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Need to Know: What happens to Trent Murphy if the Redskins draft an edge rusher?

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Need to Know: What happens to Trent Murphy if the Redskins draft an edge rusher?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 24, 37 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/stephen_binder/status/580022132010299393

There is plenty of talk that the Redskins will use the fifth overall pick in the draft on an edge rusher. Scot McCloughan has said that the Redskins will take the best player available on the board and if you believe the majority of the draft analysts out there the best player is likely to be an outside linebacker or a college defensive end who will be converted to an OLB. Some might prefer Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, others think that Vic Beasley of Clemson could be the man or perhaps it’s former Florida Gator Dante Fowler or Shane Ray from Mizzou.

But if the Redskins do take an edge defender, not matter who it is, it will affect the playing status of Trent Murphy. He was last year’s top draft pick, taken in the second round. If the Redskins take another edge rusher is he going to be banished to the bench?

The answer is a resounding no. Let me quote Colts GM Ryan Grigson from the NFL Combine, who was merely repeating what countless other GM’s have said through the years:
“I was always brought up with if you have 12 pass-rushers, give me 13. You can never have enough pass-rushers and that’s Scouting 101. The hard part is actually finding them and then finding ones that, the handful of them that are clean and really good.... If there’s a pass-rusher that gets your blood pumping in the draft, then you’re going to have to consider him, no matter where your needs are.”
Right now, the Redskins have three players who could be considered legitimate pass rushers—Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jason Hatcher. This is likely to be Hatcher’s last year in Washington so that brings it down to two, and Murphy is untested.

In any case, it’s far short of the 12 or 13 that Grigson covets. So the Redskins will have to find a role for Murphy (it’s safe to assume that the 2015 top draft pick would become the starter very early in the season if not immediately) if they do bring in another pass rusher.

He had a defined role last year when Brian Orakpo was healthy, lining up in nickel situations and on earlier downs in occasional relief of Orakpo. In the first six games of the season (Orakpo went out for the year during the seventh game) Murphy played 162 snaps out of 415, or about 39 percent. That’s a fairly substantial workload.

If the Redskins do draft a first-round edge rusher, Murphy’s role could be expanded beyond what he did with Orakpo in the lineup. A rookie outside linebacker would almost certainly be rotated out more often than the sixth-year veteran Orakpo was. And perhaps new defensive coordinator Joe Barry will find some additional situations for Murphy. It’s not out of the question that the could play at least a dozen more snaps per game than he did in the earlier stages of his rookie year. That would put him up around 60 percent of the snaps, a solid role for a second-round draft pick.

And then there is the “you never know” stuff. Injuries happen and Murphy could serve as valuable depth. Not to bring up the unthinkable for many Redskins fans but Ryan Kerrigan is playing on a one-year team option in his contract. Even though there is plenty of talk that an extension in the works, until that talk results in a signed piece of paper there is the possibility that he won’t be around in 2016. Murphy will then likely move into a starting role and the Redskins will be out in search of even more pass rushers.

In any case, Murphy will have a role as long as he remains healthy. It might not say “starter” next to his name but he will have plenty of snaps to try to get to the quarterback.

Timeline

—It’s been 86 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 173 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 27; 2015 NFL Draft 37; Redskins training camp starts 128

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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In case you missed it

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Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

Terrelle Pryor reportedly working out with special glasses based on Antonio Brown's advice

New Redskins receiver Terrelle Pryor has been working out with Steelers All-Pro Antonio Brown this offseason. 

The pair documented their receiving drills, ladder drills and even yoga on social media. But what you didn't see, according to ESPN's John Keim, is Pryor practicing with special glasses that Brown recommended. 

Based on Brown’s advice, Pryor has also worn special sunglasses during offseason workouts, designed to prevent him from seeing an object – in this case the ball – until it is almost upon him. Sometimes he takes his gloves off, just to get a feel for the ball with his hands.

The glasses Keim describes sound more like blinders, or even tunnel vision, but the idea is to help Pryor get an instinctive feel for running routes. 

Despite putting up 1,007 receiving yards with the Browns last year, Pryor has only played the position since 2015. His first four seasons in the NFL were spent trying to make a roster playing quarterback. 

Now penciled into a starting receiver role for the Redskins, he knows he has a lot of catching up to do. 

"The good ones, they ask questions and never think they’ve got it. They always want to learn," Pryor said, "I’m not calling myself a great one, but I think I can get there."

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins Playbook: Some good news for Kirk Cousins

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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