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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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Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Need to Know: Redskins’ Friday draft picks could be just as vital to success as first-rounder

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 23, four days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 10
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 31
—Training camp starts (7/27) 95
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 140

In search of someone, anyone, to stop the run

One of the areas the Redskins needed to improve last year was their rushing defense on first down. In 2015, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down. That was the worst performance in the league. It’s pretty tough to play defense when a handoff makes it second and five. The Saints, who had a historically bad defense that year, were second, fiving up 4.8 yards a pop.

Well, it was no better for the Redskins defense in 2016. Again, they gave up 5.0 yards per carry on first down, again the worst performance in the league.  Remember, this is on first down, when teams are most likely to run.

The Redskins’ problems on third down were well known. They were dead last in the league allowing first downs on 46.6 percent of third-down attempts. For context, an average performance on third down is allowing about 38 percent and the best teams are around 35 percent.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however. The Redskins weren’t very good at getting teams to third down. They allowed first downs on 33.8 percent of their opponents’ second-down plays. That put them in the bottom third of the league. Again, you don’t have to look too hard to connect the dots to link that back to the five yards per rushing play on first down. Second and five is a piece of cake most of the time.

You don’t need an advanced degree in statistical analysis to figure out that the Redskins defense isn’t going to get much better if they can’t stop teams from running the ball on first down.

It’s easy to point to the defensive line, which has not been very good, and say that the problem is there. That certainly has something to do with it. But the Redskins didn’t have a very good D-line in 2014 and they allowed 4.1 yards per first-down rushing attempt, a performance that was right at the league average.

The factor that was common in 2015 and 2016 and was different in 2014 was the defensive coordinator. It’s possible that opposing teams found a flaw to exploit in Joe Barry’s scheme that wasn’t there in Jim Haslett’s (which surely had flaws in other places).

But X’s and O’s can only get you so far. The Redskins will be looking to take a defensive lineman early and perhaps use an additional pick or two at the position later in the draft. While getting one who can rush the passer would be a plus, they need a run stuffer who can take snaps on first down and bottle up the ground game.

The focus in the draft will be on the first-round pick but, as has been discussed here many times, that pick is unlikely to be a defensive lineman. There isn’t likely to be one at 17 who would represent good value. That could mean that the Redskins’ second- or third-round pick, perhaps an interior lineman like Caleb Brantley of Florida, Larry Ogunjobi of Charlotte, or Montravius Adams of Auburn, is just as important to the team’s success as the first-round pick.

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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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Mock drafts, cap bargains

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 22, five days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 20
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 32
—Training camp starts (7/27) 96
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 141

The Redskins week that was

Redskins full 2017 schedule released—Even with the Caps and Wizards in full playoff mode, the DMV stops to take a look and see when the Redskins will be playing. The Thanksgiving game was surprising. It’s another working day but I worked at various places since I was 14 and last year was the first time I’ve had to work on Thanksgiving so I can’t complain too much about working two in a row. It’s a small price to pay for having the best job in the world.

Don't count out any RB for Redskins at 17—Yeah, I know that NFL teams aren’t supposed to take running backs in the first round any more. But that is one of those trends that comes and goes. In 2013 and 2014 there were no RBs taken in the first. Todd Gurley and Ezekiel Elliott in the last couple of years began to shift the thinking. If the Redskins think that Dalvin Cook or Christian McCaffrey can help them win games more than any other player on the board they should pull the trigger.

Rise of Patrick Mahomes could bring big payoff for Redskins—It seems likely that quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and Mitchell Trubisky will be taken before the Redskins pick at No. 17 goes on the clock. That means that two players in whom the Redskins might be interested will be available, pushed back by the quarter backs. Could Mahomes, out of Texas Tech, push a third player back to Washington. The buzz is that a team might grab him in the first half of the first round.

The Redskins' five best salary cap bargains for 2017—When I started pulling the numbers for this post I thought I’d find more key players with salaries of under $1 million. I only found three and one of them is the kicker. This means that they don’t have very many late-round or undrafted players who are contributing a lot of value. They need more out of players like Anthony Lanier, Matt Ioannidis and Maurice Harris. That is how a team thrives in the salary cap era. A couple of Saturday picks could make or break this draft.

Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often—There are a lot of ways the first 16 picks of this draft can work out. It seems almost certain that everyone’s favorite first-round pick, a stud defensive lineman, won’t be a realistic option on the board. This could send things in an odd direction for the Redskins. It’s fun to do a mock and I’ll do one or two more prior to draft day but there are too many variables to think that it has a high degree of accuracy. 

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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