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Need to Know: Will the Redskins go without a true nose tackle in 2016?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins go without a true nose tackle in 2016?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, March 24, 35 days before the NFL Draft.

I’m changing around the Need to Know format a bit. There may be some more tweaks in the coming days and weeks; your comments are welcome.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 74 days ago. It will be about 171 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 25; 2016 NFL draft 35; Redskins training camp starts 126

Hot topic

It looks like the Redskins just might to into the season without a true nose tackle.

They let Terrance Knighton leave in free agency and he was the only big-body, 3-4 style nose tackle on the roster. They looked at a few in free agency, but either they didn’t like what they saw or the bidding go too high for them.

So now it looks like they might turn to the Redskins longest tenured player to play the position. At least that's what Jay Gruden said yesterday. “But you still need to have a big nose guard in there that can stop the run and Kedric [Golston] can do that,” said Gruden at the owners meetings yesterday. “He’s proven to do that. He’s a 12- to 15-play per game kind of guy. And when you’re in base defense, really you’re looking at about 20 percent of the time nowadays is all you are.”

There are 64 snaps per team in an average game so 20 percent would mean about 13 snaps per game for Golston. That’s just about what he averaged last year.

The big question, so to speak, is his size. He’s not much over 300 pounds and the position typically calls for a player who is at least 40 pounds heavier than that.

Then again, Golston could just be a placeholder. It's possible that they have a draft prospect like Andrew Billings, who could play 3-4 nose tackle and also end in other alignments, in their sights. We will see how it works out.

Fan question of the day

Jay Gruden indicted yesterday that Bruton and Duke Ihenacho will compete for the starting job at strong safety while DeAngelo Hall will be the free safety.

But it’s not as simple as that. Gruden said that all three safeties have the range and in-the-box ability to play either safety position. And he also mentioned that Bruton was a three-time special teams captain in Denver and he will certainly have a role there.

The bottom line here is that we don’t know any of the safeties’ roles at this point. It’s late March, about four months from the start of training camp. They have to take these players through OTAs and training camp to sort out their roles. Bruton and the others, and probably others who are not currently on the roster. I don’t think you can rule out any role for Bruton at this point, from starter to occasional defensive sub and special teams captain.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

Stat of the day

Alfred Morris averaged 100.8 rushing yards per game in 2012. The only Redskin to average more than in a season that was Larry Brown at 101.3 in 1972, but that stat carries an asterisk. Brown played in just 12 of the 14 scheduled games that season. He was held out of the last two to get him some rest for the playoffs.

In case you missed it

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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

 

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Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

Risk vs reward when Redskins consider Alabama LB Reuben Foster in NFL Draft

An undeniable talent, Reuben Foster seemed for months to be a lock for the Top 10 of the 2017 NFL Draft. The Alabama star is a sure tackler, playmaking force and winner of the 2016 Dick Butkus Award as the nation's best college linebacker.

The actual football season went great for Foster, he logged 115 tackles and was named the SEC Championship Game MVP. Since play on the field stopped, things have stalled. Foster had an unfortunate incident at the NFL Combine, where he was sent home after an altercation with a hospital worker. In the time since, it's come out Foster tested positive for a diluted urine sample and will enter the NFL in the substance abuse program. 

Still, despite a tough two months, Foster's talent is too rich to pass up for some NFL teams. And per NFL Network's Lance Zierlein, the Redskins could be that team

In his mock draft released Wednesday, Zierlein predicts Foster's draft day slide to end with Washington at the 17th pick. From NFL.com:

Foster could fall due to off-field concerns and worries about injuries, but he fits a need for the Redskins, bringing a tough playmaker into the fold.

Beyond the diluted sample and the combine altercation, Foster also has had stinger issues throughout his career at 'Bama. He has elite speed at the linebacker position and the type of athleticism defensive coordinators dream about, though some pro scouts question if he can handle the calls of a Mike linebacker in the NFL game.

The Redskins are not desperate for interior linebacker help, this season. The team added Zach Brown in free agency, re-signed 2016 defensive captain Will Compton earlier this week and Mason Foster remains under contract. All three players, however, are headed to free agency in 2018. Adding Foster would provide depth this year and a potential star in the future.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!