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Need to Know: Can the Redskins get a starting safety in the draft?

Need to Know: Can the Redskins get a starting safety in the draft?

INDIANAPOLIS—Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 21, 17 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

While I’m here at the NFL Combine this week, I’m going to change it up a bit. I’m going to pose the question each morning centered around the draft and the position group that will be talking to the media on that day. You can find the daily schedule here. Up today, the defensive line.

Can the Redskins find a 2015 starting safety in the draft?

The Redskins have a need at safety.

Yes, that line was copied and pasted from each of the last half dozen or so offseasons.

It seems that the Redskins are always in search of a long-term solution at safety. Or perhaps they haven’t been searching for a permanent answer, generally content to patch the position with veterans who are past their primes (Ryan Clark, O.J. Atogwe) or limited (Reed Doughty) or injury/suspension prone (Brandon Meriweather).

With Clark announcing his retirement and Meriweather a free agent, the Redskins have the “help wanted” sign up at post safety positions. With Scot McCloughan committed to building through the draft, the patch jobs at safety will eventually come to an end. But will it end this year?

Both McCloughan and Jay Gruden said that the Redskins will take the best available player in the draft. The odds of finding two safeties who can start immediately are slim even if you are drafting for need. Finding two who happen to be the best available player on the board when your pick comes up is nearly impossible.

They will have to either find at least on safety in free agency or hand the job to Phillip Thomas. The 2013 fourth-round pick is better suited to strong safety so if they do plug him in they would be looking for someone to play free.

According to Mike Mayock of the NFL Network and other draft analysts this is a particularly weak class of safeties. That doesn’t mean that the Redskins won’t be able to find one; just because draft analysts aren’t impressed doesn’t mean that there isn’t a fit for the Redskins.

The consensus top safety in the draft is Landon Collins of Alabama. However, he probably isn’t good enough to be the best available player with the fifth pick but he will be gone long before the Redskins’ second-round pick rolls around.

Among the safeties the Redskins might look like in the second or third rounds are Cody Prewitt of Ole Miss, Chris Hackett of TCU, and Derron Smith of Fresno State.

It will be interesting to see how McCloughan handles this situation. He doesn’t want to keep the Redskins on their habit of filling holes with free agents. But there is no guarantee that a even a second- or third-round pick will be ready to start the season opener. They will have to have a Plan B in place and that probably means a free agent signing of some sort. I doubt we’ll see a big-money, long term deal; rather, it looks like another patch until a younger player can be developed.

Timeline

—It’s been 55 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 204 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 17; Redskins offseason workouts start 58; 2015 NFL Draft 68

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.