Redskins

Quick Links

Need to Know: The Redskins' draft could hinge on their middle round picks

Need to Know: The Redskins' draft could hinge on their middle round picks

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 2, 25 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 15
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 40
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 52
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 104
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 152

Looking for impact in the middle rounds

As of now, the Redskins have two picks in the fourth round and one in the fifth. If they don’t make any trades, those picks will represent 30 percent of the 2017 draft class (they have a total of 10 picks). Hitting on those picks could make or break this draft.

Nothing about the draft is easy, but the chances of getting reasonably productive players in the first three rounds are pretty good. It’s not guaranteed by any stretch but picks in the top 100 should be money.

On the other end of the draft, it’s not that sixth- and seventh-round picks are worthless but you must be very fortunate to get more than a backup or special teams player out of players picked there. Of the 237 players picked in the sixth and seventh rounds in the last three drafts, only 52 have started three games or more and just 20 have started at least 10 games.  Even the best talent evaluators are hard pressed to come up with a highly productive player after the first 175 have come off the board.

That means that the real work in the draft gets done in the middle rounds, the fourth and fifth rounds

Who are the best players the Redskins have taken in those middle rounds (4-5) recently? Looking at their performances with the Redskins only, here are the top five taken since the 2000 draft (you can see all of them here):

*Currently on the Redskins roster

QB Kirk Cousins* (Round 4-2012)—A fourth-round pick who becomes a quality starting quarterback for two years is going to top the list of mid-round picks every time.

ILB Perry Riley (4-2010)—Not a high impact player but Riley did a good job from when he took over as the starter midway through the 2011 season until he was released after the 2015 season.

DL Anthony Montgomery (5-2006)—For a while it looked like he was going to be a real draft steal but he didn’t keep it going. Kedric Golston, drafted in the sixth round the same season, lasted seven seasons longer.

CB Bashaud Breeland* (4-2013)—This is another position of value so he’s on the list after intercepting seven passes in three seasons.

Jamison Crowder* (4-2002)—Crowder and Cousins have contributed to each other’s success. In two seasons Crowder has 126 receptions and nine touchdowns

Among other mid-round players, the Redskins got some production from are RB Roy Helu (4-2011), TE Robert Royal (5-2002), RB Chris Thompson* (5-2013), and TE Niles Paul* (5-2011).

The Redskins currently have nine players who they drafted in the fourth and fifth rounds on their roster. In addition to those listed above they have G Arie Kouandjio (4-2015), WR Ryan Grant (5-2014), DL Matt Ioannidis (5-2016), and ILB Martrell Spaight (5-2015).

The Redskins would be very happy if they can end up with a fourth- or fifth-round player who is as immediately productive as Crowder was as a rookie (at any position), a guy like Breeland, who can hold down a job while still learning, someone like Paul, who can contribute right away on special teams, and perhaps a Spaight, who can do a spot start here and there.

That’s the best-case scenario. The reality is that one or two of their mid-round picks won’t contribute much of anything but the team hopes to acquire some impact early on Saturday afternoon.

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.

Tandler on Twitter

In case you missed it

Quick Links

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

scherffvideo102918.jpg
USA Today Sports

10 Training Camp Questions: How dangerous is the Brandon Scherff contract situation?

The Redskins report to training camp on July 24th, and for the next 10 days, JP Finlay will count down the 10 biggest questions the Redskins face going into the 2019 season.

10) Will the Redskins develop depth on the D-line?

9) Can the Redskins count on Montae Nicholson?

8) Want better offense? Get more out of the tight ends 

7) Will Jimmy Moreland actually win the slot CB job from Fabian Moreau?

6) After losing Reuben Foster, how's the Redskins LB situation?

5) Will potential match production for Redskins WRs?

When a team picks in the Top 10 of the NFL Draft, folks around the NFL expect that player to become a Pro Bowler. For Washington, that exact scenario unfolded with right guard Brandon Scherff. 

Mostly. 

Selected fifth overall in 2015, the Redskins took Scherff to play right tackle and anchor the offensive line opposite Trent Williams. That idea quickly faded, helped by the emergence of Morgan Moses, and Scherff moved inside to play guard. For four years, it's worked out great, with Pro Bowl selections in 2016 and 2017. 

