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News, notes and observations from 3 days at the NFL Scouting Combine

News, notes and observations from 3 days at the NFL Scouting Combine

INDIANAPOLIS - After a few long days of watching prospects and speaking with NFL players, coaches, scouts and front office types, the information overload begins to set in.

Below are notes and thoughts from a bevy of conversations and observations about what the Redskins might, and might not, do in free agency and the NFL Draft. 


2018 NFL Combine News and Notes:

  • The organization hated trading away Kendall Fuller, but understood the necesity to acquire a QB. And the organization is very excited to have Alex Smith, at a price they think is reasonable. Bruce Allen went and got Smith, and Jay Gruden is happy with the move. 
  • With Fuller gone, some speculated Bashaud Breeland might be back with the Redskins. Breeland will hit free agency on March 14th, but don't expect the Washington front office to be aggressive in re-signing him. Expectation here is the same as it was in December: Breeland plays elsewhere in 2018. 
  • Teams are interested and excited about Trent Murphy and Junior Galette. Green Bay particularly wants to beef up their pass rush, and the Packers have been clear they want to be a player in free agency. 
  • Ever heard of Kirk Cousins? He was THE topic of conversation in Indy, from NFL people all the way to cab drivers. Where will Kirk Cousins land? The Jets, Broncos and Vikings seem to be the front-runners, but Arizona could make some cap space and take a run at Cousins too. This is shaping up to be an interesting decision for Cousins. The Jets will offer the most money, and I expect the Vikings to show a relative level of fiscal restraint. What will John Elway and the Broncos do? Remains to be seen. Denver and the Jets both have early draft picks and could fall in love with a QB at the Combine as well. The rest of the NFL is now grappling with the same question the Redskins dealt with for two offseasons: Kirk Cousins is good, but is he highest paid player in the NFL good?
  • Gruden and Doug Williams said the Redskins must get better running the ball. Does that mean a draft pick? It could. The team walked away very impressed with LSU RB Derrius Guice, a projected first-round pick. There are other RBs that will be available later in the draft the organization liked too, and RB help could happen in free agency too. 
  • The Redskins really like Iowa CB Josh Jackson. The kid made plays in college and could step in Day 1 and help Washington. He will be a first round pick.
  • Two different Redskins defensive coaches told me their excitement to watch Washington NT Vita Vea work out. A mountain of a man with surprising athleticism, Vea is very much on the 'Skins radar. 
  • Another defensive player the Redskins liked: Iowa LB Josey Jewell. He's a tackling machine that can help if the team doesn't bring back Zach Brown. Probably a Friday night pick, but if he lasts until Saturday, Washington might be in luck. 
  • Speaking of Brown, Doug Williams said the Redskins made an offer to the linebacker and are waiting to hear back. That doesn't sound great for the prospects of getting a deal done before free agency opens. I've long reported that the target money for Brown would look similar to the deal Bobby Wagner signed with Seattle or Alec Ogletree with the Rams. Don't get caught up in annual salaries; the number that matters is the guaranteed cash. Ogletree got $19 million guaranteed. Brown wants at least that much guaranteed, and likely more, to make a deal work. 
  • I was a little surprised that Jay Gruden intimated Ryan Grant will walk in free agency. Grant is a productive player for Washington and a favorite of the coaches. 
  • Redskins Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith is held in high esteem by a number of agents, coaches and other NFL front office folks. Some of that may come from respect for his dad, A.J. Smith, who ran the Chargers for 10 years and amassed a 95-65 record in that time. But it doesn't sound like that has much to do with it. Smith loves football the same way Sean McVay does. He doesn't have hobbies. He just goes to games and watches tape. The 'Skins have a number of young scouts with similar mindsets. 
  • The Redskins might want to draft a QB, and the team definitely likes Richmond Spider Kyle Lauletta. I think the price tag will be too much for Washington, however, especially without a third round pick. A late round QB, similar to the Nate Sudfeld selection a few years back, could make sense. 

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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

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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Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

Redskins withdraw contract offer to Junior Galette

It looks like the Redskins are moving on from Junior Galette.

Citing a team source, Chick Hernandez of NBC Sports Washington is reporting that the team has withdrawn its contract offer to Galette, the veteran pass rusher who finally got on the field last year after missing all of his first two seasons in Washington with injuries. He is an unrestricted free agent.

The Redskins may have a replacement for Galette lined up. They had former Bear Pernell McPhee in for a visit earlier this week and there was a report that they made him a contract offer after that. McPhee subsequently visited the Falcons facility, but he has not signed anywhere. However, there have been no reports that a deal is imminent as of this morning.


As for Galette, Hernandez mentions two possible destinations. One is the Browns, who have two key connections to Galette. Scot McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who signed Galette after he was cut by the Saints after the 2014 season is in the personnel department in Cleveland. In addition, Gregg Williams, who was the Saints’ defensive coordinator when Galette made the team as an undrafted rookie, currently has the same position with the Browns.

Another possibility is the Rams. The connections there are Joe Barry, the linebackers coach in LA who was Redskins’ defensive coordinator during Galette’s first two years with the team, and head coach Sean McVay, who was the offensive coordinator in Washington while Galette was on the other side of the ball.

Galette has said on social media lately that his first choice is to remain with the Redskins but that the money had to be “fair”. The interest in a return to Washington was mutual but evidently, the organization’s idea of fair and Galette’s differed by too great a margin to bridge the gap.  

Last year, Galette didn’t have an impressive sack total, getting three in a backup role. But he got plenty of pressure on the quarterback and that can be just as important as sacks.


Galette developed into a feared pass rusher with the Saints, getting double-digit sacks his last two seasons there. After signing him to a lucrative contract extension, the Saints abruptly released Galette due to some off-field issues. McCloughan and the Redskins signed him soon after the start of training camp in 2015 but before he could even play in a preseason game, he suffered a torn Achilles tendon in practice and he was out for the year.

His much-anticipated return the following year ended before it even started. Shortly before it was time to report to training camp, he tore the other Achilles and he was on the shelf again.

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.