Washington Redskins: Kirk Cousins

The first installment of this week's Washington Redskins mailbag features questions on, yes, Robert Griffin III (a reason for hope), Kirk Cousins and, completing the quarterback trifecta, Colt McCoy. Oh, and a little on Chris Neild. Enjoy.
John Keim: No. The reasons are many, but suffice to say neither one (Richard Crawford or Chase Minnifield) has a safety's build -- both are smaller players -- nor have they ever played the position. So it would take a while for them to get used to the position. It's not a simple transition. Bashaud Breeland is one who could eventually play here; he's a little bigger and more physical. But corner is more valuable and if he shows he can play that position then that's where he must stay. But you're right, they do need much better depth at safety. They do like the versatility of their top corners when it comes to playing safety in certain coverages. But that's different than being able to do it full-time. They need to find and develop some young safeties. Corner is considered the more premium position, so you absolutely need solid depth at that spot.

John Keim: He's looked fine. Can't say he stood out or anything, but he also wasn't the focal point that he was a year ago at this time when he was working with the starters. But nothing has changed regarding him since the end of the season. His value remains the same -- Cleveland offered Washington a fourth-round pick for him during the draft. I don't see that position improving unless some team gets really desperate because of a training camp injury. But I don't think Cousins is at a point where you make some panic move to bring him in right before the season, expecting him to go in and light it up. He's still a young guy with a lot to prove. He's not instant success in that sort of scenario. Besides, there's no way I'd trade him at this point. Why? I want good insurance behind Griffin because of the durability concerns.

John Keim: Mike Barwis, the trainer on this show, certainly agrees with you. I know the coaches here like him a lot, too. Sometimes you find a way to keep guys like him just because of what he adds in the locker room, how he works, etc. The problem is Neild is a backup nose tackle who provides no help in the nickel package. If the Redskins only keep six defensive linemen, then it'll be tough for Neild to make it (though injuries to others would change things). He would not be the first character guy to have been cut because, in the end, it's always a numbers game. But my guess is if they can find a way to keep him, they will. When you have bust-your-butt guys at the end of the roster, then it always helps. But it will depend on what happens at other positions.

John Keim: The unknown surrounding RG III. I say unknown because we've never seen him after a full, productive offseason -- and that's what he's had this year. Every coach I've ever covered has talked about how much improvement quarterbacks make from Year 1 to Year 2 because of the offseason. We don't know how he'll fare now that he finally has had one healthy offseason. It has to have helped, as might the improved relations with his coaches and the fact his knee is one year further from surgery. Also, in the NFL, there are always teams that finished with horrible records who make the postseason. The Redskins have a ways to go to reach that point, but some team will go from few wins to the playoffs this year.

John Keim: It's a done deal. The NFL does not announce these suspensions until the appeals process is over. Anytime you hear about a possible suspension, like Cleveland's Josh Gordon, it's because it was somehow leaked. But once it's announced? It's over. Now we can finally move on from this chapter about a guy who was discussed for two years -- yet never played a game.

John Keim: They only have three quarterbacks on the roster so if they keep all three then, yes, he'll make it. With Griffin's durability always an issue it's probably wise to have three quarterbacks just in case. McCoy is not a practice squad candidate.

John Keim: Actually, the NFC East does not have a tough schedule. Nobody in the division has a schedule rated in the top 16 (based on opponents' 2013 winning percentage). It's tough to gauge a schedule's strength based on what a team did a year ago, but it's the way it's done. And it's very hard to go through and guess how a team will do based on offseason pickups -- some will improve, others will not. So I'll just go based off winning percentage for now. According to this metric, the Redskins have the NFL's 17th hardest schedule as their opponents had a .490 winning percentage in 2013. That's also the hardest one in the NFC East. The others: No. 18 Dallas (.488), No. 20 Philadelphia (.479) and No. 26 New York (.465). Remember, those teams' schedules look easier because of Washington's 3-13 mark.  

The Redskins could end up with at least three starters and perhaps four from the 2012 class. That would be considered a good haul by any measure (if they play well especially). Of course, this draft always will be measured by Robert Griffin III’s performance because of what they surrendered and the position he plays. Still, there’s a chance for the overall group to be productive.

[+] EnlargeRobert Griffin III
John McDonnell/The Washington Post/Getty ImagesRobert Griffin III, the cornerstone of the 2012 draft class, is looking to bounce back after a rough second season.
QB Robert Griffin III (first round): He’ll enter his third season as the Redskins’ starter, coming off a tough season for a variety of reasons. He has had a productive offseason, and though he had some tough days throwing the ball in practice, he’s in a better place than he was a year ago -- mentally and physically. It’s hard to imagine him repeating his 2013 season -- no knee issues; more weapons will help. Griffin wants to re-establish the career path he was on pre-knee injury. He needs to improve as a pocket passer -- not just in terms of throwing from there but in knowing when to flee, etc. -- but he also needs more help from his protection and receivers.

OL Josh LeRibeus (third round): He’s been one of the most disappointing picks in recent years because of how he handled last offseason, which led to him being inactive every game last season. But LeRibeus has had a strong offseason. This is most definitely when he should be ready to challenge for a starting job. The coaches have been pleased with him, but is he ready to unseat Chris Chester at right guard? If he’s not, then LeRibeus was way overdrafted (as some contended at the time). If you can’t unseat a struggling veteran who would save a team $2.7 million in cap space by your third year then what are you doing? Also, they drafted guard Spencer Long and signed free-agent guard Shawn Lauvao so they're clearly not sold on LeRibeus long term.

