Redskins at the NFL Combine: Why joining Adrian Peterson with Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson warrants special consideration

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Ben Standig
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Redskins at the NFL Combine: Why joining Adrian Peterson with Derrius Guice and Chris Thompson warrants special consideration originally appeared on nbcsportswashington.com

INDIANAPOLIS – Shortly after the NFL world learned several football-related measurable for Kyler Murray,  Redskins head coach Jay Gruden and senior vice president of player personnel Doug Williams held separate press conferences Thursday morning.

The topic of the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback's physical stature came up, as did Washington's obvious need for help under center with Alex Smith's injury. These were hardly the only matters discussed or the only folks chatting.

Gruden and Williams combined spoke for around 45 minutes inside a conference room at the downtown J.W. Marriott, blocks away from the Indiana Convention Center and Lucas Oil Stadium, the primary locations for the 2019 NFL Combine. Thursday also marked the first day prospects held their own press conferences. From those events came the following:

* There's more to consider with the Redskins re-signing Adrian Peterson beyond contractual terms.

Washington reportedly began talks with the future Hall of Fame and the team's leading rusher from last season. Peterson's addition after Derrius Guice's season-ending knee injury during the preseason helped save the campaign offensively until those quarterback injuries took everyone down. The concept of pairing those two lead backs with passing-down threat Chris Thompson offers great appeal.

Now let's address the concern. The Redskins typically keep only three backs on the game day roster and one of those players lines up on special teams. None of those guys do that. Thompson and Peterson combined for two special teams snaps last season. Washington would be crazy to expose Guice.

Jay, thoughts?

"That's a great question and that's something you have to figure out on game day if everything works out,' the head coach said. "If all three are healthy and we have them all on the roster. This is a situation we're kind of guessing on. You'd like one of your backs to be able to participate on special teams someway, somehow."

Considering Guice is coming off a torn ACL and has never played a regular season NFL game, having a viable secondary option makes sense. That doesn't mean that person is Peterson, who turns 34 in March. Washington could always decide it will figure out special teams from other positions.

* Gruden and Williams rolled out similar laundry lists of roster holes beyond quarterback: Safety, inside linebacker, edge rusher, guard, wide receiver.

You might be nodding along because those are the need areas. That those two agree is important because outside opinions do not always match internal thinking.

"Safety is a major priority for us," Gruden said as he began ticking off positional weaknesses. "Inside linebacker is an issue. Pass rusher with Preston (Smith) being a free agent is obviously a priority for us without a doubt. Offensive linemen, we already know that's a priority. We know quarterbacks an issue, we know receiver is an issue, so we need to upgrade our entire roster. We're going to add players to every position, add competition, that's what's going to make us good."

* Gruden specifically mentioned adding a bigger receiver to the mix to join speed threat Paul Richardson. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder is another free agent.

* Washington arguably needs two starting safeties. Williams said the team would re-evaluate free agent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix now that there are new members of the coaching staff.

* The Redskins need a left guard. We know this. At times over the last two seasons, it's been unclear if the Redskins agreed considering they did little to address the positional hole other tan to keep trotting out injury-prone Shawn Lauvao. That changed Thursday. When asked, Williams said he did not believe a starter existed on the roster.

* Washington remains in limbo concerning ILB Reuben Foster's future, Gruden said, as the team as yet to hear from the league on whether any disciplinary actions are forthcoming.

* That these needs exist is why Williams pushed back somewhat on any idea of the Redskins trading away draft selections in pursuit of a quarterback.

"We've got a lot more needs on this football team than to say we can give up two or three picks and pick one guy and think we're going to have the football team that we hope to have," Williams said. "We have to use our picks wisely and make sure we've got guys who are coming here that can help us build this football team a lot better than it is."

* Washington's dicey salary cap scenario – ranked 23rd in the league with $16.7 million available – means finding ways to create more room. Among them, extending Pro Bowl right guard and 2020 free agent Brandon Scherff. The maneuver would free more space and lock in one of the team's top players. "I don't know if anybody understands the effect he has on our team when he's not playing," Gruden said of Scherff, who suffered a torn pectoral midway through last season. "So he is definitely a priority, we'll get it done."

* For all the hype over 40 times, bench reps and passing drills, the interview process is a crucial element of the Combine process as teams receive a close-up look at the person not just the player. Dozens of these interactions will occur so no single meeting automatically means draft day interest. That said the Redskins did meet with a pair of projected top-20 selections in offensive linemen Cody Ford (Oklahoma) and Juwaan Taylor (Florida).

Both played tackle in college, but teams are primarily viewing Ford at guard. Taylor said he wasn't sure of the Redskins' thoughts, but he was aware that tackle is not a priority.

Other players that have met with the Redskins to date include Northern Illinois OT Max Scharping, Washington State running back James Williams and Alabama State OT Tytus Howard. Mississippi OT Greg Little, a potential first-round pick, said he has not met with the Redskins. Same with a pair of Penn State prospects, running back Miles Sanders and offensive lineman Connor McGovern.

* Another media availability comes Friday morning with team president Bruce Allen. Stay tuned.

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