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Need to Know: Five players the Redskins could have had in the 2008 draft

Need to Know: Five players the Redskins could have had in the 2008 draft

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 25, 72 days before the Redskins start offseason workouts.

Nickel coverage

With the report that Fred Davis is facing a six-game suspension at the start of the 2014 season, the Redskins’ draft class of 2008 is total loss. That’s in large part due to the second round, where the Redskins chose three players from whom they got minimal returns—Davis (48th overall pic) and wide receivers Devin Thomas (34th) and Malcolm Kelly (51st). Here are five players they could have had instead:

CB Brandon Flowers (drafted by Chiefs, pick 35 overall)—Flowers made his first Pro Bowl this year, an honor for which he was long overdue. He has started 87 games and has 17 interceptions.

WR Jordy Nelson (Packers, 36th)—He had more receptions as a rookie, 33, than Kelly had in his NFL career (28). Nelson has been a valuable target for Aaron Rodgers and is coming off of a career-high 85-catch season.

WR DeSean Jackson (Eagles, 49th)—You might note that this is one pick after the Redskins took Davis. Jackson would be of value to the Redskins as a punt returner alone, with his 9.9-yard average and four career touchdowns. That’s not to mention his three 1,000-yard seasons as a receiver, leading to three Pro Bowl appearances.

RB Ray Rice (Ravens, 55th)—Yes, the Redskins had Clinton Portis at the time, but it was clear that with his playing style he wouldn’t last forever. He is still a productive back while Portis has been retired since after the 2010 season.

RB Jamaal Charles (Chiefs, 73rd)—He’s been first-team All-Pro twice and, like Rice, he’s a threat as both a runner and receiver. Had Peyton Manning not had the season that he had Charles would have been a legitimate candidate for MVP in 2013. There are reports that the Redskins were strongly considering drafting him but someone decided to go with Kelly.

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Timeline

—It’s been 27 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 225 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Combine 25; NFL Free agency starts 45; NFL Draft 103

In case you missed it

Defensive prospects at the Senior Bowl

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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USA TODAY Sports Images

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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