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Drafting the draft that’s in front of you

Drafting the draft that’s in front of you

Should the Washington Redskins have taken an offensive tackle in the draft?

Certainly, it would have been nice to come out of the weekend having secured the long-term replacement for the right offensive tackle position, preferably a replacement who could line up with the first team in minicamp. It's a problem area and important one.

The first chance they had to snag a tackle was with their first pick, the 13th overall. By all reports they were focused on Brian Orakpo, the pass-rushing defense end they've been without for about 20 years, and Michael Oher, the Mississippi offensive tackle. Orakpo was the pick.

Oher didn't go until 10 picks later. Not only did the Redskins think that Orakpo was the better player, the 10 teams who drafted after them didn't value Oher enough to make him a pick in the teens. Regardless, we will be able to compare the careers of Oher and Orakpo as the years go by and see if the Redskins erred in taking the end over the tackle.

But for right now the Orakpo pick is, at worst, defensible.

It is the third-round pick of Maryland cornerback Kevin Barnes that has some folks irate. A third-round pick generally isn't an instant starter but he could be and, certainly, one would expect that the 80th overall pick, a first-day selection under the old draft schedule, would be ready to start at some point in the next year or so.

So why not a tackle here? I don't have access to the Redskins' draft board but one would have to assume that Barnes was the higher-rated player and that no offensive tackle was close.

You can say that Vinny Cerrato and company and the rest of the gang in Ashburn wouldn't know a good prospect if he sat in their lap and called them mama (to quote the commercial played endlessly over the course of the draft). The rest of the league, however, backs up that judgment.

After Barnes was drafted with the 16th pick of the third round, no team took an offensive lineman for the rest of that round. Not one. The next offensive lineman to go was a center, Jonathan Lugis out of Arkansas, with the sixth pick of the fourth round (106 overall). The next player listed as an offensive tackle to go was T. J. Land of Eastern Michigan, who went a few picks later to Green Bay with the 109th overall pick. A Google search reveals, however, that it appears that he is being thought of more as a guard than as a tackle.

You have to go to the 35th pick of the fourth round, all the way to pick number 135, to find the next tackle taken. Troy Kropog of Tulane went to the Titans with a compensatory pick. Reaching by 50 picks, a round and a half, to fill a need is not the way to build through the draft.

If you want to argue that the Skins should have taken Jamon Meredith or Duke Robinson or Fenuki Tupou instead of Cody Glenn in the fifth, fine. I'll concede that one. The rest of the league, however, didn't seem to think as much of them as Kiper, Mayock, and the rest of the draft "experts" did. We can compare over the years and see how they turn out just like we do with other players the Redskins could have had like LaRon Landry vs. Amobi Okoye or Fred Davis vs. Calais Campbell.

While you can get lucky every once in a while you aren't going to solve your problem areas for this year in the fifth round and later. If you want to debate Robert Henson vs. Tackle X or Eddie Williams vs. Tackle Y, be my guest. Again, time will tell.

The Redskins didn't lose their opportunity to take a tackle in this draft over the weekend. They lost it last August when they dealt their second-round pick for Jason Taylor and when their fourth-rounder went to the Jets for Pete Kendall two years ago. That limited their options both in terms of sheer numbers and in the opportunity to move up and down. A second-round pick such as Phil Loadholt of Oklahoma would have made the whole draft look a lot better.

But you can't draft the draft you wish was there, you have to work with was actually is there. Time will tell how this one will turn out.

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—Costly cornerbacks, offseason blueprint

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 17, 25 days before NFL free agency starts.

The Redskin week that was

My weekly look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics on RealRedskins.com and NBCSportsWashington.com.

An offseason blueprint for the Redskins—Should the Redskins focus their free agency money on keeping their own? In addition to unrestricted free agents Zach Brown and Trent Murphy, they need to consider extensions for Brandon Scherff, Preston Smith, and Jamison Crowder. That could chew up a bunch of the approximately $31 million of cap space that they have. They may get some help on the market but most of their improvement should come from the draft and from within.

Redskins offseason will hit warp speed soon—With the exception of the Alex Smith trade, which actually hasn’t happened yet, there hasn’t been much going on with the Redskins. That is going to change soon, check out the post for the calendar and how the events matter for the Redskins.

No mixed messages from Alex Smith—In a radio interview, Alex Smith said that he was “jacked” to be a part of the Redskins. Now, the phrase often repeated here is that you shouldn’t listen to what they say, you should watch what they do. And the moment that he signs the reported four-year extension that he has negotiated with the team, a deal that likely would put him in Washington for the rest of his career, we will see his actions backing up his words. Then we will know.

What we know, and what we think, of the Su'a Cravens situation—This will be a true test of the acumen of the front office. It’s a very tricky situation. The Redskins have to decide if they want to keep Cravens. Should they decide to keep him, there will be a lot of smoothing over of ruffled feelings that would need to be done over and trust in Cravens would have to be restored. If they don’t want him around, they have to make it look like they are willing to go into the season with him in order to be able to trade him. Otherwise, teams may just wait for them to cut him and sign him as a free agent. Again, don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do.

Tweet of the week

Quarterback is not the only NFL position with rising salaries. The players teams hire to try to stop opposing QBs, cornerbacks, are getting expensive, too. Bashaud Breeland is a good cornerback, not a great one. His coverage skills are solid, he’s a good team player (if a bit of a hothead at times) and his work ethic is not questioned. For a fourth-round pick who everybody thought left Clemson a year too early, he has done well for himself But he hasn’t made a Pro Bowl and he hasn’t even come close enough to be considered a snub. Breeland has eight interceptions in four years in the league with a high of three in 2016.

The price tag for good at cornerback is likely to be in the vicinity of $10 million per season. And good for him if he gets it. But with the Redskins employing Josh Norman, who has cap hits in the range of $14.5 million-$16.9 million over the next three years, it would be difficult to fit him in. Truth be told, Breeland has probably been destined to leave as a free agent ever since Norman signed his contract in April of 2016.

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

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 12
—NFL Draft (4/26) 68
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 204

In case you missed it

  

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Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

Cousins would reportedly look to file grievance if Redskins use franchise tag on him

The Redskins might try to franchise tag quarterback Kirk Cousins to try to get some compensation for him as he leaves. But Cousins’ camp might not let that happen without a fight.

According to Albert Breer of the MMQB, Cousins might file a grievance if he is tagged, saying that the Redskins would be violating the spirit of the rules regarding the use of the franchise tag. He would be seeking to have the tag voided because the team clearly isn ’t interested in reaching a long-term deal with him given the acquisition of Alex Smith. The tag is supposed to be used to buy time to get an agreement done, not to squat on a player’s rights in order to trade him.

There is precedent for the tag being used in order to facilitate a trade. In 2009, the Patriots tagged quarterback Matt Cassel. They clearly had no intention of keeping him as they had Tom Brady on the roster. But New England pulled it off, shipping Cassel and linebacker Mike Vrabel to the Chiefs for a second-round pick.

But it is up to the player to object to being tagged and for whatever reason Cassel and his agent went along with the tag and trade rather than fighting for free agency.

It looks like Cousins ’camp won’t go as quietly.

It’s up to the Redskins to make the first move. The window to be able to tag a player opens on Tuesday with the deadline coming on March 6. We will see how things play out after that.

MORE REDSKINS: THE EXPECTATIONS GAME

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page

Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS

and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS