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Need to Know: Who's the favorite to be the Redskins' top pick?

Need to Know: Who's the favorite to be the Redskins' top pick?

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 18, 12 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.

https://twitter.com/skinz4life1975/status/589104011057364992

Good questions but too many options here to deal with in one morning. What I’ll do here is look at possible picks if they stay at No. 5 and maybe at some point next week look at some trade down possibilities.

Let’s get out $100 in mythical casino chips and I’ll split them up over the players I think have the best chance of becoming Washington Redskins with the No. 5 pick in the draft 12 days from today.

Edge defender Dante Fowler Jr.--$30: He might not be the best pass rusher among the edge players who are considered to be the cream of the crop but he’s the best all-around defender of the group. He’s been my favorite for the pick at No. 5 for the last two months and while some things have changed Fowler remains the favorite, albiet not as much of one as he was before.

DL Leonard Williams--$25: I think there is about a one in four chance that he will be there and if he is I think that taking him is a no brainer. Of the players in this draft, he is the one most likely to become an All-Pro at some point in his rookie contract.

Edge defender Vic Beasley--$15: Fowler is the best all-around OLB prospect in the draft and Beasley may be the best pure pass rusher. If Scot McCloughan thinks that Beasley can be coached up to play the run better and develop another pass move or two he could be the pick.

Wide receiver Kevin White--$10: I know many of you insist that there is not a need a wide receiver. All I can say is that I doubt that McCloughan, looking at the ages and contracts of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, sees it that way. White could have the most upside of any player in the draft, a counter to Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.

Wide receiver Amari Cooper--$10: I used to have White rated ahead of Cooper due to the West Virginia product’s size and ability to catch the ball when there is not much separation. But there’s a lot to be said for being perhaps the safest, most fundamentally sound player in the draft. Cooper could be that guy.

Edge defender Shane Ray--$5: If Beasley isn’t the best pure pass rusher in the draft then Ray is. However, many are skeptical that Ray has the athletic ability needed to player 3-4 OLB. If McCloughan is among the skeptics he stays away. Since some of you will ask, I think Randy Gregory is too high risk to take at 5. He could be in play if they trade back to the middle of the first round.

Quarterback Marcus Mariota--$5: I think this is still lurking out there, enough to throw a chip on it, anyway. There are plenty of reasons for the three teams drafting in between the Bucs, who are sure to take Jameis Winston, and the Redskins to pass on Mariota. A trade can’t always be negotiated and Mariota could be there when the Redskins are on the clock. In that 15-minute period, the decision to move on from Robert Griffin III and to start to Mariota era could be made. Again, slim chance but it’s out there.

Timeline

—It’s been 111 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 148 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 2; 2015 NFL Draft 12; Redskins minicamp starts 59

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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Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Defense

Projecting the Redskins 2017 roster—Defense

The Redskins are looking at potential free agents and continuing with the draft process as they try to move team from residing in the middle of the pack in the NFL to becoming annual contenders to go deep into the playoffs. The process is all about trying to build a solid 53-man depth chart. Let’s get out the crystal ball and see what that depth chart might look like.

Earlier this week we looked at the offense; today the defense is up. Although there could be a change to a 4-3 base defense in the making depending on who the coordinator is, we’ll line them up in a 3-4 until there is word to the contrary.

*Pending unrestricted free agent

Defensive line

Starters: Chris Baker*, draft pick/free agent X 2
Backups: Matt Ioannidis, Ricky Jean Francois, Anthony Lanier

It seems that Baker wants to stay and give that the Redskins would be starting their D-line virtually from scratch without him the chances of coming up with a deal seem strong. I will spend the entire 99 days between now and the draft saying that it’s not a given that they will take a defensive lineman, or any defensive player, with their top draft pick. But someone like Malik McDowell of Michigan State sure would fit in well here along with a free agent like Bennie Logan of the Eagles. The organization will be looking for leaps forward from Ioannidis and Lanier.

Related: Redskins defensive coordinator resume: Jason Tarver

Outside linebacker

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Backups: Junior Galette, Trent Murphy, Lynden Trail

Although nothing is certain until pen is put to paper, the chances of Galette giving it another go after two torn Achilles in two years are strong. Trail and Houston Bates will battle for a fifth spot, if there is one. Given Smith’s inconsistency and the uncertainty of Galette’s health it wouldn’t be surprising to see them draft an edge rusher.

