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Gruden wants a Redskins locker room "full of Ryan Kerrigans"

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Gruden wants a Redskins locker room "full of Ryan Kerrigans"

RICHMOND—The second-happiest man in Richmond after Ryan Kerrigan agreed to a five-year, $57.5 million contract extension was Jay Gruden.

The Redskins head coach is a big fan of the fifth-year linebacker. “Great kid, obviously. Drafted here. A Redskin,” Gruden told the media on the eve of training camp. “He loves the area, loves this football team. We love rewarding guys like that. . . . We’re happy to have him. We’d love to have a locker room full of Ryan Kerrigans, that’s for sure.”

Gruden thinks that Kerrigan is capable of having better seasons than the one he had last year when he registered 13.5 sacks, a career high and the seventh best in the NFL. But he needs some help.

“He can get to another level, we have to give him a chance to get to another level,” said Gruden. “We have to play with a lead, make teams have to throw in the fourth quarter so he can get his numbers up . . . Unfortunately, we were behind in a lot of games in the fourth quarter.”

Among other topics covered by Gruden at his news conference:

—The entire 90-man roster should be able to take the field tomorrow. There were some injury concerns about OT Trent Williams, Kerrigan, OL Morgan Moses, CB DeAngelo Hall, and TE Jordan Reed.  “So far we have clearance on all of those guys,” said Gruden. “We expect them to be full go. We’ll monitor them as they go.”

—The team’s top priority will be what you would expect with a team that has won a combined seven games in the last two year. “We’re trying to improve as a football team, No. 1,” said Gruden. “That’s what we’re trying to do every day is improve in a certain area of our game. We also critique our players and find out who our best 53 are. That’s an ongoing process.”

—Now that Kerrigan has signed the team shifts it’s attention to re-signing Williams, the team’s Pro Bowl left tackle. Gruden said that talks are ongoing and that they will not be a distraction. “I saw him out there running today, he looked like a gazelle,” Gruden said of the 6-5, 318-lb. lineman. “He’s in great spirits and he’s going to work hard no matter what the contract situation.”

— The team made a lot of changes from signing five defensive free agents, making 10 picks in the draft, brining in a new defensive coordinator, several new position coaches, a new strength and conditioning staff, and a new general manager in Scot McCloughan. “We had to make some changes,” said Gruden. “If you keep everything status quo you’re probably going to get the same results . . . I feel like we’re a lot better,  no question about it. We attacked free agency in a positive way . . . We did a good job in the draft, we got some young players with very talented skills and we feel good about moving forward.”

—Gruden was not concerned about some negative, anonymous comments about fourth-year quarterback Robert Griffin III. “There’s always comments about the quarterback position, good and bad, no matter where you are,” said Gruden, a former college and Arena League QB. “It’s just something you have to deal with as a quarterback . . . We’re excited about him here, the work that he’s put in to get his body right. The work he’s put in to get his mind right. Now it’s just a matter of going out here and continue to coach our offense and watching him get better.”

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

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:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

The Redskins week that was

A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it