QB Kirk Cousins (fourth round): Trading him was never a legitimate option because the Redskins never received a tempting offer. Even the Browns, who had multiple people there who liked him, offered only a fourth-round pick (Kyle Shanahan can fight for him; he had zero authority over what the Browns could offer). Cousins still offers the Redskins good insurance if Griffin doesn’t hold up or if he struggles. Cousins still has to cut down on his turnovers, but there is confidence in what he can do. I do not expect him to pout about his situation. It’s not what Cousins is about. His only point all along is that he knows Griffin is the guy in Washington, and he wants a chance at some point to be that guy somewhere else.

LB Keenan Robinson (fourth round): Has a chance to start next to Perry Riley on the inside. Robinson looked good this spring, but these sort of workouts were made for him: He could showcase his ability to run and cover sideline to sideline and down the middle. But the key here always will be his ability to play the run. Still no idea how he’ll do in that role after two straight seasons that ended with torn pectoral muscles. Washington envisioned him one day taking over for London Fletcher, but the coaches figured he’d have a lot more experience behind him when doing so. Robinson has 11 career tackles. It’s fine to be excited about his potential, but no one really knows yet how he’ll handle this job. Washington has veteran depth with Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan.

OG Adam Gettis (fifth round): Has a fight on his hands. LeRibeus’ strong spring plus the drafting of Long means the Redskins might not have a spot for Gettis. Remember, too, that veteran Mike McGlynn can play guard and center. Gettis improved as a run blocker in space last summer and must continue to do so. He still has a tendency to get driven back, though still anchoring, in pass protection. The numbers might not add up for him.

[+] EnlargeAlfred Morris
Brad Mills/USA TODAY SportsAlfred Morris has rushed for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns in his two seasons.
RB Alfred Morris (sixth round): He’s their guy and a terrific fit in this run game. Jay Gruden was smart not to change much from a ground game that works, especially with Morris in the game. He can improve as a pass-catcher (both with his hands and his routes) and he can get extra yards downfield. But he has rushed for 2,888 yards combined in his first two seasons, and there’s no reason to believe he’ll be anything but productive again. I do wonder how many carries he’ll get; the knock on Gruden in Cincinnati was that he’d consistently get away from the run. With the weapons Washington has in the pass game, will that happen here?

OT Tom Compton (sixth round): Another young player in a tough spot. The Redskins drafted Morgan Moses for a reason, to ultimately start at right tackle. I’m really curious to see what happens with Compton because they do like him -- Gruden praised him without prompting at the end of minicamp. Also, if he shows improvement this summer -- he had a good camp in 2013 because he added strength, allowing him to handle counter moves better. As a rookie he struggled there because when he’d jab a defender it wouldn’t budge him. So when they’d counter or duck inside, Compton would get beat. He improved there last summer and needs to keep doing so. But, again, the numbers. Would they really keep four tackles?

CB Richard Crawford (seventh round): Still not fully recovered from his torn ACL suffered last summer. Crawford worked off to the side throughout spring workouts and feels good about his progress. He improved in the slot last summer and would have been the starting punt returner. But Washington has Andre Roberts to handle the return duties if necessary. If the Redskins keep five corners Crawford would need a lot of help to make the roster. If they keep six then he’ll have to fight Chase Minnifield. Crawford is a smart player and would make a good coach someday. But he’ll have to show a lot this summer.

