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Redskins may have to wait for first-rounder to become a starter

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Redskins may have to wait for first-rounder to become a starter

NFL teams used to be able to count on getting an instant starter in the first round of the NFL draft. It still happens but it’s not something that teams can count on year after year.

The Redskins are drafting 21st but fans need to temper their expectations of getting a player the team can plug into the lineup right away. Let’s look at the drafts from 2010-2015 and see how many of the players taken in the No. 21 spot and the players take two spots before that pick and two spots after it ended up starting. That range of five picks over six years can give us an idea of what the chances are that the player picked by the Redskins in the first round will be a immediate starter.

Calculating the odds by looking at those 30 players, the answer is—flip a coin. Of the 30 players taken with picks 19 through 23 since 2010, 15 were their teams’ primary starters as rookies.

But, if you want to hone in on what has happened lately, the chances of the Redskins’ top pick starting right away are not so good. Last year, just one player taken in the range we’re examining here was his team’s primary starter. That was receiver Nelson Agholor of the Eagles. In 2014, two became immediate starts and in 2013 three were. So from the last three drafts the immediate starter percentage is 40.

“We’re not getting instant oatmeal anymore,” Panthers GM Dave Gettleman said at the NFL Combine. “And you’ve got to understand there’s going to be growing pains. Nothing’s easy. A guy can have all the talent in the world. But this game is about fundamentals and when we’re getting them they don’t have it. So our coaches have to really coach and teach, and it takes longer.”

Cardinals coach Bruce Arians was blunt in his assessment of the players coming out.

“Great athletes,” he said of the current crop. “The athletes are much, much better, but the fundamentals are worse than they’ve ever been. “

His boss, Arizona GM Steve Keim, agrees.

“When you’re watching offensive linemen and they’ve never been a three-point stance, or a quarterback who has never been in a huddle or under center, you have to project,” said Keim. “That’s part of the business and that’s what makes it fun, difficult and challenging.”

It should be noted here that just because a lot of first-rounders don’t start doesn’t mean they don’t contribute as rookies. If the Redskins take a D-lineman he’ll be a part of the rotation. A cornerback would pay nickel or some packages on defense and a wide receiver would get some snaps as a fourth wideout in some situations.

But if the Redskins’ first-round pick doesn’t start right away or is in and out of the starting lineup, it’s too early to start applying the bust label. Over the last few years such a player has been shown to be the norm.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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