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Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Jay Gruden loves Rob Kelley, but would also love drafting a 'special' RB

Redskins coach Jay Gruden has a very high opinion of running back Rob Kelley. He surprised many by making the 53-man roster as an undrafted rookie last year and when starter Matt Jones faltered, Kelley took over as the starter for the last nine games.

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden told reporters earlier this week at the NFL meetings in Phoenix.

“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.”

Actually, Kelley had 65 carries as a senior at Tulane, for 232 yards and one touchdown.

But Gruden’s overall point about Kelley being a little-used back in college. In four years with the Green Wave he never had as many as 100 carries in a single season.

RELATED: UPDATED NFL MOCK DRAFT 6.0

Kelley got 168 carries in the NFL last year, gaining 704 yards. He scored six touchdowns, the same number that he scored in 49 games at Tulane.

Gruden was not done singing Kelley’s praises.

“He had some of the greatest two-yard runs I’ve seen,” the coach continued.

“He gets back to the line of scrimmage, he keeps his feet moving, he protects the ball. He’s going to get better in pass protection. Catching the ball, he did a nice job. He dropped a couple here and there but for the most part he catches the ball. I really think the vision he has he’ll be more patient as a runner this year. I think he’s going to be a good back, I really do.

“A lot of people think we need a great running back. I think Rob is a great running back, I really do.”

While that certainly is a ringing endorsement, Gruden wouldn’t shy away upgrading the position in the draft.

“There are some special players in this draft, if they’re available they’d be hard to pass up, quite frankly,” Gruden said moments after lauding Kelley.

MORE REDSKINS: JAY GRUDEN BULLISH ON 2017 REDSKINS

Two of the running back considered “special” who may be available when the Redskins make their pick in the first round are Dalvin Cook of Florida State and Christian McCaffrey of Stanford. In a separate interview with JP Finlay of CSN, Gruden talked about those two backs.

 “That’s the thing about those two guys, they can move around,” said Gruden. “They’re not just lining up in the I formation running the power play. They can line up outside at different spots, play receiver, catch the ball out of the backfield and they can also run it between the tackles. They’re not just one dimensional players, they’re very exciting.”

So to sum up the coach’s thought process here, Gruden thinks that Kelley is a “great” running back but the team would find it tough to pass on “special” and “exciting” alternatives. It doesn’t sound to me like Kelley should get too comfortable with the idea of being the lead dog at running back. And those Redskins fans who have earmarked that first-round draft pick for defense may end up being very disappointed.   

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

The Redskins cut former Buccaneers second-round pick Noah Spence Tuesday and promoted Carroll Phillips from the practice squad, according to Ian Rapoport

Washington signed Spence in mid-September after the Bucs cut him at the end of training camp.

Hopes were high for Spence in Tampa after he recorded 5.5 sacks in his rookie season, but has only recorded two sacks in the three seasons following 2016. 

Phillips joined the Redskins practice squad in Week 9 after playing in limited snaps with the Jaguars and Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017. 

The Illinois product figures to be the fourth man in the Redskins pass rush rotation behind Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Ryan Anderson. 

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Will the Redskins go best player available at No. 2?

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Will the Redskins go best player available at No. 2?

After Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season, only the Cincinnati Bengals have a higher likelihood of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft than the Washington Redskins. 

Washington is 1-9, and it's hard to identify which, if any, games remaining on their schedule are winnable. In all likelihood, even if the Burgundy and Gold tally another win or two on the season, Washington will be selecting a player in the top five of the 2020 NFL Draft.

So how do the Redskins turn it around? It starts with the draft

In our latest Mock Draft 5.0, the Redskins have the No. 2 overall pick. With the team needing help in a variety of areas, what do they do with the pick?

<<CHECK OUT OUR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0 HERE>>

Here are a few options.

Chase Young, Ohio State, EDGE: In a draft full of offensive talent, Young has been widely considered the best player available. The OSU product would make an immediate impact on a team that has struggled to get to the quarterback in 2019. Our mock draft has Washington taking Young.

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama, WR: Jeudy is arguably the best wide receiver prospect since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. He's lethal with the ball in his hands and is the best route runner in college football. Outside of Terry McLaurin, Washington's wide receiving corps have little promise. Selecting Jeudy would give young QB Dwayne Haskins a go-to target.

Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State, CB: Quinton Dunbar has had a solid season for the Burgundy and Gold, but both Josh Norman and Fabian Moreau have been liabilities in the secondary. With Norman's contract, Washington will likely release him in the offseason. Okudah is the best cornerback in the draft and has elite man-to-man and ball skills.

Andrew Thomas, Georgia, LT: Donald Penn has proven to be a serviceable fill in, but at 36 years old, he has little future in Washington. Trent Williams has vowed to never be a Redskin again, meaning this position becomes a necessity for the Redskins. Thomas is the best offensive lineman in the class and would be a Day 1 starter for Washington.

Trade Back: The No. 2 overall pick could be used as a trade asset for the Burgundy and Gold before or on draft day. With quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and potentially Tua Tagovailoa slated to go in the top five of the draft, any QB-needy team could offer the Redskins a package they cannot refuse for the No. 2 pick. The Redskins have holes across the board, and the best way to address them could be stockpiling draft picks, similarly to how the Raiders did in 2019.

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