S Jordan Bernstine (seventh round): He suffered a brutal knee injury in his rookie year and was only recently cleared, at least according to what he said on Twitter. He remains unsigned.
  1. Ryan Kerrigan did not practice Wednesday because he was a “little sore” according to coach Jay Gruden. He said they’ve liked what Kerrigan has done in the weight room and on the field and just wanted to give him a day off. Meanwhile, Brian Orakpo returned to practice after missing Tuesday because of an illness.
  2. OK, Brian Baker is not only good to watch and effective with his players, but he also provides terrific insight into what he’s doing. It’s the same reason I liked Kirk Olivadotti when he was here the first time. If they’re able to communicate this well with the media, then chances are they do so with their players -- and it enables them to learn. I’ll have more from Baker over the next few weeks.
  3. One little nugget from Baker: He called second-year linebacker Brandon Jenkins one of the more improved players this spring. Baker has gotten on Jenkins quite a bit and there’s little doubt that he needed to improve in a few ways. He’s still not a lock to be on the roster, but if he continues to improve then he’s in a good spot.
  4. Jenkins beat rookie Morgan Moses to the inside on one rush. Moses could not recover to stop Jenkins’ counter. It is an issue right now for Moses and something he’ll have to work on in order to become a starter. Also saw Jenkins get around right tackle Maurice Hurt later in the practice during a hurry-up drill.
  5. Play of the day: Corner DeAngelo Hall made a terrific diving interception on a Robert Griffin III pass intended for receiver DeSean Jackson, cutting to the outside. Hall read it perfectly and made the diving pick as he headed out of bounds. He bounced up, his helmet popped off and he threw the ball in the air as linebacker Adam Hayward led the charge over to him. Yes, it was just a play in a spring practice but certain plays get them fired up no matter when they occur.
  6. At 6-foot-5, Trent Murphy is tall for a pass rusher, but he does a good job of staying low -- and trying to get lower. It hasn’t always resulted in pressure, like Wednesday when he went against Trent Williams. The left tackle stopped him initially, but Murphy tried to get lower and did so. Williams still won, but Murphy seems comfortable staying low. It’s one reason he can use the spin move.
  7. Phillip Thomas picked off a Kirk Cousins’ pass that skipped off Andre Roberts’ hands.
  8. This is when you know it’s time to get to training camp, when you write this line: Quarterback Colt McCoy hit receiver Cody Hoffman on a deep ball down the right side. Hoffman beat corner Blake Sailors on the play.
  9. Saw safety Ryan Clark up at the line of scrimmage in coverage; did a nice job staying with Roberts on a short out route.
  10. Receiver Pierre Garcon beat corner David Amerson to the inside; Amerson was on his hip, but did not react quick enough and the pass was completed, prompting secondary coach Raheem Morris to yell to him, “Come on! That’s a dream throw!” Amerson did a nice job later in the practice covering a double move by DeSean Jackson. Griffin looked their way, but because Amerson played it properly he had to eat the ball and would have been sacked by linebacker Brian Orakpo. Too much pressure allowed Wednesday.
  11. Rookie corner Bashaud Breeland showed good patience on a couple routes. First, in off coverage against Aldrick Robinson he did not fall for a fake and was in good position (Robinson then fell as he cut inside). Later, rookie receiver Ryan Grant stepped back at the line as if he were about to get a screen pass. Breeland did not bite. Grant then took off downfield, but Breeland’s patience meant he had him covered and the ball was thrown away.
  12. I’m setting the over-under on number of scuffles involving Chase Minnifield this summer at three. He did not get in one Wednesday, but the way he plays aggravates the offense. He’s feisty and aggressive with his hands. Wednesday, tight end Logan Paulsen blocked him on a run to the other side and Minnifield was trying to somehow shed a man who outweighs him by about 75 pounds. At one point Minnifield grabbed Paulsen’s facemask.
  13. More on Clark’s value: He quickly recognized a zone read look and called it out before the play happened. The defense stopped the play. As I’ve said before, there’s just a big difference with him back deep and anyone else when it comes to communicating. Thomas was praised after one play for his pre-snap communication.
  14. The defense was just stronger overall against the offense Wednesday. Several tipped passes resulted in a couple interceptions. Also, linebacker Perry Riley made a nice tip on a Griffin pass in zone coverage. Griffin was trying to hit Paulsen and Riley barely got a piece of it, but it was enough. Sometimes the difference between a tipped pass and a perfect one is just a few inches -- and this was an example.
  15. Spencer Long worked at right guard, it’s where he’s most comfortable. In the past, the offensive linemen were worked at one spot only, allowing them to get comfortable before expanding their roles. But that will change a bit this season. The Redskins have enough competition among the young linemen that they all have to show they can help at multiple spots.
  16. Rookie tight end Ted Bolser struggled to block outside linebacker Gabe Miller on a couple plays, allowing him to shoot inside on one play and then pinch the running back inside on another. Miller had a good day, but obviously is a longshot to make the roster. Bolser will need to block better.
  17. Don’t always see strong leg drive from Clifton Geathers; he gets upright and loses his strength. But he did drive guard Adam Gettis back on one rush.

Redskins minicamp observations

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
4:15
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Thoughts and observations after watching the Washington Redskins practice Tuesday:

1. David Amerson looks bigger and, indeed, he said he's added about six or seven pounds of muscle. Amerson does appear to have more toned arms. That will help when he plays press coverage and in run support. I'll have more on Amerson later this summer, but know this: He's had a good spring. Saw him stick with Pierre Garcon in a couple one-on-one occasions. Also, more importantly, saw him use his eyes better and more consistently. It was an issue last year.

[+] EnlargeDavid Amerson
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsRedskins CB David Amerson appears to have gained some muscle weight this offseason.
2. Did see Garcon get him on one crossing route. Amerson tried to jam him, putting his right hand onto Garcon's outside shoulder. But Garcon's strength helped him here as he wasn't knocked off stride and created separation running across the middle.

3. Saw this for the first time: a receiver doing a spin move at the line to get away from press coverage. Garcon tried that against Amerson, but it didn't work. Amerson stayed patient and, partly because he didn't try to jam Garcon, was not fooled by the move.

4. Garcon dunked a ball after a catch in the end zone. The Redskins had college officials at practice and one immediately threw a flag. Players can no longer dunk over the goal posts.

5. The offensive players were convinced Amerson should have been called for holding on a back-shoulder attempt to tight end Jordan Reed in the end zone. I was just finishing up an interview with Amerson after practice when Reed walked past with a smile and asked, "Did he tell you he held me?"

6. Rookie receiver Ryan Grant had a few nice grabs Tuesday, mostly on underneath routes against zone coverage. He's good at driving the defender off and then cutting. Did it a couple times Tuesday. I don't know when he'll be able to really help because he has to get stronger and, ultimately, prove he can beat press coverage.

7. One coach I will enjoy listening and paying attention to this summer: outside linebackers coach Brian Baker. Yes, I know, I've mentioned him a few times, but after watching him work with the players I'm even more convinced of his impact. Just a detailed coach. I'll have more on that later this week. But he is good and isn't afraid to chastise anyone. Heard him ping rookie Trent Murphy during a drill Tuesday morning.

