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Need to Know: Ranking the Redskins' biggest needs

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Need to Know: Ranking the Redskins' biggest needs

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 9, five days before NFL free agency starts.  

Ranking the Redskins’ top six needs

We are about to get into the heat of the NFL player acquisition season. Here are what I see as the six most important needs the Redskins need to address, ranked.

6. Special teams—This isn’t a specific player that they need. It’s something they need to look for in players they take from the fourth round on and in free agents that are on the market late this month. I know that the injury bug trickled down and affected special teams, but they weren’t all that good early in the year when everyone was healthy.

5. Running back—I probably think that Samaje Perine still can develop into a solid running back more than most do (including Doug Williams). If the offensive line stays reasonably healthy and they get better blocking from the receivers and, particularly, the tight ends, I think that the running game can improve with the current personnel. But a more dynamic every-down type of back certainly would help the running game and pay quick dividends.

4. Left guard—The assumption here is that both Spencer Long and Shawn Lauvao will be allowed to walk in free agency, leaving a big hole. Maybe Arie Kouandjio can step up and take the job but the Redskins can’t rely on that happening. This is where the missing third-round pick will hurt. That’s a good spot to pick up a guard who can step in and start right away.

3. Nose tackle—Just like the struggles of the running game on offense were not all to blame on the running backs, the Redskins’ poor rushing defense wasn’t all due to a lack of a true nose tackle. In fact, they were better stopping the run on first down, when the base defense utilizing a nose tackle was in the game (4.3 yards/carry, 26th in the league), than they were on second and third down when they were more frequently in nickel (4.9/carry, 29th). But they won’t really fix their problems until they fix the position.

2. Wide receiver—If you lined up with the wide receivers the Redskins have under contract now, Maurice Harris or Robert Davis would line up opposite Josh Doctson with Jamison Crowder in the slot. That clearly is not acceptable. Whether it’s in free agency or in the draft, the Redskins have to find a capable starter.

1. Inside linebacker—The easy answer, of course, is just to re-sign Zach Brown. When the defense was mostly healthy last year it was Brown who was making things hum. But money matters may get in the way of that. The fact that there aren’t many quality inside linebackers in free agency could both drive up Brown’s price and make it difficult for the Redskins to find a replacement in free agency. That could send them to the draft and possibly Roquan Smith or Tremaine Edmunds.

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.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 29
—NFL Draft (4/26) 48
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 184

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

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Need to Know: The Redskins' best players who are 25 or younger

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 17, 39 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The best Redskins players 25 or younger

Here is a look at the best Redskins players who have played at least one season and will be 25 or younger as of Week 1 this year. 

WR Jamison Crowder, 25 as of Week 1—Crowder hit the ground running in his first year, with 59 receptions, a team rookie record, and gaining 604 yards. He has been very dependable in his three years, averaging 64 catches, 747 yards, and four receiving touchdowns per year. 

OLB Preston Smith, 25—Since he came into the league, no player but Smith has at least 20.5 sacks, three or more interceptions, and four or more forced fumbles. His sack numbers tend to be up and down from week to week, but Jay Gruden has said more than once that Smith is very consistent in getting pressure on the quarterback even if he doesn’t always get home for the sack. 

DL Matt Ioannidis, 24—A year ago it was thought that he would face an uphill battle to make the 53-man roster. Now goes into the season as a starter and key contributor. The 2016 fifth-round pick got much stronger between his first and second seasons and he took well to the coaching of new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. Only a broken hand that cost him two games and had him playing with an awkward cast for a few more kept him from threatening to make double-digit sacks. 

DL Jonathan Allen, 23—The Redskins were just starting to get a hint of what Allen could do early in the season. Pro Football Focus credited him with a total of three sacks in the Redskins third and fourth games. But in their fifth game, he suffered a foot injury that ended his season. Allen was a full go for the offseason program and there is no reason to think that he won’t pick back up right where he left off. 

S Montae Nicholson, 22—Like Allen, Nicholson’s rookie season was shortened due to injuries. He took advantage of the absence of anticipated starter Su’a Cravens and made an impact from the beginning. While the 2017 fourth-round pick and free-agent pickup D.J. Swearinger were in the lineup the decade-long struggles the Redskins have had at the safety position were suddenly gone. 

Best of the rest: WR Josh Doctson (25), C Chase Roullier (25)

It should be noted that DL Daron Payne turned 21 in May and RB Derrius Guice will the 21 later this month so they could be joining this list soon. Assuming those two start, the Redskins will have nine quality starters aged 25 or younger this year. 

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

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Timeline  

Redskins wide receiver Jamison Crowder was born on this date in 1993. 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 39
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 53
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 76

The Redskins last played a game 166 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 84 days. 

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Trent Williams has really good things to say about Alex Smith and Derrius Guice

Trent Williams has really good things to say about Alex Smith and Derrius Guice

The most significant thing to come from Trent Williams' spontaneous chat with the media on Wednesday is that the left tackle expects to be ready for training camp.

But two other topics Williams covered while talking were his initial impressions of new teammates Alex Smith and Derrius Guice. 

And while having one player compliment other players in the offseason is the second-most common thing in the NFL behind the Browns losing games, No. 71 went beyond the normal, clichéd positivity you're used to hearing. 

He was first asked about Smith, a QB he'd only met at the Pro Bowl until these offseason sessions in Ashburn.

“He’s a winner," Williams said. "As you all know, you don’t win in this league without a quarterback, so us being able to have one and have one right now, it does everything for our team and our attitude and the faith we have to win."

Next came a question about Guice, the rookie who looks like the most talented running back to date that Williams will have the pleasure of blocking for. What are his thoughts on the LSU product?

"When you watch him on film it's like he's been here before," Williams observed. "He's a specimen."

As for the 'Skins being able to snag Guice where they did in the draft, the 29-year-old admitted he was quite surprised.

"Extremely lucky to get him in the second round," he said. "I don't know how that happened... It's not going to take very long before people recognize him as an elite NFL talent."

Williams is coming off of surgery, will turn 30 in July and, during last season, spoke about how the injuries he constantly fought through started to take a toll on him. Ready to hear something sad? He's never won a playoff game.

So, for a veteran who's aging like him and who hasn't captured anything of signifigance yet, having confidence and trust in his backfield is paramount. Fortunately, judging by the quotes above, it sounds like Williams is already there when it comes to Smith and Guice.

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