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Need to Know: Which of their free agents should the Redskins keep?

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Need to Know: Which of their free agents should the Redskins keep?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, January 25, 44 days before NFL free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day 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:

Scot McCloughan has just started to scratch the surface of evaluating the players who took the field for the Redskins in 2014. He did say last week that he has watched the tape of each of the team’s games last season and will start roster evaluations in earnest soon.

He’ll pay particular attention to the 12 players who will be unrestricted free agents—OLB Brian Orakpo, DE Jarvis Jenkins, WR Santana Moss, S Ryan Clark, OT Tyler Polumbus, S Brandon Meriweather, CB E. J. Biggers, QB Colt McCoy, WR Leonard Hankerson, RB Roy Helu, TE Niles Paul, and NT Chris Neild.

McCloughan is unlikely to pick up the phone and ask me who I would keep, here are what my recommendations would be.

On defense, I would try to hold on to Jenkins and maybe Neild. Although Jenkins hasn’t lived up to the billing he had as a second-round pick in 2011, he still is a solid rotational player who plays hard. We’ll probably never see him generate much pass pressure but if you use him in the right situations he can help the team. Neild has seen two seasons end with torn ACLs but I’d give him a shot on a minimum salary contract.

Although I wouldn’t be strongly opposed to bringing back Orakpo with an incentive-laden deal with little guaranteed money, I think that he might benefit from getting a fresh start in another city. It should be an organizational priority to find replacements for the two veteran safeties and a draft pick should be able to take Biggers’ role.

On offense, I would let Moss, McCoy, Polumbus, and Hankerson walk. The only debatable player there is McCoy, who did a nice job as a backup quarterback. But I think that will cause his salary to increase to a point where the Redskins would be better off with a mid-round backup QB.

I’d make an effort to bring back Helu and Paul. Helu has done well as the third-down back and Paul was productive (39 receptions, 5th on the team) in a limited role when Jordan Reed was sidelined with injuries and on special teams. However, both could get lured away by bigger contracts and prospects for more playing time elsewhere. The Redskins should not break the bank to try to keep them.

Timeline

—It’s been 28 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 231 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 25; NFL free agency starts 44; 2015 NFL Draft 95

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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Redskins focus on defense through three rounds in the NFL Draft

Coming into the offseason, there was plenty of talk coming from the Redskins organization that the team needed to upgrade the defense. Those who have been following the team for a while have heard this for many years now. However, usually the talk is just that, with more draft capital and free agency money going to the offense year in and year out.

But this year things are different.

The lion’s share of free agent spending went to the defense. They added linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee, linebacker Zach Brown, and safety D.J. Swearinger. Now they have started off their draft with a laser focus in the defensive side of the ball.

RELATED: Redskins add cornerback with first round talent, but injuries pushed him to the third round

In the first round, they were delighted to take Jonathan Allen, the top-rated defensive lineman on their board. In the second round they went with outside linebacker Ryan Anderson, a teammate of Allen’s at Alabama. Then in the third round the pick was cornerback Fabian Moreau out of UCLA.

It’s been 20 years since the Redskins have gone so heavy with defensive picks at the top of the draft. Not since 1997 have they taken defensive players in the first three rounds of the draft. That year they took DE Kenard Lang, LB Greg Jones, and LB Derek Smith in rounds one, two, and three, respectively.

We will see how much impact the three draft picks have on the defense and, as Redskins fans have learned over the years, an influx of free agents on defense doesn’t guarantee improvement on that side of the ball.

But at least the Redskins organization is putting its money, and its draft picks, where its mouth is and that has be considered a positive development.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins make it two Alabama defenders in the 2017 draft class so far

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.