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Need to Know: Should Redskins fans believe what Doug Williams said about drafting a QB?

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Need to Know: Should Redskins fans believe what Doug Williams said about drafting a QB?

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 11, 15 days before the NFL draft.  

Slim chance of drafting a quarterback

Doug Williams has been the Redskins’ senior VP of player personnel for less than a year, but he has already is beginning to master the pre-draft subterfuge side of the game. 

In an interview with the Washington Post, Williams tried to make the case that the Redskins would take a quarterback with the 13thpick in the draft if a player who might slip such as Lamar Jackson of Louisville is the best player available.

“When we get to 13, we’ve got to see who’s there,” Williams said. “If there’s a quarterback that we feel should have gone [earlier], then that’s a major discussion. To say it’s off the table, that would be unfair.”

Presumably, Williams said this with a straight face and in an earnest voice. But none of it is true. The Redskins will not draft a quarterback in the first round. Or in the second or fourth and probably not the fifth. 

The main reason the Redskins won’t take a quarterback early is because of the contract of Alex Smith. The five-year deal dictates that Smith will be the Redskins’ quarterback for at least the next three years. And unless he is performing so badly that they are willing to eat a $10.8 million dead cap charge in 2021, he will be behind center for four years if not the entire five (the final year would be his age 38 season). 

If the Redskins take a quarterback in the draft, he will be under contract for four years. That would mean that the plan would be to have a draft pick sit on the bench for the duration of his contract. A first-round QB would have a fifth-year option but the Redskins could find themselves paying that player in excess of $20 million in 2022 before he ever was the regular starter. 

Smith has been very durable for the last seven years. Since 2011, he has missed five games due to injuries. That represents few opportunities for a highly-drafted backup. 

Another issue with going QB early is that a first- or second-round quarterback would represent an opportunity cost for the Redskins. Instead of shoring up a position of need or adding a playmaker, the Redskins would be adding to a position where they already have invested their third-round pick and CB Kendall Fuller, not to mention over $21 million in salary cap space (counting Colt McCoy’s $3.6 million cap hit). Even though it’s the most important position in sports, there is such a thing as overkill. 

As JP Finlay wrote yesterday, the best course of action the Redskins could take if there is a quality quarterback on the board when they are on the clock would be to immediately put a “for sale” sign up on the pick. 

As far as the rest of the draft, the Redskins are happy with Colt McCoy as the backup and they aren’t going to give up on Kevin Hogan less than a month after trading for him to be their third-string developmental quarterback. A late-round developmental quarterback would be unlikely to make the roster.

But what about never say never? Is there a chance the Redskins would take a quarterback at some point? In this case, it’s safe to say “never” up until around their second pick of the fifth round. At that point, if there is a quarterback on the board who they did not think would be there and who would be a significant upgrade over Hogan, they might go ahead and pull the trigger there. 

While that’s possible, the chances are strong that this will be draft without a quarterback taken despite Doug Williams’ assertion to the contrary. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 5
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 106
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 151

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The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

The Redskins are going to draft the best available player, unless they aren't

When their turn comes up in this draft, the Redskins are going to pick the best available player on the board. Unless they’re not. 

That is the mixed message delivered on Tuesday by Doug Williams, the team’s senior vice president for player personnel during his pre-draft press conference on Tuesday. 

Williams was asked what nearly every NFL personnel executive has been asked during this round of draft press conferences: Will the Redskins take the best player on the board or would they draft for need?

And Williams gave an answer similar to the ones that all of the other personnel guys gave. 

“You hear this cliché all the time, it’s always going to be the best player available, because at the same time if you’re looking for a need, the player you’re looking for a need might not be graded as high as the guy that’s on that board,” he said. 

That makes some fans crazy as they believe that you must fill needs in the draft. But reaching to fill needs is a good way to have a mediocre, disjointed draft. 

But there are times when the best available player is not the player the Redskins will pick. The topic of injuries came up and Williams talked about the situation at offensive tackle. Morgan Moses and Trent Williams currently are rehabbing from injuries and they won’t take the field during OTAs and minicamp. 

Doug Williams said that both players should be ready for training camp. He didn’t mention it but Trent Williams and Moses are signed for the next three and five years, respectively. That means that there is no need for a tackle in at least the first two rounds, and Williams agrees. 

“We can’t go into the draft drafting tackles, you know,” he said. 

