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Need to Know: Will the Redskins draft a center with their top pick?

Mar 28, 2016, 5:06 AM EDT

Ryan-Kelly-stance

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, March 28, 31 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 78 days ago. It will be about 167 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 21; 2016 NFL draft 31; Redskins training camp starts 122

Hot topic

For some reason, the idea of the Redskins drafting Alabama center Ryan Kelly in the first round has caught fire with the fan base. I have been asked about it out of the blue multiple times on Twitter. My answer is always some variation of saying that he’s a good player and they might draft him No. 21 overall. But the team needs impact players, playmakers. You don’t get those by drafting interior linemen in the first round for two years in a row.

Let me state the obvious here—it’s always good to have a great player on the team no matter what position he plays. Having a great center and a great right guard, assuming that Kelly and Brandon Scherff, who was last year’s first-round pick, both develop into great players, would be a good thing for the Redskins.

But a great center has much less impact on a game than a great wide receiver or a great running back has. A cornerback who can dominate a game is better to have than a guard who can dominate his man. There are reasons why good wide receivers generally get drafter higher than good centers and why top cornerbacks make a lot more money than top guards.

The best way to get good players at the impact positions is to draft them and, generally speaking, the higher the better. Good interior linemen can be found later in the draft. Scot McCloughan needs to look at impact positions, including the defensive line, when making this year’s first-round pick. They can either choose a center from the several options on the roster or take one later in the draft.

Fan question of the day

I’m not exactly sure what you’re asking about so I’ll take it in two directions. The defensive player who will have the green dot on his helmet, the one who gets the signals radioed in from the sideline, will be Will Compton. As the Mike linebacker, he will call the signals in the huddle. So, in that respect he will be the quarterback of the defense.

But who will be the leader of the unit, the defensive captain? That is up in the air right now. Last year it was Dashon Goldson but he has been released. There is a possibility that he may return but nothing has happened beyond just talk that the door is open. And he may or may not be the captain if he comes back.

There are two obvious candidates to replace Goldson. One is DeAngelo Hall, who was a captain for a while when Mike Shanahan was here and was one with Gruden in 2014 before he tore his Achilles in Week 3. The other is Ryan Kerrigan. He has shied away from taking a leadership role but he now has the tenure (going into his sixth season) and the paycheck (5-years, $57.5 million extension given last year) that say he should step up and lead.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

Stat of the day

In 2014 Kirk Cousins’ passer rating on third down was 46.4. Last year it improved to 100.9.

In case you missed it

  1. colorofmyskinz - Mar 28, 2016 at 6:34 AM

    We can’t leave the draft without a center, but first round is agressive when you need as many defensive players as we do. We need 2 Dline, 1 safety, 1 Corner, 1 RB, 1 WR, and 1 center at minimum from the draft. And we need starters at all of these positions by 2017 (except RB).

    Going to be interesting to see how Scot handles it. I think we might still pick up a FA or 2 prior to he draft still.

    HTTR!!

    • 1222tmiller - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:47 PM

      I disagree about needing a center. Kory is good, not great, but good. He will play even better next year with 2 good guards next to him. Hopefully he can do just his job and not constantly help out with the guards.

      Over the past 2 years, Kory has been ranked #14, #12, and #9 best center in the NFL. Let’s average it out and say #12. Our defense was #26? Let’s get real. If Ryan Kelly drops to us in the second round, then ya you take him as a value to good to pass up. But other then that, I hope we use our first 4 picks on defense unless something special drops in our lap.

    • lezziemcdykerson - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:54 PM

      Still need a TE too. This draft isn’t strong at safety maybe we swap in TE at that need and continue to do S by committee because there really is no committee after Reed inevitably goes down. Niles was serviceable at best BEFORE injury. Maybe go after only NT. I overall agree with your minimum but, I think we have pieces in place for the D line. I don’t think we’re that far off. Preston came on last year there’s talk of him being moved around.. we’ll see. Keep in mind you only listed 7 picks and the MADTV guy already said he wanted at least 12. If we get that many I wonder if he’ll disperse his picks amongst need, as you have, or BPA. I know he’s a BPA guy but I hope he drafts either multiple NTs (which is what I’m assuming you meant by 2Dline) and/or multiple safeties. If we draft a NT high we might hit on that but safety is so iffy in this draft I think we’d need two to have one. Remember Rambo and Thomas? Heck maybe we need 3. I just think we can cheat. If we get a good NT that masks our weak secondary for another year. We get a stub DB we can get some coverage sacks, make a team one dimensional and mask our weak D line. We don’t have to hit at both just one, that’s why I’m interested to see how he disperses his picks if/when we get more. If we only end up with 7 it’ll probably look more like what we have here.