Scherff is a mauler in the best sense of the word. He has great footwork and Redskins head coach Jay Gruden has called the former Iowa Hawkeye the best pulling guard in the NFL. Scherff is strong and nasty, words that won't win beauty pageants but absolutely win in the trenches of the NFL. 

Considering all of that, a contract extension for Scherff should be easy. Right?

Wrong. 

Currently in the final year of his rookie deal, multiple reports stretching over the last six weeks indicate that the organization is way off in their extension offers to Scherff. He might not command the biggest contract in the league, but he will get paid like a top three guard. In 2019, that means a lot of money.

Cowboys guard Zach Martin makes $14 million a year. Jaguars guard Andrew Norwell makes $13.3 million a year. Scherff might not get to Martin's salary, but he will probably get to Norwell, whether Washington pays it or not.

That means the Redskins need to pony up the cash now because as each day passes, the team is approaching an ugly set of options. Scherff and his representatives might continue to negotiate during the season, but it doesn't make a lot of sense. Once free agency becomes in view, players tend to wait for it. Just ask Kirk Cousins. 

In fact, the situation between Scherff and the Redskins has some resemblance to the Cousins saga from a few years ago. 

In that case, Washington low-balled their homegrown quarterback in their first set of negotiations. From there, things went sideways, and the team used consecutive franchise tags on Cousins before he finally left via free agency. 

If the Redskins can't get a deal done with Scherff, the team could use a franchise tag in 2020. But that's a dangerous game of roulette. 

The time to get a deal done with Scherff is now, if not last month. Redskins team president has said in the past that deadlines drive deals, but with Scherff, there is no exact deadline. He can decide to stop working on a contract extension at any moment, particularly once the pads come on at training camp. 

The Trent Williams holdout might be complicating things a bit, if Williams only wants more cash and the issue isn't about much more than that. The truth is a Scherff extension would actually free up cap space in the short term, as his signing bonus would be spread out over the life of the contract, and some of that salary cap relief could go to Williams right away. 

Williams' status isn't the hold up between Scherff and the Redskins. Whatever is the actual holdup best be resolved soon. or the Redskins are beginning down an all too familiar franchise path.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

Quick Links

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

Jay Gruden deserves praise for keeping Redskins 'out of the ditches'

On paper, Jay Gruden's tenor with the Redskins is nothing to write home about. Through five seasons he holds a 35-44-1 record, good enough for a .444 winning percentage. Looking at that, some may draw the conclusion that Gruden hasn't been what the Redskins need at the helm.

But according to Pro Football Talk's Darin Gantt, that's not exactly the case. Taking into account the variables Gruden has dealt with throughout the five years, Gantt actually sees him as a "really good" coach.

"I have always come down of the side, maybe, of guys who are doing more with less," Gantt said recently on a Redskins Talk Podcast. "I think Jay has done a pretty good job keeping things in the middle."

Doing more with less and working in the middle essentially defines Jay Gruden's career with the Redskins. Besides his opening year in 2014 in which Washington went 4-12, Gruden's teams have consistently finished right around the middle of the pack.

In the last four seasons, the Redskins have not won more than nine games, but they also haven't lost more than nine. Hovering right around .500, they've always been around league average.

Part of the reason Gantt is willing to give Gruden praise for records that some coaches would get scolded for revolves around what he's had to work with. Gruden's time as head coach has been filled with injuries and other dilemmas both on and off the field. 

In those circumstances, it wouldn't be surprising to see a team completely flounder and spiral out of control. But, that hasn't really been the case with Gruden. Dealing with what he has, the head coach has kept the team competitive for the most part. The team hasn't been a perennial playoff contender, but it also hasn't been at the bottom of the league.

For that ability to keep the Redskins out of the basement despite all the problems he's encountered, Gruden is someone Gantt respects.

"They're able to keep it out of the ditches," Gantt said about Gruden and former NFL head coach John Fox, who Gantt followed during his time in Carolina.

"I think again in the NFL there's something to be said for that," Gantt added. "When things get sideways a Jim Zorn can lose control in a hurry. I feel like Jay just got sort of a steady hand on the wheel."

Until Gruden takes Washington back to the postseason, the critiques will continue to come, as they would for almost all head coaches in similar situations. But when looking at Gruden's time in Washington with a wide view of everything that has happened, Gantt believes the head coach deserves at least a little praise for keeping things afloat.

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: