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With an injured player and a guard, Jay Gruden wants more out of 1st-round picks

With an injured player and a guard, Jay Gruden wants more out of 1st-round picks

Jay Gruden's situation Monday afternoon was not enviable. The Redskins head coach watched his team completely choke away a chance at the playoffs Sunday afternoon, and less than 24 hours later, Gruden was forced to eulogize the disappointing 2016 season. 

The coach probably got little sleep, if any, and was then thrust into the difficult situation of talking about pending free agents and ultimately what went wrong for his team. Still, even considering those factors, Gruden's comments about building the 'Skins through the draft came off as quite surprising. 

"We’re getting there, but we’ve had, what, two first-round picks since I’ve been here? One of them hasn’t played a down, or played one game, and the other one is a guard," he said. "We have got to utilize our picks."


Factually, everything he said was correct. The Redskins did not have a first round pick in 2014, Gruden's first year as coach in Washington. Then the team selected Brandon Scherff in 2015, followed by Josh Doctson in 2016.

At the time, some thought Scherff would play right tackle for the 'Skins, but that experiment ended quickly. He started every game of his rookie season at right guard. The second-year player out of Iowa has proven to be a very good player, he made the Pro Bowl this season and again started every game at right guard, yet offensive guard is not widely considered a high-impact position. 

Doctson's rookie year was lost to Achilles injuries. He dressed the first two weeks, then came a series of games on the inactive list before finally going on injured reserve in October. It also was no secret that some on the 'Skins staff grew frustrated with the inability to figure out what the problem was with the first rounder out of TCU, as the Achilles ailment could not be properly diagnosed and the only remedy appeared to be rest. 

So, in a vacuum, Gruden's comments about the two first-round picks adds up, yet, they still seemed somewhat jarring in person. The coach quickly said he admires the work general manager Scot McCloughan has done with the Redskins roster and that he expects the team to continue to improve.

"We have got to make sure we do well in the draft the next year or two and make sure that we continue to add to the talent that we have," Gruden said. "We’ve had some good drafts, but we have to add to it, obviously."

Around the league, some teams make general managers or personnel executives available for an end of season press conference, but not universally. In some regard, it's tough for Gruden to have to answer questions about building through the draft, as some of the decisions that get made are not his call, though the coach certainly gets to provide his opinion as part of the decision making process, he explained.

"We are in sync. We have a very good view of what we look for in a football player – very similar – and that won’t change. I have a lot of respect for the work that he [Scot McCloughan] puts in, and he does also. I think together we’ll come up with a plan and get the right players in here."

The draft process will heat up quickly, as Senior Bowl practices take place in just a few weeks in Alabama. After that comes the NFL Draft Combine. McCloughan's first draft in 2015 was a slam dunk; the results of the 2016 crop would be best labeled as incomplete. The 2017 haul will be very important for the Redskins future, both next season and long-term. 


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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—D-line scoop, Alex Smith's big deal

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the 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.

Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.

Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.

Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.

Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.

Tweet of the week

Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.

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.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.