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Need to Know: Can the Redskins draft an immediate starter on the O-line?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins draft an immediate starter on the O-line?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 27, three days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

A milestone

First, before we get to the post here, I’d like to note that today marks Need to Know No. 1,000. This daily dose of Redskins news and notes has been posted 1,000 straight days, every morning since July 31, 2012.

I appreciate all of you who spend a few moments in the morning to check this out. We’ve had 13.3 million page views here in the last thousand days and the daily audience continues to grow. Thanks for reading and for all of your comments here and on social media. You folks make it all worthwhile.

Now, on to what you came here for . . .

Nickel Coverage

Five thoughts about the Redskins and the NFL draft, which thankfully is just a few days away.

—The last time the Redskins had a pick in the top five was in 2012 and everyone knew the pick at No. 2 was going to be Robert Griffin III. And by this time in 2010 word had filtered out at Redskins Park that Trent Williams would be Washington’s pick at No. 4. This year things are pretty well buttoned down. There are plenty of guesses as to where Scot McCloughan will go but nothing even remotely resembling a reliable report regarding who McCloughan prefers.

—Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t get mock drafts from some of the top draft analysts—Todd McShay of ESPN among them—who have the Redskins taking Shane Ray of Missouri with the fifth pick. He’s a very good player and his toe injury doesn’t seem to be that serious. But there is plenty of debate over whether or not he has the athleticism needed to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. It seems to me that if you have any of Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, or even Bud Dupree on the board, players you know can play the OLB position, why even think about taking Ray?

—How long will Byron Jones last? The UConn cornerback/safety generally was graded as a mid-round pick before the combine with a shoulder injury dinging his stock. Then he jumped a world-record 12 feet in the broad jump in Indianapolis and there seemed to be an irrational jump in his stock. With the Redskins in need of a free safety to play behind Dashon Goldson and to take Goldson’s job in 2016, keep an eye on Jones if he’s still there when the Redskins pick in the second round at No. 38. That may be too high for McCloughan, who is not impressed by performances in T-shirts and shorts at combines and pro days. But if Washington ends up with a later pick in the second via a trade, Jones could be the guy.

—You always have to be careful about assuming a draft pick is going to be an instant starter, or even a starter at any point. But an offensive lineman taken in the first two rounds is a pretty good bet to slide in as the primary starter as a rookie. There were 11 offensive linemen taken in the first and second rounds last year. All but three of them started at least 12 games.

—NFL.com ran a seven-round mock draft and the first three picks for Washington match up with their three top positional needs. Fowler is the top pick, offensive tackle T. J. Clemmings goes in the second and it’s defensive back Alex Carter of Stanford, who played cornerback but could move to safety, in the third. I think most Redskins fans could live with that, except for the crowd that wants to see multiple trades back and eight to 10 offensive linemen selected.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Scot McCloughan pre-draft news conference, noon, Redskins Park

—It’s been 120 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 139 days until they play another one.

Days until: 2015 NFL Draft 3; Redskins minicamp starts 50; Redskins training camp starts 94

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.