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Need to Know: Supply of running backs in draft should let the Redskins fill their need

Need to Know: Supply of running backs in draft should let the Redskins fill their need

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 2, 13 days before NFL free agency starts.  

Supply at running back is good for the Redskins’ demand

Doug Williams did not mince words when asked about the Redskins’ need at a particular position.

“We need to upgrade at running back, ain’t no doubt about it,” the Redskins’ senior VP of player personnel told reporters at the NFL combine. “Nobody is going to sit here and sugar coat the fact that we [didn’t have] a good running game.”

You watched the games this year so you don’t need a lot of detail to convince you that Williams is right. They were 28th in the league with an average of 90.5 yards per game and 29th with an average of 3.6 yards per attempt.

More advanced stats will bear out the problems running the ball but one picture from 2017 was as good as a thousand stats. It was of Samaje Perine getting stopped for a loss on third and one in the Superdome when getting that yard would have clinched a huge win, one that perhaps would have changed the complexion of the season.

Let’s be clear, it wasn’t all Perine’s fault that the play failed. He really didn’t have anywhere to run. But the fact that the Redskins didn’t have a back they could send between the tackles on that play limited their options considerably and when your options are fewer, you chance of success is lower.

Williams may have tipped his hand a bit in regards to where the Redskins might look for a back.

It doesn’t look like the top free agents will be on their shopping list. “Running backs are not what they used to be in the day when you said, hey, I’ve got to get that free agent running back,” he said. He is look for a group to get the job done.

“Running backs are almost by committee,” he said. “The important thing is to have two or three good running backs.”

Williams believes that it’s a good year to be looking for a running back, saying that the position is the deepest one in the draft.

“With this draft and what you already have, you get again in second, fourth round, third round, that’s a pretty good running back to go with what you already have,” he said.

You can take from that what you’d like to. The Redskins don’t have a third-round pick unless they can get one via a trade. Williams appears to be willing to seriously consider taking a runner in the second. But the thinking could be that there are plenty of backs to go around that they could still get a quality player in the fourth.

You should apply the usual dose of draft-time skepticism to what any team official says this time of year. That being said, sometimes a situation is just too obvious to overthink.

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

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 55
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 191

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

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Ryan Grant reportedly signing with Colts after failed physical with Ravens

It looks like Ryant Grant has found his new home, again.

After a failed physical with the Ravens, James Jones of NFL Network reports Grant plans to sign with the Colts.


Grant originally agreed to a four-year, $29 million deal with the Ravens, before the team pulled the offer citing an ankle injury that dated to the Redskins' final regular-season game, according to reports.

Baltimore eventually signed Michael Crabtree to a three-year deal, while Grant had visits with the Colts and Raiders.

His agent, Rocky Arceneaux, says Grant has been working out, running routes, and his ankle had been cleared by Dr. Robert Anderson in a second opinion.

In 2017 with the Redskins, he appeared in all 16 games, with 45 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.


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Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source


Redskins bring in another defensive lineman for free agency visit, per source

The Redskins hosted Sylvester Williams for a free agency visit on Tuesday morning, per a source with knowledge of the situation. 

Williams played in 2017 with the Titans, logging 20 tackles in 11 starts. Tennessee released Williams this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $16 million deal. 

Drafted in the first round by the Broncos in 2013, the 6-foot-3, 313 lbs. Williams' stat line has never really popped. That isn't uncommon for a nose tackle though, as the job is less about tackles than it is holding leverage against the interior of an offensive line. 


Should the Redskins sign 29-year-old Williams, it would represent the first true nose tackle free agency addition since Terrance "Pot Roast" Knighton joined the team in 2015 from Denver. In an ironic twist, Williams took over at nose in Denver when Knighton left for Washington, and posted his best season as a Bronco. 

Washington restructured its deal with Terrell McClain, reported first by ESPN, which could allow more flexibility to add another defensive lineman. That could come in the draft, but the club has been very active talking with free agents to play on the defensive front. 

On Monday, Johnathan Hankins and Pernell McPhee visited with Redskins officials in Ashburn. Hankins would carry the heaviest price tag, but his past performance would also indicate the most promise. 

McPhee is an edge rusher with enough bulk to play against the run as well. Williams compares more with Hankins, and could be seen as the secondary option.

Among 79 nose tackles Pro Football Focus graded, Williams ranked 36th. For comparison, Bengals star Geno Atkins ranked No. 1, Dontari Poe ranked 26th, former Redskin Chris Baker ranked 65th and current Redskin Ziggy Hood ranked 79th. 

It's also worth noting that since the Titans released Williams, should the Redskins sign the nose tackle, his contract would not count towards the NFL compensatory pick formula. 

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