8. Murphy was juked out by Reed on one route. He can ask other veteran linebackers how that feels because that's what happened last year. Once more, Reed was among the last off the field after working more on his game. Nothing has changed since last year in that regard.

9. Reed also had a nice block on Murphy, getting his hands into the rookie's chest and pushing him to the ground.

10. With linebacker Brian Orakpo out (sickness), this was a good chance for Murphy to work against veterans. He also went against left tackle Trent Williams a few times. Murphy's spin move worked well against Moses, but Williams was able to stop it on the one time I saw it tried. The coaches like what they've seen from Murphy overall, especially off the field in terms of work ethic.

11. Rookie running back Lache Seastrunk, who lost the ball on a handoff in practice, stayed afterward to work on handoffs with fullback Darrel Young playing the part of the quarterback.

12. Kedric Golston worked at nose tackle with the first defensive line. He's done that in previous workouts this spring with Barry Cofield sidelined. And if he shows it's a spot he can help at during the summer, then it'll be tough to cut him. Golston adds experience and toughness up front, two qualities that should be welcomed. Add a little versatility and it makes him even more valuable, and it also makes it tough for Chris Neild to make the roster.

13. The quarterbacks worked on slant passes during drills with receivers. The quarterbacks dropped back, looked down the middle and then turned toward the receiver running the slant. It's a little thing, but I point it out for this reason: Robert Griffin III's last interception in 2013 came on a slant route. He eyed the receiver the whole way, who then got a good break to make the pick. Sometimes you have to eye the receiver off the line because the pass is coming right away. But in this case it led to the pick.

14. Wasn't able to spend a lot of time watching rookie right tackle Morgan Moses, but did see him get beat by second-year Brandon Jenkins to the outside on one occasion. Moses was too upright and a bit slow with his feet.

15. Jenkins failed to use the proper technique on an inside run, staying too wide and creating a gap inside. The coaches, um, reminded him of the mistake.

16. Said it last week and will continue to point out how much more energy there is during these practices. Some of that could just be because change brings a new energy. But some of it is the style of coaches they now have on staff. Raheem Morris was always vocal under Mike Shanahan, so his ribbing of players and coaches is nothing new. But things were just more lively Tuesday, with trash talking and banter.

17. The field goal kickers attempted three kicks apiece (from 39, 44 and 50 yards) at the narrow goal posts (about half the width of regular ones). Rookie Zach Hocker made all three attempts -- the ball jumped off his foot on the 50-yarder. Kai Forbath missed two of three but on regular goal posts he would have made each attempt.

18. Quarterback Kirk Cousins had a nice bullet to receiver Aldrick Robinson; the pass arrived just before safety Bacarri Rambo for a touchdown.

Redskins notes: Tempers flare

June, 17, 2014
Jun 17
2:33
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ASHBURN, Va. -- It felt like training camp: Temperatures threatened to reach 90 degrees in the morning and there was more back-and-forth banter. And, of course, there was a shoving match. It wasn't even the first scrap of the spring, but it was one of the more notable ones because it was a little more intense.

Defensive lineman Doug Worthington and offensive lineman Mike McGlynn were engaged on a play that ended up getting more heated. McGlynn grabbed Worthington's facemask and pulled his helmet off. They had to be separated and that was the extent of it.

"Sometimes competitive players push and shove," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. "We've just got to avoid that."

"I've never seen a guy take another guys facemask off," Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III said. "That was impressive. Emotions are high; guys are ready to go."

[+] EnlargeColt McCoy, Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsThe Redskins will enter training camp with three quarterbacks, Colt McCoy, Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins, who all ran through drills on Tuesday.
Yes they are. This wasn't the first time players snapped at one another in the spring. It happened during organized team activities when tight end Niles Paul and corner Chase Minnifield had words followed a week later by Paul and linebacker Adam Hayward.

But by this point of spring, players are more than ready to finally put on the pads so they can hit for real.

"There's no doubt they're ready," Gruden said. "Offensive linemen, defensive linemen, it's very difficult for them to handle these practices, without pads."

Jackson getting healthier: Redskins receiver DeSean Jackson said his hamstring is around 90 to 95 percent recovered. "That's good enough speed for me to get out here and work," Jackson said. The receiver missed nearly two weeks of OTA sessions because of a strained hamstring. He returned last week and looked better Tuesday.

Three QBs: Gruden said the Redskins will take three quarterbacks to training camp. Teams often take four or five to keep arms fresh. But Gruden wants to make sure the three quarterbacks he does have -- Griffin, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy -- get enough reps. Griffin, obviously, will get the majority of them in camp. If a quarterback gets a tired arm in camp, or if someone gets hurt, Gruden would have to find another one. "But I can also throw perfect spirals and complete passes," the ex-college quarterback said laughing.
ASHBURN, Va. -- At one point, early in his career, it looked like it might go different for quarterback Colt McCoy. And then it changed. He went from an interesting young player for the Cleveland Browns, starting 21 games his first two seasons, to a guy looking for a job a few years later.

That search brought him to the Washington Redskins this offseason. It also left him as a third string quarterback. That's where he'll likely stay, barring injuries (or another team trading for Kirk Cousins, which remains unlikely).

McCoy
McCoy
"Sometimes you have to take a step back to take a few steps forward," said McCoy, a former third-round draft choice by the Browns.

He also enters as the oldest quarterback, though he's only 27. Yes, he can provide some veteran advice, but this is not akin to Rex Grossman doing so the past two years. Grossman had played in a Super Bowl and started 47 games. McCoy has started 21 games; Robert Griffin III has started 28 -- as well as a playoff game.

