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Need to Know: Who is the favorite to be the Redskins' top draft pick?

Need to Know: Who is the favorite to be the Redskins' top draft pick?

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, April 6, 20 days before the NFL draft.  

Setting the odds on the No. 1 pick

We’re a little less than three weeks away from the first round of the draft.

The Redskins’ draft board is nearly set so let’s break out the $100 in imaginary casino chips and see who is the favorite to be the first player off the board for the Redskins. 

We are going to assume here that the Redskins do not trade up or down and they stay with pick No. 13. 

DL Da’Ron Payne, $35 — It’s too early to have a strong favorite here. I’m going with Payne because I think that the Redskins want a lineman who can play nose tackle and still have impact in nickel situations. And they can fill their need without reaching; the No. 13 spot is just about right for the 6-2, 311-pound Payne. 

DL Vita Vea, $25 — Maybe my belief that the Redskins will take a D-lineman in the first round for the second straight year after going 20 years without taking one is too strong. But Vea certainly would be a solid value at No. 13. Nobody doubts his ability to clog up the middle. The questions about him surround his ability to be effective on the field on second and third downs. He was effective rushing the passer at University of Washington, but will that translate to the NFL?

LB Roquan Smith $15 — After thinking for a long time that he’s a guaranteed top-10 pick, I’m starting to get the feeling that he will be there at No. 13. Some teams will talk themselves out of taking him due to his size. Would the Redskins take him even though they just re-signed Zach Brown and Mason Foster? It is possible, but I have my doubts.

S Derwin James, $10 — Although he clearly is a top-10 talent, safeties aren't valued as high as some other positions. That could cause a slide to No. 13. The Redskins are set at safety with D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson, although the latter’s injury issues combined with the Florida State product’s special talent could make them opt for James if he falls back that far. 

CB Minkah Fitzpatrick, $10 — I’m not so sure that I’d take him this high but I’ve seen Tyrann Mathieu comparisons and that makes him very intriguing. The Redskins would have to think very hard about taking him if he’s there. 

RB Derrius Guice, $5 — Due to the Redskins’ needs and the way the draft shapes up, the only offensive player on the board here is a long shot. He’s a good running back and I think he’d be a good fit but in a draft that is deep in running backs, I don’t see where it makes sense that early to take one who is only marginally better than others. But given the attention the Redskins have given to him, including a pre-pro day dinner with a contingent that included Bruce Allen, you can't completely rule him out. 

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Timeline  

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 10
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 112
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 156

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Redskins ranked as the fourth most valuable NFL franchise by Forbes

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins ranked as the fourth most valuable NFL franchise by Forbes

Annually, Forbes releases the worth of all professional sports franchises in the world. Once again, the Washington Redskins are sitting near the top. 

This year the Redskins are ranked the fourth most valuable NFL franchise at $3.1 billion. 

That marks a five percent worth increase from a year ago. They leapfrogged the San Francisco 49ers for a spot in the top four after placing fifth in 2017. They still trail the Dallas Cowboys ($4.8 billion), the New England Patriots ($3.7 billion), and the New York Giants ($3.3 billion).

Compared to other leagues and franchises, the Redskins jumped into the top-10. They are tied for the tenth overall value with the Golden State Warriors who are coming off of their third NBA title in four years.

From year-to-year there is never much movement from the top of the ranking. Once again, the Cowboys are the top team in the world by over $600 million. They were followed by three European soccer teams. In total four NFL teams made up the top-10, the most of any sport. 

2018 Top-10 World’s Most Valuable Sports Teams according to Forbes:

1. Dallas Cowboys, $4.8 billion (NFL)

2. Manchester United, $4.123 billion ( Soccer)

3. Real Madrid, $4.09 billion (Soccer)

4. Barcelona, $4.064 billion (Soccer)

5. New York Yankees, $4 billion (MLB)

6. New England Patriots, $3.7 billion (NFL)

7. New York Knicks, $3.6 billion (NBA)

8. Los Angeles Lakers, $3.3 billion (NBA)

8. New York Giants, $3.3 billion (NFL)

T-10. Golden State Warriors, $3.1 billion (NBA)

T-10. Washington Redskins, $3.1 billion (NFL)

Next five NFL franchises:

13. San Francisco 49ers, $3.05 billion

T-14. Los Angeles Rams, $3 billion 

17. Chicago Bears, $2.85 billion 

T-19. Houston Texans, $2.8 billion

21. New York Jets, $2.75 billion

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

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USA Today Sports Images

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Outside linebackers

Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.

Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.

OUTSIDE LINEBACKERS

Additions: Pernell McPhee (free agent)
Departures: Junior Galette (free agent)

Starters: Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith
Other roster locks: Ryan Anderson, McPhee
On the bubble: Pete Robertson

How the outside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: By any measure, the Redskins had a top-10 pass rush last year. They were tied for seventh with 42 sacks and they got a sack on 7.3 percent of pass attempts, also seventh in the league. Looking forward to this year, Pro Football Focus has them ranked as the sixth-best pass rushing team for 2018. Ryan Kerrigan is showing no signs of slowing down as he approaches age 30 and Preston Smith is about to hit his prime. After the departure of Galette, the depth is questionable, and we’ll deal with that next. Even without Galette, it’s still one of the best units in the NFL. 

To the 2017 Redskins: Some downplay the decision to let Galette walk in free agency, saying he had just three sacks. But his value went beyond that. He had 9 QB hits and 25 hurries, both second-most on the team, in just 258 pass rush snaps. Someone will have to step up and replace that pressure. The spotlight will be on Anderson, who had no sacks after being a second-round pick. He will need to step up for this year’s Redskins pass rush to be as good as last year’s. 

2018 outside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: Since the 2015 season, only one NFL player has at least 20 sacks, four forced fumbles, and three interceptions and it’s Preston Smith. His consistency is an issue but even when he is going for a few weeks between sacks he is getting pressure on the quarterback. Still, there is more ability there. Smith could set himself up for a big payday by breaking through with a double-digit sack season while continuing to make big plays in his contract year.

Most to prove: To be fair, Anderson did not get a whole lot of chances to rush the passer last year, playing just 81 pass rush snaps. Still, there are reasons to be concerned about how much he can produce after a zero-sack, one-hit, three-hurries 2017 debut season. Anderson was not expected to make a splash as a rookie, but more was anticipated. He was drafted where he was in part because of his work ethic. The Redskins hope he will work his way into a significant second-year leap. 

Rookie watch: There are no rookie outside linebackers on the roster. 

Bottom line: The main concern about the Redskins’ defense this year revolves around the cornerback spot following the departures of Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland. The best way to manage problematic cornerbacks is by getting a strong pass rush. The Redskins need to Smith to have a true breakout season and for Anderson or McPhee to be a strong contributor off the bench. Along with the improved defensive line, the pass rush could transform the defensive line into a quality unit in 2018. 

2018 Redskins Position Outlook Series