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Need to Know: Can the Redskins draft an immediate starter on the O-line?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins draft an immediate starter on the O-line?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 27, three days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

A milestone

First, before we get to the post here, I’d like to note that today marks Need to Know No. 1,000. This daily dose of Redskins news and notes has been posted 1,000 straight days, every morning since July 31, 2012.

I appreciate all of you who spend a few moments in the morning to check this out. We’ve had 13.3 million page views here in the last thousand days and the daily audience continues to grow. Thanks for reading and for all of your comments here and on social media. You folks make it all worthwhile.

Now, on to what you came here for . . .

Nickel Coverage

Five thoughts about the Redskins and the NFL draft, which thankfully is just a few days away.

—The last time the Redskins had a pick in the top five was in 2012 and everyone knew the pick at No. 2 was going to be Robert Griffin III. And by this time in 2010 word had filtered out at Redskins Park that Trent Williams would be Washington’s pick at No. 4. This year things are pretty well buttoned down. There are plenty of guesses as to where Scot McCloughan will go but nothing even remotely resembling a reliable report regarding who McCloughan prefers.

—Maybe I’m missing something but I don’t get mock drafts from some of the top draft analysts—Todd McShay of ESPN among them—who have the Redskins taking Shane Ray of Missouri with the fifth pick. He’s a very good player and his toe injury doesn’t seem to be that serious. But there is plenty of debate over whether or not he has the athleticism needed to play outside linebacker in a 3-4. It seems to me that if you have any of Dante Fowler, Vic Beasley, or even Bud Dupree on the board, players you know can play the OLB position, why even think about taking Ray?

—How long will Byron Jones last? The UConn cornerback/safety generally was graded as a mid-round pick before the combine with a shoulder injury dinging his stock. Then he jumped a world-record 12 feet in the broad jump in Indianapolis and there seemed to be an irrational jump in his stock. With the Redskins in need of a free safety to play behind Dashon Goldson and to take Goldson’s job in 2016, keep an eye on Jones if he’s still there when the Redskins pick in the second round at No. 38. That may be too high for McCloughan, who is not impressed by performances in T-shirts and shorts at combines and pro days. But if Washington ends up with a later pick in the second via a trade, Jones could be the guy.

—You always have to be careful about assuming a draft pick is going to be an instant starter, or even a starter at any point. But an offensive lineman taken in the first two rounds is a pretty good bet to slide in as the primary starter as a rookie. There were 11 offensive linemen taken in the first and second rounds last year. All but three of them started at least 12 games.

—NFL.com ran a seven-round mock draft and the first three picks for Washington match up with their three top positional needs. Fowler is the top pick, offensive tackle T. J. Clemmings goes in the second and it’s defensive back Alex Carter of Stanford, who played cornerback but could move to safety, in the third. I think most Redskins fans could live with that, except for the crowd that wants to see multiple trades back and eight to 10 offensive linemen selected.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Scot McCloughan pre-draft news conference, noon, Redskins Park

—It’s been 120 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 139 days until they play another one.

Days until: 2015 NFL Draft 3; Redskins minicamp starts 50; Redskins training camp starts 94

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

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Everybody thinks the intentional grounding call against Kirk Cousins was wrong, except Troy Aikman

The referees made a fairly obvious mistake last week in the Redskins loss to the Saints when they flagged Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins for intentional grounding late in the game. 

Let's be honest: the call was terrible.

Cousins never felt a pass rush on the play, and was very obviously throwing the ball away. Jay Gruden talked about the play on Monday, and could not figure out how a flag came out in that situation. 

We had two receivers in the area. Quarterbacks throws it away all the time that are uncatchable balls whether they are in the pocket or not. As long as there is a receiver in the area, you can throw it whether they are looking or not. Guys run bad routes – one guy runs a hitch and he’s supposed to run a go and the quarterback throws the go ball, it’s not grounding. So I don’t know why the confusion.

The NFL even reached out and apologized to Redskins team president Bruce Allen for the blown call, a hollow gesture that did not generate much excitement from Cousins (via 106.7 the Fan). 

