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Redskins going defense first in many mock drafts

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Redskins going defense first in many mock drafts

With the entire 2015 season now in the rearview mirror the mock draft industry is cranking into full gear. Let’s take a look around at some of the more popular mocks that have been posted lately and see who they have the Redskins taking.

Rob Rang, CBS SportsReggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
General manager Scot McCloughan might see Ragland as able to provide an immediate impact similar to the one Patrick Willis made when Washington's top scout was heading up the 49ers front office.
The Redskins are adequately set at inside linebacker with Will Compton and, if he re-signs, Mason Foster. But Ragland could be the kind of difference making player that the defense needs to move from mediocre to Super Bowl caliber. He’s a smart player who tackles well and has good instincts. Right now, early in the process, he has to be considered one of the favorites to be the Redskins first-round picks.

Dan Brugler, CBS SportsMackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Redskins have had good luck drafting cornerbacks out of Clemson (Bashaud Breeland) and if Alexander falls to No. 21, I don't think he'll be around at pick No. 22.
While the Redskins could well go with a cornerback in the first round I would be very surprised if Alexander got the call. McCloughan is looking for bigger, longer cornerbacks and Clemson has Alexander listed at 5-10 and his measurement at the combine later this month could come up shorter than that. And Bruce Allen drafted Breeland and while he’s worked out pretty well I don’t see McCloughan feeling any compulsion to go back to the Clemson well again.

Note: Mel Kiper of ESPN (article behind pay wall) and Chad Reuter and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com also have the Redskins picking Alexander. Reuter also explains the pick with the Breeland-Clemson connection.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.comJaran Reed, DT, Alabama
While Reed won't offer much as a pass rusher, he is an elite run defender with tremendous power and hand usage.
A different Alabama defender headed the Redskins way per Zierlein. I don’t quite get this one. The Redskins certainly could use some help stopping the run but you can find D-linemen who can do that later in the draft. If you’re going to spend a first rounder on a 3-4 DE he doesn’t have to be J. J. Watt but I think he should bring you something as a pass rusher.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.comSheldon Rankins, DE, Louisville
Rankins is a disruptive interior defender and he would complement the edge rushers in Washington.
At 6-1 he might be a bit shorter than McCloughan would prefer. But he is strong, powerfully built and does bring some pass rush. I think he’s probably a long shot for the Redskins at No. 21 but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Chris Burke, SI.comJosh Doctson, WR, TCU
Washington can take its pick between Doctson and Ohio State's Michael Thomas for the “big” receiver it needs—Doctson stands 6’3”, 195. His height, hands, leaping ability and body control combine in a highlight-reel package.
Yes, I know most fans are on the “build the defense” bandwagon. But Kirk Cousins needs receivers to throw to and both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are turning 30 this year and are in the last season of their contracts. There is not adequate depth behind them. Given that most receivers take a year to catch on to the NFL the Redskins would be wise to get started on a succession plan now.

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RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

RB Matt Jones reportedly not part of Redskins' 2017 plans

Matt Jones entered the 2016 season as the Redskins undisputed starter at running back.

That lasted seven games.

By Week 8, Jones landed on the inactive list, and he never took another snap all year.

With OTAs beginning for the 2017 season, it looks like Jones might not play with the team. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

In April at the NFL Draft, reports surfaced that Washington was trying to trade Jones.

Weeks before that, at the NFL Owner's Meetings in Arizona, Redskins head coach Jay Gruden had to be reminded that Jones was still on the roster as the coach talked about the running back situation for this fall.

Robert Kelley surpassed Jones as the top running back on the team last season with Chris Thompson secure in his third down back role. 

Mack Brown even moved past Jones on the depth chart. When the Redskins drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round, that signaled even bigger trouble for Jones' roster situation.

The Redskins will likely only keep four running backs this fall, and with Kelley, Perine, Thompson and Brown, it sure seems like Jones is the odd man out.

