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Could the Redskins land DL Robert Nkemdiche in the second round (or later)?

Could the Redskins land DL Robert Nkemdiche in the second round (or later)?

It’s not a secret that the Redskins would like to land a big defensive lineman, maybe two of them, in the upcoming NFL draft. One of the linemen they interviewed during the scouting combine was Ole Miss tackle Robert Nkemdiche. We don’t know how that particular interview went but Nkemdiche did not impress every general manager he talked to.

You didn’t need to be in one of the private interview rooms in Indianapolis to hear him say some alarming things; he said plenty during his scheduled session at the podium with the media. One was about his play on the field:

“There are times I didn’t finish,” he said to the media at the combine. “I was lazy on some plays at times, but I told them I’m going to keep growing as a player.”

The honesty was refreshing but admission was startling. He’s not the first college player who underutilized great physical tools; indeed, the player with a “high motor” is more the exception rather than the rule. But Nkemdiche’s low level of production at Mississippi was suspect given his native ability so the open admission of the “lazy” characteristic is a red flag.

Nkemdiche’s account of an incident in an Atlanta hotel last December raised some eyebrows as well. He was arrested for marijuana possession after he fell out of a window in the hotel. That prompted the Rebels to suspend him for their bowl game.

He did take some responsibility for what happened, saying he was drunk when he fell out of the window. But he denied that the marijuana in the hotel room was his.

“There were more people in my room,” he said. “The hotel was under my name. Nobody wanted to take the fall. It had to go under my name. It just happened to play out like that.”

He even named names, saying that Ole Miss teammate Laremy Tunsil, the offensive tackle who is the favorite to be the No. 1 pick, was in the room when it happened.

The performance at the podium, along with the game tape, did not impress NFL scouts and general managers. There is talk that Nkemdiche could take another fall, this one perhaps worse than the one he took in Atlanta. He could start to fall in the draft.

Here is where things could get interesting for McCloughan and the Redskins. Suppose Nkemdiche is still there when their pick rolls around in the second round? Or even the third? While the organization stayed away from players with character questions in the draft last year, at some point the upside of the talent could outweigh the character risk.

For McCloughan, events like the incident in the Atlanta hotel and the player’s performance on the podium in Indianapolis won’t decide whether or not he will consider Nkemdiche at any point in the draft. That decision will be made by the game tape and by a deeper look into Nkemdiche’s background.

If he is somewhere on the Redskins’ board, there could come a point in the draft where the talent of the player and the need at the position makes him too much of a value to pass up.

Sometimes teams are rewarded for taking character risks in the draft. The Bengals have gotten good play, including a Pro Bowl appearance, out of Vontaze Burfict, who went undrafted out of Arizona State due to numerous red flags. But the Cowboys took a chance on Randy Gregory last year and he is going to be suspended for the first four games of 2016 due to multiple failed drug tests.

I suspect that the Redskins aren’t in the position to gamble with a pick in the first three rounds of the draft. But at some point, a player’s talent could make the risk worth the reward.

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 21, 36 days before the NFL draft.  

Redskins starters quick hitters—offense

The last couple of days here I looked at how the depth charts are shaping up with a little bit of commentary (offense, defense). Today and tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the starters with some quick hitters about each one, starting today with the offense.

QB Alex Smith—The deal is done, and the Redskins have their man for five years at $22.2 million per year or, if they prefer, three years at $23.7 million per. It seems like most fans are behind him but there will have to be a few more wins than losses this fall for that to become permanent.

RB Samaje Perine—He got better as the year went on, averaging nearly a half yard per carry more in the last seven games compared to the first nine. But the 3.4 average per carry certainly did not stop both Doug Williams and Jay Gruden from talking about drafting a running back early.

TE Jordan Reed—According to reports, he is rehabbing well from the hamstring and toe injuries that severely limited him last year. Still, expect him to be kept in bubble wrap until training camp and even then, his action may be limited.

WR Josh Doctson—Did Kirk Cousins look away from Doctson too often, lacking the confidence in him to let him go get the 50-50 balls? Will Smith have more confidence in Doctson? The answers to those questions may determine if the third-year receiver breaks out in 2018 or he continues to tease with flashes of ability.

WR Paul Richardson—He’s capable of the acrobatic catch, which should be fun to watch. Richardson was good with Russell Wilson on the off-schedule plays, maybe he can do the same with Smith.

WR Jamison Crowder—I guess it’s fair to say he had an off year in 2017 but his receiving yardage only dropped by 60 yards from 2016. It will be interesting to see if they keep him in as the punt returner after he averaged 6.3 yards per return (23rd of 25 qualifiers) last year.

LT Trent Williams—The six-time Pro Bowler is still in the relatively early stages of recovering from surgery to the knee that kept him from practicing from about Week 6 on. Don’t look for him until training camp and even then, the early workload is likely to be light.

LG Arie Kouandjio—This is the one offensive position that remains up in the air. Kouandjio has shown some grit as a spot starter but I don’t think the organization views him as a 16-game starter.

C Chase Roullier—Shortly after Roullier got the starting job when Spencer Long went out injured, Jay Gruden said that Roullier would be the Redskins’ center “for a long time”. There is no reason to doubt that at this point in time.

RG Brandon Scherff—His concern no longer is trying to live up to having been the fifth pick of the draft. Scherff has to play well enough to justify his 2019 option-year salary, which will be in the vicinity of $13 million.

RT Morgan Moses—He had surgery to repair his ankles, which were an issue most of last season. Still, he didn’t miss a start. Like Williams, even if he’s ready for training camp, don’t expect to see a whole lot of him.

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) 27
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 129
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 173

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Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report


Redskins make contract offer to pass rusher Pernell McPhee, per report

Free agent pass rusher Pernell McPhee visited the Redskins on Monday, and by Tuesday night a report emerged that Washington offered the veteran outside linebacker a contract.

Last week, Trent Murphy signed with the Buffalo Bills and things remain uncertain between the Redskins and Junior Galette. That means the organization has a need for an edge rushing linebacker, and that's exactly the role McPhee can play. 

A 29-year-old that played the last three seasons with the Bears, McPhee posted 14 sacks while in Chicago. Prior to his time with the Bears, McPhee was a solid contributor on some good Ravens teams. 


His best season in Baltimore came in 2014 when he posted 7.5 sacks. That's also the last season McPhee played a full 16 game schedule. He's missed 12 games over the last three years in Chicago. 

McPhee could provide the Redskins with solid veteran depth at outside linebacker, and he's also considered a plus defender against the run. With Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith cemented as the starting outside linebackers, if signed, McPhee would pair up with Ryan Anderson on Washington's second unit. At 6-foot-2 and 275 lbs., McPhee carries more weight on his frame than either Kerrigan or Smith. 

Pro Football Focus gave McPhee a strong grade for the 2017 season. He notched a +11.5 and ranked 13th out of 46 outside linebackers graded. For comparison, Broncos star Von Miller ranked 1st at +57, Kerrigan ranked 8th at +22.9 and Galette ranked 10th at +16.2.

It's unclear what a move for McPhee would mean between the Redskins and Galette, but it's hard to imagine it helps.

Free agent Johnathan Hankins also visited Washington on Monday, and while he plays an interior defensive line position different from McPhee, it's also unclear what this offer would do to any negotiations between the Redskins and Hankins. 

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