The Washington Redskins had a revolving door at running back last season, with seven different players registering carries at the position because of injuries. Even with the realistic expectation that the team will enjoy better health in 2018, Washington is looking to upgrade its 28th-ranked running game by bringing in some new personnel this offseason. On Tuesday, Redskins Coach Jay Gruden joined Grant Paulsen and Craig Hoffman on 106.7 the Fan, and Paulsen asked whether fans could expect the team to add a running back early in next month’s draft.
“That’s a good possibility, yes,” Gruden said. “We have a lot of running backs on our roster. … We got to look at a lot of running backs last year, unfortunately, with injuries. Byron Marshall came in and he showed flashes of being a pretty good player after we plucked him from Philly’s practice squad, but he pulled his hamstring pretty bad. We got Kapri Bibbs, we looked at him, he did a nice job for us the last couple games of the year. Obviously, Chris Thompson coming back, Rob Kelley coming back at full strength. Rob had a really good game against the Rams, hurt his ankle, and then he was never really full strength. Samaje [Perine] got some quality reps as a rookie running back and did some good things for his first year. We expect major improvement from him. So we have some guys in house that we feel pretty comfortable about, but it would be nice, possibly, to add another, maybe a first- [or] second-down back that can give us a little bit of juice to help us out.”
Where might the Redskins find that juice? Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the only consensus first-round pick among the running backs in this year’s draft, and he’ll almost certainly be off the board before Washington makes its first pick at No. 13. Second- or third-round targets could include Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, LSU’s Derrius Guice, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, USC’s Ronald Jones and San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny.
The Redskins haven’t selected a running back in the first two rounds of the draft since they took Ladell Betts with the 56th pick in 2002. Before that? Madden champion Reggie Brooks in the second round of the 1993 draft. Perine, a fourth-round pick out of Oklahoma, led the team with 603 yards rushing as a rookie last season. Thompson, a fifth-round pick in 2013, was enjoying a career year before fracturing his fibula in Week 11.
CBS Sports’ most recent mock draft has the Redskins taking Washington defensive tackle Vita Vea in the first round and Iowa center James Daniels in the second round to help replace Spencer Long, who signed with the New York Jets this week. Daniels’s older brother, LeShun, was one of the Redskins’ seven running backs last season and had three carries in four games.
After trading Kendall Fuller to the Kansas City Chiefs in the deal for quarterback Alex Smith and letting fellow cornerback Bashaud Breeland test free agency, the Redskins could also look to add depth in the secondary via the draft. ESPN’s Todd McShay has the Redskins taking Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes in the first round in his latest mock, but in the wake of signing former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Orlando Scandrick to a two-year contract Monday, Gruden told Paulsen and Hoffman that he likes the Redskins’ current collection of cornerbacks alongside Josh Norman.
“I think we feel pretty comfortable right now,” Gruden said. “Adding Scandrick’s experience, he can play outside and inside. In base personnel, he can play outside at corner. … [Fabian] Moreau can play nickel I think a little bit, [Josh] Holsey got some reps at nickel, so we have some DBs we feel pretty good about. I think the progression of [Quinton] Dunbar has been outstanding from a wide receiver to a corner the last couple of years. We all see his size, we all see his length, we all see his speed, and we expect major improvements from him. We love what Fabian did on special teams last year and his growth as a prospect. We think he’s going to get a lot better in Year 2, so we do feel pretty good at the corner spot. Now we do need to add some depth and some special teams-type players out there, but I feel pretty good about the starters we have and the possible starters with Scandrick, Dunbar, Moreau, obviously Holsey. But we will add a couple more in the draft or free agency.”
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