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Need to Know: The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017

Need to Know: The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 10, 58 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 50
NFL draft 107
First Sunday of 2017 season 243

The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017

—I think that it’s bad that the Redskins missed the playoffs for one reason that outweighs all others. You can’t replace the experience of playing in a playoff game. These players missed that opportunity. And, strongly related to that is that the best way to measure the progress of a quarterback is how he performs in the postseason. The Redskins didn’t get that data point that they could have used to evaluate Cousins’ value.

—The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017. After making the playoffs and going one and done in 2015, last season was supposed to be the year that they returned to the postseason and won a game. The fact that they didn’t get it done puts extra pressure on this coming year. It’s hard to make progress in the NFL and it’s even harder to hold on to it once you’ve made it. I don’t see the passing game being as effective as it was this past season, not with the probability that DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon will be gone in 2017. Either that production will have to come from a significantly improved running game or the defense will have to be substantially better than it was last year.

—Even though Scot McCloughan did not draft a defensive lineman until the fifth round last year, he thought the defensive line would be covered. Chris Baker was fine at one end. He believed that 2015 free agent signee Stephen Paea would bounce back from injury issues and a slow adjustment to the Redskins’ defensive system and become a solid player. Kedric Golston was penciled in for 15 snaps per game at nose tackle. McCloughan figured that between holdover Ricky Jean Francois and free agent Kendall Reyes he would have two adequate rotational linemen. But only Baker and Jean Francois worked out as planned. Paea never got going and was cut before the season started, Reyes was cut a few weeks into the season, and Golston was on injured reserve with a torn hamstring after Week 2. So, they ended up with Ziggy Hood and Cullen Jenkins playing major roles when they should have been much further down the depth chart, if they belonged on an NFL roster at all.

—As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry (I use that saying even though it never made sense to me; mice never struck me as being particularly good planners). The thing is, McCloughan’s plan wasn’t particularly well laid. It relied on a 33-year-old player, Golston, staying healthy. It also involved hoping that Paea could rebound and that Reyes’ play would elevate above the mediocre level he displayed in his previous stop in San Diego. There is no such thing as a sure thing in the NFL; there is always some degree of hoping that things go right. But this setup would have defied the odds if it had worked, like drawing three cards to an inside straight.

—We don’t know if things would have been better if McCloughan had drafted a defensive lineman earlier than the fifth round. Perhaps Vernon Butler, taken by the Panthers No. 30 overall, or Kenny Clark, the Packers’ pick with the 27th pick, would have improved the line significantly. But had a talented D-lineman been selected the team would not be starting from scratch like they might be with Baker set to enter free agency. Having one piece of the puzzle isn’t ideal but it’s better than having none.

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Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Dalvin Cook, Joe Mixon could be out of reach for Redskins per oddsmakers

Florida State running back Dalvin Cook visited Redskins Park earlier this month. The Redskins did their homework on Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon in advance of the draft.

All of that pre-draft work might not matter though as Cook and Mixon will be off the board before the Redskins pick in the second round. At least according to oddsmakers.

Bovada.lv set over/under scenarios for both players. Cook lands at 38.5 and Mixon landed at 42.5.

[Related: Top end talent still available for Redskins in second round, but red flags remain]

Certainly both guys can go past the numbers established by the oddsmakers, but there's a reason drinks are free in Las Vegas. Oddsmakers tend to be very, very close when they set lines.

Considering that, if Washington wants either player, the team would likely have to trade up.

Much speculation has Cook the first player off the board to the Packers with the 33rd pick. It seems like a good fit.

[Related: Casserly says that Jonathan Allen is a more talented player than Solomon Thomas]

Mixon is more interesting. His loathsome action a few years back that was caught on video will continue to haunt him, but he will get drafted in the second round. He has the talent.

Bruce Allen has the capital to make a move. The team has nine more picks in the next six rounds. There's also the report that the team is shopping third-year pro Matt Jones.

Could a package of Jones and a late round pick entice a trade? It could.

Much like Thursday night, there will be plenty to watch Friday night.

More Redskins: Need to know: Five possible second and third round picks for the Redskins

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Top-end talent still available for Redskins in Round 2 of NFL Draft, but red flags remain

Top-end talent still available for Redskins in Round 2 of NFL Draft, but red flags remain

The Redskins started the draft with a bang Thursday night by selecting Alabama DL Jonathan Allen with the 17th pick.

In many ways, getting the best player available on their board that also satisfies a serious need for Washington, the franchise amassed significant capital they can spend on Friday night.

[Related: Jonathan Allen plans to model his game after two All-Pro defenders]

So, what to do next? Let's look at some top options.

  • Joe Mixon - The Oklahoma running back made a deplorable decision a few years ago that was caught on tape. It will haunt his career, yet, at some point his talent is too much to pass up. The Redskins have done their homework on Mixon, and if the 6-foot-1, 226 lbs. gasher lasts to 49, the 'Skins will have a call to make.
  • Malik McDowell - A top 15 talent with questions, sliding to the 49th pick might be the exact motivation McDowell needs to be his best every snap. Pairing Allen with McDowell would be a significant investment in the defensive line for Bruce Allen.
  • Tyus Bowser - Want a freak athlete? This is your guy. A college hoops player at Houston, Bowser has impressive speed and torque off the edge. He can get to quarterbacks, and that's a skill every team needs.
  • Terrell Basham - His name isn't as well known since he played in the MAC but this kid has big-time game. Basham impressed scouts at the Senior Bowl and is an edge rushing talent. He won't make it to the third round.
  • Teez Tabor - Redskins director of college scouting Scott Campbell made clear that his organizational philosophy values game tape over combine numbers. In that case, Tabor is a first rounder. He's great on the field, has a fierce competitive streak and is a local kid. His Florida teammate Quincy Wilson could also be a fit. There will be a lot of good secondary players available for Washington at 49; Tabor might be the top of the list.
  • Zach Cunningham - A tackling machine in the SEC, this could be an easy pick. No question marks. Just good talent. The Redskins played it smart Thursday night, stayed patient and took the best player on their board. Same thing could land Cunningham Friday.
  • Dan Feeney - The Redskins could add depth to their offensive line and Feeney would be a good choice. A guard with good feet, he could learn the speed of the NFL in 2017 and  be the 'Skins starting left guard in 2018.

More Redskins: Jonathan Allen pick gives Redskins more freedom for the rest of the draft