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The Redskins’ incredible shrinking draft classes

The Redskins’ incredible shrinking draft classes

The release of David Amerson on Monday further thinned the ranks of players the Redskins drafted who are still making an impact on the team.

The team took the cornerback in the second round in 2013. Now, after just two seasons, there are just two players left from the seven that Mike Shanahan drafted that year. Third-round tight end Jordan Reed is a starter, although he was second on the depth chart until Niles Paul went out for the season with an ankle injury. Chris Thompson, selected in the fifth round, is the third-down back and occasional kickoff returner.

Let’s compare that group to the Packers’ draft class of 2013. Of the 11 players the selected, seven are still on the team. Three of them, left tackle David Bakhtiari, running back Eddie Lacy, and safety Micah Hyde, are starting.

The really bad news here is that 2013 has competition for being the worst draft class of recent seasons. Players drafted in 2011 should just be entering their prime seasons for the teams that drafted them. Ryan Kerrigan, Washington’s first-round pick that year, is doing just that, having signed a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension in July. But only he and Paul, a fifth-round pick, are left from the 12 players picked that year.

A few years ago it looked like the 2012 class would be an all-timer for Washington, with Robert Griffin III looking great as the top picks and Alfred Morris paying big dividends as a sixth-round pick. Even though Griffin has now been benched, perhaps permanently, fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins is staring at quarterback. Fourth-rounder Keenan Robinson look like the real deal at Mike linebacker and Josh LeRibeus (3rd round) and Tom Compton (6th) are reserve offensive linemen.

To wrap up the recent classes, 2014 is a mixed bad. This is the only draft class where Bruce Allen had final say on who was picked. Three of the top four selections, OLB Trent Murphy (2nd round), OT Morgan Moses (3rd), and CB Bashaud Breeland (4th) are either starter or major contributors. G Spencer Long (3rd) and WR Ryan Grant (5th) are solid reserves. But a team that needs special teams help got nothing from its last three picks as RB Lache Seastrunk (6th), TE Ted Bolser (7th), and K Zack Hocker (7th).

The very early returns on the 2015 group are looking favorable. Seven of the team’s 10 picks are on the 53-man roster. Brandon Scherff (1st round) is starting at right guard and both OLB Preston Smith (2nd) and RB Matt Jones (3rd) are contributing. Jamison Crowder (4th) is returning punts and S Kyshoen Jarrett did a nice job filling in as the nickel corner in a pinch against the Rams.

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

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.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN 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!