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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, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

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. 

MORE REDSKINS DRAFT NEWS:

— 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

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With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

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Dustin Hopkins isn't 100-percent so the Redskins reportedly worked out five kickers

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USA TODAY Sports

Dustin Hopkins isn't 100-percent so the Redskins reportedly worked out five kickers

Lost in the fact that Tress Way is having a stellar season is that his fellow specialist, Dustin Hopkins, is getting it done, too.

The Redskins' kicker has made 17 of 19 field goals so far in 2018, giving him an 89.5-percent conversion rate on kicks. Against Carolina, he nailed a career-long 56-yarder, plus he's 17-for-17 on extra points.

But on Tuesday, a report came out saying that Hopkins is "a bit banged up." As of now, the Redskins don't know if they'll have Hopkins or not this weekend vs. the Texans, which is why they worked out five kickers five days before the Houston matchup, per Field Yates.

Among the group of free agents was former 'Skin Kai Forbath, who made 32-of-38 three-pointers for the Vikings in 2017. He was with the Burgundy and Gold from 2012-2014 and also briefly in 2015. 

Washington also reportedly tried out two maligned kickers in Roberto Aguayo and Blair Walsh. 

The Bucs drafted Aguayo in the second round of the 2016 draft but he flamed out in Tampa and was gone after a single year and poor 2017 preseason. Walsh, meanwhile, hasn't been the same since missing a 27-yard game winning playoff attempt versus Seattle while he was with Minnesota.  

Rounding out the group was Sam Ficken and Jon Brown.

The Redskins have been very reliant on both Hopkins and Way this season, seeing as their offense has had its issues. They've needed Hopkins to cash in on field goals to avoid wasting points and Way to help win the field position battle each week.

For some franchises, losing a kicker for a week or two wouldn't be much of a problem. And while Washington could very well be OK without Hopkins, they'd rather not have to bring in a new foot for any amount of time.

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