Whatever they do to say, ‘we’re sorry, wrong call,’ it’s tough because there’s nobody bringing that up in February or March when we're making decisions about which direction to go with the organization. We appreciate the clarification but you know it really doesn’t do much.

If you're keeping score, the NFL, the Redskins head coach and the Redskins quarterback all know the call was wrong. 

You know who doesn't think the call was wrong? Fox analyst, and former Cowboys Hall of Fame QB, Troy Aikman.

Grounding? Free rusher? Decide for yourself below.

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

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Fantasy Football -- Thanksgiving Day plan

The Week 12 fantasy football rankings are out -- but when it comes to Thanksgiving Day, everyone wants some player regardless of where they slot overall. Don't overthink it and take a lesser player, but for those on the fence or simply looking for Thursday action, here are some recommendations for all three games.

Vikings @ Lions

Obvious: Vikings -- Wide receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs... running backs Latavius Murray and Jerick McKinnon are in the RB2/Flex discussion for most, but good luck picking between them; Lions -- Wide receiver Golden Tate and ... wide receiver Marvin Jones works in three-WR formats while quarterback Matthew Stafford is No. 14 among passers this week.

Start: Case Keenum averaged 19.3 points over the last four games while the Lions have allowed ample points to fantasy quarterbacks in that stretch, though only three touchdown passes. Having Thielen and Diggs up the potential for Keenum, who is QB17 in the Week 12 rankings. That's comparable with Matthew Stafford (QB14), Andy Dalton, Jacoby Brissett and ahead of Derek Carr.

Add: Not sure there's any fringe skill player worth taking a flyer on so take a look at Vikings kicker Kai Forbath. He's attempted at least three field goals in four of his last five games and he kicked five extra points in the lone exception. ... Some will start Ameer Abdullah based on their options, but just know the Vikings allow the second fewest points to fantasy tight ends this season.

Chargers @ Cowboys

Obvious: Chargers -- running back Melvin Gordon and wide receiver Keenan Allen; Cowboys -- Wide receiver Dez Bryant, running back Alfred Morris and... quarterback Dak Prescott, though his production is down without running back Ezekiel Elliott and left tackle Tyron Smith.

Start: This hasn't been a vintage Philip Rivers season, but he's coming off his best performance (251 yards, two touchdown passes) since Week 5. The Cowboys aren't that special in the secondary and have surrendered two touchdown passes in three consecutive games. At QB13, he's on the cusp of QB1 status in 12-team leagues. 

Add: Kickers Nick Novak (Chargers) and Mike Nugent (Cowboys) are 15th and 16th respectively. So, there's that. 

Giants @ Redskins

The obvious: Giants -- tight end Evan Engram and... running back Orleans Darkwa is a viable RB2 option against a Redskins defense giving up gobs of yards on the ground; Redskins -- quarterback Kirk Cousins, tight Vernon Davis and...running back Samaje Perine is RB12 this week, though listed as questionable on the injury report with a finger issue.

Start: Jordan Reed is out for a fourth consecutive game, meaning Vernon Davis once again is Washington's main tight end. While he hasn't provided wow performances like Reed at his Pro Bowl best, Davis has been good for a solid 8-11 since taking on a larger role starting in Week 3. This could be his best statistical week of the season. The Giants allow the most points to fantasy tight ends on the season. Opposing tight ends scored a touchdown in each of the first 10 games before the streak snapped Sunday.

RELATED: NEW AND IMPROVED WEEK 12 FANTASY RANKINGS

Add: Josh Doctson is only owned in 55 percent of leagues on CBS even though he's moved into the role of Washington's top outside receiver. The second-year player had four receptions for 81 yards in Sunday's overtime loss, though all the production came in the first half. Consistency is the next step, but Kirk Cousins is showing more and more confidence in the 6'3" target especially on 50-50 balls. Doctson is WR36 in my Week 12 rankings, meaning he's worth starting consideration in three-WR formats regardless.