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Need to Know: Will the Redskins go offensive line in round one?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins go offensive line in round one?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 5, 22 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 12
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 37
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 49
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 149

Will the Redskins go for an offensive lineman in the first round?

The Redskins will have some interesting options with the 17th overall pick. They could justify drafting at just about any position on defense. We all know about the line, where holes abound despite the signing of two free agents. The top three inside linebackers are all likely to be free agents in 2018. You can’t have too many good edge rushers and you can say the same about cornerbacks. Nobody is sure if the Redskins have a free safety on the roster, with both D.J. Swearinger and Su’a Cravens both possibly better suited to strong.

On the other side of the ball there has been plenty of chatter about taking a running back in the first, some of it coming from the head coach. With Terrelle Pryor on a one-year deal a wide receiver could be under consideration. And if the Redskins are certain that Kirk Cousins won’t be back in 2018 they have to look hard at a first-round quarterback.

The offensive line is another story. The tackle spots are set with Morgan Moses and Trent Williams with Ty Nsekhe as the swing backup. Brandon Scherff may not miss a snap at right guard for the next five years. They seem to like Spencer Long at center.

And while I could see the Redskins using a draft pick on someone to be Shawn Lauvao’s successor at left guard I strongly doubt it will be the first-round pick.

There are a few reasons why. For one, Jay Gruden might punch someone if the Redskins take a guard in the first round. The day after last season ended, Gruden lamented the lack of impact the team has received from first-round picks in his tenure in Washington.

"We’re getting there, but we’ve had, what, two first-round picks since I’ve been here? One of them hasn’t played a down, or played one game, and the other one is a guard," he said. "We have got to utilize our picks."

The word “guard” was said rather dismissively, almost disdainfully. He certainly likes Scherff but guard is simply not a high-impact position. Of the eight guards who were picked for the Pro Bowl last year, two of them, Scherff and Zach Martin of the Cowboys, were taken in the first round. The other six were taken, on average, in the third.

If you can get a good guard either late on Friday night or on Saturday, why take one in the first?

You mention Lauvao’s salary as a factor in taking Forrest Lamp. But the No. 17 pick in the draft will get a deal that has a $2.1 million cap hit in 2017. Cutting Lauvao would save $4 million so you’re saving just $1.9 million this year. That’s not insignificant but it’s only about 1.1 percent of the $167 million cap.

Over the course of the four years that first-round pick’s contract will rise to a $3.7 million cap hit. On the other hand, a third-round guard will carry a $670,000 cap hit as a rookie and the entire value of his deal over four years will be $3.2 million with the cap hit never going over $1 million in any season.

The better course of action would be to find a mid-round guard who can take over for Lauvao in a year. I have to think that this would be Gruden’s preferred course of action and he has a loud voice in the draft room.

With all of this said, I also was dubious that they would take Scherff fifth overall two years ago. Perhaps I am making the mistake that many analysts make in assuming the organization views my way of thinking is common sense, so why would they do otherwise? But the way Gruden said “guard” in that press conference gives me some confidence that I will be right this time around.

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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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

<<<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!

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

 

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For Redskins, will shorter term with full guarantees get a Cousins deal done?

For Redskins, will shorter term with full guarantees get a Cousins deal done?

The prevailing notion around the Redskins negotiations with Kirk Cousins on a long-term deal seem to center around a five-year contract, especially after the Raiders reached a five-year extension with Derek Carr, their young star quarterback. 

Much group think points to a similar deal between Cousins and the Redskins. If you're Cousins, however, why sign?

The Redskins passer has all the leverage in the situation. He's got $20 million in the bank from the 2016 season, and he's due $24 million this season on the franchise tag. All guaranteed. 

RELATED: What is the risk for Kirk Cousins in terms of a deal?

Washington team president Bruce Allen has repeatedly talked about team options for 2018. Those options would be a $28 million transition tag or another franchise tag at $34 million. Expensive options. Cousins has repeatedly talked about market value, and how he has little choice in what happens. 

One area Cousins has control: signing a multi-year contract. 

The longer this thing drags out, it seems more and more likely Cousins will play on the tag in 2017. While it might seem crazy, the Redskins have strongly suggested another tag is in play for 2018. 

That means Cousins would be in D.C. at least two more seasons. As Grant Paulsen reported, last offseason the Cousins camp was looking for a three-year deal with all guaranteed money, based on the 2016 franchise tag salary of about $20 million.

Could a similar, albeit more costly, deal get done now based on the 2017 franchise tag? Three years, $24 million per, all guaranteed?

Cousins knows, and has said, that the team can keep him at least two more seasons. The Redskins also know, should they use the transition tag to save some money, Cousins can walk with hardly any compensation next offseason. Is the organization brave enough to try a non-exclusive franchise tag in 2018? Cousins would likely be quick to sign a one-year deal at $34 million, and teams could wait for him to hit free agency in 2019.

The Redskins are low on options. Maybe less years makes more sense for Cousins, and maybe, just maybe, that can get a deal done. 

Washington might want a long-term deal, but after messing up this contract situation for two years, maybe now they should take what they can get. 

<<<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!

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