Inside linebacker

Starters: Will Compton, free agent
Backups: Martrell Spaight, Mason Foster, draft pick

I’m putting Compton there in dry erase marker, not in Sharpie. They love his leadership and work ethic but he must make more plays. I have a free agent starting beside him because it’s a tough position for a rookie to learn. But if they spend a high draft pick that player could jump into a starting job quickly.  Foster moves into the nickel role that he performed well after Su’a Cravens went out with an injury. Steven Daniels, a 2016 seventh-round pick who spent the year on injured reserve, could push Spaight for a job.

Cornerback

Starters: Josh Norman, Quinton Dunbar
Backups: Kendall Fuller (nickel), Tharold Simon, free agent/draft pick

This could go in a lot of different directions. The only spot set in stone is Norman’s. I have Bashaud Breeland moving to safety, which is something of a speculative hot take. If they make that move, they could spend a high draft pick or substantial free agent money on a corner or they could stay in-house with Dunbar or Fuller. Simon could make the team and contribute or he could be cut.

More Redskins: An early look at first-round draft possibilities

Safety

Starters: Su’a Cravens, Bashaud Breeland
Backups: Will Blackmon, Deshazor Everett, draft pick

Safeties are hard to find. In college, potentially good safeties gravitate towards cornerback, where the NFL money is better. If a good one hits the free agent market, the laws of supply and demand push the price up beyond the value of the position. For those reasons, the Redskins might try Breeland at safety. Some in the organization have believed for a couple of years that safety is his best position. Cravens announced that he would be moving to safety so that change is firm. Duke Ihenacho, who is a free agent, could be back but I think he moves along. Blackmon is a good veteran reserve who can play nickel also. Even though he made a key interception when forced into duty against the Eagles, it still seems that they don’t trust Everett at safety and perhaps a mid-round pick will replace him.

Specialists: LS Nick Sundberg*, P Tress Way, PK Dustin Hopkins

I predict that Sundberg will be the first of the team’s pending free agents to agree to a contract. Hopkins may get some camp competition but it is unlikely to be of more than the token variety.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Need to Know: Did the Redskins underachieve in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, January 18, 99 days before the NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 43
NFL free agency starts 51
First Sunday of 2017 season 236

The coordinator search and more

Did the Redskins underachieve this year? I know that a metric like Football Outsiders' DVOA is not the final word in the quality of a team but looking at it year after year it usually does work out that the teams with the better numbers in DVOA usually win more games than those with worse numbers. The Redskins finished 2016 eighth in DVOA. Considering that 12 teams make the playoffs, that could be considered a playoff quality team. Yet 15 teams finished with a better record than they did. I’m sure there are some holes in the formula for the stat but just looking at that it sure appears that the Redskins did leave some wins out on the field.

John Keim is reporting that the Redskins are prepared to switch to a 4-3 defense if that is what their new defensive coordinator prefers. They have been in the 3-4 since Mike Shanahan arrived in 2010. Whether it is because of the scheme or lack of draft and free agent resources spent on the line and at safety, the defense hasn’t been very good. As Keim notes, they will need to make some personnel changes if they do change but with a full load of draft picks and $62 million in cap space this may be the time to do it.

I expected the angst that was all over Twitter when word of the Rob Ryan interview got out. But it’s pretty dumb to get all worked up over an interview (with all due respect to readers here who may have been upset). It’s not a hiring. Look, somehow or another Ryan managed to stay employed as an NFL defensive coordinator for 12 straight seasons. I don’t know how to research it without going through some very time consuming and tedious steps but I’d be willing to bet that only about a few dozen men in the history of the league have been able to remain a defensive coordinator for that many season in a row. The organization can learn something from sitting down and talking to him for a few hours.

I understand that we want things to talk about in a relatively slow time. But I just don’t see why there is fear out there over the possibility that Kyle Shanahan will get hired as the coach of the 49ers and somehow steal Kirk Cousins away to be his quarterback. The Redskins can maintain his rights via the franchise tag. They could tag Cousins and trade him to the 49ers but there would be a heavy price in terms of draft picks. But while it’s possible, it’s unlikely. The chances are very, very good that Cousins will be in a Redskins uniform this year via either the tag or a long-term deal. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.