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Need to Know: Examining the Redskins' pre-free agency depth chart

Need to Know: Examining the Redskins' pre-free agency depth chart

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 10, the day the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency. It officially gets underway at 4 p.m.

Depth chart pre-free agency

With free agency starting in just a few hours let’s take a look at the Redskins’ depth chart as is stands now. We’ll bookmark this and look back prior when we hit other milestones—the draft, the start of training camp, the start of the season—to compare and examine changes.

Starters in bold

Offense

QB: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins
This is the spotlight position this year; it’s make or break for both of these players. A third QB will need to be acquired at some point.

RB: Alfred Morris, Darrel Young, Chris Thompson, Silas Redd
Morris and Young are going into the last year of their contracts and Redd and Thompson are very much unproven. If Roy Helu leaves as a free agent we can look for another back to be added in free agency or the draft.

WR: DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant
The team will need a wide receiver. We don’t know for certain how much interest there is in bringing back Santana Moss and/or Leonard Hankerson.

TE: Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen
Paul has re-signed. There has been chatter that they might try to replace Paulsen as the blocking tight end but there hasn’t been much movement at this point.

OL: Trent Williams, Shawn Lauvao, Kory Lichtensteiger, Chris Chester, Tom Compton, Spencer Long, Morgan Moses, Josh LeRibeus, Tyler Larsen, Xavier Nixon
There probably won’t be as much change here between now and the start of the season as some would like. But there are likely to be some new faces and some competition for positions, especially on the right side. C Tyler Larsen and T Xavier Nixon are street free agent pickups who will be worth watching.

Defense

DL: Jason Hatcher, Stephen Paea, Chris Baker, Ricky Jean-Francois, Kedric Golston, Frank Kearse
This is just a guess at how they’d line up if the season started today; we will have to see what Joe Barry does with the scheme. They aren’t done here yet if Jarvis Jenkins leaves in free agency. There are a few intriguing prospects like NT Robert Thomas and the massive LaKendrick Ross (6-4, 350) to keep an eye on.

LB: Trent Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Adam Hayward, Jackson Jeffcoat, Steve Beauharnais
There is plenty of talk that the top draft choice will line up at outside linebacker so this could well change substantially. It will be interesting to see if the team tries to bring in veteran linebackers to bolster special teams like they did last year (Hayward, Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton) or if they go with younger players like Jeffcoat.

DB: David Amerson, Bashaud Breeland, Phillip Thomas, Vacant, DeAngelo Hall, Tracy Porter, Akeem Davis, Duke Ihenacho
The Redskins need to find someone to line up at free safety and at least a Plan B in case Thomas can’t get it done at strong. Between free agency and the draft as many as five defensive backs could be added.

Specialists: PK Kai Forbath, P Tress Way, LS Nick Sundberg
Forbath is back on a restricted free agent tender so this is set, although it wouldn’t be surprising if a competitor for Forbath will be brought in. The team also could add a return specialist, an area that has been hurting for a few years.

Timeline

—It’s been 72 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 187 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 41; 2015 NFL Draft 51; Redskins training camp starts 142

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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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

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

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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