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'Skins coach on RG3: 'He's the starter. Period.'

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'Skins coach on RG3: 'He's the starter. Period.'

From Comcast SportsNet
ASHBURN, Va. (AP) -- No sense fooling around with a talent like Robert Griffin III. Barely a week after the draft, the Washington Redskins are already proclaiming the Heisman Trophy winner their No. 1 quarterback. Saying that Griffin has the ability to do things no one else has done in the NFL, coach Mike Shanahan wrapped up a rookie minicamp Sunday by putting RGIII squarely atop the depth chart. "He's the starter. Period," Shanahan said. Shanahan said Griffin will begin working with the first-teamers when the veterans reconvene for offseason workouts later this month. Fourth-round pick Kirk Cousins and last year's starter Rex Grossman will share snaps to sort out the second- and third-string spots. Shanahan said the Redskins didn't go through all the trouble to get Griffin -- trading three first-round picks and a second-rounder to the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 overall spot -- just to have him play backup. The coach said he made the decision even before the three-day minicamp. "We're going to adjust our system to what he feels comfortable with," Shanahan said, "and we'll watch him grow and we'll do what we feel like he can do and what he does the best. ... One thing the NFL is not used to is a quarterback with his type of speed and his type of throwing ability, so I think we can do some things that people haven't done." With his announcement, Shanahan managed something that's hard to do -- overshadow Griffin himself. Sunday was the first chance for reporters to see Griffin practice in a Redskins uniform, an event that attracted some 60 members of the media to a 90-minute session consisting mostly of undrafted, unsigned players trying to earn a spot at training camp. Griffin wore the familiar No. 10 that he wore at Baylor, with the moniker "Griffin III" on the back. His shoes were gold with burgundy laces. He's known more for his colorful collection of socks, but he went with the standard white. As usual, his sound bites were spot on. "It's been a while since we've been able to do football things," he said. "We've been doing combines and beauty pageants on pro days, so it's time to get to football." Griffin referenced the challenges he might have as a rookie starting quarterback dealing with veterans. With his disarming smile, he said he even has extra pairs of his shoes, in case the vets want them. "I can't come in flamboyantly, and I don't plan to," he said. "Come in and earn the guys' respect. Even if they say you've already got it, you've still got to go out and earn it." The selection of Cousins raised eyebrows around the league -- no team had taken two quarterbacks in the first four rounds since 1989 -- but Griffin said he was given advanced notice from Shanahan that the Redskins were looking at making such a move to give the team solid, young depth at the position. Griffin and Cousins roomed together at the team hotel this weekend and will likely do so again at training camp. "We went over the playbook together. There's no issues there," Griffin said. "We're both out there trying to get better, so we're cool. We ate a burrito together." "Not the same burrito," he added with a laugh. "Just to clear that up." Cousins, a three-year starter at Michigan State, was no doubt hoping to be drafted by a team that would give him a realistic chance at a starting job in the near future. As it is, he realizes he's likely to be stuck behind Griffin for the entire length of a four-year rookie contract. "The cream always rises to the top, so if I'm as good as I hope to be someday, then I'm going to get that opportunity, whether here or somewhere else," he said. "But right now I have a great opportunity to develop and to learn and to grow." According to Shanahan, Griffin was everything a coach could love during the five practices that made up the minicamp. The rookie had studied in advance and arrived with a rudimentary knowledge of the playbook. "You can see what an incredible athlete he is," Shanahan said. "I was impressed because the first day we didn't have one bust with a formation or a play call, and I don't think I ever had that in any minicamp that I've been involved with." Notes: The Redskins signed their two sixth-round draft picks: RB Alfred Morris from Florida Atlantic and T Tom Compton from South Dakota. ... They also signed five college free agents: WR Brian Hernandez from Utah, DL Delvin Johnson from Marshall, WR Samuel Kirkland from Kent State, OL Nick Martinez from Oklahoma State and TE Beau Reliford from Florida State. ... The team waived college free agents DL Vaughn Meatoga and WR Kelvin Bolden. ... Third-round draft pick Josh LeRibeus, mostly a guard in college, was used as a center during the rookie camp.

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Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

Though not a big man, first round pick Troy Brown fills several needs for Wizards

The Wizards' selection of Troy Brown of the University of Oregon with their first round pick has been met with a strong reaction among fans, many of whom argue he doesn't play a position of need, that it was a luxury pick when other areas could have been addressed, most notably in their frontcourt. Big man Robert Williams of Texas A&M, for example, was still on the board. 

The Wizards, though, did address needs by picking Brown. And really, they arguably filled more pressing needs in the short-term than those at power forward and center.

Though the Wizards clearly need some help at big man in the long-term, as both of their starting bigs are on expiring deals, they need help immediately at both shooting guard and small forward. Brown, though he is only 18 years old and offers no guarantees to contribute right away, can play both of those positions.

Shooting guard is where he can help the most. The Wizards have one backup shooting guard in Jodie Meeks and he is due to miss the first 19 games of the 2018-19 season while serving a suspension for performance-enhancing drugs.

