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Need to Know: What would a good 2015 for Redskins' RG3 look like?

Need to Know: What would a good 2015 for Redskins' RG3 look like?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 19, 42 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:

Normally it’s one question to a tweet here but we can answer the first one pretty quickly. For 2015 to be successful they have to show real progress. That may not mean a lot more wins than they had in 2014 but they will need to show fight and have their free agents and at least a few of their draft picks playing well. If they can win 6 games or so and end the season with the arrow pointing up that will be a success.

If they are going to appear to have some momentum after the 2015 season it sure would help to have a quarterback who is playing well and improving. Robert Griffin III will be given first crack at being that QB.

He’s had an up-and-down ride since the last few weeks of the 2012 season and it hasn’t stopped this offseason. Things were looking up in late February when Gruden said that he will be the starter going into the season. Then here were reports that the Redskins would seriously consider drafting Marcus Mariota with the fifth pick in the draft. When that talk died down the team re-signed Colt McCoy, who started three games ahead of a healthy Griffin in 2014.

But adversity is part of the job and Griffin will have to deal with it. But back to the question of what Griffin will have to do to remove any doubt that he is the No. 1 quarterback.

Let’s look at this in terms of the middle ground. To some Griffin doubters nothing short of a combination of and RG3 2012 and a vintage Tom Brady type of performance would remove their misgivings. All he has to do is line up properly behind center and complete a pass every once in a while and he’ll be fine in the eyes of the more loyal Griffin fans.

But to most reasonable people, a group that includes Jay Gruden and Scot McCloughan, Griffin has to show substantial progress as a pocket passer. That doesn’t mean he can’t run and roll out and do the occasional read option. But he does need to be able to drop back and throw a pass before the receiver is out of his break and trust that he will be there to catch the pass. At no point can Griffin run out of bounds six yards behind the line of scrimmage before throwing the ball away. If he is looking at his first read that receiver is open he needs to pull the trigger on the pass or, if not, be successful in finding an alternative.

And Griffin doesn’t have time to waste in getting better. This can’t wait until November. He has to hit receivers coming out of their breaks in OTAs. If we’re at training camp and we see him hold onto the ball and pump and hesitate and scramble around, he’s in trouble. If we’re seeing that, Griffin might not make it to the regular season as the starter.

Don’t get me wrong; he doesn’t have to master pocket passing right away. But he does have to show some solid signs of progress

In short, Griffin needs to be competent. Last year he was not, at least not often enough to remove doubts.

It’s up to him. If he doesn’t get it done he has nobody to blame but himself.

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Timeline

—It’s been 81 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 178 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 32; 2015 NFL Draft 42; Redskins training camp starts 133

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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Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

Go home again? Redskins schedule visit with former RB Tim Hightower, per report

The Redskins will host Tim Hightower for a visit on Wednesday, ESPN's Mike Triplett reported. Bringing Hightower in at this point represents an impressive story far beyond a mundane free agent visit.  

If his career ended today, Tim Hightower's story would already be remarkable. Hightower - a DMV native that played his college ball at the University of Richmond - played for the Redskins in the 2011 season. That season, he tore his ACL, and was limited to five games.

While torn ACL's happen frequently in the NFL, what happened next for Hightower was anything but ordinary. He missed the next three seasons with an undiagnosed infection, before incredibly returning to the NFL in 2015 with the Saints. 

His last two years in New Orleans, Hightower has been a solid contributor behind starting RB Mark Ingram. He's rushed for more than 900 yards, gained another 330 yards through the air and hit the end zone nine times in 24 games for the Saints. 

In Washington, Hightower would join a backfield of Robert Kelley, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown and Matt Jones. It will be interesting to see if Washington adds any other backs through the draft in April as well. 

Born in Waldorf, Hightower went to high school in Alexandria before playing college ball at Richmond. Playing with the 'Skins in 2011, Hightower quickly became a fan favorite, especially with his local ties. 

