The running back position has been a popular topic of discussion in the Washington area as the Redskins have made it clear they’re in the market for a ball carrier. The expectation is the organization will add one during the draft next week.
Penn State’s Saquon Barkley is the clear-cut No. 1 back in the draft, but there’s plenty of value in the second tier that includes LSU’s Derrius Guice, Georgia’s Sony Michel and Nick Chubb, Auburn’s Kerryon Johnson, San Diego State’s Rashaad Penny, Oregon’s Royce Freeman and North Carolina State’s Nyheim Hines.
Ronald Jones was near the top of that second grouping when the season ended, but the buzz around the USC product has cooled, particularly after he tweaked a right hamstring injury while running the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. The junior ranked No. 13 in the country with 119.2 rushing yards per game and tied for No. 5 with 19 rushing touchdowns. The 5-foot-11, 200-pounder finished his collegiate career with 3,619 rushing yards to rank No. 5 in school history, ahead of O.J. Simpson and Reggie Bush. He was named first-team all-Pac-12 and third-team all-America by the Associated Press.
“I think Barkley, Guice and Sony Michel are going to go in the first round,” NFL Network analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “It wouldn’t shock me if Ronald Jones went early in the second round. But it wouldn’t shock me if you saw a little bit of a drop there because that next pack of guys with Ronald Jones, Nick Chubb, Rashaad Penny, Kerryon Johnson, that’s a good group.
“I think that first three have kind of separated themselves. After that, I think you’ll see that order vary. Some of these guys you’re going to think are early second-round picks, they might be there in the late third round.”
Jones, despite his high profile and production, may not be the fit the Redskins are looking for. Coach Jay Gruden has talked about having a bigger back to work first and second downs with the ability to grind the clock out late in games. Jones is more known for his playmaking and elusive running style. He’s a home-run hitter.
The Redskins ranked No. 28 in the league with 90.5 rushing yards per game in 2017. Running backs Chris Thompson, Rob Kelley, Samaje Perine, Kapri Bibbs, Byron Marshall and Keith Marshall are all currently on the roster.
“A lot of the success of running backs that are drafted later, really, comes down to fit and scheme,” NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks said. “How do these guys fit in the scheme that they’re playing? How do the coaches deploy them? We saw that with Alvin Kamara. We even saw it with Kareem Hunt.”
Voluntary workouts begin: The Redskins begin the first phase of the voluntary offseason workout program on Monday. The first two weeks of the offseason is limited to strength and conditioning and physical rehabilitation. Rookie minicamp begins May 11 and OTA sessions begin May 22.
Redskins re-sign Nsekhe: Ty Nsekhe will return to the Redskins, the team announced Monday morning. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. The tackle started six games last season after recovering from a core muscle injury during the early portion of the schedule. He will likely resume his role as a backup to both Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, which could prove more valuable should Williams take a long time recovering from the knee injury he sustained last season.
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