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OPEN THREAD: The big takeaway from Redskins first round


OPEN THREAD: The big takeaway from Redskins first round

As Roger Goodell said the words - with the fourth pick the Oakland Raiders select Amari Cooper - the next pick was obvious. The Redskins would be able to get Leonard Williams at No. 5, a steal, a heist, and a move sure to send fans into a frenzy. Williams was rated by many as the best defensive player in the draft, a force on the defensive line at the University of Southern California, and a surprise to be available at No. 5.

Only the Redskins didn't take Williams, they didn't send the fans into a frenzy. Instead, Redskins GM Scot McCloughan stuck to his draft board and selected Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff. It wasn't the sexy pick, and that's why it was so important.


For years, arguably more than a decade, the Redskins made the sexy move. It's been a staple of Dan Snyder's ownership, however, rarely has it worked out for the team. And in just his first pick of his first draft, McCloughan eschewed the high-profile move, opting rather to build up the offensive line, a problem unit in Washington for years.

Picking Scherff shows that McCloughan is truly in charge in Ashburn, a welcome sight. Regardless how true the rumors have been, for far too long the word on the Redskins is Snyder gets too involved in the personnel side of decision making. Marketing, winning off the field, those are valued too high, when the focus needs to be on building a winning football team. 

With one stroke Thursday night, McCloughan may have put the rest of the NFL on notice that the Redskins have entered a new era. On the heels of a successful, if subdued, free agency period, the 'Skins invested in the O-line when few expected it. No splashy moves. Throughout free agency McCloughan rebuilt the defensive line, and with his first draft pick ever as head of the Redskins, he goes offensive line. 

When the pick came in, ESPN draft announcer Jon Gruden could hardly contain his excitement. In fact, he said Scherff is the kind of player that makes him want to get back in coaching. Jon also mentioned how happy the Scherff pick must have made his brother Jay, the Redskins head coach.

Jon was right about Jay's reaction.

"If you’re talking about offensive linemen, you’re talking about a big, physical guy, and we want to bring that mentality back to this football team and it starts up front," Jay Gruden said after the draft on a conference call with reporters. "We addressed the defensive front a little bit in free agency, and I think we had to address the offensive linemen, the offensive line room, and we did that."

For his part, Scherff was not expecting to land in Washington. The Outland Trophy winner did not take a visit to Ashburn, and when he got that unexpected call from Gruden, Scherff said he was "ecstatic."

"I’m just happy. I really didn’t talk to the Redskins after the combine," Scherff said. "But, you know, I’m happy to be here and I’m happy to be a Redskin."

Winning teams don't always make the big splash. Looks like that mindset has finally taken over in Washington. 

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

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Need to Know: Looking ahead—Key Redskins 2019 free agents

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 18, 39 days before the NFL draft.  

Looking at next year’s free agents

There is still work that the Redskins can do in free agency and they still have some of their own players they want to retain. But with a lot of the player movement already in the books, we can take a look forward some of the key Redskin who currently are set to be free agents when the 2019 league year opens.

Note: I’m not including Brandon Scherff here because the team has a fifth-year option on him that they surely will activate before the May 2 deadline.

QB Colt McCoy (Week 1 age 32)—Lots of questions here. Will the Redskins want to keep him around for another year as Alex Smith’s backup? Or will they want a younger and cheaper backup? Will McCoy want to move on rather than back up another QB who doesn’t miss many games?

OL Ty Nsekhe (32)—The Redskins gave him a second-round restricted free agent tender this year so it’s possible that he could be gone or on a long-term contract in Washington. If he is a free agent, his value and the difficulty of retaining him could depend on if he ends the season as a reserve tackle (easy) or as a starting guard (hard).

OLB Preston Smith (25)—As we saw with Trent Murphy (three years, $21 million with up to $30 million), pass rushers get paid. Smith also makes big plays. Since Smith came into the NFL, he is the only player with at least 20 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 forced fumbles. If the Redskins can’t reach a deal on an extension with him this year the franchise tag is a distinct possibility.

WR Jamison Crowder (25)—This year the supply of quality receivers both as free agents and in the draft sent contract prices skyrocketing. To guard against that happening next year, the Redskin should start talking to Crowder about an extension soon.

ILB Zach Vigil (27)—As I noted here, Vigil went from being cut in September to a very valuable reserve in November. Both Zach Brown and Mason Foster will still be under contract, but the Redskin still should make an effort to retain Vigil for special teams and as a capable backup.

Other Redskins who are slated to be UFA’s next year are DL Ziggy Hood and ILB Martrell Spaight.

It’s also worth noting that WR Maurice Harris and DE Anthony Lanier will both be restricted free agents next year. Both positions were pricey in free agency this year, so both could require at least second-round tenders, which likely will increase to about $3 million in 2019.

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.

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Regarding the reported visit of defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins with the Redskins:


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 131
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 175

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Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon


Scandrick, Hankins both visiting with Redskins soon

The Redskins will be taking visits from two former NFC East foes in the next few days.

Former Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick will visit Redskins Park on Monday. Scandrick, 31, has been with Dallas since them made him a fifth-round pick in the 2008 draft. He has eight career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

The Cowboys released Scandrick on Friday in a salary cap move. The Redskins would be attracted to Scandrick’s versatility. He can play either side at corner and, of particular interest to the Redskins, in the slot. That is a position of concern for Washington since they traded Kendall Fuller to the Chiefs as part of the deal for quarterback Alex Smith.

The Redskins have been trying to get former Giants cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to sign for the past several days, but they can’t come together on money. Scandrick could be a fallback if they need one.

The other visitor will be former Giants defensive lineman Jonathan Hankins, per John Keim of ESPN. Hankins, 25, was a second-round draft pick and played his first four years in New York. Last year he moved on to the Colts as a free agent. They are changing their defense and decided to release Hankins after paying him $10 million last year.

Hankins could bolster a defensive line that still needs young talent. It’s not known if he would be considered a nose tackle in the Redskins’ scheme. The Giants ran a 4-3 defense and in the Colts’ 3-4 he was used as an end.

The Redskins had former Jets defensive lineman Muhammad Wilkerson in for a visit earlier this week, but he decided to sign with the Packers.


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.