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Need to Know: Five possible Redskins first-round draft targets

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Need to Know: Five possible Redskins first-round draft targets

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 22, 33 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Five possible Redskins first-round draft targets

As I noted here yesterday, it’s too early to go in depth into the draft. But it’s not to early to peruse some prospect rankings and mock drafts and talk about some players the Redskins would consider with pick No. 21. So let’s do that.

Reggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama—A versatile player can play inside in a 3-4 or (should the Redskins decide to change schemes at some point) in the middle in the 4-3. The inside linebacker spot isn’t one of terrible weakness for the Redskins but they lack an impact player there. Ragland could quickly develop into that guy.

Ezekiel Elliott, RB, Ohio State—Could he be the dynamic, all-around back that the Redskins are looking for? You never know but he has all the tools. Will Scot McCloughan view his comments ripping the play calling after the Buckeyes’ loss to Michigan as indicative of a “me-first” attitude or as a sign of passion for the game? That could determine whether or not he will consider him.

Laquon Treadwell, WR, Ole Miss—The Redskins need a big, productive receiver and Treadwell could be the guy. What he makes up in terms of raw speed he compensates for with smooth route running and a great ability to use his body to wall off defenders. The medical reports on the broken leg and dislocated ankle he suffered in a game on November 1, 2014 will be important. McCloughan would have strongly considered Amari Cooper if he had been there at No. 5 last year so there’s no reason to think he wouldn’t look at a receiver at No. 21.

Mackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson—Alexander has been linked to the Redskins in a few prominent mock drafts even though at 5-10, 195 he is a bit smaller than the Legion of Boom sized corners that McCloughan is said to prefer. But toughness and athleticism could move him up a few notches in the GM’s eyes.

Sheldon Rankins, DT, Louisville—Jason Hatcher could be gone, either through retirement or as a cap casualty. Rankins could take his spot and offer better run stopping ability and, after he has some time to develop it, strong pass rushing skills. The line needs a major injection of youth and Rankins, who will turn 22 a few weeks before draft day, could be the guy to provide it.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 12 days ago. It will be about 233 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 33; NFL free agency starts 47; 2016 NFL draft 97

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

Redskins vs. Cardinals inactives: Reed out as expected

GLENDALE, AZ—As expected, the Redskins will be without star tight end Jordan Reed today against the Cardinals.

He is inactive due to a third-degree AC joint sprain in his left shoulder.

Reed gutted it out and played the second half on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas after being injured in the first but during the week he didn’t practice at all couldn’t regain the range of motion needed to play today.

Coach Jay Gruden said on Friday that the team is planning on having Reed play next week against the Eagles.

For this week, Vernon Davis will step into the starting role.

Also inactive is reserve defensive lineman Anthony Lanier, who was kicked in the lower leg in Dallas. Gruden said that the swelling was still too severe for him to be able to play.

LIVE BLOG: WEEK 13 REDSKINS VS. CARDINALS

The Redskins’ other inactive players today:

  • QB Nate Sudfeld
  • DL AJ Francis
  • RB Matt Jones
  • WR Rashad Ross
  • DB Dashaun Phillips