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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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Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Trent Murphy had offseason foot surgery to repair broken bone, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Trent Murphy underwent surgery this offseason to repair a broken bone in his foot, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Murphy has completely healed and is a full participant at training camp. 

The injury came late in the 2016 season and he played the Redskins final game of the season with the broken foot. He was listed on the injury report for that game as limited with a foot injury. He was not listed on the Week 16 injury report against the Bears.

Hit with a four-game suspension for performance enhancing drugs this offseason, Murphy won't suit up for the Redskins until Week 6. He will be forced to miss the first four games, and then the Redskins have a bye in Week 5. 

Murphy had a breakout season in 2016, finishing the year with nine sacks and 47 tackles. A second round pick in 2014, Murphy had a combined six sacks in the two seasons prior. Last offseason, Murphy was tasked with gaining weight for a position switch to defensive end. After he gained the weight, outside linebacker Junior Galette was lost for the season, and Murphy was moved back to outside linebacker. 

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Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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.