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Need to Know: Will the Redskins shift to drafting for need?

Need to Know: Will the Redskins shift to drafting for need?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 19, 39 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 29
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 54
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 66
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 118
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 175

Fan question: Will draft philosophy change with McCloughan gone?

When it comes to the draft I don’t think that any GM is 100 percent best player or 100 percent need. It’s more of a sliding scale with McCloughan favoring the BPA end of it. It’s hard to say where Allen and Jay Gruden, who will have a strong voice in the draft room, will fall on the scale.

Although Allen was a general manager in Oakland and Tampa Bay before coming to the Redskins, he has had final say in just one draft. That was in 2014 the year after Mike Shanahan, who had personnel control, left and a year before McCloughan arrived.

Let’s take a look at his top draft picks to see if we can get any clues. The Redskins did not have a first-round pick in 2014, making the last installment on the Robert Griffin III trade. They held the 34th pick but Allen cut a deal with Dallas (perhaps something to make note of). The Redskins traded back to pick No. 47 and picked up an additional third rounder, No. 78 overall, in the deal.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 5.0

OLB Trent Murphy, Rd. 2, 47th overall—The Redskins had given the franchise tag to Brian Orakpo and his presence beyond the 2014 season was uncertain. They would need an edge rusher to pair with Ryan Kerrigan. This is like McCloughan taking Josh Doctson with the top pick last year. Although it didn’t fill an immediate need, there was a good chance that DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon would leave in free agency so the need was almost certain to be there.

OT Morgan Moses, Rd. 3, 66th overall—They were set at one tackle with Trent Williams but the right side was shaky with Tyler Polumbus penciled in as the starter. Polumbus would lose that job to Tom Compton. Moses played sparingly as a rookie but he was installed as the starter after a week of training camp in 2015 when it turned out that Brandon Scherff was more suited to playing guard.

OL Spencer Long, Rd. 3, 78th overall—They had Shawn Lauvao in the second year of his free agent contract at left guard and the aging (31) Chris Chester on the right side. They certainly needed some young depth if not an eventual starter. Long played sparingly as a rookie but he came in when Lauvao was hurt early in the 2015 season and last year he shifted to center and played most of the season after Kory Lichtensteiger was put on injured reserve. It appears that he is the long-term plan at center.

CB Bashaud Breeland, Rd 4, 102nd overall—The Redskins had DeAngelo Hall at one corner and second-year player David Amerson at the other. Hall was 31 and he would need to be replaced at some point. As it turned out, Hall suffered a ruptured Achilles in Week 3 and Breeland has been starting ever since.

What makes it hard to compare here is that the Redskins were coming off of a 3-13 season had needs all over the field. Safety probably was the biggest immediate need but Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the only impact safety to come out of that draft, was gone to the Packers in the first round before the Redskins ever had a chance.

Perhaps a more defining tell for which end of the scale this Redskins draft will favor came from defensive coordinator Greg Manusky. Last week on ESPN 980 he said, “Right now, we might be in a situation where we’re looking for a nose [tackle] in the draft.”

If they draft a nose tackle in the first three or four rounds it’s likely a need pick. Fans should just hope it’s not too much of a reach. Nothing is worse for building your team that drafting for need and then still having the need a year later because you reached for the wrong guy.

That really doesn’t answer the question but there really isn’t enough information to answer it right now. My guess is that they will lean towards need but not because of Allen. As noted, Gruden will have a lot to say about who gets taken and coaches are more interested in filling out the depth chart than following the draft board. It’s hard to lean towards advocating the selections of guys who might not help for a few years when you could be fired in the meantime.

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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Steven Sims is an under-the-radar name in the NFL. Here's why that'll change in 2020

Steven Sims is an under-the-radar name in the NFL. Here's why that'll change in 2020

Some people — like most Redskins fans, the most desperate fantasy football players and, well, his family — are well aware of who Steven Sims is. 

Once this season comes and goes, however, far more folks will know of, and appreciate, Washington's receiver. That's because he's going to build off a quietly impressive rookie campaign and have a really nice 2020 for the Burgundy and Gold.

And as that's happening — like, for example, when he has six receptions for 95 yards and a touchdown in, say, Week 3 against the Browns, and you're at your buddy's house and he says something like, "Damn, who is this Sims dude?" with a surprised look on his face while you, on the other hand, aren't surprised at all because you read this story, so you just sit there smugly and eat his mediocre dip  — just remember who tipped you off.

OK, now that that's been established, let's explain why this much optimism exists about the 23-year-old's future. 

In 2019, it took Sims a while to crack the lineup. His first head coach, Jay Gruden, had a job to worry about, so even though Gruden made the call for Sims to make the roster coming out of the preseason, giving him real playing time was an entirely different conversation. In Gruden's five games in charge, Sims saw just 52 offensive snaps, and 31 of those came in Week 5 against New England (where he scored his first TD and hinted at his unique explosiveness).

