Last week I wrote that the Redskins had fewer starts by their own draft picks in 2011 than any other NFL team. Of a total of 352 starts (22 starters times 16 games), draft picks made 121 of them.With a great emphasis being put on the draft by Mike Shanahan than we saw in the past in Washington, one would expect the Redskins to have more starts by home-grown talent in 2012 than they did last year. Now well look at how many draft pick starts they might have in 2012. Last week we looked at the offense Today, the defense.DefenseIt is a good bet that the Redskins are planning on starting the three linebackers drafted by the Redskins for all 16 games this year. Brian Orakpo, Perry Riley, and Ryan Kerrigan are mainstays on the defense and are set in the starting lineup.Along the line, Jarvis Jenkins will fight it out with Adam Carriker for the starting job at left defensive end. Both will play a lot but the question here is who gets how many starts. It says here that earlier in the years Carrikers experience will have him on the field first earlier in the years but when Jenkins knee if fully healthy and he gets familiar with the defense, he will get the nod. Give Jenkins, who was drafted in the second round last year, 10 starts in 2012.There is a possibility that no Redskins draft picks will get starts in the backfield. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are set as the starters at cornerback and Tanard Jackson and Brandon Meriweather are penciled in as the starting safeties. It would not be surprising to see DeJon Gomes match the five starts he got as a rookie in 2011. If Kevin Barnes can beat out Cedric Griffin for the nickel back job he may get a few starts. Beyond that, it is hard to see Brandyn Thompson getting a start and 2012 draft picks Richard Crawford and Jordan Bernstine are probably a year away from contributing at all.With 48 combined starts for the linebackers, 10 for Jenkins and five for Gomes, that projects to 63 starts for the defense. Well add in 10 more for unexpected developments for a total of 73.If you add that to the 78 starts projected for the offense, that makes 161 starts by team draft picks for the Redskins. In 2011, that still would have had them near the bottom of the NFL. Only the Rams (125) and Bills (155) had fewer that 161 starts by their draft picks.The Redskins recent focus on building the team through the draft is, as Shanahan likes to say, a process. Indications are that it it will be a very long process.In 2011, the Redskins had 72 starts by their own draft picks on defense:S Reed Doughty 11S DeJon Gomes 5OLB Ryan Kerrigan 16S LaRon Landry 8ILB Rocky McIntosh 8OLB Brian Orakpo 16ILB Perry Riley 8
The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.
That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
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Can the Redskins trust Dustin Hopkins at kicker?
Finlay: Nick Novak. Graham Gano. Shaun Suisham. That's just a recent list of kickers the Redskins gave up on too early.
Dustin Hopkins missed a couple of important kicks in 2016, especially after a very strong start to the year, but with a powerful leg and a sharp mindset he should absolutely be the 'Skins kicker in 2017. In two seasons with Washington, Hopkins has made 84 percent of his field goals and 95 percent of his extra points. Don't forget he routinely puts kickoffs into the end zone for touchbacks too.
Yes, Hopkins missed a game winner against the Bengals and other important kicks later in the year. That happened. Missed kicks are a part of life in the NFL. Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed an extra point in the Super Bowl.
At 6-foot-2 and just 26 years old, Hopkins is young and athletic. Of 70 career field goal attempts, Hopkins has missed 11 times. Of the misses, six of them came from 50+ yards. In 31 games, Jay Gruden has proven he trusts Hopkins to attempt long kicks. The 'Skins would be well served to stick with the young kicker.
Finding a quarterback may be the most difficult, least scientific task that NFL organizations must undertake. Deciding when to let go of a struggling kicker is second.
There are plenty of strong legs out there spending hours every day kicking on high school fields in hopes of getting an NFL tryout. But being successful as a kicker is as much about what is above the shoulders as it is what’s below the waist. It appears Hopkins had a mental slump last year but he came back to finish strong.
Hopkins started the year making 14 of his first 15 field goal attempts, with the miss coming in the wind in Baltimore. But then in the dome in Detroit he just missed a 45-yard try and that set off a slump where he missed five of 15 field goal tries. He pulled it back together and missed just two of his final nine kicks, one of them a “why not” 57-yard try at the end of the first half against the Giants.
So, it was more of a slump than a bad year for Hopkins. He continued to pound the ball into the end zone, finishing tied for fourth in touchback percentage. I would understand if they brought in some competition for him during training camp but it will be a major upset if he is not the Week 1 kicker.
More offseason questions:
Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!
Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 19, 18 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.
—NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 10
—NFL Combine (3/2) 11
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 57
—NFL Draft (4/27) 67
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 203
Sunday morning quick hitters
How many spots up for grabs? A quick mid-February look down the final 2016 53-man roster shows about 20 players who may not be on the roster for Week 1 this year. This includes players who may depart as free agents and others who just won’t make the team. They probably won’t turn over that many spots but it does show that a lot of jobs are up for grabs.
RELATED: #RedskinsTalk Podcast - It's tag day
How many draft picks? The Redskins have nine draft picks, their own in rounds 1-6 and extra picks in rounds 4, 5, and 6. It’s easy to say that Scot McCloughan may turn that into as many as a dozen picks, especially with all the roster spots that may be open. But remember that last year the Redskins wound up with just seven picks with no pick in the fourth and two in the seventh. McCloughan may intend to stockpile more picks but it depends on how the draft unfolds.
1st-round RB a bad idea: Yesterday JP and I posted on the topic of Rob Kelley as the Redskins’ prime running back this season and it drew quite a bit of discussion on Twitter and on Facebook. I think that they should try to get an upgrade over Kelley but I don’t think they should use their first-round pick to do it. There are just too many other, higher priority needs.
More Redskins: NFL Mock Draft 3.0
A turnaround for Matt Jones? Last year Trent Murphy broke out after two mediocre seasons to register nine sacks. Can Jones do the something similar in this, his third season? The rough equivalent of Murphy’s performance would be Jones rushing for 800 yards. It’s as much a matter of him holding on to the ball as anything. Jones was on pace to rush for over 1,100 yards before losing his grip on the starting job, literally and figuratively.
Tandler on Twitter
In case you missed it
- Would a Cousins contract be a cap killer for the Redskins?
- Will Kelley remain the Redskins' lead running back?
- The Redskins week that was—How many DL, players to step up
- 2017 NFL Mock Draft 3.0