Quick Links

Need to Know: RB McCaffrey to visit Redskins but will he be there at No. 17 if they want him?

Need to Know: RB McCaffrey to visit Redskins but will he be there at No. 17 if they want him?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 7, 20 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 10
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 35
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 47
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 147

Friday three and out

1. It looks like Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey is going to be visiting the Redskins.

Rapoport is alluding to talk among some analysts that there is a growing belief that McCaffrey will be a top-10 draft pick. He reportedly has visited the Panthers, who pick at No. 8.

Carolina has been linked to LSU RB Leonard Fournette ever since the draft order was set in January. But the word is that may want to go with the more versatile McCaffery. If the Redskins do want to get one of the three top backs in this draft, they may have to take Dalvin Cook, who has explosive ability but some fumbling and off-field issues.

2. I still can’t shake the feeling that the Redskins might take a quarterback in the first, with the loss of Cousins as a free agent in 2018 looming. Some mock drafts have Mitchell Trubisky and Deshaun Watson going in the top 10. But this one by Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Media has every quarterback in the draft available to the Redskins at No. 17.

The knocks against the quarterbacks in this class are that they will take at least a year to develop. To a team that needs an immediate starter they are not the answer. But could Watson or Trubisky get the job done after developing for a year behind Cousins? It’s something the organization must think about.

3. While drafting a quarterback in the first round might have some howling I don’t think anyone would object to an interior defensive lineman at No. 17. The problem is that when the Redskins are on the clock there might not be one on the board who is worth the 17th picks. Look at this prospect ranking on CBSSports.com. DT Jonathan Allen of Alabama is ranked fourth. Then you look down the list and there isn’t another interior defensive lineman until you get to Malik McDowell at No. 23.

Assuming Allen is gone, the solution for the Redskins may be to trade back. Per the draft trade value chart, they could pick up a third-round pick for moving back from No. 17 to No. 23. That would give them four of the top 81 picks. The obvious potential problem here is that you need to have a team that wants to trade up.

Of course, each team’s board is different and the Redskins may well have a higher grade on a given D-lineman than the outside analysts do. But the point is that there may well be a dry hole when it comes to the defensive line at No. 17 that could force the Redskins to reach, try to trade back, or go with another position.

 Out—By my count, 21 of the Redskins who are currently under contract are set to be unrestricted free agents in 2018. That’s a lot but it may not be as bad as it sounds. I count eight who are either on the bubble for making the roster this year, players like Phillip Taylor and Derek Carrier, or who are unlikely to be offered contracts next year, like Shawn Lauvao or DeAngelo Hall.

They should have some cap space to work with, especially if they aren’t paying a quarterback a lot of money (perhaps a good reason to draft their 2018 starting QB this year). Looking at how things stand currently and figuring in some for the draft picks who will be under contract in 2018 the Redskins should have in the neighborhood of $50-$55 million in salary cap space.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on the roster

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on the roster

True or false: The Redskins will carry four tight ends on their roster this year.

Rich Tandler: True

The Redskins drafted a tight end to a roster that had four experienced players at the position already on it. But, make no mistake, fifth-round selection Jeremy Sprinkle was not a “luxury” pick.

Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis are both stone cold locks to make the roster. They are the pass catchers who are expected to combine for perhaps 1,500 yards and at least a dozen touchdowns.

The third tight end could be Niles Paul, a veteran who has battled injuries the last two years. He appears to be healthy and if he stays that way he can play tight end, be the fullback on the six or eight snaps per game the Redskins use one, and be a strong contributor on special teams.

Sprinkle can fill a role that those three can’t—blocking tight end. Jay Gruden had to put tackle Ty Nsekhe on the field when they needed a three-tight end set. That made the job of the defense easier with essentially four eligible receivers to deal with.

With a well-defined role for each player, it would make perfect sense for the Redskins to carry four tight ends on the 53-man roster rather than the customary three. Of course, if they carry four at tight end they have to go with one fewer player elsewhere. They will find a spot.

Running back seems to be the logical place to go for that spot. If they keep, say, Mack Brown as the fourth running back you then have a player without a defined role. He’s the backup to the backup to the backup. Sure, he can do special teams but not as well as Paul.

Perhaps if you want to keep Brown you let go of Paul, with his recent injury history and his $2.2 million cap number in mind. Or you can let Sprinkle get some seasoning on the practice squad.

But I think that the Redskins drafted Sprinkle with the plan to keep four tight ends. If they are going to go with their best, most versatile 53 that is what they will do.

JP Finlay: False

Man, this is tough. If you asked me this in May, I thought Niles Paul would be caught in a roster crunch. After watching the guys on the field through OTAs and minicamp, this decision becomes much harder. 

