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Need to Know: Five Redskins who can boost Scot McCloughan's approval rating

Need to Know: Five Redskins who can boost Scot McCloughan's approval rating

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, February 14, 23 days before the March 9 start of NFL free agency.  

Timeline

Days until:

NFL Franchise tag deadline (3/1) 15
—Redskins offseason workouts start (4/17) 62
—NFL Draft (4/27) 72
First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 208

Five players who can help McCloughan’s reputation

Whether it’s fair or not, Scot McCloughan’s reputation as a genius when it comes to building an NFL team has taken a hit over the course of last year. A draft with minimal returns and some free agent busts will do that. Here are five players who can revive the faith that Redskins fans had in him.

OLB Preston Smith—The 2015 second-round pick led all NFL rookies with eight sacks and it looked like McCloughan had found a star. But Smith was inconsistent last year, making some big plays and then disappearing for weeks at a time. He needs to get back to being the guy who was terrorizing opposing quarterbacks during the latter part of 2015.

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WR Josh Doctson—This one is pretty obvious. McCloughan bypassed some talented defensive linemen to take Doctson, who contributed two receptions as a rookie before going on injured reserve. If Doctson says healthy and becomes a productive receiver his rookie problems will fade into distant memories in a hurry.

CB Kendall Fuller—Their third-round pick in 2016 had a rocky season. He was inactive to start the season, got in the lineup as the nickel corner and was inconsistent, and wound up back on the bench. There was talk that the if not for the knee injury Fuller suffered at Virginia Tech he would have been a first-round pick. If he can come out and start performing like a top pick he will give McCloughan another draft steal on his resume.

WR Maurice Harris—Harris represents a chance for McCloughan to look good; unlike with the others on this list, there is no real downside if Harris doesn’t make it. But if the 6-3 undrafted free agent can become a reliable fourth receiver and catch 30-40 passes that would be a feather in McCloughan’s cap.

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CB Josh Norman—It’s clear that it was a group decision to bring in Norman as would be the case with any free agent who is signed to a contract of that size. In any case, McCloughan has final say so Norman wouldn’t have come on board without his OK. And while he was a definite upgrade in the secondary in his first year with the team, for $15 million per year he needs to have more of an impact. It wouldn’t be that hard; if he had held on to some of the potential interceptions he dropped he may have repeated on as a first team All-Pro.

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

MORE 2018 NFL DRAFT:
- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

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Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.