Even when Meeks was available this past season, he only helped so much. He shot just 39.9 percent from the field and 34.3 percent from three. Head coach Scott Brooks often chose to rely more on starter Bradley Beal than go to Meeks as his replacement. As a result, Beal logged the fourth-most minutes of any player in the NBA.

More depth at shooting guard will help relieve Beal of some of that workload. That would be great for keeping him fresh throughout the season and help him be at his best when they need him most in the playoffs.

The Wizards also have some urgency at small forward. It is their strongest position in terms of one-two on the depth chart, but they have no logical third option. That was magnified in the playoffs once Otto Porter got injured. They were left with Kelly Oubre, Jr. and had to trot out Tomas Satoransky, who has limited experience at the position.

Brown can play both shooting guard and small forward, giving them much needed depth. If he can play well enough to earn a rotation spot, the emergency situations the Wizards encountered last season could be avoided in 2018-19.

The Wizards still need to find long-term solutions at power forward and center, but they were going to need to find answers at shooting guard and small forward as well. Both Meeks and Oubre have one year left on their deals. Brown helps solidify the long-term outlook at wing.

Now, there's no denying the Wizards already had considerable talent at both shooting guard and small forward with Beal, Porter and Oubre. That begs the question of how much Brown can offer particularly in the first year of his career. But the Wizards would like to play more positionless basketball and to do that requires depth at wing.

The Boston Celtics have helped make positionless basketball famous and their roster shows that the one player-type you can't have enough of is similar to Brown. Boston has Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris. All are around 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8 and offer versatility on both ends of the floor.

The Wizards also now have four players of that size and with positional versatility in Brown, Porter, Oubre and Satoransky. They can roll out different combinations of those guys and possibly have an advantage on defense with the ability to switch seamlessly on screens.

In the age of positionless basketball, players of Brown's ilk have become major assets especially for teams that have many of them. There is such a thing as having too many point guards or centers because they can't coexist on the floor. Versatile wings, in most scenarios, can play together in numbers.

It's different but in a way similar to certain positions in other sports. In baseball, you can have too many catchers but you can't have too many talented pitchers and utility players. In football, you can have too many running backs or tight ends, but you can't have too many defensive linemen. 

Brown gives them options from a roster perspective in the long-term. Oubre has one year left on his contract and if he continues his trejectory with a strong 2018-19 season, he could price himself out of Washington. Brown could move up the depth chart as his replacement one year from now. The Wizards also now have the option to consider trades at the position given their depth.

The problem, one could argue, with drafting Brown over a Williams-type is that it limits their options at center in particular. Drafting Williams would have made it easier to trade Marcin Gortat, for instance, because they would have had depth to deal from. Now, it's more difficult to trade Gortat, whom they have shopped on and off for months, without a plan to replace him. Finding a Gortat substitute in free agency with the limited resource they have would not be easy.

But big man wasn't their only need and in Brown the Wizards may have found a solution at other areas where they clearly needed help.

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

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Wizards' second round pick Issuf Sanon will take time, much like Tomas Satoransky did

The first round of the NBA Draft played out expectedly for what the Wizards had planned for the night. In Troy Brown, they clearly got the guy they wanted all along, seeing as there were many interesting prospects they passed on to choose him.

The second round was a bit more chaotic. Team president Ernie Grunfeld said there were a few players picked just ahead of them at No. 44 that they had their eyes on. They contemplated trading up, but no perfect deals were presented.

So, they decided to think long-term, like really long-term. In choosing Ukrainian point guard Issuf Sanon, the Wizards understand it may be years before he plays in the NBA.

"We hope to have him developed in a few years," Grunfeld said.

Sanon, just 18, plays for Olimpija Ljubljana in Slovenia. He may stay in Europe into his 20s before he comes to the United States.

The Wizards have utilized the draft-and-stash model with other players. Their 2015 second round pick, Aaron White, has been playing in Europe for the past three seasons.

Sometimes those players never convey and contribute for the Wizards. But sometimes they do and Grunfeld pointed to a player already on their roster as a model to consider.

"We drafted Tomas [Satoransky] at an earlier age, he went overseas [and] he played at the highest level and it got him ready for the NBA," Grunfeld said.

The difference between now and then is that the Wizards have a G-League franchise starting this fall, the Capital City Go-Go. Because of that, it seemed more likely going into the draft that the Wizards would use the second round pick on a guy who can play there right away. 

Grunfeld, however, opted for roster flexibility. By keeping Sanon in Europe, the Wizards can have another open roster spot. They could either fill that spot, or leave spots on the end of their roster open as they did for much of last season.

"We want to preserve a roster spot, so just because you draft someone in your second round, if you sign him, he still has a roster spot even if you let him play for the GoGo," Grunfeld said.

Sanon may have a bright future. He is a 6-foot-4 point guard with impressive athleticism who doesn't turn 19 until October. He said he models his game after Russell Westbrook, as a guard who can score the ball. More will be known about him once he plays for their summer league team in July.

The Wizards passed on several interesting prospects to pick Sanon. Still on the board were Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State, Hamidou Diallo of Kentucky and Svi Mykhailiuk of Kansas, three players they brought in for pre-draft workouts. But instead, they went with a long-term investment, hoping they found the next Satoransky.

MORE 2018 NBA DRAFT COVERAGE:

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