      Good scheme can cover our run deficiencies. Is Matt really a between the tackles runner? Then center I think center can wait. Especially if we get an upgrade at the TE or if Niles is back healthy and can block. I saw Gruden talking about he need to get his weight back up. If we get a TE that can actually catch and block Niles is out and our run stats could see a little spike. I know they were bringing in an extra linemen last season so it may not spike much but TE has a little more value than C too since Reed is a glass man and can’t block.

  2. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 28, 2016 at 7:21 AM

    I don’t think Ryan Kelly is good value with the 21st pick, not with the defensive players that will still be on the board. We do need better play at center than we had in 2015, though.

    http://www.nfl.com/draft/2016/profiles/ryan-kelly?id=2555191
    ~

  3. bk70 - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:04 AM

    I don’t find myself at odds with Rich often, but this one point we disagree. We must draft Ryan Kelly first if he’s available. It solid reasoning for the 2016 draft. GM Scott set the tone last year when he selected Scherff earlier than what anyone else thought. I think he’ll do it again with Kelly assuming all the other impact players he desires will be gone before the 21st pick. Yes we will pick up the NT and S early in the draft. Yes we need a RB and WR but later in the draft.
    Think about it. With a quality center starting in 2016, we will have a solid OL for years to come. Last year we selected a C in the 7th round. Reiter obviously needs more practice time, not ready for the 53 man roster even with all the interior OL injuries last year. We constantly try to patch the Center position with a guard converted to center.
    That’s OK but only a short term fix. We tried drafting other centers in late rounds without much success. This is our year to solve it. No more experiments at Center in 2016. Draft Ryan Kelly. HTTR

    • thirdistheworrd - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:44 AM

      You’re totally right, but you’re also totally wrong. The point that Rich didn’t hit on hard enough is that there’s a good chance Kelly will be there in the third or fourth round. Whatever it’s other weaknesses, this draft class is stacked at center. Kelly is the best of the bunch, but Nick Martin, Max Tuerk, and even Graham Glasgow all look like viable NFL starters. And more importantly, none of them will be off the board by the time the Redskins pick in the second round

      • bk70 - Mar 28, 2016 at 12:07 PM

        Not sure thirdistheworrd what you base that on “good chance Kelly will be there in the third or fourth round”.
        Some of the mock drafts have Kelly climbing up. Besides,there are at least 5 NFL teams predicted to select a Center. Three of them will select before we do (Jaquars, Colts and Texans), not sure if they see it as great need.
        No way will the best Center go in the middle of the draft.

        • bangkokben - Mar 28, 2016 at 12:48 PM

          Drafting a center 21st makes him instantly the 20th highest paid center, while drafting him 53rd makes him the 35th. Food for thought.

      • Shamari - Mar 28, 2016 at 1:39 PM

        Kelly won’t be around by the end of the first round what nonsense are you talking. …he is by far the most pro ready center in 2 drafts..lots of very good points up here …..we have our starting d line move the former colt and bears lineman in a rotation to replace hatcher and draft a nt…..draft round 1_3should be center NT corner/safety not necessarily in that order!

    • bowlregard - Mar 28, 2016 at 1:02 PM

      But we don’t know how the team assesses Reiter at this point, nor the prospect of moving Long to center.

  4. sidepull - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:39 AM

    It does make one question the thinking of JJ when he put together his cowgirls o line with some first round picks. I remember the fan base questioning and now they are grateful. Am I happy they took BS with the first pick last year? Sure but I still would have rather had LW at the time, and that he was sitting right there. What it did show me is Scot has a plan and if he goes C it is not going to surprise me, not at all. Look at Dallas now, and that line is nice. The only thing I would add is there has been a lot of talk in the news over the off season about an in house move to C so theres that.

