Quick Links

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.

Like Real Redskins on Facebook!

Follow Real Redskins on Instagram @RichTandler

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

The Redskins will host Tim Hightower for a visit on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reported. Bringing Hightower in at this point represents an impressive story far beyond a mundane free agent visit.  

If his career ended today, Tim Hightower's story would already be remarkable. Hightower - a DMV native that played his college ball at the University of Richmond - played for the Redskins in the 2011 season. That season, he tore his ACL, and was limited to five games.

While torn ACL's happen frequently in the NFL, what happened next for Hightower was anything but ordinary. He missed the next three seasons with an undiagnosed infection, before incredibly returning to the NFL in 2015 with the Saints. 

His last two years in New Orleans, Hightower has been a solid contributor behind starting RB Mark Ingram. He's rushed for more than 900 yards, gained another 330 yards through the air and hit the end zone nine times in 24 games for the Saints. 

In Washington, Hightower would join a backfield of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and Matt Jones. It will be interesting to see if Washington adds any other backs through the draft in April as well. 

Born in Waldorf, Hightower went to high school in Alexandria before playing college ball at Richmond. Playing with the 'Skins in 2011, Hightower quickly became a fan favorite, especially with his local ties. 

The Redskins run game has not been particularly strong for a few seasons, and questions remain if the current stable of runners will be enough to improve. Hightower doesn't necesarily equal a significant talent boost, but perhaps coaches and front office staff are looking at the group.

Be aware, however, this could be nothing more than a visit. Triplett reported it remains possible Hightower returns to the Saints. He also visited the 49ers last week, and new San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was running the 'Skins offense in 2011 when the team originally acquired Hightower.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

DON’T MISS OUT - #REDSKINSTALK PODCAST PARTY APRIL 5 AT PENN QUARTER SPORTS TAVERN!

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

Quick Links

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 36 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Isaiah Ford

Wide receiver
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
40-yard dash: 4.61

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying

Ford looks the part of a speed merchant with a tight-skinned, athletic frame, including long limbs. He glides off the line of scrimmage, accelerating fluidly to force defenders to respect his ability to go deep and shows very good balance to sink his hips, as well as burst out of his breaks to create separation. Ford shows the initial quickness and lateral agility to avoid defenders in press coverage, occasionally mixing in a hesitation move to get opponents off-balance. He is willing to run across the middle and cut back inside on quick screens, showing the toughness to absorb big hits and still hang on to the ball. Ford was asked to play outside as well as in the slot

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The top of the Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver looks good with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. But depth is a concern, especially with Doctson’s durability a question mark. On top of that, Pryor is there on a one-year contract so there must be some succession planning at the position.

Ford was a very productive receiver at Virginia Tech, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He has the knack for making the sensational catch and he isn’t afraid to go across the middle.

At 6-1 he has the height that seems to be the trend on the Redskins’ wide receiver corps lately. Ford could be a good mid-round pick for the team to develop in 2017 and be ready to be a full contributor in 2018.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Pitt

Ford is not afraid to run slants over the middle and is willing to cut back to the center of the field after catching bubble screens.

His run blocking ranged from unimpressive to bad with the caveat that it’s hard to evaluate on the TV camera angles. This is an area that can be improved with NFL coaching. Adding a few pounds to his 194-lb. frame could help, too. It also sometimes appears that he could use more bulk to help him use his height when fighting for a ball.

The good and the bad of Ford was on display in the span of a few minutes during the Pitt game. He made a spectacular catch on a tipped ball that bounced off of both him and the defensive back (view here) while they were on the ground. Ford had the awareness to scoop the ball off the chest of the defender and secure it to make the catch. A little while later he was in a great position to made a catch for a first down but he bobbled the ball as he was falling out of bounds (view here) and the pass was incomplete.

In the games I reviewed Ford showed a good knack to make back shoulder catches, something the Redskins don’t seem to like to try. But the ability is there if they draft him and want to try it.

Potential issues: Ford looks skinny, almost fragile, at 194 pounds. If he does add weight he needs to do so without losing much speed. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 at the combine. Against college defensive backs he looks fast enough but that will be a different story in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Redskins can’t go into the season with a very green Maurice Harris and a very pedestrian Ryan Grant as their backup wide receivers. They need a player who can provide depth in 2017 and be able to step up to have a legitimate shot at starting in 2018.

There will be several prospects in the third- and fourth- round range who could be the guy. If the Redskins think that Ford can add a few pounds without sacrificing speed and brush up on his run blocking a bit, they could take a serious look at him.

In his own words:

On how the coaching change from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente helped him:

I think it simplified everything for us. It limited the amount of routes that I ran - slants, outs, fades and posts; my first two years, I was running digs, post curls, comebacks, things like that - that was fine. I'm comfortable doing both. The route-running was never a problem for me because I feel that's what I do best. Being able to play primarily 'X' last year, winning those 50-50 balls and running those routes, it helped me.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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.