It's remarkable considering Jones has size, speed and an NFL resume that has three 100-yard games on it in just 20 games. The Redskins spent a third-round pick on Jones in 2015, and he largely ousted fan favorite Alfred Morris from the RB1 role as a rookie. 

Life comes at you quick in the NFL.

Jones is a clear example of that. 

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins really afford to franchise tag Kirk Cousins in 2018?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 24, 20 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp on May 22.

Timeline

It’s been 143 days since the Redskins played a game. Their season opener against the Eagles at FedEx Field is in 109 days.

Days until:

—Redskins minicamp (6/13) 20
—Training camp starts (7/27) 64
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 78

Is the 2018 Cousins tag threat a bluff?

On Monday, Redskins president Bruce Allen reiterated that the team is willing to use the franchise tag on Kirk Cousins for the third straight year.

“In the collective bargaining agreement, we really have one year and an option that we can do at the end of next season if we don’t get a contract,” said Allen when asked if the team would use the franchise or transition tag on Cousins in 2018. He has said something similar on previous media interviews this year.

This year Cousins is getting the tag for the second time in his career. That gives him 120 percent of his 2016 salary which comes to just under $24 million. A third franchise tag in 2018, which would either give the Redskins exclusive negotiating rights or a possible choice between matching an offer sheet from another team or getting draft pick compensation, would get Cousins a 144 percent increase over this season, or a whopping $34.5 million.

The franchise tag would give the Redskins the power to unilaterally lock up Cousins for the 2018 season. It is expensive, by design. Could the Redskins afford to wield that power? Or is Allen just bluffing?

A look at the numbers makes it look like Allen is bluffing.

According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have $127 million in salary cap commitments in 2018. Based on recent growth trends the salary cap will be an estimated $178 million. That gives the Redskins $51 million in cap room.

Cousins’ $34.5 million salary for a third tag would hit the 2018 cap all at once as soon as the tag is applied. You don’t have to be a master capologist to do the math and figure out that such a move would leave the Redskins with $16.5 million in salary cap space.

A look at the top-line number doesn’t seem that bad. Eight teams would have less cap space than Washington so others, like the Cowboys, Eagles, and Chiefs, would be worse off.

But the problem with the Redskins’ situation is twofold. First, 21 of their current players are slated to be unrestricted free agents in 2018. Not all of them are key contributors. But they would have to squeeze to bring back the likes of Zach Brown, Terrelle Pryor, Spencer Long, and Bashaud Breeland. If they don’t re-sign them they will have to go to the free agent market for replacements and that will tough to do with so little money to work with.

The other issue is that they don’t have any fat to cut from their cap. They could save from $4.5 million to $8 million by cutting one of the four players with the highest cap numbers. But they aren’t going to be better if they cut loose Josh Norman, Jordan Reed, Trent Williams or Ryan Kerrigan.

Going down the list of top cap hits, they would save no money by letting Brandon Scherff go since his salary is fully guaranteed. Washington would take a net loss of cap space by cutting Morgan Moses and releasing Vernon Davis would save just $1.1 million. In fact, other than the top four mentioned above there are no players the Redskins could release who would save more than $1.6 million in net cap space.

The Redskins could create more cap room by restructuring some of their highest-paid players. But a simple restructure, where salary is converted to signing bonus, spreading the cap impact over the remaining years of the deal, doesn’t save any real money. The cap hit is merely pushed back into future seasons. Bruce Allen has been reluctant to do this and he is right to think that way. Restructures should only be used in a “break glass in case of emergency” situations, not as a regular way of doing business.

In short, tagging Cousins for $34.5 million would force the Redskins to lose quality players or to use cap management tactics that run against their philosophy, or some combination of both. While you can’t rule out the tag on Cousins, there is enough there to make the possibility remote.

Mike McCartney, Cousins’ agent, can look at these numbers and figure out that Allen is bluffing about a 2018 franchise tag as well as I can. It will be close to a non-factor in negotiations.

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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