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NFL Draft: Top 15 prospects for 2016


NFL Draft: Top 15 prospects for 2016

The 2015 NFL Draft is in the books, which means it's cool to start looking ahead to next year. More in the weeks and months, but here's a first examination of the 2016 class.

1. Joey Bosa, DE, Ohio State - The numbers say plenty, but so did the performance against Oregon in the national title game. The dominating Bosa (6-foot-5, 285 lbs) finished his sophomore campaign with 21.5 tackles for loss and 13.5 sacks. 

2. Shawn Oakman, DE, Baylor - The former Penn State transfer used his scary 6-foot-8 frame into frightening opposing teams all season and turning into an internet sensation. Racked up a school-record 11 sacks as a junior.

3. Christian Hackenberg, QB, Penn State - This is more about potential than production. The 6-foot-4 pocket passer has the physical goods for the next level. Next step involves finding consistency and avoiding mistakes. Threw 15 interceptions with 12 touchdown passes last season.

4. Ronnie Stanley, OT, Notre Dame -  Two offensive linemen, including Redskins rookie Brandon Scherff, were selected among the top nine picks in 2015. The 6-foot-5, 320-pounder Stanley might have bulldozed his way into that range had he entered the draft. 

5. Cardale Jones, QB, Ohio State - Forced into action due to injuries, Jones turned in one of the greatest and most random three-game stretches in college football history as he led the Buckeyes to the national title. Powerfully built and blessed with a strong arm, Jones now must show his star-turn wasn't an aberration.

6. Connor Cook, QB, Michigan State - Could have been the third quarterback selected in round one if he entered the 2015 draft. Cook tossed 24 touchdown passes with only eight interceptions as a junior, though he completed only 58 percent of his passes.

7. Myles Jack, OLB, UCLA - This year's Shaq Thompson. The uber-athletic 6-foot-1 Jack shines as a linebacker and running back. Which side of the ball will he play on the pro level is the question.

8. Laquon Treadwell, WR, Mississippi - The foot-2 target might zoom up this list assuming he returns without issue from a late season knee injury. Teams that missed out on Amari Cooper, Kevin White and DeVante Parker in 2015 will certainly be watching Treadwell's performance.

9. Shilique Calhoun, DE, Michigan State - Edge rusher with the needed skills to become a coveted draft target. Effort consistency is biggest concern for evaluators.

10. Robert Nkemdiche, DT, Mississippi - One of the nation's top recruits in 2013, Nkemdiche took a step back last season as a sophomore. Remains a highly touted prospect based on his ceiling as a pocket-collapsing, run-stuffing defensive tackle.

10. Vernon Hargreaves, CB, Florida - Four corners were selected in the 2015 first round including three among the top 18 picks. Hargreaves is the leading candidate to hear his name called first among the 2016 options.

12. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech - Should follow his brother Kyle as a first-round selection. The Baltimore native was ACC Defensive Rookie of the Year as a freshman and first-team all conference as a sophomore.

13. D'Haquille "Duke" Williams, WR, Auburn - The long-striding 6-foot-2 Williams had 730 yards and five touchdowns on 45 receptions last season.

14. Jalen Ramsey, DB. Florida State - Proof not not every elite Seminoles prospect left Tallahassee for the NFL Draft. FSU will shift Ramsey, who had microfracture knee surgery in high school, from safety to corner next season.

15. Derrick Henry, RB, Alabama - Henry was good enough last season to force a split backfield scenario with T.J. Yeldon, who was selected 34th overall in 2015. Should battle Ohio State's Ezekiel Elliott as the first running back selected next year.

[RELATED How others graded the Redskins' draft

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

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Need to Know: Five Redskins who must step up in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, February 25, 17 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2018

Originally published 12/26/17

WR Josh Doctson—This list is in no particular order but if it was, Doctson would be right here at the top. The watchword for Doctson is consistency. He makes some incredible catches and then there are throws that he drops or doesn’t quite seem to make enough of an effort to catch. There is promise there. The first-round pick has shown his ability and his teammates say he has a chance to be elite. But the potential must translate into production on the field, week in and week out.  

