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NFL Draft 2018: Ranking the Redskins best RB draft options

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NFL Draft 2018: Ranking the Redskins best RB draft options

Gauging the Washington Redskins’ running back situation for 2018 feels like a glass half-full or empty situation.

Chris Thompson turned into the team’s top offensive playmaker last season. The quicker-than-quick back led the Redskins in rushing and receiving at the time of his season-ending leg injury in Week 11. Rookie Samaje Perine powered his way to a team-high 603 rushing yards. Injuries limited Robert Kelley, but let’s not forget about his impactful 2016 campaign.

On the other hand, Washington ranked 28th in rushing yards this season and 30th in yards per attempt (3.6). Thompson offers explosive ability, but the 5-foot-8 back isn’t built for every-down use. Perine showed enough rough edges in Year 1. Neither he nor Kelley is a premier athlete. Kapri Bibbs, Byron Marshall and Keith Marshall offer more depth, but not much wow.

The guess here is that the Redskins do not prioritize running back during the offseason. Get Kelley and Thompson back from injuries, put Perine through a second training camp and see what that does. Of course, that would not preclude Washington from selecting a runner at any point in the draft if the value stars align, including in round one.

Here’s a look at some of the running back options in the 2018 NFL Draft that could work for the Burgundy and Gold.

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NFL Draft 2018: Ranking the Redskins best WR draft options

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NFL Draft 2018: Ranking the Redskins best WR draft options

It’s never easy finding common ground among Redskins fans. Good bet we can build consensus on this premise: Washington really missed Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson last season.

It’s not that the Redskins lost both wide receivers in free agency, though they really did not put up much of a fight with Garcon. It’s that their replacements were clearly inadequate. Nobody provided Garcon’s tough guy act, particularly on key third-down chances. Few players in the NFL can match Jackson’s deep speed. None of them played for the 2017 Washington Redskins.

Jamison Crowder overcame early-season injuries to finish with a solid campaign from the slot. Josh Doctson has not lived up to his 2016 first-round selection, but he showed signs of growth as the year wore on, particularly on 50-50 balls. The pair is the only clear parts of the Redskins receiver rotation in 2018.

Maybe free agent Ryan Grant returns. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Conceivably Washington could make a strong play for outside free agents like Jarvis Landry or Martavis Bryant. If none of the above occurs or the organization isn’t ready to believe Maurice Harris or Robert Davis takes a big leap, the Redskins might turn to the draft for help.

Since the arrival of head coach Jay Gruden in 2014, the Redskins have selected at least one wide receiver in every draft: 2014 (5th round), 2015 (4, 6), 2016 (1), 2017 (6). Washington holds the 13th overall selection in the draft. Will they select a wide out in round one for the second time in three years?

We’ll see, but for now, here’s a look at some of the wide receiver options in the 2018 NFL Draft.

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2018 NFL Draft: Breaking down 7 ways the Redskins' final loss impacts their draft status

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2018 NFL Draft: Breaking down 7 ways the Redskins' final loss impacts their draft status

With their Week 17 loss at the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins settled into their first-round spot for the 2018 NFL Draft. Unlucky or not, the Redskins own the No. 13 overall selection. Sure, dropping the finale in New York meant a 7-9 record, thus preventing a third consecutive season with a .500 or better record, which is hardly an inspiring achievement regardless. Here's what the loss potentially did — or didn't do — for the Redskins with the first round pick in mind.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0

It did put them in a better position to draft a quarterback if desired.
There are five teams with clear needs at the position — Browns, Giants, Broncos, Jets and Cardinals — among the top 15 picks. That is not even counting the Colts and Bengals — teams with potential offseason decisions at QB. ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. has four quarterbacks among his top 15 overall prospects without including Louisville's Lamar Jackson. Cleveland, Denver and both New York teams pick ahead of Washington. While that could leave the Redskins as the odd team out, the odds of all of those teams taking passer aren't great. 

It did keep them ahead of the Arizona Cardinals.
At 8-8, the Redskins would lose a tiebreaker by virtue of their head-to-head win over Arizona this season. With Carson Palmer's retirement, the Cardinals certainly need a QB. Other teams picking behind the Cardinals — Chargers at 17, Bills at 21 and 22 and Jaguars in the late 20's — know this and could look for a trade up partner.  Say one selecting two picks before Arizona.

It did not ensure they will have a chance at selecting the top guard in the draft.
Notre Dame's Quenton Nelson is receiving love from many draft sites in the form of top-5 overall prospect status. That he plays guard, a position not typically viewed as top-5 worthy means Nelson could slide some. Then again, Washington drafted two-time Pro Bowler Brandon Scherff overall with the No. 5 selection in 2015. If no Nelson, then the Redskins would look later in the draft for a guard as no other prospect currently ranks that high. 2017 starter Shawn Lauvao is a free agent along with center Spencer Long. Re-signing Long and moving him back to his former position might be the ideal plan.

PHOTO GALLERY: 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 4.0

It did put them in position to select a wide receiver before a positional run takes off.
Currently, it is unclear if any wideout will hear his name called before 13, though Alabama's Calvin Ridley might entice the Bears (8) or Dolphins (11). Just behind the Redskins, teams like the Packers (14), Cardinals (15), Ravens (16) and Cowboys (19) could easily justify going receiver in the first. Washington needs another outside threat to go with Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder, but it may be better off adding veteran help in free agency if possible.

It did put them in better shape to land Georgia inside linebacker Roquan Smith, maybe.
Smith, the 2017 Butkus Award winner for the best college linebacker, rocked all season and kept it up his forceful, sideline-to-sideline play in the national semifinal win over Oklahoma. Kiper's pre-playoff ranking slotted Smith at 15 overall, while CBS Sports went far more aggressive with a top 5 ranking. If Smith is not available, Alabama's Rashaan Evans is the next ILB option, but his current projection is in the 20-35 range. Washington's top three inside linebackers, including Zach Brown, are all entering free agency. Even if Brown stays, the Redskins could use a true playmaker in the middle of their defense.

It did put them in position to select the projected No. 2 running back in the class.
Penn State's Saquon Barkley seems like a top-5 lock, but after that, the next back might not go off the board until the mid-teens. That next back may just be LSU's Derrius Guice, who rushed for more than 1,200 yards and 11 touchdowns this season. The Packers (14), Ravens (16), Seahawks (18) and Lions (20) all have uncertainty at running back. The Redskins clearly do not have a proven early or every down back, but do not be surprised if they run it back with the group of Chris Thompson, Samaje Perine, Robert Kelley and Kapri Bibbs in the hopes that a healthy season does the trick.

It did put them in a better spot if one of the elite prospects slips.
The consensus is hardly set with the top 10 prospects, especially with several quarterbacks possibly jumping into that range. In fact, if say Josh Allen and Baker Mayfield join Josh Rosen and Sam Darnold in the top 10, that means several players who are ranked ahead of Washington's range will be there at 13. Perhaps that is the powerful Nelson or the aggressive Smith or the pass-catching Ridley or Boston College edge rusher Harold Landry. The Redskins need more in all those areas. Perhaps one if a couple of them could be there at 13 with some good fortune.Who knows what happens if Washington had won Week 17 and fell back to 15. Two spots might not seem like much, but you never know. What we do know is that in early January, that final loss might just help the Redskins land a player at a need position they may have missed on otherwise.

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