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Need to Know: The Redskins' strongest and weakest positions

Need to Know: The Redskins' strongest and weakest positions

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 5, eight days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Best and worst position groups on the 2015 Redskins

The Redskins have not yet quite set the 53-man roster yet but we still have a pretty good idea of who will be on it. Let’s take a look at where the Redskins are strongest and weakest on each side of the ball.

Offense

Strongest: The running backs are a strong, versatile group. Alfred Morris has three seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing under his belt, Matt Jones has one of the most talked about rookie backs during the preseason and it looks like Chris Thompson is finally healthy and running with both speed and, unexpectedly, power. And Darrel Young is solid blocking fullback who can catch passes out of the backfield.

Weakest: It’s hard to overlook the issues at quarterback. Kirk Cousins will start but he has a lot to prove in regards to cutting down on interceptions. Colt McCoy is a journeyman who has never consistently been able to lead an offense to points. And the trials and tribulations of Robert Griffin III are well known to anyone reading this.

Defense

Strongest: Even after losing Junior Galette to a season-ending Achilles injury, the linebacker group looks pretty strong. Ryan Kerrigan is the team’s best player on defense and Keenan Robinson could be the second best. Opposite Kerrigan, second-round picks Preston Smith and Trent Murphy will compete for playing time; one or both could be very effective. And while fans love to complain about Perry Riley’s coverage issues, there are many worse inside linebackers in the league.

Weakest: The Redskins added two veteran safeties, drafted one, and got Duke Ihenacho back after he missed most of 2014 with an injury. But the unit may not be much better than the one that struggled last year. The last time we saw Dashon Goldson he was trying to chase down Steve Smith of the Ravens and failing to do so. Ihenacho can force the run well but he needs to work on coverage. In Seattle, Jeron Johnson backed up Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas but he has been injured during camp and did not stand out in any way against the Jaguars’ backups on Thursday. Add in a shaky cornerback group and you have to hope that the line and linebackers are able to get a pass rush.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability; Final roster cuts due 4 p.m.

—It’s been 251 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 8 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 15; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 19

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Need to Know: With 10 draft picks, the Redskins are ready to deal

Need to Know: With 10 draft picks, the Redskins are ready to deal

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 24, two days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 17
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 29
—Training camp starts (7/27) 93
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 138

Let’s make a deal

Even though the Redskins have 10 picks going into the draft, Scott Campbell, the team’s college scouting director, said that they will still be open to making deals to add more.

Washington has one pick in each of the seven rounds plus additional selections in the fourth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Campbell said that the team will be happy to add picks if the right deal is on the table. He is not concerned about having too large a draft class competing for a limited number of competitive roster spots.

“Yeah, I don’t know if you can have ‘too many guys,’” said Campbell. “I think the main thing to get better is you want to add competition to the team and anywhere you can add competition, even positions where you think you may be set depth-wise, you know, add more competition. Get the best players in here and I think it pushes each other and makes everybody better.”

It’s a matter of improving the odds of finding players who can help them.

“It’s not an exact science, Campbell said of the draft. “You’re not going to hit on all the guys. You’d like to think you can, but I mean that’s not reality, no one’s ever done that. Just increasing the odds of adding the more players, the more guys that can help us, that’s great.”

Campbell specifically mentioned the team’s two fourth-round picks, which are the 115th and 123rd overall selections, as possible capital to move up or as bait to trade back and get more picks.

What could they do with those picks? If they make a deal that goes by the draft value trade chart, they could trade their second-round pick (17th in the round, 49th overall) and the higher of the two fourth-rounders for the 11th pick in the second (42 overall). If they see a player they like in the third, that same fourth round pick would move them up to from the 81st overall pick (17th in the round) to the 68th overall pick (4th pick of the round).

The return for moving back in the fourth round is not very high. You’re looking at a fifth-round pick in return for moving all the way back from 115th overall to the end of the fourth round. That’s OK if you’re in a range where there just aren’t any players you like but you are very unlikely to get a game-changer in the fifth.  

With 10 picks it would be surprising if the Redskins just used all 10 of them without making any moves. It’s just a matter of if there will be a blockbuster deal involving their first pick or if there are more minor deals on Saturday afternoon.

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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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.

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