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NFL Mock Draft 7.0: Pondering NFC East decisions

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NFL Mock Draft 7.0: Pondering NFC East decisions

These NFL mock drafts are comprehensive in that 1) They cover all 32 teams and 2) I spend way too much pondering which player will land where. Seeing as the Washington Redskins are the team of my youth and the team that I cover, the NFC East receives more of my attention than the other divisions. With that in mind, here are some key burning questions for the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Philadelphia Eagles and Washington Redskins with the NFL Draft less than a month away.

Should the Cowboys draft a quarterback at No. 4

This really comes down to the health of Tony Romo for 2016 and beyond. The quarterback's busted collarbone and recent surgery is of immediate concern, though Romo claimed Thursday's he'll be good to go for a full offseason.

If true and Dallas believes, as owner Jerry Jones previously stated, that Romo's reign isn't ending any time soon, then the Cowboys should pass on quarterback in the first round and go for immediate help. If we give everyone around the division truth serum, most probably say the Cowboys win the NFC East last season if Romo remained healthy. That's because he's good and their backups weren't. There's also Romo's positive impact on Dez Bryant; the impressive offensive line; and a sturdy defense that kept Dallas in games last season. However, that said of the ball could use a pass rushing force like Ohio State's Joey Bosa or a defensive back ace like Florida State's Jalen Ramsey. Add those pieces and keep Romo in one piece, and Dallas competes not just for the NFC East title but the bigger prize.

CHECK OUT THE NEW MOCK DRAFT HERE

But should the Eagles draft a quarterback at No. 8

Yes, yes they should if top prospects Carson Wentz or Jared Goff are available. Philadelphia kept Sam Bradford around and added veteran Chase Daniel. That's a serviceable 2016 tandem, but they're not scaring anyone over the long haul. This season is about purging all memories of the failed Chip Kelly era while moving forward with new coach and former Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson. Philly should take the reboot opportunity and, if possible, start by adding their QB of the future with Ohio State running back Ezekiel Elliott or left tackle as the backup plan. Speaking of Elliott...

Should the Giants target Ezekiel Elliott in the first round?

No doubt the trend goes against selecting running backs early in drafts, though Todd Gurley was a wise exception for the Rams last season. Some view the 225-pound Elliott as a top-5 overall prospect after the Big Ten offensive player of the year rushed for 1,821 yards and 23 touchdowns last season with the Buckeyes. Running back aren't considered great long-term plays because they wear down quicker than most other positions. The thing is New York doesn't have another 10 years with Eli Manning at quarterback. We'll see what the Giants look like post-Tom Coughlin, but they  have a playoff-worthy roster and that was before they spent a gazillion dollars in free agency. Going with Elliott at RB  rather than repeat of last season's four-headed monster of mediocrity  is logical.

Should the Redskins spend their first round pick on defense?

Yes, but not to the degree every draft talker in the world would have you think. Washington desperately needs a talent boost and youth along the defensive line. Safety is a concern. Adding depth at inside linebacker and cornerback also makes sense. Then again, center isn't exactly a strength of the offensive line and draftniks are warming up to the idea of Alabama's Ryan Kelly going off the board in this range. Line him up with Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses and Washington's OL could join the league's elite soon enough. The Redskins are essentially good to go at receiver for 2016, but who knows what happens next season seeing as Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson will be free agents. TCU's Josh Doctson would provide red-zone size now and a potential No. 1 target going forward. Based on this draft, the Redskins can get defensive line and safety help in round two and three. That's why adding a piece on offense at 21 isn't such a bad idea.

CHECK OUT THE NEW MOCK DRAFT HERE

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Need to Know: The five highest-paid 2018 Redskins

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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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

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

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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