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Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Grading the Redskins' draft

Need to Know: Tandler's Take—Grading the Redskins' draft

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 29, 12 days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.  

Tandler’s Take: Grading the Redskins’ draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out, we must dig in a little more to come up with a grade for the draft headed up by Doug Williams, Jay Gruden, and Bruce Allen. It is possible to grade the process so that is what is done here. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy— A-

There was a lot to like about the second-round trade that ended up with the Redskins getting Derrius Guice and tackle Geron Christian.The deal itself was good, favoring the Redskins by the equivalent of a mid-fifth-round pick when you look at the traditional draft trade chart. They make the deal with Kyle Shanahan’s 49ers, showing that the organization won’t let ruffled feathers over the messy departure of their former offensive coordinator get in the way of making a deal to help the team. 

And the result, getting Guice, who would have been a solid value at the Redskins original second-round pick, and Christian, who could develop into a solid backup tackle and perhaps more, made the deal a very, very good one. 

Of course, that’s looking at the deal right now. If there is fire behind the smoke of all of the talk about Guice that emerged in the past few days and he ends up with problems that affect his on-field production, it could be a different story.

I think that the topic of drafting Payne with Derwin James and Tremaine Edmunds still on the board has been covered adequately here. I think that the defense may have been better in the long run if they had taken James and then had fourth-round pick Tim Settle of Virginia Tech play nose tackle instead of drafting Payne. But the Redskins did what they believed they had to do to correct the rushing defense, the single biggest deficiency on the team. It’s hard to blame them much for that. 

They moved up in the sixth round, elevating eight spots in exchange for dropping 25 spots in the seventh, and took on some injury risk in Shaun Dion Hamilton. The Alabama linebacker suffered a torn ACL in 2016 and last year he broke a kneecap. The injuries cost him a few rounds of draft position, and if he stays healthy, he could provide a good reward for fairly little risk. Hamilton was sharing playing time with high draft picks Reggie Ragland and Rueben Foster before the injury problems hit. 

Talent/value/needs— A-

They had three major needs coming into the draft—on the defensive line, at running back, and at left guard. They took care of the first two situations with their first two picks. Payne wasn’t a bad value while Guice was an excellent value. 

The guard position went unaddressed. My guess is that they wanted to find one to develop in the fifth round, but when they saw Settle still there they couldn’t pass up the value. As of right now, the starter is Arie Kouandjio, who was inconsistent after injuries forced him into a starting role for the last six games of the season. We will see if they try to sign a veteran free agent option to compete with Kouandjio. 

With their third- and fourth-round picks they added some impressive athleticism, something the team still lacks. Christin is a former basketball player who can move. Troy Apke was called “freakishly athletic” by Mike Mayock. That is an asset that the team needs. 

After taking Payne, I think that the Redskins didn’t think that they would draft Settle, in whom they had shown some interest pre-draft. But, as noted, when he was still on the board in the fifth round, they couldn’t leave him there. The Redskins now have a potentially strong, young core on their defensive line. 

Looking at all eight picks, I can’t say that any were great reaches. It’s possible that they could have had Christian and Apke a round or two later but that isn’t a serious issue. Some will say that Payne was a reach. I’d say he may have been a slight reach at No. 13; perhaps his value was more towards the late teens. The presence of James and Edmunds on the board magnifies that. They may not have maximized the pick in theory but, again, it’s hard to find fault with them going D-line with a slight reach. 

Overall— A

They addressed three serious areas of weakness on the team. The rushing defense got better with Payne and Settle. The rushing offense will improve with Guice. And special teams will be better with the addition of Apke, sixth-round pick ILB Shaun Dion Hamilton, and, if he makes the roster, seventh-round pick Greg Stroman. 

There appeared to be a few different strategies at work. As noted, they got more athletic with Christian and Apke. They are a more physical football team with Payne, Guice, and Settle. And for the second year in a row, the majority of the picks went to defense. Last year it was six out of ten on that side of the ball and this year it was five of eight.

The overriding theme was that they drafted like a team that doesn’t believe it is far from being in playoff contention. Don’t get me wrong, they don’t think they’re a couple of pieces away from a Super Bowl. But the organization does believe that they had a pretty good team last year and the season got derailed by injuries. You can argue whether that’s true but that’s how they acted. 

The A grade reflects a job well done by Allen, Williams, Gruden, Kyle Smith, and the rest of the team’s personnel department. With the exception of the possible opportunity cost of draft Payne, it’s hard to find serious fault in how the draft played out. 

Now that this part is done, it’s up to the coaching staff to get the most out of these players. We don’t know how they will turn out. After a successful draft process, it’s on to determining the true grade and results. 

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.

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Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 12
—OTAs start (5/22) 23
—Training camp starts (7/26) 88

The Redskins last played a game 119 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 133 days. 


— Draft Analysis: Redskins draft for value AND need
— Day 3 Results: Meet the late-round picks
— Day 2 Results: 2nd and 3rd round selections
— Rolling the Dice: Right move drafting Guice
— Bring the Payne: Redskins address porous D-Line
— Creating Options: Depth added on Day 3


Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.


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Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

Reuben Foster's season-ending injury hurts the Redskins from a contract perspective, too

There are a lot of questions stemming from Reuben Foster's injury at Redskins OTAs, which looks to be a season-ending one.

Where does Foster, whose career has really yet to take off due to other injuries as well as numerous off-field troubles, go from here? What are Washington's options at inside linebacker now, since they were counting on him to produce?

And then there's this: How does Foster missing this year affect his contract with the 'Skins?

The answer, according to salary cap expert J.I. Halsell, is not much.

"When a contract tolls, that means basically the pause button is pushed and whatever you were supposed to make in 2019 carries over to 2020. That's not the case for Reuben Foster," Halsell said Tuesday while on the Redskins Talk podcast.

"Reuben Foster will earn his $1.29 million salary regardless of if he plays this season or not. While he'll probably spend his entire season on injured reserve, he'll make his $1.29 million in 2019."

Essentially, everything proceeds as normal. And that in and of itself is a decent setback for the organization.

One of the reasons the Redskins dealt with the controversy and backlash when they claimed Foster last November was because they were adding a first-round talent on his rookie contract. The team was hoping they could secure two years of elite play out of him at a bargain price, and then potentially exercise the fifth-year option on him to keep him in D.C. through 2021.

Now, however, they're losing one of those precious seasons and will have to make that decision on his fifth-year option next offseason without any tape or experience to really base that decision on. That's an important choice, and one that will carry significant financial implications as well.

"The fifth-year option for the 2021 season will be pretty expensive," Halsell said. "The long and short of it is it's going to be a lucrative dollar amount and given his injury history, his current injury, you would think that when they have to make that decision by the 2020 Draft, they will decline that option."

Haslell's right. The likelihood of the Burgundy and Gold committing big money to a guy with literally one rep in their uniform — and it's not like he was proven for the 49ers, as a linebacker or as a person, either — feels unbelievably slim. 

Yet — and now we're looking pretty far down the line — if he is able to return from this injury and contribute in 2020, the franchise could still look to keep him beyond that. There's a ton of time between now and then, but it's certainly possible.

"Theoretically, even though you don't have the fifth-year option for 2021, you can work on a contract extension for Reuben Foster assuming he comes back to full health," Haslell explained.

Still, not only does the injury hurt the player as well as the unit the player was going to start on, but it limits the team's potential payoff from claiming the player. The situation, from every angle, is an unfortunate one. 


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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

USA TODAY Sports Imahes

NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

NEW YORK -- The NFL and the players' union have two new agreements to address player health in the areas of pain management/prescription medications, and behavior well-being.

The joint agreements, announced Monday, are designed to lead to advancement and understanding of dealing with pain and to improve potential treatments. The league and union also will add to programs already established in education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

"I was hired two years ago and when I was hired I was asked about areas of concern," said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's medical chief. "And I said these were two areas I saw from my knowledge of someone taking care of athletes for over two decades. I felt a real need there."

"We've been working together with the players' union to come up with something that would work proactively for both. We have the same goal, to take care of the whole player and in a holistic way, and to focus on prevention."

Among the stipulations in the pain management area will be formation of a committee of medical experts appointed by the league and union that will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies in pain management and the use of prescription medication by players. The committee also will conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.

That committee will receive periodic reports from a newly developed prescription drug monitoring program that will monitor all prescriptions issued to NFL players by club physicians and unaffiliated physicians.

Each NFL club must appoint and pay for a pain management specialist before next season.

All this builds on the programs in place.

"We've had an electronically submitted health record for each club in place for a number of years," Sills said. "Medical providers enter the prescriptions they have given to the players. Periodically, our medical advisory committee and the NFL Physicians Society would issue white paper guidelines around strategies. The important change here is obviously it creates a committee tasked with overseeing our educational efforts -- the best practices around pain management."

All 32 teams now must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players' emotional and mental health and well-being. The old bromide of "toughing it out" when someone has such issues has long been discarded, Sills said.

"This is not novel to the NFL or to sports," Sills added. "It applies across all levels of society at all age groups and walks of life, and we know these are issues we need to address."

While the NFL and NFLPA have had previous joint programs in these health areas, Sills and NFLPA President Eric Winston note these initiatives are a major step forward in medical care.

"These agreements are positive developments for our membership as they will provide new and important resources to help players and their families," Winston said. "Our union has always advocated for advancements in health and safety and we think this work with the NFL is another important step to improve care for NFL players."