    • bk70 - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:49 AM

      “about an in house move to C” Today there’s Lichensteiger, LeRibeus and Reiter on the roster. One should remain as the BU C and one should stay on the PS. Gruden has admitted to the press that the “try Spencer Long at Center” experiment didn’t work out last year. We need to get a starting center for 2016.

      • sidepull - Mar 28, 2016 at 9:22 AM

        Agree bk. I just want to see the centerpiece of both lines solidified with quality starters. NT and C. Just get it done once and for all. Its crazy that they dance all around two key positions like that. If they were gonna go 3-4 they should of gotten a NT from the jump.

        • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:10 AM

          That’s where I’m at. We’ve been turrible at NT ever since we went to the danged 3-4.

          (Except for the 1/2 season last year after Pot Roast played himself into shape.)

          Defense is our Achilles heel right now (sorry, J. Galette!) and so I think we’d better address it first, rather than assume that Ryan Kelly is our answer at center. R.K. is the best center in this draft. But that doesn’t mean he’s worth pick 21.
          ~

    • renhoekk2 - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:25 AM

      And Dallas has had as much playoff success with that OL as the Redskins have had. Basically because their defense has been bad. Generally speaking a top 5 defense will beat a top 5 offense more often than not. SEA thumping DEN and DEN beating CAR showed that. TWill is a first rd pick, Scherff is a first rd pick. Long and Moses are both 3rd picks, so they have been using high draft selections on the OL. I also don’t think they need to go high draft pick to upgrade from what LeRibeus and Lichtensteiger were giving them.

    • captblood3000 - Mar 28, 2016 at 2:42 PM

      I question Jerry Jones’ thinking on the Travis Fredericks (center) pick. Many people thought Fredericks would have been available when the Cowboys picked in round 2. (This should sound familiar.). If so, their cost of taking Fredericks was the difference between the best player the Cowboys could have taken in round 1, and the player they actually took in round 2. That’s impact.

      Spending so many first round picks on the offensive line helps explain a bad Dallas defense. Of course, I hate the Cowboys, so I can enjoy their follies in the NFL draft. I don’t want the Redskins to repeat the Cowboys’ mistakes. Using a third round pick on center should fix the problem, if using Long or LeRibeus doesn’t. Those guys were both third rounders. And the Skins surprised me by resigning LeRibeus, so the front office must think that he’s part of the solution to the Skins’ interior line problems.

  5. Yours truly - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:46 AM

    Rich, compliments to you. As always a well-written piece. Follow-up question here about the 21st overall pick — given Scot McCloughan’s inclination to expand our 10 draft picks to 13-14, could you see the Redskins trade the 21st pick? Have you heard that any teams selecting 22-32 might seem eager to move up a bit?

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 28, 2016 at 9:13 AM

      Actually, they have 8 picks now and McCloughan said he wants to turn that to 12.

      In any case, I wrote about that last week. http://wp.me/pAil9-4rt

  6. shermanp79 - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:59 AM

    With so many needs on Defense and the skill positions on Offense I think they can find a C in the 3rd or 4th round. If you leave out LT, the OL NFL starters average as 4th round picks. Last year we took a G at #5 but I think the OL is in better shape as a whole.

    They must like KL an awful lot but neither he or LeRibeus is the answer. They could of upgraded in FA the past 2 years but didn’t or haven’t to this point. So it’s a need that should be addressed, I would just wait till the mid draft range. It seems the Organization has less worry than the fans or writers. I don’t really understand their lack of urgency. As I said before, at some point you need to start filling needs with talent, difference makers. How could anyone run when the C is pushed 3 -4 yards into the backfield. OK, keep KL but WHY LeRibeus??The guy on the PS has to at least be able to get the snap to the QB and on time. How much worse could he be? This is LeRib 5th year, if he isn’t the answer by now…..not likely he gets much better.

    • ET - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:00 AM

      I agree with you—3rd or 4th round sounds about right for a reasonably good center prospect. I have a tough time imagining Scot pulling the trigger on a center before then, if only because there are so many DBs and defensive linemen that must be considered first, for both need and impact. The same holds true for WR and RB prospects, to a lesser extent.