After Gruden was fired, Bill Callahan assumed command and actually showed even less interest in trusting the Kansas product. In the team's next five contests, Sims trotted out with the offense for just 24 plays. Of course, it's not like the Redskins needed another threat during that stretch because they were just rolling their opponents (they scored 17, 0, 9, 9 and 17 points in this span, so the unit was obviously clicking).

Finally, thankfully, fortunately, from Week 12 on, Sims was given a chance to contribute outside of returning kicks and he largely delivered. In the Redskins' last six matchups, Sims caught 23 balls (he had 11 in Weeks 1-11) for 259 yards (compared to the 51 yards he had totaled in the two and a half months before) and four touchdowns.

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If you extrapolate those numbers out to a full schedule, that adds up to a 61-grab, 690-yard effort with a whole bunch of scores. Not bad for an undrafted guy from a basketball school, huh?

It goes beyond the fact that Sims simply produced, too. It was how he produced. Honestly, describing some of the patterns he ran as "lightning quick" would be an insult to the wideout, not the weather phenomenon:

Per Pro Football Focus, Sims was targeted on almost 25-percent of his routes last year, which was the seventh-best output at his position. For those who don't necessarily pay attention to PFF's metrics, that essentially says that Sims was getting open on a regular basis, and Dwayne Haskins rewarded him for that work by going in his direction a ton.

So, there is Sims' first go-round in the NFL summed up in a handful of paragraphs. His overall stats — 34 catches, 310 yards and four scores — don't suggest much, but if you evaluate only when he was truly relied upon, you'll see that's when he peaked and that's when he showed his rare quickness, shiftiness and craftiness.

Those things on their own are reason to expect more out of Sims in 2020. What's even more encouraging is that his skill set is now in the hands of new offensive coordinator Scott Turner.

Turner has already stated that he'll use the best weapons he has on offense regardless of age and experience, so Sims should have plenty of opportunities to thrive beginning in Week 1. That'll be a huge difference from 2019, when he had to bide his time on the sidelines until late November.

Turner's also coming from an offense in Carolina that made a point to quickly get the ball to pass-catchers like Christian McCaffrey, DJ Moore and Curtis Samuel and then let them do damage in space. That should also benefit Sims.

To be fair, there are still facets of Sims' game that need to be improved on. He made some very difficult catches as a first-year pro, but as a whole, he needs to be more consistent with his hands. He's always going to be one of the smaller players on the field, meanwhile, so he'll have to continue to refine the ways in which he creatively finds space since he'll never really do so with his physicality.  

As long as Sims sharpens those aspects and adapts well to Turner's scheme, though, he's going to keep shining. He just is.

His rookie rise coincided with the part of the Redskins' season where nearly everyone had tuned out, so most people aren't fully aware of what he can do yet. But that will change, and soon. 

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Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

Good, bad and ugly make up Redskins head coach debuts over the years

As the old saying goes, you only get one chance to make a first impression. That is true in all walks of life, including the professional sports world. And while the NFL may be a “what have you done for me lately” business, it is imperative to kick off a coaching tenure on a positive note,  rather than playing from behind the entire way.

Ron Rivera is set to take over as the 30th head coach in franchise history when his squad presumably lines up against the Eagles on September 13th in Landover. With team workouts currently not an option, it is certainly too early to gauge how those two teams will match up in Week 1 - but if recent history is any indication, that debut could go either way.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR FULL REDSKINS COACHING DEBUTS GALLERY>>>

It could end up like Mike Shanahan’s primetime victory in his 2010 debut against the rival Cowboys, or like the return of Joe Gibbs back in 2004 that saw Washington outlast Tampa Bay, and even like Steve Spurrier’s high-powered win over the Cardinals in 2002 - all first impressions that the burgundy and gold promptly celebrated with a “Victory Monday” and left the fanbase hopeful for a return to glory.

But the glass could end up looking half empty as well, as it has so many times before. Jay Gruden and Jim Zorn certainly didn’t inspire confidence with their initial performances in the district. Neither did Marty Schottenheimer, who lost the opener of his only season with the Redskins. You can go all the way back to Norv Turner, who had the difficult task of following the first run of legendary Coach Gibbs with the Redskins, and he did so by falling to the Seahawks in 1994.

<<<CLICK HERE FOR FULL REDSKINS COACHING DEBUTS GALLERY>>>

What is also important to note is that the debut isn't the all-telling game for head coaches. Though it sets the tone, some have rebounded from poor starts, while others have struggled after solid beginnings. Spurrier's first win was followed by two disappointing years, while Joe Gibbs' 0-5 start in 1981 was soon forgotten when he held up the Lombardi Trophy three times.

In 2011, Rivera lost in his head coaching debut with the Panthers, but a lot has changed since then. He eventually figured things out in Carolina, amassing 76 wins over 9 successful seasons, including an appearance in Super Bowl 50. Rivera created a reputation that preceded his arrival in Ashburn, and since then it has been clear that it is a new era for the Redskins.

As for how that era begins? History tells us to buckle up.

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