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Need to Know: What positions are the Redskins unlikely to draft at No. 5?

Need to Know: What positions are the Redskins unlikely to draft at No. 5?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 30, 31 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:

There are a few different ways to look at Jay’s question here. Are there positions they won’t draft because of need? Should some positions be eliminated from consideration because the value of the position doesn’t warrant a pick that high? And will the Redskins stay away from a particular position because there isn’t a player at that position who has a chance of being anywhere near the best available player?

We can eliminate the needs consideration because virtually any position on the team that is not an area of need this year is likely to be one in 2016. Plus I think by now everyone is familiar with Scot McCloughan’s mantra that the Redskins will take the best available player regardless of need. So let’s see how the NFL values positions in the draft.

Here are the positions played by the top six picks in the drafts from 2011-2014 (24 total players). It’s a fairly small sample size but 2011 is the first year the current rookie pay system came into place and money became less of a factor in deciding what player to select. This gives us a consistent definition of value. We’re taking the top six because any position that have been taken in that range recently is likely to one that you would value enough to draft at No. 5.

OT—6
QB—4
WR—4
DE—4
CB—2
OLB—2
DT—1
RB—1

So the positions that haven’t been drafted in the top six in the rookie pay system era (if you can call four years an era) are interior offensive line, tight end, inside linebacker, and safety. That doesn’t mean that nobody will ever draft any of those positions early but there would have to be an exceptional player there in order to justify the pick. By the estimation of most draft analysts, such a player does not exist at any of those positions in the 2015 draft.

It should be noted that all of the offensive tackles taken in the last four drafts played left tackle for their teams in 2014. The lone exception is Lane Johnson, taken fourth overall by the Eagles in 2013.

Looking at the positions of the players who have been drafted early in the last four drafts, which ones don’t have anyone worthy of the fifth pick this year? Again going by the opinions of most analysts out there, there aren’t any running backs, cornerbacks, defensive tackles or offensive tackles that would be a good value very early in the draft.

To sum it up and answer Jay’s question, the Redskins’ top draft pick if they stay at No. 5 is unlikely to be an interior offensive lineman, tight end, inside linebacker, safety, cornerback, running back, defensive tackle or offensive tackle.

That leaves quarterback, wide receiver, defensive end, and outside linebacker as the possibilities. I say that with the realization that there are surprises on draft day and anything can happen. But that is the current best guess looking at history and the current list of players available.

Timeline

—It’s been 92 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 167 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 21; 2015 NFL Draft 31; Redskins training camp starts 122

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 RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

Redskins RB Thompson still nervous for impending cut down day

You would think that after spending two years as the team’s third-down back, playing more snaps than any other running back last season, and getting a second-round restricted free agent tender that will pay him $2.7 million this year, Chris Thompson might feel comfortable as the Redskins start up the final phase of their preseason program.

But Thompson says that he is as nervous about making the team as he was when he was a fifth-round in 2013.

“Even after the last preseason game when you guys talk to me I’m going to still be nervous when that time comes around because I never forget that feeling,” he told reporters on Monday prior to the Redskins charity golf tournament at Army-Navy Country Club.

“For me, I’ve just got to come out here and work every day to try to secure my job.”

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

The approach has worked for him in the past. He struggled with injuries his first two years in the league, playing a total of just six games. In 2015 he found his niche as the third-down back and he hasn’t given it up.

In fact, he may get more opportunities on first and second downs.

“I have a feeling that I might get a little more this year,” he said. “He [coach Jay Gruden] knows that I’m healthy and I can stay healthy. I think that was one of his biggest concerns, that I can handle the load. I think I’ll get a lot more opportunities.”

Rob Kelley is expected to be the starter and fourth-round pick Samaje Perine should get a significant number of carries. If Gruden plans on Thompson getting more work on the ground, that likely means that the Redskins anticipate running the ball more ofent than they did in 2016, when they were 27th in the NFL with 379 rushing attempts.

Health is key for Thompson. He not only played in all 16 games for the first time in his career last year, he came out of the season in good health. Not having the need to rehab is allowing Thompson to work on refining his game.

“[Being healthy] helps me to get away and focus on the little things that I need to work on,” he said. “Having a full offseason, being able to get away, I’ve been able to focus on those things. Just like my quickness, my route running. I know my route running is big for me to make it in this league so I work on that. . . that was my main goal.”

Thompson’s work ethic and his mindset where he takes nothing for granted have served him well. He will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 and if he continues to produce he will be setting himself up for a nice payday. 

RELATED: OFFSEASON NFL POWER RANKINGS

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back