    • ET - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:05 AM

      Also in agreement regarding LeRibster. Cut that guy loose. He’s had more than his share of opportunities.

      • bangkokben - Mar 28, 2016 at 12:19 PM

        The whole re-signing of LeRibeus is so that the Redskins don’t have to draft a center. I’m sure they want to draft a center but now they don’t have to buy hamburger at steak prices. If that center falls to them at the 84th pick then select him. If he’s gone, you still have more picks, Lichtensteiger, LeRibeus, Long (yes, Long), and Reiter as well as moving in another guard or an undrafted center. (I’m not sure why anyone is buying into the Coach’s words at the combine as Gospel.)

        • ET - Mar 28, 2016 at 2:49 PM

          I prefer all the options you’ve mentioned to starting LeRibeus. Really.

          My assumption is that any mid-round center pick is likely to sit and learn behind Kory for all or most of 2016. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems like one of the tougher positions to transition into because of line call / snap count responsibilities in addition to the “regular” OL skillset.

        • bangkokben - Mar 28, 2016 at 3:11 PM

          I’ve got no problem if our team is LeRibeus-less. I do think it is in the realm of possibility that he get better practicing solely as a center.

  7. hail74 - Mar 28, 2016 at 9:01 AM

    I would have zero issues with drafting Kelly in the first and perhaps the reason it’s becoming a hot topic is because some of the talking heads have him listed as their 21st best player. Also C and S always seem to lack depth in the draft. Anyway BPA is BPA and improving any one position will have ripple effects to all the others.

    • skinsdiehard - Mar 28, 2016 at 2:32 PM

      No it won’t. All positions are not created equal when it comes to impact. Teams that draft even LT in the top 5 have struggled. Jimmy Johnson said that he would never draft an OLineman in the 1st round. I agree with him…..so does Green Bay.

      • ET - Mar 28, 2016 at 3:11 PM

        Do you think Mark May, Trent Williams and Brandon Scherff were wasted picks?

        • captblood3000 - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:58 PM

          All were drafted as offensive tackles.

  8. hotpicksblog - Mar 28, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    if I may add my 2 cents…..the ONLY way drafting Ryan Kelly with the 1st pick makes sense is if Scott trades down 3 or 4 or 5 spots in order to gain another pick. iF Scott can obtain an extra 3rd round pick it would be a great scenario then.

  9. justhereforquestions - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:06 AM

    Rich/Others:

    Any chance we’ll be hit with a curveball in round 1? For example, what if the ‘skins decided to go with a Josh Doctson type player in round 1 to account for our pressing need at WR coming up? (especially after this next season). There are good Center options to be found especially on day 2 or 3 of the draft. Could we possibly look to try and get a #1 Wide Receiver early?

    • Rich Tandler - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:38 AM

      I think a WR in the first if very possible. DL seems more likely but WR certainly in play.

      • kenlinkins - Mar 28, 2016 at 4:40 PM

        Rich, are you saying that BPA might be a WR or are you saying that the GM might be ready to go position shopping?

        • Rich Tandler - Mar 28, 2016 at 6:30 PM

          Not sure what you mean by position shopping? If it means that he is open to taking a player at nearly any position if he’s the best player on the board, I would say yes.

        • kenlinkins - Mar 28, 2016 at 8:33 PM

          Position shopping = drafting for need. You answered my question.

  10. Mr.moneylover - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:16 AM

    I heard ricky jean was also one of those leaders in the locker room….I think personally we might resign him after the draft…they is not expected to add nomore players from free agency until after the draft….scot m. said after the drafted and undrafted players get in the building with the vets they will look over the roster and find what position they didn’t target in the draft…like last year when redskins needed another TE and they made a trade with the 49ers…I’m not worried about this roster at all scot m. Gonna fill it up with guys who are very talented…if redskins draft a center with the first pick my response to that is ” IN SCOT WE TRUST ” because its a reason that nobody knows why we pick that center in the draft but SCOT KNOWS Last year they said we reached to get Brandon scherff by picking him with the 5th overall pick but guess what Brandon scherff was the best O-lineman that came out the draft last year and was rank very high the best right guard postion

    • bangkokben - Mar 28, 2016 at 12:22 PM

      Ricky Jean-Francois is under contract for the next two seasons.

