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Need to Know: Who has stepped to the head of the Redskins' rookie class?

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Need to Know: Who has stepped to the head of the Redskins' rookie class?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 4, nine days before Washington Redskins open their preseason against the Browns.

If you need to catch up on what's happening in Richmond, scroll to the bottom for a list of our posts from the last 24 hours. 

RICHMOND—Last week, Jay Gruden was asked if he would hesitate to start a rookie over a veteran player. His answer was interesting on a couple of different levels. Let’s look at the first part of his answer.

“No, that’s not my M.O,” he said. “If you look at the track record, you know in Cincinnati we had a ton of rookies playing for us and I don’t have any problem with a rookie if he’s playing well.”

I don’t think it would be accurate to say that the Bengals a lot of rookies starting when Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator there from 2011-2013. According to Pro Football Reference, Cincinnati had four rookies have roles as primary starters in three seasons: QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green in 2011, G Kevin Zeitler in 2012, and TE Tyler Eifert in 2013.

To be sure, they did have some other rookies who contributed off the bench like WR Andrew Hawkins (2011), C Trevor Robinson (2012), WR Mohamed Sanu (2012), and RB Giovani Bernard (2013). Still, I’m not sure if that qualifies as “a ton” of rookies playing but you can be the judge of that.

He names some names of 2015 Redskins rookies in his second part of his answer.

“Right now, Brandon [Scherff] is taking the first-string reps, Arie [Kouandjio] is making a strong move there at left guard, he’s doing a great job,” he said. "[Jamison] Crowder is making plays all over the field. Preston [Smith] is doing a good job on defense. Kyshoen Jarrett is doing an excellent job at safety. We’re going to let them guys keep competing and if they outplay a guy right in front of them, that’s what competition is all about. We’ll play the best guy."

What was interesting here, of course, was the names he chose to drop. We all know that Scherff is going to start and that Smith will have a substantial role in the defense despite the early struggles he has had in camp. But have the other three mentioned, picked on the third day of the draft, stepped to the head of the rookie class?

WR Crowder has displayed both good hands and impressive speed and quickness in camp. Jarrett has learned both safety positions and Gruden brought him up a day earlier as an option to replace Bashaud Breeland at nickel corner.

"Well, [he’s] got the mobility that you're looking for,” he said. “He has a quick change in direction, he's an athletic kid, and he's smart. He has picked up both safety positions relatively easily and feels good about moving into nickel.”

As of now, the chances of Kouandjio supplanting left guard Shawn Lauvao seem remote. But in 2016 Lauvao’s salary jumps up to $4 million and the team could look to go younger and cheaper at his position.

Timeline

—Redskins Hall of Fame running back John Riggins was born on this date in 1949.

Today’s schedule: Off day

—It’s been 219 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 40 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Preseason opener @ Browns 9; final cuts 32; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 51

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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.

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