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Need to Know: Which Redskins 2015 draft picks have a chance to start this year?

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Need to Know: Which Redskins 2015 draft picks have a chance to start this year?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, May 7, 83 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

Today's question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

Let’s look at each of the Redskins’ draft picks that has a realistic chance of earning a starting job this year and see what it would take for that to happen.

To keep it a bit more concise here, it doesn’t appear to me that Austin Reiter, Evan Spencer, or Tevin Mitchell have realistic shots at starting this season barring multiple injuries, so we will leave them out of the discussion here.

OT Brandon Scherff—All he really has to do is show up. Yes, Scot McCloughan said that he would have to compete for the job but if he can’t push out Tom Compton the Redskins made a big mistake.

OLB Preston Smith—This is a tough one to figure out because it’s unclear how Smith and Trent Murphy will be utilized. We could see Murphy at OLB on first and 10 and Smith on the edge in nickel situations. That would mean Murphy is the “starter” even though Smith could play an equal number of snaps, perhaps more. Or maybe the bigger Smith will line up in the regular defense, Murphy will come in on nickel and Smith will put his hand in the dirt and rush from the line. Bottom line is that Smith could play a substantial number of snaps without a start to his credit.

RB Matt Jones—Jay Gruden said that Alfred Morris’ role would be unchanged. Since Morris has started the Redskins’ last 48 games it doesn’t look like Jones will get a shot at starting barring injury.

WR Jamison Crowder—The Redskins do start a slot receiver on occasion; Andre Robert had four starts last year. Can Crowder push past Roberts and become the top slot receiver? It’s possible as Roberts was something of a free-agent disappointment last year but it seems more likely that Crowder’s main role is as a returner.

G Arie Kouandjio—There clearly is opportunity at guard on this team, particularly on the right side. It doesn’t seem that Chris Chester is a fit for the team’s new power-oriented scheme and Spencer Long wasn’t able to push him aside last year. I’m probably a bit more bullish on Kouandjio than most so I won’t rule out him being able to claw his way into the starting lineup at some point later in the year.

ILB Martrell Spaight—How fast can Spaight pick things up? Keenan Robinson missed three games last year and Perry Riley missed two. If he can push ahead of Will Compton to become that injury fill in, he has a shot at getting some starts. He may not be fully ready but it could happen.

SS Kyshoen Jarrett—He has a real good chance to make the 53 because of special teams play so he could be the backup to Jeron Johnson. It’s hard to see him pushing past Johnson to first string, however.

Timeline

—It’s been 131 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 128 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 39; Redskins training camp starts 83; Redskins @ Giants 139

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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In case you missed it

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!