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Need to Know: The draft will be the key to improvement for the 2017 Redskins

Need to Know: The draft will be the key to improvement for the 2017 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 20, 38 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 28
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 53
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 65
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 117
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 174

Monday morning three and out

1. The Redskins’ offseason workouts start four weeks from today. At that point it’s really more conditioning and pumping iron than it is about actual football. The date also happens to be 10 days prior to the NFL draft. The coaches will get one last look at what they have before they draft replacements for some of them.

2. A fan complains about the lack of progress in free agecy.

I warned anyone who would listen that the Redskins were not going to get much better in free agency. I said it when Scot McCloughan was the GM and I said it again recently. The free agent pool was very shallow and there were a lot of teams with a lot of cap space. Once the top handful of players at each position were gone the players left were not a significant upgrade.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

3. If the Redskins are going to get better this year they will need to get significant contributions from their top two draft picks and have a sleeper pick or two come through from one of the seven players they will be able to pick in rounds 4-7. It’s a deep draft so upgrading there is doable. Not easy, not a given, especially after the team gave McCloughan, one of the best draft talent evaluators in the business, the boot but possible. 

Out—it appears, is Duke Ihenacho.

Ihenacho’s career with the Redskins never really got any traction. He landed on injured reserve early in both the 2014 and 2015 seasons. The ’15 injury was particularly bad for him because he had won a starting job in training camp, beating out free agent acquisition Jeron Johnson. Last year he was inactive early but he wound up starting 10 games due to injuries. The coaches thought the freelanced too much and he missed team-high 15 tackles even though nine players played more snaps. Between the game tape and the addition of D.J. Swearinger, the move of Su’a Cravens to safety, and the likely return of DeAngelo Hall, there apparently wasn’t any support for keeping him around.

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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Someone commented that it may be difficult to tell a Redskins best player available pick from a need pick.

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It's time to start regarding Quinton Dunbar as a top cornerback in the NFL

It's time to start regarding Quinton Dunbar as a top cornerback in the NFL

Many features of the Redskins' defense has disappointed in 2019. Quinton Dunbar's performance isn't one of them, though.

The 27-year-old's effort on Sunday against the Dolphins included an interception and ended with him receiving the second-best single-game grade of his career, according to Pro Football Focus.

Any idea which contest was the only one to top his afternoon in Miami? Oh, it came just a few weeks ago versus the Giants, where he picked off two Daniel Jones passes and shut down whatever pass-catcher lined up across from him.

Overall, Pro Football Focus rates Dunbar as the NFL's third most effective cornerback this year. He's missed two matchups due to injuries, but when he's active, he's active in the secondary.

"He was tremendous in so many areas," interim coach Bill Callahan said on Monday when looking back at what Dunbar did in Week 6. "He was relentless versus their screens — he came up, he supported, he filled the alley, really impressive — and the play he made on the slant on the pick, really great anticipation, awareness, instinct, intuitiveness."

Those four qualities that Callahan mentioned are what really stand out from the former-receiver-turned-corner (whenever writing about No. 23, it's necessary to point out he didn't even play on defense until 2015, illustrating just how incredible his development at DB has been). His pick of Josh Rosen happened thanks to his ability to read and then react to the route:

Dunny's other two thefts this season were much like that one: he shadowed the opponent step-for-step then ran through his body to force a turnover. He's not nabbing overthrows or getting lucky off deflections; he's stealing balls from the offense.

As mentioned, leg issues have kept Dunbar on the sidelines this campaign as well as the last one for some extended periods. He's also lining up on a unit that's been nothing more than mediocre for a while, which is another factor preventing him from getting the recognition he deserves. 

But with the way he's stepping up as of late, his name should stop popping up more when running down the list of the sport's best at his position.

Redskins fans have long lamented what Josh Norman has done and how the team doesn't have a special CB. It's beginning to look like they do, however — it's just the guy on the other side of the field.

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NFL trade deadline is 2 weeks away and the Redskins should absolutely be selling

NFL trade deadline is 2 weeks away and the Redskins should absolutely be selling

With the NFL trade deadline coming up in two weeks the Redskins front office needs to plant a for sale sign in front of their Ashburn facility. The problem is they might not attract many buyers.

Just about any player not named Terry McLaurin should be available on offense, and while the defense has a few more performing assets, Washington team president Bruce Allen should be taking any and all calls about possible trades. In fact, Allen should be making calls, trying to move players for future draft picks. 

One thing Allen absolutely should not do is give up future assets. At 1-5 and playoff prospects nearly dead, the Redskins are in no position to deal away draft picks. 

The reality at Redskins Park might not be realized yet, but this is a team that needs a major rebuild. The Burgundy and Gold got their first win of the season on Sunday in Miami, and while there were some encouraging signs, don't confuse the victory with accomplishment. Miami was giving up 40 points-per-game and the Redskins scored just 17. Had Ryan Fitzpatrick completed a pass on a two-point conversion attempt in the final seconds of the game, the great Redskins meltdown of 2019 would be in full swing. Instead, the ball fell to the turf, and the Redskins squeaked out a win. 

Squeaking out wins over a hapless Dolphins team means very little when it comes to overall roster organization. And the harsh truth is Washington needs more talent or chances to get more talent in a bad way. 

The problem with trying to sell at the trade deadline, however, is having players that other teams want. Outside of young players like Terry McLaurin and Daron Payne, the Redskins don't have many marketable pieces. Could Adrian Peterson maybe help a team making a playoff push? Sure, but what would that squad give up for Peterson, considering he was unsigned for months of the 2018 offseason. What about Ryan Kerrigan? Good teams can never have enough pass rushers, but it seems unlikely Washington would even consider moving him.

There is one big piece that Washington can dangle in trade conversations: Trent Williams. 

The seven-time Pro Bowler hasn't shown up in 2019 and it's painfully obvious to all parties that he's not coming back. 106.7 the Fan's Craig Hoffman reported that the Redskins won't move Williams this year, which seems crazy but believable given the absurdity of Williams' lengthy holdout and the Redskins insistence on thinking it will end.  

The time to trade Williams was months ago, and it's just grandstanding to continue bashing the team for something that is so obvious. Still, trade Williams now. Get draft pick compensation or player compensation, whatever works, but get it done.

There are internet rumors that Tampa might be looking to move young tight end O.J. Howard and Washington could be interested. If it's a straight player swap, that is worth considering. Howard has up to two years remaining on his rookie deal, and the Redskins options at tight end are in bad shape. Jordan Reed is on the injured reserve list and there are real questions about him never playing again. Vernon Davis is 35 and in the last year of his contract. Howard would be a talent upgrade and he's an Alabama alum. The Redskins love 'Bama guys. 

The Williams/Howard rumor could be pure nonsense too. Allen has been very clear he has no plans to trade Williams, repeatedly, and so far has stuck to his word. Allen even said last week that there has been "no dialogue" with any other team. 

Last season the Redskins bought at the trade deadline, bringing in Ha Ha Clinton-Dix for what the organization thought would be a late-season playoff run. Washington sent Green Bay a fourth-round pick for Clinton-Dix, and the price ended up being too high. Clinton-Dix was barely, if at all, an upgrade over Montae Nicholson and for most of his time in Washington he seemed focused on his pending free agency. 

What that trade did prove was Allen is willing to wheel and deal at the trade deadline. He should do the same this year but in the opposite direction.

Sell. Don't buy. 

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