But McCoy does have experience learning a new system: This is the fifth he's learned in five years. He also played behind a blossoming young quarterback last year in San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick.

"I'm always competing, no question," McCoy said. "That's what they want me to do. But at the same time being in a position last year with Colin I felt like I helped him as much as I could and I certainly will do the same thing here with Robert. It's been a good transition so far."

The Redskins never seriously entertained trading Cousins; several sources said during the draft Cleveland discussed a fourth-round pick with them but Washington wanted more. Though McCoy offers experience, Cousins has a stronger arm and having both gives the Redskins plenty of insurance if Griffin has to miss time.

"I didn't think about all that," McCoy said. "I just wanted to go to a place they wanted me and felt I would fit in. When I visited here I felt all those things with Jay [Gruden], with Bruce [Allen] and with Sean [McVay]. It just felt right."

Former University of Texas teammate Brian Orakpo is glad McCoy is around.

"He's been there, done that. Now we have two viable backups to come in and do their thing if anything [like a] worst-case scenario about Robert," Orakpo said. "I'm just glad he's on board."
The Redskins didn't make a pick, nor did they make any trades. But they were able to see some players who could help them fall to the second round. Which will give them plenty of choices when they make their first pick of the draft.

Washington will make the second pick of the second round when the draft resumes Friday night. One thing the Redskins did not do Friday was trade backup quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cleveland had offered the Redskins a fourth-round pick, an NFL source said, but the Redskins stuck to wanting a high pick (likely a second-rounder). It's debatable if there is any market for him because of the high price tag -- though the Redskins made it clear earlier in the offseason that they did not want to trade him.

Here are some options at 34:

RT Morgan Moses: Moses is an athletic tackle, but also inconsistent. He was better as a senior -- and was excellent against Kyle Van Noy in their limited matchup. But Moses has a tendency to play too upright and would need to fix that or else have problems. I like his long arms, which bailed him out of trouble in college. But I did not like how he handled run-blocking assignments at the second level -- something he'd need to do in the outside zone scheme.

Here's my write-up on him.

RT Cyrus Kouandjio: I really like his ability, but his knees are a concern and I've heard that definitely might scare the Redskins off. He showed good footwork and strength as a run blocker and had a little attitude as well. But he was not as consistent in pass protection, thanks to his balance and footwork.

Here's my write-up on him.

RT Joel Bitonio: He's considered a good fit in a zone blocking system because of his ability to get to the linebackers. He does not have prototypical measurements for a tackle (6-foot-4, 302 pounds; arm length just under the desired length of 34 inches) but he makes up for it with terrific makeup: a leader, hard worker, etc. He also blocks with a little attitude. He ran a 4.97 40-yard dash at the combine.

LB Kyle Van Noy: The Redskins like his versatility, as he can play outside or inside in a 3-4. They definitely feel he can play inside in their scheme. Though Van Noy did not handle this role in college. When he lined up inside, it was in coverage or to rush. But he did a good job of shedding blockers on the edge, which gives the Redskins confidence he could do the same inside. However, 34 is a bit high for him.

Here's my write-up on him.

OLB Jeremiah Attaochu: Has very good quickness and is considered a good athlete. He has good size to handle the outside at 6-foot-3 and 252 pounds, but he would probably have to add about 10 pounds. He did a solid job against the run in college.

DE Ra'Shede Hageman: He had top-10 ability, but did not always play at that level. Otherwise, of course, he'd have been selected in the top 10. He dominated at times and made plays that made you say, ‘Wow.' And then he'd do nothing for a while. The fact that he only had two sacks was telling. But he's athletic enough and big enough that he could provide a good push inside. Not sure the Redskins are big fans.

Here's my writeup on him.

ILB Chris Borland: I don't see him as the choice. There are too many other players Washington likes that are available and I did not get the sense that the Redskins felt he was a good fit. I think he's better in a 4-3; he will have issues in space, but would be a good physical player when facing straight-ahead running teams.

Here's my write-up on him.

WR Marqise Lee: The Redskins do not need to pick a receiver high in the draft. Their top three receivers all are under contract through 2016. However, injuries are always an issue and Washington lacks depth at this position. Lee dropped too many passes last season, but he was much more consistent the previous two years. He's had a tough background, but his intangibles are considered strong. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.52 seconds at the combine.

DE Stephon Tuitt: Projected by some analysts to go in the first round. Isn't considered to have a quick burst, but plays with strength. If the Redskins want another player to provide push inside, then he could be worth a look. However, there are questions about his durability and his motor.

Another option: Trading down. This is clearly a strong option for Washington considering there are a handful of players the Redskins' like who are still around. They only have six draft picks, so this would be a chance to add another selection or two.
Redskins general manager Bruce Allen stressed this point a couple times Tuesday: When making decisions in the draft, they're looking as much at the roster in 2015 and '16 as they are this season.

Chances are, that's when most of the players they pick this weekend will be ready for bigger roles. With that in mind, here's how the roster shapes up in '15 and '16:

Quarterbacks

Griffin
2015 roster: Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins.

2016 roster: Griffin (if the team picks up his option. Note: Initially said it was for 2017, it's for '16).

Conclusion: They don’t need a starter, but, perhaps next year, they’ll have to start finding another player to groom as a backup assuming Griffin re-emerges.

Running backs

2015 roster: Alfred Morris, Darrel Young and Chris Thompson.

2016 roster: Thompson.

Conclusion: It’s not a pressing need because they could always re-sign Morris or find another back next year in the draft. However, they have checked out some backs such as West Virginia’s Charles Sims and Notre Dame’s George Atkinson III. There is a need to find someone else; Thompson is not a full-time option.

Wide receivers

Garcon
Garcon
2015 roster: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts, Nick Williams

2016 roster: Roberts, Garcon, Jackson.

Conclusion: Still a need for depth, but finding another quality starter – right now – is not a must. However, it would be wise to find someone in a receiver-heavy draft who can be developed. They’ll have to make a decision after this year on Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson. Also, Garcon and Jackson’s contracts are up after the ’16 season.

Offensive line

2015 roster: Trent Williams, Chris Chester, Kory Lichtensteiger, Shawn Lauvao, Mike McGlynn, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis, Tevita Stevens, Kevin Kowalski.

2016 roster: Lauvao, Lichtensteiger, Stevens.

Conclusion: I think we all know a right tackle is a strong possibility. Polumbus is not under contract after this season and neither is Tom Compton. Do the math; the Redskins have to find someone here at some point. And look at the ’16 roster; you don’t want to be in a position where you have to re-sign or sign that many players in one spot.

Tight ends

Reed
2015 roster: Logan Paulsen, Jordan Reed.

2016 roster: Reed.

Conclusion: Paulsen could always be re-signed, but regardless the Redskins could use a little more help here in the future. It’s a definite possibility as the Redskins look to bolster their weapons – and guard against Reed’s durability issues.

Defensive line

2015 roster: Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield, Clifton Geathers, Jason Hatcher, Kedric Golston, Chris Baker, Gabe Miller.

2016 roster: Hatcher, Cofield, Miller, Baker.

Conclusion: Only Hatcher is signed beyond 2016. There’s depth here for the next two seasons, but in 2016 if Hatcher and Cofield are still viable both will be past their prime.

Linebackers

Hayward
2015 roster: Ryan Kerrigan, Perry Riley, Adam Hayward, Keenan Robinson, Adrian Robinson, Brandon Jenkins, Will Compton, Jeremy Kimbrough.

2016: Riley, Hayward, Jenkins.

Conclusion: This is one reason the Redskins have looked at a number of outside linebackers during the draft process. Also, thinking long-term, they might not want to pay both Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo big money. But there's also a need to find and develop an inside 'backer, unless they're confident Keenan Robinson could be that guy. Too early to say that's the case given his injury history.

Cornerback

2015 roster: DeAngelo Hall, Tracy Porter, David Amerson, Chase Minnifield, Richard Crawford, Peyton Thompson.

2016 roster: Hall, Amerson, Thompson.

Conclusion: There’s not an immediate need, but there’s little doubt this position could still be fortified. Also, though Hall is under contract through 2016, where will his game be after the ’15 season? Still, if need be, they could get by with adding a late-round corner this year and seeing if he develops.

Safety

2015 roster: Phillip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo.

2016 roster: Thomas, Rambo.

Conclusion: They need more bodies here. This is not a deep draft for safeties but it would be wise to grab one, especially when you see how it breaks down after this season. There’s a strong need – even if Thomas or Rambo develops into a starter.
A little this and that about the NFL draft:
  • I really don’t know what direction the Redskins will go in the second round and nor do they. Too many factors involved at this point. But very few positions would surprise me if addressed with this pick.
  • The only spot defensively I’d rule out would be nose tackle. After that? It’s all up for grabs -- with an edge toward pass-rusher. Offensively, I can see right tackle first and foremost. But this also depends on who falls to this spot, of course.
  • I get the feeling that adding another pass-rusher would be highly desirable and there are several at 34 that they like, including Dee Ford, Kyle Van Noy and Jeremiah Attaochu. Van Noy’s versatility would be appealing; he can play all over and the Redskins do think he can play inside in a 3-4 as well. When he played outside, Van Noy did a good job disengaging from blockers. The belief is that skill would transfer inside.
  • But if a top corner or inside linebacker fell to 34, the Redskins would consider taking them, even though at corner they have their top three already. I know some, including ESPN’s Todd McShay, have projected inside linebacker Chris Borland to the Redskins but I would be surprised if that happened. Borland’s speed and inability to play in space would not be a good fit. My sense is they’d rather take Van Noy and move him inside. But, again, I think they go pass-rusher before these spots. They can also trade down a few picks and still find a pass-rusher they like, if that's truly the direction they want to go. Just keep in mind that they're intent on bolstering the pass rush.
  • Will quarterback Kirk Cousins be traded? I’ve always leaned toward no and that’s the sense I’ve gotten from others. But it’s still a legitimate question because it’s well-known what Cleveland offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan thinks of his former player. But it’s not known what sort of pull Shanahan has in the organization. There are a few layers above him. It also depends what the Browns truly think about Brian Hoyer – is there that big a difference between he and Cousins, enough to surrender a draft pick?
  • I know Bill Polian said on "NFL Insiders" that Cleveland should trade the No. 26 pick to Washington for Cousins. I think it would take the Redskins about one second to say yes. And I really can’t imagine the Browns making such an offer. That’s a steep price for a former fourth-round pick who still has a lot to prove. One NFL executive said he thought Cousins’ value was closer to the third round (maybe even the fourth; but it’s not as if this person had closely studied him).
  • What if the Redskins used Cousins to move up eight spots? The Redskins would have to get back more than just 26; they’d also need another pick in return. Last year, Atlanta moved up eight spots (from 30 to 22) and surrendered their first, third and sixth while also receiving St. Louis’ seventh.
  • By the way, I would not like that move for Washington. There are a handful of players they like in this draft and it’s hard to imagine them all being gone by the time the Redskins select Friday. While Bruce Allen and company might like Colt McCoy, they also like having three quality quarterbacks (potentially at least). With Robert Griffin III’s durability concerns, it’s wise to have excellent depth at this position. Very wise.
  • The bottom line is trading a guy you like at quarterback to move up eight spots is not worth it. Now, what if Cleveland offers its second pick (35th overall)? Again, that’s an awfully high pick to surrender for Cousins in my opinion (which no one involved in any deal would care about). Maybe Shanahan would do it, but would general manager Ray Farmer? They will take Shanahan’s advice on whether or not he thinks Cousins can play, but not on what pick they should give up.
  • Kansas City ended up trading two No. 2s to San Francisco for Alex Smith last offseason (one was a conditional third that turned into a second), but he had a deeper track record and was coming off a good season. Has Cousins really played himself into being worth a high No. 2? That still seems high, though we are talking just one pick compared to the two that Smith fetched. Arizona traded a sixth-rounder last year and a seventh-rounder this year for Carson Palmer.
  • Whether or not this trade happens I don’t know. But it has been discussed and does bear watching. The Browns can end the suspense by selecting a quarterback fourth overall.
ASHBURN, Va. -- Bruce Allen opened his news conference stating that he would do his best not to lie to anyone. With only two days before the NFL draft begins, that line drew a chuckle. And even Allen laughed.

He then added this line: “If we mislead 31 other teams then it’s successful."

But Allen also said after free agency, “There’s no gaping holes on the roster.” The Redskins added potential starters at inside linebacker (Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan), an interior pass-rusher (Jason Hatcher), receiving help (DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts), a starting guard (Shawn Lauvao) and a nickel corner (Tracy Porter).

Among the highlights:
  • They’re more apt to trade down than up. Washington lacks the ammunition to trade too high in the first round, but trading back is a distinct possibility. The Redskins have only six picks and have done a good job in recent years of acquiring more. “If we have a player that has a first-round grade that falls to us it will make us less likely to trade out of there,” Allen said. “But we have several players who have about the same grade on them and if that’s the case and we get the opportunity, we would move.”
  • As for moving up, Allen said, “I can’t imagine there won’t be other teams that have more picks that aren’t trying to get into the bottom of the first round. I think it’s unlikely, but we’ll listen to other people’s offers.”
  • Allen said he’s had no conversations with other teams about trading for quarterback Kirk Cousins. “We have three quarterbacks who can win for us,” Allen said.
  • The Redskins’ new coaches were helped by seeing their players in a voluntary minicamp last week, but it won’t necessarily impact the draft (though coach Jay Gruden said last week that it helped). Allen said nothing they saw last week resulted in any grades being changed on players in the draft. “It’s allowed us to maybe do some doubling and tripling and quadruple checking of the talent,” Allen said.
  • The Redskins won’t target one position at No. 34; the draft is too unpredictable to do so. They also won’t shy away from a lot of positions just because there’s not an immediate need. “We feel we can follow the draft board and go with the highest-ranked player we have. Obviously if there are ties, then we lean toward a position that we don’t have depth on for 2015 or ’16,” Allen said.
  • In other words, the Redskins aren’t just eyeing how a player will fit in for this season. Like Allen said, “You’re an injury away from having a need.”
  • The tough part comes when the staff has to separate players who have the same grade. That’s where the real debate enters. “All the position coaches are great agents for their position," Allen said. "Raheem [Morris] is famous for campaigning. He might put a bumper sticker on my car in the mornings. But the debates have already taken place.”

Redskins mailbag: Part 1

May, 2, 2014
May 2
12:00
PM ET
A little of this and a lot of that in the first Redskins mailbag this week: Kirk Cousins trade talk, who would make a good coach someday, Robert Griffin III's passing mechanics and some defensive talk. Enjoy.
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Redskins mailbag: Part 1

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
1:10
PM ET
Apparently, not everyone thinks adding more pass-rushers is a good idea. So it says in one of the questions -- I have my own thoughts on the matter in Part 1 of the mailbag. And why do the Redskins stink in prime-time games? Could it be something other than, well, they've been bad most of the past decade? More draft questions, too. Enjoy
 

Redskins mailbag: Part 1

April, 18, 2014
Apr 18
1:45
PM ET
Yes, the draft is (finally) drawing close. And I can tell that by the mailbag questions as most of the queries involve some form of what the Redskins would do in the draft -- or about the pre-draft visits. We'll get three more weeks of draft questions. Can you handle that? Regardless, enjoy.

Jay Gruden a good fit with RG III

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
3:15
PM ET
Robert Griffin IIIPatrick Smith/Getty ImagesQuarterback Robert Griffin III is smiling again under new Washington coach Jay Gruden.
ORLANDO, Fla. -- They notice a difference. Robert Griffin III is happier, something just about everyone who has seen him at Redskins Park has picked up on. It could be because he’s not spending his time in Florida rehabbing his knee, as he was doing a year ago. Or that he knows the knee brace likely is a thing of the past.

