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Need to Know: McCloughan can't be handcuffed by Redskins' past mistakes

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Need to Know: McCloughan can't be handcuffed by Redskins' past mistakes

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, September 21, four days before the Washington Redskins visit the New York Giants.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 1 p.m.; Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins press conferences, player availability after practice, approx. 3 p.m.

Days until: Browns @ Redskins 11; Redskins @ Ravens 18; Eagles @ Redskins 25

Fan question of the day

Well, a guy named Art Monk worked out pretty well. But since that 1980 draft, Desmond Howard, Michael Westbrook, and Rod Gardner, all taken in the top half of the draft, clearly did not justify their draft positions.

But if Scot McCloughan allows himself to be paralyzed by the past then the future is doomed. He can’t be influenced by the failure of Marty Schottnheimer and Charley Casserly to pick the right receiver in the first round.

If he did that, why not look at first-round O-lineman Andre Johnson and say they shouldn’t draft on the O-line in the first? Kenard Lang and Bobby Wilson were both busts. Should the past dictate that McCloughan stay away from D-linemen?

You can find plenty of receivers drafted in the 20-32 range in recent drafts who are excellent contributors—Dez Bryant, Demaryius Thomas, DeAndre Hopkins Kelvin Benjamin, and Brandon Cooks are examples from 2010-2015. If you’re McCloughan you look at this group and say, hey, I can find a stud in this part of the draft. You don’t look back at 2001 and worry about Rod Gardner.

As for the needs on the line it should be pointed out that they drafted an OL fifth overall in 2015 and a total of four offensive linemen from the 2014-2015 drafts are currently on the roster. It’s difficult to make the case that the area has not been addressed in the draft.

Yes, they do need defensive linemen. But Scot McCloughan doesn’t draft for need. He’s said it dozens of times. Many of those quotes are available here in this fine post by my friend Ben Standig. Here’s one of them:
“At a time when your roster is really strong and you’re a really good team, then you can start worrying about things on the back end. Right now, we’re going forward. We’re taking the best player and throwing them in there."
If you make a habit of taking lower-graded players, guys who don’t fit your scheme or don’t fit the culture of your team, you are going to end up still having needs because the guys you pick don’t work out and soon they are gone.

Does that mean that you might go through a few years when an area like the defensive line isn’t as strong as you’d like to be? Certainly, especially when a free agent signing you are counting on, a player like Stephen Paea, is a bust and is gone before the season starts.

The hope is that the stronger areas of the team can carry you through so you can win some games and remain competitive while the building of the team is in process. Clearly the Redskins knew that they would still have work to do on the defense going into the season but believed that the offense, particularly the passing game, would carry them. So far, it hasn’t worked out. But would it necessarily have worked out better if they had taken DT Kenny Clark, the first D-lineman drafted after Dotson was picked, instead of the receiver? Possibly, but we’ll never know.

After all of the years that Redskins fans have been wishing their team had a real GM who wants to build the team the right way, well, here it is. It’s not all sunshine and fans can expect to scratch their heads on occasion wondering why McCloughan chose Player A, who plays a position that looks fine on the depth chart, instead of Player B, who plays a position of “need”.

There is no guarantee that McCloughan will build a Super Bowl winner in Washington. But he’s going to go about trying to do it his way and if you have a faint heart you might want to look the other way.

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Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Need to Know: Washington Redskins free agency needs—Offense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, February 23, 14 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 6
—NFL Combine (3/2) 7
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 53
—NFL Draft (4/27) 63
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 199

Free agent moves—Offense

Free agency starts two weeks from today. The Redskins have plenty of needs, both big and small. Let’s take a look around and see what offensive positions they might be looking to bolster when things get going. I’ll follow up with the defense in the next few days.

Quarterback—It could be a yawner at this position or there could be plenty of drama. If Kirk Cousins gets franchise tagged or defies current expectations and signs a long-term deal, the depth chart will remain the same. If he is gone via a trade, things could be shaken up. While they may draft a QB in late April they could go for a mid-priced veteran as insurance.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

Running back—The Redskins have a depth chart loaded with young, unproven talent at this position. If they want a veteran presence in the meeting room they could look at someone like Robert Turbin (McCloughan had a hand in drafting him in Seattle in 2012) or maybe Knile Davis.

Wide receiver—Things will get very interesting if the word on the street comes to pass and both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are gone. They have a presumably healthy Josh Doctson in line to replace one but they would need a veteran. Maybe Kenny Stills or Kenny Britt, both young and productive, could be under consideration. If one of the veterans stays they likely will get depth in the draft.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Tight end—Vernon Davis seems likely to be back. If he’s not, the Redskins probably would rather have an alternative to Niles Paul as Jordan Reed’s primary backup. The probably won’t swim in the deep end of the pool with Martellus Bennett and Jared Cook. But maybe they will look at Jermaine Gresham, who made the Pro Bowl twice in Cincinnati while Jay Gruden was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator.

Offensive line—Yesterday, JP and I discussed what they might do at left guard if they want to upgrade from Shawn Lauvao. Perhaps they could go for Kevin Zeitler, another Bengal who played under Gruden. But he will command a contract in the $8-$10 million range and with Brandon Scherff coming up for an extension next year that might be too much to spend at the guard position. Look for the Redskins to take an eventual Lauvao replacement in the draft.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

If Redskins trade Kirk Cousins to 49ers, 5 prospects to consider with No. 2 pick

It still seems like a long-shot the Redskins trade Kirk Cousins, but if there is one persistent rumor, it's that the San Francisco 49ers want the Washington passer. The story is too familiar at this point: New Niners coach Kyle Shanahan was in D.C. when Cousins was drafted and wants the quarterback to come run his offense in San Francisco. With the second overall pick, the 49ers have a tremendous asset they can dangle in trade talks.

<<<CLICK HERE TO SEE 5 PROSPECTS FOR THE REDSKINS AT NO. 2 PICK>>>

Whether or not any of this rumor is true, it sure makes for engrossing speculation. With the NFL Draft Combine next week in Indianapolis, NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said he wouldn't be shocked to see the trade go down.

That's the backdrop. Beyond the debate of the merits of trading an established QB like Cousins, which is a very serious debate, there's also the notion of what player the 'Skins would select with the second overall pick.  

MORE REDSKINS: 2017 top heavy Cap could be a problem

It's worth examining the impact players available to Washington with the second selection in the 2017 NFL Draft, and the options are varied, including perhaps a new QB. Check it out. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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