can't refuse.

We don't know if such a deal will present itself. If it does, Cerrato and company would be very wise to consider it.

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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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