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Need to Know: Redskins' draft prep hits crunch time

Need to Know: Redskins' draft prep hits crunch time

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 17, 11 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 98 days ago. It will be 148 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 1; 2016 NFL draft 11; Redskins training camp starts 102

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A few thoughts about the Redskins as they start up their offseason workouts and get into crunch time with their draft preparations.

—The Redskins hosted Eastern Kentucky edge defender Noah Spence last week. He plays a position that isn’t believed to be a huge area of need as they have pretty good players there in Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, and Junior Galette. But Galette is only under contract through next year and if he has a good year he could command a substantial contract. Scot McCloughan might like to have the option to let him walk if the contract demands get out of hand. Drafting someone like Spence could give him that option.

—According to Over the Cap, the Redskins have $11.7 million in cap space remaining. The will need some of that to sign their draft picks but only a net of about $3 million (post coming with details in the next week or so). It seems inevitable that they will release Andre Roberts and perhaps Adam Hayward at some point, which would clear up nearly $3 million so that pays for their draft picks. They will want to go into the season with about $5 million in space to cover players on injured reserve and the practice squad. In short, they are in good shape and should have $5 million or so million to roll over to next year unless they sign Jordan Reed to a contract extension.

—I didn’t mention Perry Riley as a possible cap cut although there has been plenty of talk that the team would rather have the extra $4 million in cap space than his services for 2016. But now they appear to be leaning towards keeping him to maintain depth at the position. Last year they were fortunate to be able to find Mason Foster on the street and that Will Compton was ready to step up from being a backup to starting when Riley and Keenan Robinson were injured. Right now the thinking appears to be that they would rather have Riley around than rely on Martrell Spaight and Terence Garvin to provide backup. But Riley shouldn’t feel totally secure; the draft could provide a younger and cheaper backup and they could decide to let Riley walk.

—Last year the Redskins started with 7 draft picks and by the time McCloughan and Bruce Allen were done dealing they had 10 plus one in this year’s draft. The trade that triggered the dealing was the one they pulled off with the Seahawks, sending their 3rd-round pick, which was No. 69 overall, to Seattle for their third-, fourth-, and fifth-round picks, which were all late in those rounds. It will be more difficult to pull off a similar trade this year since the Redskins are picking about 15 spots further back in each round. In short, their third-round pick this year isn’t as valuable as their third rounder was last year so they won’t get as much in return for trading back with it. If McCloughan wants to stockpile picks he may need to trade back earlier, starting in the second round or perhaps the first.

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2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

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USA Today Sports Images

2018 NFL Draft order has Redskins pick nearing top ten as losses stockpile

LOS ANGELES — Some years, the December talk is of playoff tiebreakers.

Other years, it’s about draft position.

This is one of those “other” years.

The Redskins’ current skid of four losses in their last five games has knocked them out of playoff contention but into more favorable position in the 2018 NFL Draft, which is scheduled to take place in late April.

The Redskins' record is 5-8 through Week 14,  and if the season ended today, Washington would be picking either 11th or 12th in the first round.

Here’s the big picture: As of Monday, there are eight teams that have fewer wins than Washington. All of them would be picking ahead of the Redskins. 

The Bengals and Jets also have eight losses so the one and only draft order tiebreaker would be applied.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

This does not work out well for the Redskins.

The NFL Draft tiebreaker is strength of schedule with the teams with the weaker schedules getting the better picks. I am sure you have heard about how tough a schedule the Redskins have all year long. It was a point of pride for many fans. But now it comes back to bite them.

The Jets (opponents winning percentage .488) and the Bengals (.444) have faced weaker schedules than the Redskins (.574). That pushes Washington back to 11th.

RELATED: FEW UPS, MANY DOWNS VS. CHARGERS

But there is a Week 14 game pending. The Dolphins, who have seven losses, play the Patriots on Monday Night Football. If they lose and join the eight-loss group, they would jump ahead of the Redskins based on the SOS tiebreaker, pushing Washington back to 12th.

Of course, the season doesn’t end today and a lot can happen.

But if the bottom doesn’t completely fall out it seems likely that they will end up somewhere between 10th and 12th in the first round.

We will be looking at what that might mean for the Redskins in the coming days and weeks as the offseason comes early for the Redskins one more time.

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NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

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USA Today Sports

NFL Playoff Picture: NFC bracket projection starting to come into focus

The NFC Playoff picture is no clearer in Week 14 than it was in Week 8.

Throughout the 2017-18 NFL season, the NFC in particular has been a gauntlet. So much of a gauntlet that one of the league’s best in the past five years, the Seattle Seahawks, sit outside of the postseason with an 8-5 record.

As of the conclusion of Week 14’s action, only the Philadelphia Eagles (11-2) have locked up a postseason spot.

The Eagles claimed the NFC East for the first time since 2013 with a win over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The will clinch a first round bye with a win and losses by the Saints and the Panthers this weekend.

The Minnesota Vikings (10-3) with their loss remains second in the conference, still within striking range over the overall No. 1 seed.

With losses to the two teams ahead of them, the Rams (9-4) have a tough hill to climb to claim a first-round bye, but first they need to get back in the win column.

For the WildCard berths there was a wrench thrown into many teams plans with the Atlanta Falcons (8-5) defeating the New Orleans Saints (9-4) on Thursday night. Atlanta owns a tiebreaker over pretty much every team chasing them for the final playoff spot.

For the five remaining unclaimed spots in the postseason, 10 teams are still alive.

After Week 15 though, that number could dwindle down significantly.

RELATED: NEW 2018 NFL MOCK DRAFT 3.0

NFC Playoff Picture Week 15

NFC PLAYOFF BRACKET PROJECTION:
— #1 Philadelphia Eagles* (11-2) vs. BYE
— #2 Minnesota Vikings (10-3) vs. BYE
— #3 Los Angeles Rams (9-4) vs. #6 Atlanta Falcons (8-5)
— #4 New Orleans Saints (9-4) vs. #5 Carolina Panthers (9-4)

NFC TEAMS IN THE PLAYOFF HUNT:
— Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
— Detroit Lions (7-6)
— Green Bay Packers (7-6)
— Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
— Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

NFC TEAMS ELIMINATED FROM PLAYOFF PICTURE:
— Washington Redskins (5-8)
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-9)
— Chicago Bears (4-9)
— San Francisco 49ers (3-10)
— New York Giants (2-11)

SEEDING NOTES:
— Eagles own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Panthers.
— Vikings own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Rams, Saints, and Falcons.
— Saints own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Panthers.
— Rams own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Saints.
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings.

WILD CARD NOTES:
— Panthers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions.
— Falcons own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Lions, Packers, Cowboys, and Seahawks.
— Lions own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.
— Packers own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Seahawks, Cowboys.
— Cowboys own the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cardinals.

Week 15 NFC Games With Playoff Implications:

Sat., Dec 16: Bears at Lions (4:30 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Bengals at Vikings (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Jets at Saints (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Eagles at Giants (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cardinals at Redskins (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Panthers at Packers (1:00 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Rams at Seahawks (4:05 p.m.)
Sun., Dec 17: Cowboys at Raiders (8:30 p.m.)
Mon., Dec 18: Falcons at Buccaneers (8:30 p.m.)