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Need to Know: The last five players drafted with pick No. 34

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Need to Know: The last five players drafted with pick No. 34

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 22, 17 days before the start of NFL free agency.

Nickel coverage

The Redskins have the 34th pick in the NFL draft, which starts May 8. Here are the last five players taken at No. 34 overall:

WR Justin Hunter, TEN, 2013—The 6-4 receiver out of Tennessee got on the field for 14 games last year. Hunter caught 18 passes but he gained 354 yards for an impressive 19.7 yards per catch and four touchdowns. It is likely that the Titans will have plans to get his hands on the ball more often in 2014.

TE Coby Fleener, IND, 2012—Many Redskins fans have a soft spot for Fleener as his full first name is Jacoby and he was named after an original Hog, Joe Jacoby. After a decent but fairly quiet rookie year he became one of Andrew Luck’s  in 2013 with 52 receptions for 608 yards and four TD’s.

DB Aaron Williams, BUF, 2011—Williams was one of the better and most valuable defensive players for the Bills last year. He started games at both cornerback and safety for the Bills in 2013 and picked off four passes.

DB Chris Cook, MIN, 2010—Injuries and some jail time for a domestic assault case have limited Cook to 29 starts in four seasons with the Vikings. He has yet to record his first career interception.

DB Patrick Chung, NE, 2009—Chung never gained traction with the Patriots after being drafted out of Oregon. He started 13 games at safety in 2010 (most of them alongside Brandon Meriweather) and picked off three passes, returning one of them for 96 yards and a touchdown. But he was in and out of the lineup after that and the Patriots let him walk to the Eagles last year.

(Had I gone back one more year, this list would have included the last player the Redskins took with pick No. 34, wide receiver Devin Thomas.)

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Timeline

—It’s been 55 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 197 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Free agency starts 17; Offseason workouts start 44; NFL Draft 75

In case you missed it

Gruden talks RG3, free agency

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.