WASHINGTON — The 2017 offseason could prove to be one that puts the Washington Redskins over the top. Or it could be yet another that fans live to regret.
Warning: Important decisions lay ahead.
In addition to retaining or upgrading a host of key free agents, they will also need to mimic the perennial powerhouses and draft successfully.
There are two schools of thought on drafting: for need, or best player available. Fortunately for the Redskins, there aren’t some of the gaping needs that there have been in the past that might force the team’s hands. Unfortunately, there also isn’t enough depth of talent to cross certain positions off the list.
This leaves the Redskins in a good position to follow either strategy when their name is on the clock.
So would the Redskins take a running back, a position with diminishing emphasis, with their top pick in the 2017 NFL Draft? Draftnik Matt Miller from Bleacher Report thinks so.
In his latest big board, he has the Redskins investing in Dalvin Cook from FSU, assuming that the team stands pat at No. 17.
Cook is a complete back, which is why he grades out in the first round on most boards. He holds the school record for rushing at FSU and won the Jim Brown award in 2015.
Miller also reports that they won’t be alone: an unnamed front office executive reportedly told him that four running backs will be taken in the first round: Leonard Fournette, Cook, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey.
And why not? The Redskins have struggled to find a franchise cornerstone at the position since Clinton Portis. Chris Thompson isn’t suited to the rigors of three downs, Matt Jones hasn’t mastered ball security, Fat Rob had injury issues, and Mack Brown hasn’t forced his way into the lineup.
Running back may be a luxury position, but it wouldn’t be outrageous to see an upgrade there over draft weekend.
Keep in mind that the NFL is very much a copycat league, and the Dallas Cowboys set the world on fire with Ezekiel Elliott in the backfield this season. Not only was he runner-up for Offensive Rookie of the Year, he sold the second-most jerseys behind only his quarterback, Dak Prescott.
Regardless of who is playing under center for the Redskins next season, they would benefit from a strong, consistent rushing attack.
Then again, the Redskins can achieve this in many ways, including upgrading the offensive line, adding more weapons in the passing game, or even seeking a replacement at quarterback.
The 2017 offseason is a pivotal one for the Washington Redskins. Which way it pivots will depend on decisions like this.