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Need to Know: Numbers game on Redskins O-line is taking shape

Need to Know: Numbers game on Redskins O-line is taking shape

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, August 25, 10 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 players.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 11:55; Player availability and Jay Gruden and Sean McVay press conferences after practice, approx. 1:30

—The Redskins last played a game that counted 227 days ago. It will be 19 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Cowboys @ Redskins 25; Browns @ Redskins 39; Redskins @ Ravens 46

Numbers game on O-line taking shape

Along the with the rest of the NFL, the Redskins have about a week and a half to get their roster cut down to 53 players. One of the areas where the number of players can vary greatly is on the offensive line.

In recent years the Redskins have carried as few as eight offensive linemen on the final 53 and as many as 10. How many will they carry this year? Let’s take a look at the possibilities.

There are seven locks to make it. Four starters are set with LT Trent Williams, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, and RT Morgan Moses. Two players, Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao, are competing for the starting left guard spot. One will start, the other will be on the roster as a reserve. Ty Nsekhe is the top reserve tackle.

Beyond that group it gets tricky. They could keep 10 on the roster and choose three from the following group:

—T Takoby Cofield, who has been promising at times in the preseason but who also has had his share of struggles. Jay Gruden said that he has played every line position except center and that could mean he’s being groomed for a utility role.

G Arie Kouandjio was a fourth-round pick last year. He was kept on the 53 as a rookie even though he didn’t play. Although the coaches like his tough mindset he doesn’t seem to have progressed much in the last year.

C/G Josh LeRibeus played center last year when Lichtensteiger was out with an injury. He still has problems with shotgun snaps.

C Austin Reiter is a dark horse to make it. He was a seventh-round pick in 2015 and he has rarely worked with any group above the third team.

The factor that could put a crimp in the hopes of LeRibeus and/or Reiter to make the 53 is the fact that Long has been working at the center position ever since OTAs. Should Lichtensteiger go out it looks like Long would be the first choice to replace him. If Long wins the left guard position then he would move over and Lauvao would slide in at left guard.

There usually are one or two spots reserved for developmental players like Kouandjio last year and Long and Moses the year before. But by the second year the team was comfortable starting the latter pair of players. Would they be good with Kouandjio starting a game this year if needed? If not, how long will they give him to develop?

Cofield was an undrafted free agent and he spent his rookie 2015 season on the practice squad. Will they be OK with having Nsekhe as the only backup tackle on the roster? Perhaps in an emergency Scherff could move out to tackle but that is not something they would want to do in the long term or even for more than a game or two.

Of course the offensive line numbers are not created in a vacuum. Other needs on offense will affect how many linemen they keep. They may want to keep four running backs, four tight ends, and three quarterbacks. That would make it hard to carry 10 on the line.

The way things are shaping up now it looks like they will keep Cofield or Kouandjio as the eighth lineman and keep the other one if they go with nine. Since keeping 10 seems very unlikely LeRibeus and Reiter are probably on the outside looking in.

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

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