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Need to Know: Will the Redskins go offense or defense in the first round?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins go offense or defense in the first round?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 22, six days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 103 days ago. It will be 143 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: 2016 NFL draft 6; Rookie minicamp 21; Redskins training camp starts 97

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One week from right now we will know how the first round of the NFL draft unfolded. What Scot McCloughan move will we be analyzing then? Let’s break out the $100 in imaginary casino chips and put our bets down on each of the likely scenarios.

Draft a defensive lineman, $40—It seems like everyone has been trying to figure out scenarios other than this, which has been the most likely and logical since the 2015 season ended. Chances are there will be at least one or two lineman on the board who fits exactly what McCloughan is looking for both in terms of what is on tape and in what he is looking for off the field. If that’s the case, McCloughan won’t overthink it and send in the card with the big guy’s name on it.

Draft another defensive position, $30—If not along the line, then the next most likely scenario is finding help elsewhere on defense. It could be ILB Reggie Ragland or perhaps a cornerback such as Eli Apple or Mackensie Alexander. Perhaps if his knee injury passes the doctors’ scrutiny safety Karl Joseph could be the pick. The draft is deep enough on the line that the Redskins could get a solid player in a later round.

Draft an offensive player, $20—The Redskins’ offense is pretty well set up for 2016 but beyond that there are major question marks. For one thing, both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson will be free agents in 2017. If the right receiver is on the board it would make sense to seriously consider drafting him. I’m not much of a fan of using yet another first-round pick on the interior offensive line but I don’t think you can completely rule out C Ryan Kelly here.

Trade down, $10—While McCloughan wants to collect some additional picks I don’t think he particularly wants to trade down in the first to do it. If “his guy” is off the board and he sees about a dozen who are roughly equal on the board, he might move down to late in the first or early in the second. But I think that the odds are the pick he has in mind will be there. Trades will start in the second round on Friday night.

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

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.