So if, say, offensive tackle Mike McGlinchey of Notre Dame has the highest grade on the Redskins’ board when pick 13 comes up, they will not be taking the player with the best grade. They will “reach”, perhaps only slightly, to take a player at another position. 

The Redskins have a similar situation at quarterback. They are committed to Alex Smith for at least three seasons and it would be foolish to spend a high pick on a quarterback. Williams said that the Redskins are not in the quarterback business this year. If there is a top QB still on the board at pick 13, it’s likely that Williams and Bruce Allen would be looking for phone calls from teams that want to trade up and get their signal caller. 

The true test of how the team chooses needs vs. best available could well come this year. Let’s say that Da’Ron Payne, Minkah Fitzpatrick, and Tremaine Edmunds are all on the board when the Redskins’ pick comes up. While each team has its own grades, you probably won’t find many that don’t have Fitzpatrick and Edmunds a clear cut above Payne. The Redskins have needs on the defensive line, not so much at inside linebacker or in the secondary. Picking Payne at that point could be interpreted as reaching to fill a need while leaving more talented and more versatile players on the board. Going best available would almost surely mean choosing between Fitzpatrick and Edmunds. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Need to Know: Final Redskins seven-round mock draft

Need to Know: Final Redskins seven-round mock draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the first round of the 2018 NFL draft.  

Final seven-round Redskins mock draft

Here we go. No trades. If you like big guys you’ll like the first four picks. 

Round 1, DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama—I think that Vita Vea will be off the board; it’s looking more and more like he will go the Raiders at 10 or Miami at 11. Payne might be the better player anyway, assuming that Jim Tomsula can coach some pass rush out of him. If Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James is on the board the Redskins may have to adjust their thinking. 

Round 2, OL Billy Price, Ohio State—I had a running back in mind here but the run at the position came earlier than expected. Derrius Guice, Ronald Jones, Sony Michel, and Nick Chubb were all off the board. The decision was to get a guy to insert at left guard and complete a home-grown O-line that can hopefully create running room for whatever back takes the handoff. 

Round 4, RB Kalen Ballage, Arizona State—I’m going with the best available running back here. The analytics types really like his combination of size (6-1, 228) and speed (4.46 in the 40 at the combine). Also, he shared carries with the Sun Devils so is a relatively low-mileage back (450 carries in four years). Ballage scored eight touchdowns in a game as a junior so he could be what the team needs in the red zone. 

Round 5, DL R.J. McIntosh, Miami—The Redskins have spent so little draft capital on the defensive line over the past two decades that it’s easy to justify doubling up there in one draft. McIntosh is a project, but he has high-level athleticism and quickness and those are traits you can’t teach. It might take him all of this year and next offseason in the weight room to build up his core strength and to add some weight onto his 286-lb. frame. 

Round 5, CB Nick Nelson, Wisconsin—While working out for the Lions last week, Nelson suffered a torn meniscus. That dropped his draft stock from perhaps being a Day 2 pick to one who should still be on the board on Saturday afternoon. The rehab for the 2017 All-Big Ten selection has been estimated at three to four months, meaning that he could be ready for the start of training camp. One more note: he was the Badgers’ punt returner last year and he averaged 8.6 yards per return with one touchdown. 

Round 6, TE David Wells, San Diego St.—While Jay Gruden and Doug Williams both seem to be confident that Jordan Reed will be healthy and ready to go by the time the regular season starts the truth will emerge in the draft. If they take a tight end early, they are very concerned about Reed. If they wait until this point in the draft and take a project like Wells, they are only moderately worried. 

Round 7, WR Auden Tate, Florida State—He’s coming off of a separated shoulder and that might push the 6-4 Tate down the board. Tate would be a project; he only caught 65 passes in 22 game at Florida State. He doesn’t have blazing speed (4.68 in the 40) but he competes for the ball and he could be a good red zone asset. 

Round 7, CB Greg Stroman, Virginia Tech—You can’t have too many corners or edge rushers and since there aren’t enough of the latter to go around in this draft I took a corner here. Stroman doesn’t have ideal size at 5-11, 182 but he paid attention during his four years with the Hokies and he plays with good technique. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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In response to a suggestion that former kick returner Devin Hester should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer:

Timeline 

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 16
—OTAs start (5/22) 27
—Training camp starts (7/26) 92

The Redskins last played a game 115 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 137 days. 

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