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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

[Related: Full Redskins Seven-Round Mock Draft]

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

More Redskins: When the talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags before

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Arizona State punter Michael Turk dominates the bench press at NFL Combine

Arizona State punter Michael Turk dominates the bench press at NFL Combine

As far as reputations go in the NFL, punters are not generally known as the tough, strong guys on the team.

Arizona State punter Michael Turk is working to change that.

At the NFL Combine on Thursday, Turk stepped up to the bench press with 225 pounds on the bar waiting for him. What did he do? Just casually ripped off 25 reps.

Yes, you are seeing that correctly. A punter just put up 25 reps on the bench press. That number is impressive as is, for anyone of any position. However, let's put it in context to show just how strong Turk is.

Jadaveon Clowney, Chandler Jones and Rob Gronkowski are all known as some of the strongest humans to ever hit the football field. Their bench reps? 21, 22 and 23, respectively. Michael Turk, the punter, out-did them

Turk will need his legs to impress teams and scouts as he looks to head to the NFL, but he clearly has plenty of power in the upper body as well. If whatever team he lands on wants to run a fake punt, defenders won't have an easy time taking him down.

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Report: Trent Williams wants a new deal or a trade from Redskins

Report: Trent Williams wants a new deal or a trade from Redskins

INDIANAPOLIS -- While recent meetings between Redskins head coach Ron Rivera and disgruntled left tackle Trent Williams helped repair the relationship between star player and team, the situation isn't resolved.

In fact, Williams still wants to be traded if he can't get a new contract, according to a new report from NFL Network.

Williams did not play a single snap for Washington in 2019. Not one. That came as the result of a cancer scare that he didn't believe was adequately handled by the Redskins medical staff. He also lost trust in former team president Bruce Allen. Importantly too, Williams wanted a new contract with lots of guaranteed money. 

Rivera has overhauled the Redskins medical staff and Allen is obviously gone from the team, but the contract hurdles remain. 

For the Redskins a new deal for Williams might not make a lot of sense. He will turn 32 in July and hasn't played a full 16-game season since 2013. He's also a great player, so perhaps an extension could make sense. 

The best read on the situation is Williams likely won't play on his current contract, which has one-year remaining and a salary-cap charge of $14.5 million. None of that money is guaranteed. 

Right now, it seems like both sides are playing nice. The Redskins don't want to come out and say they're not going to pay Trent. And Trent's side doesn't want to come out and demand a trade. The meetings with Rivera and Williams mattered in that a resolution that pleases both sides is possible. 

What seems impossible, or at least unlikely at this point, is that Williams wears the Burgundy and Gold this fall unless a new contract emerges.

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