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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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Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

There continues to be a (ridiculous) debate on whether or not Kirk Cousins can continue to be a successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

In the betting industry, there is not much debate with Cousins being listed with 50/1 odds to win the NFL MVP award this upcoming season from Bovada. Among all the other players listed, he is in a tie for 14th. 

He is coming off back-to-back seasons with seven 300 yard passing games, a team record, and has an abundance of fresh, young wide receivers to compliment his passing style. Last year he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,917, trailing only Drew Brees (5,208) and Matt Ryan (4,944). 

The team may not be poised for a Super Bowl run in 2017-18, but if the team makes a post-season run, who will it be on the back of? Jordan Reed? Rob Kelley? Ryan Kerrigan?

No, it will be Kirk Cousins. 

RELATED: Ex-GM outlines staggering contract for Kirk Cousins

Entering this season at 40-years-old, and defending Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is the overall favorite at 4/1. He is closely followed by Aaron Rodgers, and young quarterbacks Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. 

BOVADA 2017-18 NFL MVP ODDS:

Tom Brady, NE — 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, GB — 7/1
Derek Carr, OAK — 9/1
Dak Prescott, DAL — 12/1
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — 12/1
Russell Wilson, SEA — 12/1
Matt Ryan, ATL — 16/1
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL — 20/1
Drew Brees, NO — 25/1
Andrew Luck, IND — 25/1
Cam Newton, CAR — 25/1
David Johnson, ARI — 33/1
Marcus Mariota, TEN — 33/1
Sam Bradford, MIN — 50/1
Antonio Brown, PIT — 50/1
Kirk Cousins, WAS — 50/1
Julio Jones, ATL — 50/1
Eli Manning, NYG — 50/1
Carson Palmer, ARI — 50/1
Adrian Peterson, NO — 50/1
Philip Rivers, LAC — 50/1
Matt Stafford, DET — 50/1
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG — 66/1
Rob Gronkowski, NE — 66/1
Alex Smith, KC — 66/1
Ryan Tannehill, MIA — 66/1
J.J. Watt, HOU — 66/1
Jameis Winston, TB — 66/1
Blake Bortles, JAX — 100/1
Andy Dalton, CIN — 100/1
Joe Flacco, BAL — 100/1
T.Y. Hilton, IND — 100/1
Marshawn Lynch, OAK — 100/1
LeSean McCoy, BUF — 100/1
Von Miller, DEN — 100/1
DeMarco Murray, TEN — 100/1
Carson Wentz, PHL — 100/1

RELATED: After Derek Carr deal, Cousins' best option may be short-term

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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

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