Or it’s the fresh start that he -- and everyone else, for that matter -- is getting. When the Redskins changed coaches, they also changed the outlook for Griffin. Regardless of who was to blame for the failed relationship between him and former coach Mike Shanahan, the bottom line is it didn’t work. Enter Jay Gruden. Enter an excited young quarterback.

One Redskins employee described Griffin as “18 times happier.” Others echo that sentiment. Whether a happy Griffin translates into a productive one will be answered in about six months. But there is little doubt the offseason has unfolded in a positive way for Griffin.

“Jay sees football through the eyes of the quarterback,” Cincinnati Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said of his former offensive coordinator. “It gives him the opportunity for the quarterback to grow through him. That’s really helpful. The offense and everything has to be quarterback-friendly, and that’s important.”

It’s not just Gruden’s arrival. It’s Sean McVay being elevated to offensive coordinator. Like Gruden, McVay offers a more measured demeanor. It’s also the hiring of Doug Williams as a personnel executive. Williams will not coach Griffin, but will act as a sounding board, as someone who played the position at a high level in the NFL and understands scrutiny. The two already have spoken.

“This kid came in here as a rookie and single-handedly raised the play of everybody on that football team,” Williams said recently on SiriusXM NFL Radio. “At the end of the day, you can’t put it all on his shoulders. You’ve got to have some people around him. And I think that’s the course we’re in now. This guy, man, he comes to the office, always smiling, always upbeat, and you can tell his leadership character and the things that he’s got going for him that are gonna take him a long way.”

[+] EnlargeJay Gruden
AP Photo/Joe RobbinsJay Gruden on developing the offense around Robert Griffin III: "I think it's gotta be a two-way street. It's gotta be something we're both interactive with."
Even Gruden sees how eager Griffin is to get going. But it’s about more than just having a new coach; Griffin also wants to make up for a subpar season and to regain his rookie mojo. But Gruden wants to make sure Griffin, who is often at Redskins Park (though they can’t yet discuss football together), doesn’t burn out.

“He just needs to relax right now. Enjoy the offseason,” Gruden said. “When it’s time, it’s time. We’ll get plenty of time with him to work with his fundamentals, and just don’t stress out over it right now. He’s so anxious and wants to do so well all the time. He’s such a perfectionist that he needs to settle down right now, enjoy the offseason, enjoy the players he’s working out with right now, and have some fun.”

Griffin had to mature; it’s also important to note that he’s still only 24. And, yes, maybe he needs to be treated differently than, say, backup Kirk Cousins. Is that right or wrong? Well, coaching is about knowing how to reach every player, especially one who plays the most important position and who can define the franchise for the next decade.

Shanahan had his way of doing things, and it earned him two Super Bowl titles. As a rookie, Griffin flourished under him: 20 touchdowns, 5 interceptions, 815 yards rushing and 3,200 yards throwing. But, fair or not, Griffin never trusted him, never fully bought what he was being sold. Doesn’t matter who’s at fault, but the reality is that it makes it tougher to grow, both as a player and as a team.

Gruden has never quite relinquished a quarterback’s mindset. Heck, he says he’s still bitter about never getting a shot in the NFL. But maintaining that mindset helps him relate well to those who play the position. In Cincinnati, Gruden and Andy Dalton shared a strong bond. If that develops here, perhaps he’ll coax even more out of Griffin.

“There’s the physical tools to the game and then there’s the mental aspects, where you have to have confidence in everything you do,” Gruden said. “The quarterback needs to know that the coach has the quarterback’s best interests [at] heart. He has to understand that I want nothing more than for him to succeed. Obviously, he’s got my future in his hands. And it kind of works both ways. It would be foolish for me to think I have all the power: ‘You do exactly what I want. I don’t care if you like it or not.’ I think it’s gotta be a two-way street. It’s gotta be something we’re both interactive with.”

If there’s a disagreement, Gruden stressed that he has the final call. It’s hard to imagine anyone thinking otherwise. Gruden must be in control, and that concept must be accepted by Griffin. But if they develop a strong relationship, they can weather any storms. Last season, a storm turned into a tornado.

Griffin, now working out with teammates in Arizona, must smile at Gruden's words. It’s a new day for him: a full offseason and a coach known for building strong ties. All that’s left is to produce next season. If that happens, Griffin will give the entire organization reason to smile. Again.

Jay Gruden: No calls on Cousins

March, 26, 2014
Mar 26
12:45
PM ET
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Kirk Cousins let it be known early in the offseason he’d welcome a trade. The Redskins let it be known they didn’t want to deal him. And perhaps that’s why Redskins coach Jay Gruden said no team has called them about the third-year quarterback.

That’s fine with Gruden. Robert Griffin III is the clear starter, which is why Cousins said he wanted to go somewhere he had a chance to compete for the position. But the Redskins have a different mindset.

“You need two great quarterbacks on your team,” Gruden said. “You never know. The way Robert plays and the style he plays with you never know what can happen. Injuries are a part of the game. You need two excellent quarterbacks and we’re fortunate to have two of the better quarterbacks.”

Of course, another team could always call over the next month, now that the first wave of free agency is over. And teams did not have to call the Redskins about Cousins this week considering they were all in the same hotel. Still, there's no desire to trade him.

Cousins has two more years remaining on his rookie contract before he could leave via free agency. The Redskins could always opt to trade him next offseason, depending on how Griffin performs and if he stays healthy.

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