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Redskins 2016 draft possibilities: Running back


Redskins 2016 draft possibilities: Running back

With the busy portion of the free agent signing period over, it’s time to start looking ahead to the 2016 NFL Draft and, specifically, holes Redskins GM Scot McCloughan still must fill. (And, yes, there are many.) Over the next few weeks, Redskins Insider Tarik El-Bashir will examine prospects that could be a fit in Washington. 

Up first…

Running back

Depth chart: Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Silas Redd Jr. and Mack Brown.

Current situation: Running back ranks as one of the Redskins’ more unsettled areas as the offseason ramps up. Alfred Morris is gone, of course, having signed as a free agent in Dallas. Jones is coming off an inconsistent, injury-plagued rookie season, as well as a minor hip procedure. Still, Jones seems to have shown enough to be penciled in as the No. 1 back.

After that, though, there are many questions.

Thompson had shoulder surgery and is expected to be sidelined until training camp. Redd suffered a major knee injury and missed the entire 2015 season. Brown hasn’t played a regular season snap, while free agent Pierre Thomas might still be re-signed. Thomas could help next season, but at 31-years-old, he’s also not a long-term solution.

Given all of that uncertainty—and the fact that the Redskins produced a lowly 3.7 yards per carry in ’15 (third-worst)—it would make a lot of sense for McCloughan to invest a pick in a running back. And it wouldn’t be surprising if that pick were a high-to mid-round selection considering the team’s immediate need for help.   

“We might sign a free agent here in the next couple weeks or we might wait until after the draft to see how we address it in the draft,” Coach Jay Gruden said at the NFL owners meetings last month, hinting that the position figures to be a priority in Chicago later this month.


Three possibilities:

  • Kenneth Dixon, Louisiana Tech

Listed at 5-10, 213-pounds, Dixon is productive all-around back who ranks second in FBS history in career touchdowns with 87 (72 rushing and 15 receiving). Last season, Dixon rushed for 1,073 yards on 198 carries (5.4 yards per) and 19 touchdowns to go along with 33 receptions for 464 yards and seven scores. The three-down back is projected to be drafted as early as the second round.

  • Kenyan Drake, Alabama

Used as a complement to Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry, the 6-1, 210-pounder rushed for 408 yards (5.3 per) and a touchdown and hauled in 29 passes for 276 yards and a score. He’s also a good kickoff returner who averaged 26.6 yards per return on 19 attempts as a senior.  At the Senior Bowl in January, NBC Sports draft guru Josh Norris told me, “He was kind of the lightning to Derrick Henry’s thunder.” Drake is projected to be drafted in the 3rd to 5th round.

  • Josh Ferguson, Illinois

Listed at 5 foot 10, 198-pounds, Ferguson is one of the best pass catching running backs in this year’s class. In nine games as a senior, he rushed for 708 yards on 129 carries (5.5 per) and hauled in 37 passes for 280 yards. A quick, agile player, Norris compares him to Chris Thompson. The Redskins reportedly met with Ferguson at the East-West Shrine Game. Projected to be drafted in the 4th or 5th round.

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Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

Redskins' schedule "rest disparity" is very fair in 2018

The NFL started taking into account a new factor when putting together its schedule this year. The concept is called rest disparity. It stems from a complaint made by the Giants last year. And, of course, when the Giants have a cold, the NFL sneezes and immediately does whatever it takes to cure the cold. 

Here is how Peter King laid it out this morning on the MMQB:

Last year, I heard the Giants were not pleased with their schedule because they felt they were too often playing teams more rested than they were. In consecutive October weeks, they played teams coming off byes, for instance. The NFL calculated a figure for every team based on the number of combined days of rest for their foes or for the team, calculating, for instance, in those two weeks, the Giants were a minus-14 (minus-seven for each of the foes, Seattle and Denver, coming off byes). In all, by my math, the Giants were a league-worst minus-22 in “rest disparity.”

So the schedule makers worked to minimize the rest disparity this year. According to King, the worst rest disparity in the league this year is minus-11. The Giants are minus-eight. 

The question that Redskins fans will have immediately here is if the Giants’ rest disparity was reduced at the expense of the team in burgundy and gold. The answer that will surprise many is no. 

The Redskins rest disparity in 2018 will be either minus-one or zero. The variance is due to the possibility that their Week 16 game in Tennessee will be flexed to a Saturday game (see details here). If the game stays on Sunday, they will be at minus-one in rest disparity. If it gets moved, they will have had exactly as much rest over the course of the season as did their opponents, in aggregate. 

If you're interested in the nitty-gritty, here is how it breaks down. In eight or nine of their games, they will have had the same amount of rest as their opponents. They play one game coming off of their bye, a Monday night game in New Orleans. The Saints play the previous Sunday, giving Washington a plus-seven in days of rest. That is canceled out when they play the Falcons in Week 9 after Atlanta’s bye. 

Due to their Thanksgiving game, they get three extra days off going into their Week 13 Monday night game in Philadelphia. Two weeks later the Jaguars will have those three extra days of rest when they host the Redskins, having played on Thursday in Week 14.

They lose a day relative to their opponents coming off of those Monday night games against the Saints and Eagles. The Redskins get an extra day prior to visiting the Giants in Week 8 as New York has a Monday night game in Week 7. 

So far, that comes to minus-one in rest disparity. That will remain in place if they play the Titans on Sunday, December 23. If the game is flexed to Saturday, they will gain a day of rest on the Eagles in Week 17, zeroing out the rest disparity for the season. 

More Redskins

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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Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

Clarifying the confusion about the Redskins' Week 16 game at the Titans

There was some confusion about the Redskins’ Week 16 game in Tennessee when the NFL schedule dropped. The schedule pushed out by the Redskins said that the game date and time are to be determined. Other versions that went out, including the one on, says the game will be on Sunday, December 23 at 1 p.m.

So what’s the story? Well, if you’re thinking of making reservations to go to Nashville to watch the game you just might want to hold off for a while. Like, until early November. 

In an under the radar move, the NFL has established flex scheduling for its late-season Saturday games. Here are the details from the schedule press release from Redskins PR:

“Flexibility for Saturday games in Weeks 15 and 16 is also part of the 2018 schedule. In Week 15, there will be two games played on Saturday on NFL Network, with the game times of 4:30 p.m. and 8:20 p.m. to be determined. In Week 16, two of four possible matchups will be scheduled for Saturday. Start times and Saturday games for Week 15 and 16 will be announced no later than following Week 8, with the non-Saturday games to be played on Sunday.”

The way it sets up, if the Redskins and Titans are playing well in midseason there is a good chance the game will be played on Saturday, December 22 at either 4:30 or 8:20. If one or both teams are struggling, the league and networks could choose to flex two of the other four matchups to Saturday. 

This is taking flex scheduling to a different level. It’s one thing shifting a Sunday kickoff seven and a half hours from 1 p.m. to 8:30. It’s another to shift a whole day. The visiting teams can’t make travel arrangements, not knowing if they need to come into town on Friday for a Saturday game or on Saturday for Sunday. Fans who want to travel to the game are in the same boat. 

Of course, if you can afford it, you can just add a day to your Nashville excursion. There are worse things in the world than spending an extra day or two in Music City. 

If you have to wait to make your plans, as the Redskins do, you will find out no later than October 29, which is when Week 8 ends. 

Do you believe in trends? Then you should hope that the game does get flexed to Saturday. The Redskins have won three straight Saturday games, beating the Eagles in both 2014 and 2015 (the latter game clinching the division title for Washington) and the Bears in 2016. 

More Redskins

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