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Need to Know: How big a need is cornerback for the Redskins?

Need to Know: How big a need is cornerback for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 5, 23 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 86 days ago. It will be about 159 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 13; 2016 NFL draft 23; Redskins training camp starts 114

Hot topic

Jay Gruden is worried about the safety position but cornerback is not often mentioned as an area of concern for the Redskins. Should it be?

If the season started today the Redskins would line up Bashaud Breeland and Will Blackmon as the starters and put Quinton Dunbar in the slot.

Breeland is the best of the bunch. He is developing into a good corner, perhaps a very good one, but he is still a work in progress.

Blackmon did a fine job last year filling in for the injured Chris Culliver and DeAngelo Hall after joining the team early in the season. But he did well by that standard. Is he really a guy you want to count on starting on OTAs? Maybe you can get by with him but the spot is ripe for an upgrade.

Dunbar played pretty well in spots as a rookie last year. It’s nice to think that the converted wide receiver will continue to improve but there really is no guarantee.

Hall has moved to safety and Culliver is still recovering and may not be ready for training camp. Culliver can be a pretty good corner when healthy but at this point it’s hard to rely on him. Even before the season-ending injury he suffered in practice on Thanksgiving Day last year the Redskins never really saw a healthy Culliver.

To sum it up, the Redskins have Breeland, a fill in turned starter in Blackmon, a project with Dunbar, a question mark with Culliver, and Deshazor Everett, a good special teams player who is untested at corner.

Does this mean the Redskins need to draft a cornerback early later this month? Not necessarily but don’t be surprised if they do. While they may be able to get by with what they have they will need to upgrade the position if they are going to build a solid defense. Looking at the list of needs, it's going to take a few more drafts to get that done.

Fan question of the day

The Redskins clearly are slow playing the running back situation. Right now, it’s quite precarious. The three on the roster who have NFL experience all are coming off of surgery. Matt Jones had a hip issue repaired, Chris Thompson had a shoulder injury fixed and Silas Redd is rehabbing a torn ACL he suffered in the preseason last year. Alfred Morris, of course, is now a member of the Dallas Cowboys.

Despite the situation, the Redskins did not jump at the chance to get in on the bidding for any of the top free agent running backs that were available. And they have stayed away from the group of lesser backs as well.

At the owners meetings last month, Jay Gruden indicated that Thomas is still in the Redskins’ radar. “There’s still some options out there [and] I think Pierre is one of them,” he said.

But here we are nearly two weeks later and still no Thomas. With draft just over three weeks away it appears that Scot McCloughan’s strong preference is to land a back to compliment to Jones in the draft. And if I’m Thomas, I’m going to be very reluctant to sign with the Redskins until I’m sure they aren’t going to draft a back. He doesn’t want to spend the next five months in a competition he’s likely to lose.

So I think they will stick with the status quo until after the draft. If they don’t find a back in the draft they will reach out to Thomas or someone similar and try to strike a deal.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

Stat of the day

The last Redskin to lead the NFL in interceptions was Barry Wilburn with nine in 1987. Since 1990 no Redskin has had more than six interceptions in a season (four times, most recently by DeAngelo Hall in 2010).

In case you missed it

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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!