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Redskins pre-draft depth chart review: Offense

Redskins pre-draft depth chart review: Offense

The Redskins’ depth chart is beginning to take shape after some free agency gains and losses. Let’s take a look at where they stand on each side of the ball, starting with the offense.

Starters are listed first, reserves roughly in the order they would appear on a depth chart.

Quarterback: Kirk Cousins
Reserve: Colt McCoy

They will look to add one in the draft or perhaps as an undrafted free agent. When it comes down to cutting the roster to the final 53 the decision will be whether they should keep their developmental quarterback on the roster or if they should try to carry him on the practice squad.

Tackle: Morgan Moses, Trent Williams
Reserves: Ty Nsekhe, Takoby Cofield

Nsekhe was the primary backup last year, filling in for both Williams and Moses when dealt with injuries. Tom Compton, who mostly played as an extra tight end last year, has departed to join Kyle Shanahan with the Falcons. That could open the door for Cofield, who was on the practice squad all of last year, to step into a reserve role. They will need to bring in two or three more for OTAs and training camp.

Guard: Brandon Scherff, Spencer Long
Reserves: Arie Kouandjio, Shawn Lauvao

The question mark here is Lauvao, who is recovering from a Week 3 injury to his ankle. He’s almost certainly out for OTAs and his status for training camp and perhaps the start of the regular season are in doubt. They will need someone to fill in for him and a couple of others for the offseason.

Center: Kory Lichtensteiger
Reserves: Josh LeRibeus, Austin Reiter

Lichtensteiger started and finished the season at center with LeRibeus starting 11 games when Lichtensteiger was out with a neck injury. Reiter, a seventh-round pick last year, was on the practice squad most of the season. It would not be shocking to see any of the three starting this year.

Wide receiver: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder
Reserves: Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross, Andre Roberts, LaRon Byrd

It seems likely that Roberts will get released at some point after he is cleared from the knee injury that landed him on injured reserve for the final six weeks of last season. They likely will to into OTAs with 10-12 receivers so they will probably sign a few more whether or not they draft one.

Tight end: Jordan Reed
Reserves: Vernon Davis, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen, Derek Carrier, Marcel Jensen

Carrier is likely to be sidelined into training camp after suffering a torn ACL in December. The Redskins could carry four tight ends on the 53-man roster since they are going to go without a fullback. They might add one more before OTAs.

Running back: Matt Jones
Reserves: Chris Thompson, Silas Redd, Mack Brown

The three top backs are coming off of injuries. Jones had a procedure to repair a hip problem, Thompson had shoulder surgery, and Redd tore his ACL in a preseason game last year. They will want to go into OTAs with six or seven running backs, perhaps more. They will almost certainly will either draft one or sign a veteran free agent to team with Jones and add a few more camp bodies.

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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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. 

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