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Will the Redskins look for any more outside linebackers?

Will the Redskins look for any more outside linebackers?

A couple of weeks ago we wondered what the Redskins would do for depth at inside linebacker. They had just starters Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan and second-year player Brandon Jenkins as likely candidates to make the team.

They now have at least part of the answer. Just when it was looking like they would never pick up the phone and call Rob Jackson, who has been with the team since 2006, the team announced that he had signed to return for an eighth season in Washington.

Jackson gives the Redskins an experienced reserve and perhaps a solid role player. He does a good job in pass coverage as evidenced by his four interceptions in 2012, when he started 14 games in place of the injured Orakpo. Redskins fans will never forget his biggest interception of the year, his fourth-quarter pick of Tony Romo in the 2012 season finale that helped wrap up the game and give the team its first division title since 1999.

Jenkins got just 41 snaps under his belt last year and he is very much a work in progress. His goal this year should be to become a special teams standout, which will keep him on the game day active list and that will allow him to take more defensive snaps.

Are the Redskins done at the position? Last year they carried five outside linebackers on the 53-man roster. Darryl Tapp, who was the fifth OLB on the roster, has signed with the Lions. It’s possible that they will try to add another but here is one thing to keep in mind with the numbers game. They carried four inside linebackers in 2012. This year they have five who are likely to make the team after they re-signed Perry Riley, have Keenan Robinson returning from injured reserve, and signed Akeem Jordan, Adam Hayward and Darryl Sharpton as free agents. Perhaps they will keep nine total linebackers but have four outside and five inside instead of the other way around.

If they do decide to add someone on the outside they could look for one in the draft. Almost everyone says “you can’t have too many pass rushers” but few practice it when they are on the clock during the draft. We will see what Bruce Allen does.

And the possibility of signing former Cowboy Anthony Spencer is still out there. He came to visit early in free agency but he and the Redskins couldn’t agree on a contract. Perhaps if we get closer to training camp they might be able to come to an agreement if Spencer sees his options drying up. That is pending on his recovery from last year’s microfracture surgery.

 

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Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

Robert Kelley, Su'a Cravens, Colt McCoy among Redskins who'll have new numbers in 2017

The next time Robert Kelley plows over a helpless linebacker, he'll do it with a new number on his uniform.

The second-year running back is switching from No. 32 to No. 20, according to Redskins.com. And he's not the only returning player who'll take the field in 2017 with a new pair of digits.

Su'a Cravens will no longer be No. 36 for Washington. Instead, he'll change to No. 30. DJ Swearinger will be taking over No. 36 after coming over from the Cardinals, a number that he reportedly purchased from Cravens for $75,000

Then there's Colt McCoy. McCoy has donned No. 16 for the past three seasons, but he's throwing it back to his college days and will now rock No. 12.

MORE REDSKINS: THE ULTIMATE REDSKINS DRAFT PREVIEW

Finally, second-year corner Kendall Fuller only spent one year with No. 38. As he hopes to improve in his sophomore campaign, he'll be doing so with No. 29.

As for the free agents, Terrelle Pryor will be replacing DeSean Jackson in more ways than one when kickoff rolls around. Not only will the ex-Brown have to shine as a top receiver for Kirk Cousins like Jackson did, but he'll also be sporting Jackson's No. 11.

New linebacker Zach Brown, meanwhile, is now No. 56, linemen Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain are Nos. 92 and 97 respectively and Brian Quick will keep No. 83 from his Rams days.

For a complete list of all the changes, click here.

RELATED: IS REUBEN FOSTER WORTH THE RISK?

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

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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.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

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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