Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 20, 35 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.
Question of the day
We’re flipping into offseason mode with Need to Know. At least a few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.
Today’s question comes from Twitter
This should be an easy question to answer since McCloughan constantly preaches building through the draft. But last spring he signed five free agents to contracts that totaled $69 million and then shortly after the start of training camp he signed pass rusher Junior Galette. It was not a spree that reminded anyone of the Vinny Cerrato days but the bottom line was over 20 percent of the roster and about a third of the starters were veteran free agents who had joined the team in the last two seasons. That’s not really building through the draft.
Why did McCloughan do that? It’s likely that the believed that the Redskins needed some help in a hurry. All of the signees played defense. Three were on the defensive line, a particular weak spot. Chris Culliver was brought on the shore up the cornerback position and Jeron Johnson was brought after both 2014 starters at safety, Ryan Clark and Brandon Meriweather, were no re-signed.
If you have an immediate need it is unwise to try to fill it in the draft unless you have a very high pick and you have be very confident that a particular player will be there. Players picked in the second round can’t be relied on to start right away (19 of the 32 second-round picks last year did not start as many as half of their games). And after the second, it’s a crap shoot; if you find a rookie starter in the draft on Saturday you were just plain lucky.
So the question is, where do the Redskins have immediate needs? Certainly they have to upgrade in many areas. But where do they not have a starting caliber NFL player anywhere on the depth chart? That’s not an easy question to answer.
For example, the interior of the offensive line needs to play better but the organization may or may not believe that a veteran free agent should be part of the solution. Do they think that Shawn Lauvao will be back and healthy in time for training camp? Can Arie Kouandjio be plugged in to the left guard spot if there’s no confidence in Lauvao’s recovery? Can Spencer Long move to center? Or do they think that Kory Lichtensteiger can hold down the fort there while a draft pick gets ready?
Such multilayer questions exist at almost every position on the field and the staff is still sorting them out. It’s logical to assume that they answers to some of them will have to be found in free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised if McCloughan brought in four or five free agents, all of them fairly young and relatively cheap, similar to what he did last year. The Redskins have eight draft choices (two seventh rounders) and I anticipate McCloughan moving back to pick up more.
—The Redskins last played a game 10 days ago. It will be about 235 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 35; NFL free agency starts 50; 2016 NFL draft 99
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