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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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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under

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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!

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

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

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#RedskinsTalk Podcast: Final refresh before 2017 season truly begins

Rich Tandler and JP Finlay wrap up the Redskins offseason and prepare for what will be the most intriguing and the most overplayed storylines at training camp in Richmond.

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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