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Need to Know: Three dark horse draft picks for the Redskins at No. 5

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Need to Know: Three dark horse draft picks for the Redskins at No. 5

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 23, 15 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

I’m back from the combine but I’m still going to post the question of the day for a few more days before throwing it back out to the readers. Sticking with the draft questions: 

Who are the dark horses for the Redskins top pick?

Yesterday I wrote about the three players I think are most likely to be the Redskins’ pick if they keep the fifth pick in the draft. They were, in ascending order of likelihood, DL Danny Shelton of Washington, WR Kevin White of West Virginia, and edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida.

That certainly isn’t the definitive list; we still have over two months until draft day and plenty can happen as the Redskins and the other 21 teams refine their draft boards. Here are three more who seem to be less likely right now but who could jump into the picture between now and April 30

DL Leonard Williams, USC—This pick is unlikely because he probably won’t be there when the Redskins pick. But let’s say that the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, go 1-2 with the Bucs taking one and Titans the other or trading the pick to a team that takes the other. The Jaguars want an edge rusher and take Fowler, the local guy. And the Raiders want a weapon for Derek Carr so they take White. The Redskins gladly take Williams, the athletic, disruptive defensive end. Again, not a likely scenario but it’s hard to rule anything out in the draft over two months in advance.

Edge rusher Shane Ray, Missouri—If Fowler is gone, the Redskins could look to Ray to add to their anemic pass rush. At 6-3, 245 he isn’t quite as big as you’d like a 3-4 outside linebacker to be and we know that Scot McCloughan likes big players. But he has an incredibly quick first step and if he can add 10 or 15 pounds over the next couple of years without losing that quickness he could make life miserable for Redskins opponents.

S Landon Collins, Alabama—I go back and forth on Collins as a possibility at No. 5. Right now he is an in the box safety who likely would play more like a linebacker in nickel situations. A player like that may not have enough value to warrant such a high pick. And at 6-0, 228 he isn’t the Kam Chancellor-sized safety that McCloughan might prefer. But if McCloughan believes that Collins can be taught to be better in coverage, if he is a player who will stay late in the film room learning his craft, the Redskins dire need at the position (need is part of the grade that determines “best available player”), he could pull the trigger on him.

Timeline

—It’s been 57 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 202 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 15; Redskins offseason workouts start 56; 2015 NFL Draft 66

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 offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!