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Need to Know: Redskins need to start D-line rebuild in the draft

Need to Know: Redskins need to start D-line rebuild in the draft

INDIANAPOLIS—Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 20, 18 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

While I’m here at the NFL Combine this week, I’m going to change it up a bit. I’m going to pose the question each morning centered around the draft and the position group that will be talking to the media on that day. You can find the daily schedule here. Up today, the defensive line.

Will the Redskins start to rebuild the defensive line in the draft?

The Redskins’ defensive line is in need of a rebuild and they could start the process in this year’s draft.

The team is notorious for preferring to spend free agent dollars on the defensive line rather than premium draft picks. In the past 10 drafts they have spent just one pick in the first five rounds on a defensive lineman (other than Ryan Kerrigan, a college defensive end who was immediately converted to 3-4 outside linebacker). That was Jarvis Jenkins, was a second-round pick.

Rather than drafting and developing the Redskins have gone the free agent route. While they got some good seasons out of Stephen Bowen and Barry Cofield, both of whom signed free agent contracts in 2011, both are at a predictable point—aging (both will be 31 soon), injured (both missed substantial portions of last year with injuries) and expensive (cap charges of a combined $15.7 million and combined $9.6 million in dead cap space to cut them).

If they do go through the draft, there are a couple of considerations with their first selection, No. 5 overall. If USC defensive tackle Leonard Williams is there they probably won’t wait long to turn in a card with his name on it. Some consider him to be the top prospect in the draft but if circumstances come together he could fall to them.

The other possibility is Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton. At 6-2, 343 he checks off the “large” box that McCloughan looks for with room to spare. He also showed plenty of durability, playing over 900 snaps for the Huskies in 2014.

If they bypass those players, Malcolm Brown of Texas, Eddie Goldman of Florida State and Jordan Phillips of Oklahoma could be available later on.

At some point the Redskins have to restock the defensive line. Looking at some of the players who might be available this year would be a smart strategy.

Timeline

—It’s been 54 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 205 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 18; Redskins offseason workouts start 59; 2015 NFL Draft 69

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins don't request roster exemption for Williams

Redskins don't request roster exemption for Williams

Trent Williams’ suspension ended on Monday and the Redskins did not wait to get him back on the 53-man roster.

NFL teams often request roster exemptions for players who return from suspensions that last multiple games. Such requests routinely are granted for the week leading up to the next game. It gives the team an extra player in practice while the formerly suspended player rounds back into shape.

But the Redskins apparently are going to throw Williams right into things. On Monday, they waived cornerback Dashaun Phillips and cleared a spot for Williams right away.

Yesterday, Jay Gruden confirmed what has been widely reported, that Williams will return to his left tackle spot. Leaving Ty Nsekhe, who did a solid job filling in while Williams was out, at left tackle and putting Williams at left guard is something that will remain something for fans and media to speculate on but not something that will happen on the field.

The Redskins managed to go 2-2 during Williams’ suspension. Perhaps one upside is that Williams may be fully healthy down the stretch after having five weeks off, including the bye week that preceded his suspension.