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Need to Know: New mock draft fills key needs for Redskins

Need to Know: New mock draft fills key needs for Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 2, 26 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 83 days ago. It will be about 162 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 16; 2016 NFL draft 26; Redskins training camp starts 117

Hot topics

Here’s a look at five of the most popular posts of the last week here and on CSNmidatlantic.com.

RG3 called Shanny?—Since this was a news story I tried to stay away from opining. But I was sure to note that this was Shanahan’s version of things. As we know, Shanahan’s version of an event and the truth can be total strangers. One indicator that he may have, uh, embellished the story is that the version that he tells makes him look better. That’s the case here so may I recommend taking his version of what transpired with a whole shaker full of salt.

Gruden on unheralded CB Dunbar: 'He’s going to be a good one'—I thought the Redskins were in big trouble in late November last year when I saw Quinton Dunbar line up across from Odell Beckham when the Redskins and Giants met in a game critical to the Redskins’ playoff hopes. But Dunbar performed just fine and he came up with a key end zone interception in the second half that kept the Giants off the board. It will be interesting to track the progress of the undrafted wide receiver turned cornerback this year.

NFL Mock Draft 7.0: Pondering NFC East decisions—Nose tackle and safety, done and done. I have to think that nearly every fan out there would be pretty happy with the real draft if it turns out like this one (although some might be a little nervious about the Eagles' top pick). Go take a look.

Can Cousins become top 5 QB?—This one drew more comments than any other post in March. I think a lot of them were confused, believing somehow that Jay Gruden was saying that Cousins is or should be one of the five best QBs in the NFL. His exact quote: “Now all of a sudden when as you’re trying to establish yourself as one of the top five guys in the NFL.” I’m not sure why there is anything controversial there. Should Cousins just settle for getting in the top half, maybe the lower part of the top 10? What happened to your reach should exceed your grasp and all that? Pressure? Come on. Nobody puts more pressure on Cousins than he puts on himself.

Will the Redskins draft a center with their top pick?—I said this in the post and I’ll say it again—them might draft C Ryan Kelly of Alabama at No. 21 but it would be a horrible idea. It’s better to have a good interior O-line than not but spending two straight first-round picks on a guard and a center just isn’t the way to go. Expending high value picks on low value positions is not a good use of the draft.

In case you missed it

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Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back