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Who are the Redskins' core players?

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Who are the Redskins' core players?

Where are the Redskins in terms of building a team that can consistently compete for Super Bowls? Let’s take a look at the 22 projected starters for 2016 and see who the core players are and who could become starters on a team capable of making a deep playoff run. 

To be clear, the core players listed here are not necessarily future All-Pros or players who could bring the team to Super Bowl LI (they’re going back to Roman numerals). We’re talking about players you could envision starting for a good playoff team in the next few years.

The projects are young players who could develop into core players in the next year or so.

Offense

Core players: QB Kirk Cousins, OT Trent Williams, G Brandon Scherff, OT Morgan Moses, TE Jordan Reed, Slot WR Jamison Crowder

I think that the offensive linemen and Reed were good enough in 2015 to play on a very good team. Cousins would need further development, the kind that can only come from working with the first team week in and week out and taking snaps in regular season NFL games. There is no guarantee that he will get there but he represents the Redskins’ best shot at having a franchise quarterback and it’s realistic to think that he could get there.

Projects: G Spencer Long, RB Matt Jones

Long probably will never visit a Pro Bowl but he can be a piece of the puzzle on the offensive line if he takes a few steps forward. Jones’ prospects are much more problematic. Although there is reasonable confidence that he can learn to hold on to the ball, he still needs to work on identifying running lanes and getting through them.

So, if both of the projects come through the Redskins are looking for long-term solutions at both wide receiver spots and center. Those are positions to look for in the next two drafts.

Defense

Core players: DE Chris Baker, OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Will Compton, CB Bashaud Breeland

Baker’s presence here is a coin toss. He’ll turn 31 early in the 2018 season. But he didn’t play a whole lot until he was 27 so he could still be effective then. Kerrigan will turn 30 before the 2018 season starts but he should still be a steady pass rushing presence. Compton won’t visit any Pro Bowls but he could start at inside linebacker for the next decade.

Projects: OLB Preston Smith

Originally Smith was with the core players group but on second thought he has more to prove. Near the end of the year the rookie figured out what he needed to do to be successful. If he continues that through OTAs, training camp, and the regular season he will be a very good player. But seeing is believing.

Junior Galette perhaps could have been included on either list but he is on a one-year contract. Will the team be able to pay him, Smith, and Kerrigan?

Regardless, the headline here is what the Redskins will need. Scot McCloughan will be looking for two linemen, an inside linebacker and three frontline players in the secondary. Perhaps Kyshoen Jarrett or Quinton Dunbar can emerge as core players; in any case, they should be solid role players, something that a winning team needs plenty of. 

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

MORE 2018 NFL DRAFT:
- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

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Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.