The Redskins run game has not been particularly strong for a few seasons, and questions remain if the current stable of runners will be enough to improve. Hightower doesn't necesarily equal a significant talent boost, but perhaps coaches and front office staff are looking at the group.

Be aware, however, this could be nothing more than a visit. Triplett reported it remains possible Hightower returns to the Saints. He also visited the 49ers last week, and new San Francisco coach Kyle Shanahan was running the 'Skins offense in 2011 when the team originally acquired Hightower.

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Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown: WR Isaiah Ford could be a mid-round catch

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 36 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

Isaiah Ford

Wide receiver
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-1
Weight: 194
40-yard dash: 4.61

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying

Ford looks the part of a speed merchant with a tight-skinned, athletic frame, including long limbs. He glides off the line of scrimmage, accelerating fluidly to force defenders to respect his ability to go deep and shows very good balance to sink his hips, as well as burst out of his breaks to create separation. Ford shows the initial quickness and lateral agility to avoid defenders in press coverage, occasionally mixing in a hesitation move to get opponents off-balance. He is willing to run across the middle and cut back inside on quick screens, showing the toughness to absorb big hits and still hang on to the ball. Ford was asked to play outside as well as in the slot

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The top of the Redskins’ depth chart at wide receiver looks good with Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder and Terrelle Pryor. But depth is a concern, especially with Doctson’s durability a question mark. On top of that, Pryor is there on a one-year contract so there must be some succession planning at the position.

Ford was a very productive receiver at Virginia Tech, the first player in school history to surpass 1,000 yards receiving in a season. He has the knack for making the sensational catch and he isn’t afraid to go across the middle.

At 6-1 he has the height that seems to be the trend on the Redskins’ wide receiver corps lately. Ford could be a good mid-round pick for the team to develop in 2017 and be ready to be a full contributor in 2018.

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Pitt

Ford is not afraid to run slants over the middle and is willing to cut back to the center of the field after catching bubble screens.

His run blocking ranged from unimpressive to bad with the caveat that it’s hard to evaluate on the TV camera angles. This is an area that can be improved with NFL coaching. Adding a few pounds to his 194-lb. frame could help, too. It also sometimes appears that he could use more bulk to help him use his height when fighting for a ball.

The good and the bad of Ford was on display in the span of a few minutes during the Pitt game. He made a spectacular catch on a tipped ball that bounced off of both him and the defensive back (view here) while they were on the ground. Ford had the awareness to scoop the ball off the chest of the defender and secure it to make the catch. A little while later he was in a great position to made a catch for a first down but he bobbled the ball as he was falling out of bounds (view here) and the pass was incomplete.

In the games I reviewed Ford showed a good knack to make back shoulder catches, something the Redskins don’t seem to like to try. But the ability is there if they draft him and want to try it.

Potential issues: Ford looks skinny, almost fragile, at 194 pounds. If he does add weight he needs to do so without losing much speed. He ran a 4.61 in the 40 at the combine. Against college defensive backs he looks fast enough but that will be a different story in the NFL.

Bottom line: The Redskins can’t go into the season with a very green Maurice Harris and a very pedestrian Ryan Grant as their backup wide receivers. They need a player who can provide depth in 2017 and be able to step up to have a legitimate shot at starting in 2018.

There will be several prospects in the third- and fourth- round range who could be the guy. If the Redskins think that Ford can add a few pounds without sacrificing speed and brush up on his run blocking a bit, they could take a serious look at him.

In his own words:

On how the coaching change from Frank Beamer to Justin Fuente helped him:

I think it simplified everything for us. It limited the amount of routes that I ran - slants, outs, fades and posts; my first two years, I was running digs, post curls, comebacks, things like that - that was fine. I'm comfortable doing both. The route-running was never a problem for me because I feel that's what I do best. Being able to play primarily 'X' last year, winning those 50-50 balls and running those routes, it helped me.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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.