  11. wildbill1952 - Mar 28, 2016 at 1:02 PM

    For 2017 and beyond, the Skins need a WR. But for 2016, the Skins need a center. If the opposing defensive line pushes the interior backwards, it prevents the QB from stepping up in the pocket, leading to more sacks and less completions. The Skins need to solidify the middle of the offensive line for pass protection and for the running game. Offensive linemen may not be considered “impact players”. The fans and the media certainly ignore them except when they screw up. But if you want to have an offense, and negate the impact of opposing d-linemen, then quality OL is a requirement. Even if Lichtensteiger returns healthy, OL in their 30s seldom make it through the season unscathed and last year’s backup was a backup to a guy sho should have been a backup and was a backup on other teams. There are lots of positions of need on this team, and will be for a few more years. But offensive lienmen are usually picks that stick with the team for 7 to 10 years. It’s part of the foundation of the offense. Their impact won’t be seen on television replays. But it will be in the won-loss column.

    • bangkokben - Mar 28, 2016 at 1:19 PM

      Yet, with last year’s centers, the Redskins were 9-7 and 10th in points per game.

  12. James McFullan - Mar 28, 2016 at 1:31 PM

    Mock Draft: #21: Andrew Billings #53: Chris Jones/ Kenny Clark #84: Nick Martin/ Max Turk

  13. skinsdiehard - Mar 28, 2016 at 2:30 PM

    Preach Rich! Can get a center later in the draft. Some fans think the Hogs led the team to SB’s instead of Riggins, Monk, Clark, Darrell Green, Theismann, Rypien, Doug Williams and Ricky Sanders.

    • skinsdiehard - Mar 28, 2016 at 2:40 PM

      Even with your beloved Hogs, center Jeff Bostic was an undrafted free agent when there were 12 rounds to the draft.

  14. skinsdiehard - Mar 28, 2016 at 2:38 PM

    A few years ago Atlanta drafted the best center in the draft in the 1st round Peter Konz. Bust. I wouldn’t advise it. Draft pass rusher, CB, WR, RB or DL. That’s how you get your own Dez Bryant or Odell Beckham or Demarcus Ware. Those players win games. How many games are we going to win if we keep rolling out Garcon and DeAngelo Hall? Or Ryan Grant? We need playmakers.

    • unknownskinfan - Mar 28, 2016 at 9:45 PM

      But here’s the deal. For every Dez Bryant, there’s an Arrelious Benn. For every OBJ, there’s a Marquise Lee. For every DeMarcus Ware, a David Pollack.

      Building a solid foundation is a good rule of thumb. Besides, if you do the research there’s more than a couple late round steals who are complete stars on the field. Guys like Marques Colston, the Skins very own Pierre Garcon, Antonio Brown, Antoine Bethea, the overabundance of solid defensive backs.

      Are people here looking for names or solid football players? Garcon is still very solid. Hall, though now moved to safety, is still a solid player. Grant I’m not sold on so I agree there needs to be newer blood to battle it out.

      Having football players is more than having names. The skins tried for ‘names’ and most of the time they never worked out.

  15. kenlinkins - Mar 28, 2016 at 5:05 PM

    IMO there are about 70 guys who are true 2nd round talents, the problem is that there are only about 12 true first round guys. I really hope the Redskins find someone who feels that “there guy” has fallen to the 21st pick and are willing to trade up to grab him. IMO the odds of that happening are about 3 to 1 against. So, if the Redskins have to pick “Is it ok to pick for needed if you know you are not going to get the true value of the pick”? (Assumes that your needed player is not to far away from the BPA). Say like LOT Conklin as BPA vs. DT Reed or C Kelly as needed?

  16. Earl Carver - Mar 28, 2016 at 11:09 PM

    I look for Scott to trade pic 21 to help achieve his 12 pic target goal.. draft is stacked with solid defensive players… the more swings you get the better chance you have to hit a homer.. Mclovin will trade back… HTTR!!!

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