Paul played well in OTAs and camp, showed no rust from the injuries and impressed regardless what quarterback he was paired up with. Sprinkle looked like a rookie with a lot to learn, and while he's really big, he still seemed like his upper body could fill out in the NFL. 

In a vacuum it's easy to say the Redskins should keep four tight ends. Like Tandler laid out above, Reed and Davis are roster locks. Paul can help in a ton of spots, and Sprinkle should evolve into the blocking tight end for the jumbo set. 

But NFL rosters aren't made in vacuums. To keep a fourth tight end, the Redskins will have to make a cut, and Tandler suggested Mack Brown could be the guy. I don't see that happening. Jay Gruden and Randy Jordan speak glowingly about Brown. 

This will be a fun roster spot to watch, but in June, before any injuries or the competition of training camp, I think the Redskins keep Reed, Davis and Paul. Then they really, really hope they can sneak the rookie Sprinkle to their practice squad. Washington has not kept three healthy tight ends on their roster in the last few seasons, and if that trend continues, Sprinkle would make the NFL roster before the end of the year. Keeping four tight ends just isn't a luxury the Redskins have, especially keeping three quarterbacks like they're expected to do. 

Tandler-Finlay True or False series: Leading rusher | Leading receiver

Quick Links

Standouts and scrubs: Looking at Bruce Allen's track record with quarterbacks

Standouts and scrubs: Looking at Bruce Allen's track record with quarterbacks

Much can be learned looking to the past, at least that's what thousands of college students hear every fall when they sit down for History 101. Assuming the premise is true, perhaps something can be learned from looking back at Bruce Allen's tenure across the NFL and the quarterbacks that started for those teams. 

A refresher, Allen worked with the Raiders and Bucs before coming to the Redskins. Allen started with the Raiders in 1995, and worked his way up through the front office, earning the NFL's Executive of the Year award in 2002. He left the Raiders to work with Jon Gruden in Tampa in 2004, after the pair experienced much success together with the Raiders. Tampa fired Allen in 2008, and he came to work with the Redskins in 2010. 

His tenure with the Raiders showcased the best QB find in his file: Rich Gannon. Before coming to Oakland, Gannon earned the journeyman title, starting 58 games over 11 seasons for the Chiefs, Vikings and, yes, the Redskins.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Once Gannon and Gruden worked together, everything clicked. The Raiders started winning games and Gannon started to pile up impressive offensive stats. He was the quarterback when Oakland lost the infamous 'Tuck Rule' playoff game against New England, and won an NFL MVP award in 2002 while guiding the Raiders to the Super Bowl (which they lost to a Jon Gruden coached Tampa team). 

Gannon was a find, undoubtedly. Beyond that, Allen's resume on quarterbacks gets pretty ugly.

In fact, Kirk Cousins would probably rank as the second best QB of all Bruce Allen teams. In Tampa, the quarterback position was a revolving door, and included luminaries (sarcasm font) like Chris Simms, Brian Griese and Bruce Gradkowski. The Bucs added Jeff Garcia in 2007, and he had some success, but was 37 years old at that point. 

Once he got to Washington, the Redskins trotted out a collection of subpar passers like a past his prime Donovan McNabb, never actually good John Beck and Rex Grossman. Rex needs no introduction. 

In 2012, the Redskins quarterback fortunes changed. The team made a very aggressive trade to draft Robert Griffin III. RG3 was supposed to be the franchise savior, and for much of his rookie season, that plan seemed to be working. 

Injuries and infighting ruined Griffin's time with the Redskins, and opened the door for 2012 fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins to emerge. 

Now, in 2017, Cousins has twice broken the Redskins single season passing yards record and cemented himself as a quality NFL starter. His long-term future with the organization remains uncertain, as Cousins will play this season on a one-year contract and the prospect of a multi-year contract seems slim. 

It's hard to draw too many conclusions looking the quarterbacks throughout Allen's tenure. Before Gannon in Oakland, the Raiders tried a variety of other journeyman QBs (Jeff Hostetler, Jeff George). One could argue they got lucky with Gannon, or that the organization brought out his best tools. Either way it's a positive grade.

In Tampa, the results look much worse. On paper, it seemed the Bucs tried to get cheap, available quarterbacks and make them work, believing strongly in their offensive system. It didn't work. 

In Washington, particularly during the Grossman/Beck season, it seemed the Redskins tried a similar approach. That ended in 2012 with the trade for RG3. The Redskins paid up big time, in the form of draft picks. 

Now it's arguable that a deal with Cousins can even be reached, but if that does happen, it will be because the Redskins pay up. Recent history doesn't suggest it, but this situation has never presented itself either. Cousins is a fourth-round pick that emerged after a few volatile seasons to establish himself as a Top 15 NFL starter.

There's no lesson for that in the history books. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!