RB Samaje Perine—There is plenty of chatter about the Redskins’ need to sign or draft a top running back. But a look at this team’s recent history tells us that they are unlikely to invest major assets in the position. That means that Perine, a fourth-round pick in 2017, will have to become a more consistent runner. It’s not all his fault that he hasn’t done much since he had back-to-back 100-yard games in Weeks 11-12; tough defense, offensive line issues, and game score situations have slowed his production. But he needs to be consistently productive in 2018 no matter who he lines up against.

CB Josh Norman—Unless he gets a pick against the Giants, he will go through the year without any interceptions. Sure, they don’t throw his way all that often and INT’s don’t give you the complete picture of his play. But a CB taking up $20 million in cap room needs to get a couple of picks almost by sheer accident. Norman battled some injury problems and if he wants to justify the final two years and $23 million of salary remaining on his contract, his age 30 2018 season needs to be more impactful.

OLB Preston Smith—The third-year player started strong, with at least half a sack in the first five games. And he’s finishing strong, with three sacks, an interception, and a forced fumble in the last two games. But in between, he had a total of just half a sack in eight games. This follows the pattern he displayed his first two years in the league of being dominant in some games and invisible in others. If he can develop some consistency in his 2018 contract year, he could cash in huge in free agency the following year.

Head coach Jay Gruden—Normally I only include players on lists like this one but if Gruden doesn’t do something to get the Redskins out of their near-.500 rut then nothing else will matter. He needs to change up something, whether it’s pushing the players hard in training camp or perhaps fine tuning his friendly approach to the players. Sure, better luck regarding injuries and a schedule that right now appears to be a bit less challenging will help. But Gruden needs to look at what he can change, too.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 4
—NFL Draft (4/26) 60
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 196

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Usa Today Sports Images

Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, February 24, 18 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The five highest-paid Redskins in 2018

Originally published 1/12/18

This is how the five highest-paid Redskins per their 2018 salary cap numbers stack up as of now. The list could change, of course during free agency and if a particular quarterback returns. Cap numbers via Over the Cap.

CB Josh Norman, $17 million—The Redskins do have a window which would allow them to move on from Norman. His $13.5 million salary for this year doesn’t become guaranteed until the fifth day of the league year so it would be “only” a $9 million cap charge to move on from Norman, who turned 30 in December. Don’t look for that to happen but the possibility is there.

OT Trent Williams, $13.86 million—He is one of the best left tackles in the business. Those of you out there who have advocated moving him to left guard should look at this cap number, which is way out of line for what a team can afford to pay a guard. At his pay, he needs to be playing on the edge.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan, $12.45 million—He has delivered double-digit sacks in each of the two seasons that his contract extension has been in effect. That’s good value in a league that values the ability to get to the quarterback.

TE Jordan Reed, $10.14 million—The Redskins knew that he might have a year like last year when he played in only six games when they agreed to Reed’s five-year, $50 million extension. They can live with one such season. If he has another one in 2018 they may rethink things.

G Brandon Scherff, $6.75 million—The fact that a rookie contract is No. 5 on this list is a good sign that, as of now, the Redskins’ cap is not top heavy like it was last year. The top three cap hits from Norman, Williams, and Kirk Cousins totaled $59 million, which was about 35 percent of the cap. This year the total cap numbers of the top three come to $43.3 million, 24.3 percent of the estimated $178 million salary cap.

Next five: OT Morgan Moses ($5.4 million), TE Vernon Davis ($5.33 million), DL Stacy McGee ($4.8 million), DL Terrell McClain ($4.75 million), S D.J. Swearinger ($4.33 million)

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.


Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 5
—NFL Draft (4/26) 61
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 197