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McCaffrey & Obi to Visit, Kling in the Fold.

April 9, 2017
The Redskins have quietly been busy the last few days as the tune-up for the NFL Draft quickly approaching at the end of this month in Philadelphia.

While they continue to look for a new general manager, the Redskins were involved in three situations that piqued my interest and hopefully yours.

On Thursday, the Skins signed a developmental offensive tackle, John Kling out of the University of Buffalo. Kling, a 6’8”, 320-pound athlete was signed as an undrafted free agent by the Chicago Bears but was waived in the preseason.

Kling was signed by the Philadelphia Soul of the Arena Football League, that league’s defending champion, but instead he’ll presumably spend the spring and at least part of August with the Skins.  

Perhaps Kling’s absence from the defending arena champions benefits the Washington Valor or the Baltimore Brigade of the AFL? For at least one night, it looks like the Brigade need more help than the Valor.

Kling is from Cheektowaga, New York which is just outside of Buffalo and comes from a successful passing attack that allowed the second-fewest sacks in the MAC.

Remember, at this time every year, teams make moves and sign guys that sometimes jump out of nowhere, kind of like fellow offensive tackle Ty Nsekhe did, two years ago.

Kling’s addition makes 12 offensive linemen on the Redskins roster for Bill Callahan to work with.

2 - On Friday, it was reported that the Redskins would be visiting with Stanford running back, Christian McCaffrey, the son of long-time NFL wide receiver Ed McCaffrey.
 
McCaffrey’s stock is certainly on the rise, which is somewhat strange considering the overall top-end depth at the running back position in this year’s draft and the long-held thought that the running back position has been devalued across the board in the NFL over the last decade.

Of course, that’s a silly notion because everybody should know this very simple FACT: If you can run the football, you can win a lot of games. If you can’t run the football, you have almost no chance.

No matter what the numbers and metrics say – don’t even bother. The Redskins are a perfect example.

Sure they can move the football up-and-down the field against almost anybody (on a good day) but when they can’t or do not want to run the football, especially against mostly elite front-seven units, they don’t have a chance.

Everybody should know this by now. It should not have taken the Carolina disaster on Monday Night Football and the bad loss to the Giants to wrap up the season to figure this out.

I’ve been begging and pleading for the Redskins to be more balanced, more dedicated to the run game for years and Jay Gruden sees it differently.

Even if McCaffrey is the choice at number 17, and he could go before that according to NFL Network, possibly in the top-ten, he’s not a down-hill, bruising back that old-school offenses used to feature.

He’s a versatile pocket-knife weapon that excels in a wide variety of roles. Per Daniel Jeremiah of NFL Network, "I really believe he could be a full-time wide receiver in the NFL. He is a precise route runner and he's very sudden at the top of his routes

McCaffrey can run the ball to the outside and occasionally will be used inside the tackles. He can catch the ball well out of the backfield and he can line up in the slot.

As my pal John Keim of ESPN points out, McCaffrey can be used outside in a traditional receiver split and the Redskins can tweak certain base packages to get favorable matchup in other ways.

Keim also points out why running back is such a big need, something that has been obvious to anybody that understands why a balanced offense is still so important, despite what you hear elsewhere.

Robert Kelley struggled down the stretch going from 4.79 yards per attempt in his first three games to 3.3 yards per attempt in his last six.

As we mentioned a few weeks ago, when we pushed for the Redskins to make a run at Adrian Peterson, Kelley only averaged 2.92 yard per attempt in the final three games of the season. Clearly, a downward trend exists.

Jay Gruden can say all he wants how much he loves Rob Kelley and he’s certainly a nice story but let’s stop kidding ourselves that he’s a clear-cut number one back. Sorry, he’s not.

Remember what the Redskins were saying all of last off-season about Matt Jones? How did that work out? Everyone in the world said they needed to sign a veteran or draft a running back as a fairly high priority and Washington’s brass did absolutely nothing.

How did that taste? Jones had a meltdown midway through the season and essentially did not see the playing field in the second half of the season, while Kelley emerged and Chris Thompson played a key role.

Speaking of Thompson, his role would seem to be altered as much as anyone if McCaffrey is the choice at number 17. Thompson, a restricted free agent with a one year, second round pick compensation tender, is obviously not a guarantee to return (although it is very likely) and if/when he does – he’s only under a one-year deal.

Thompson has a specific, carved role in the offense and Redskins coaches have to manage his touches to protect him as best as possible. If McCaffrey is brought in and proves to be more durable, that could alter Thompson’s usage.

3 – The Redskins are also going to host UCONN safety Obi Melifonwu, a 6’4” 217 pound safety who is a tremendous athlete. The visit was first reported by Eric Edholm of Yahoo! 

Melifonwu was a long-jumper and triple-jump specialist in high school. He can press off the line of scrimmage because of his speed and frame. He can cover tight ends, an area that the Redskins have struggled with for such a long time.

Eric Galko of Optimum Scouting noted that he was down on Melifonwu entering his senior season, but is now “firmly aboard the Obi Melifonwu train.” Galko added the “sky is the limit for how high he can go.”

Matt Miller of Bleacher Report called Melifonwu an “athletic freak” and mentions that unlike others at his size, “he’s twitchy and explosive when attacking the ball in the air.”

Melifonwu is the type of player that could have some Kam Chancellor like abilities.

I remember Mike Mayock raving about him at the Senior Bowl so hopefully all of these analysts are not just hyping an athlete and instead, perhaps the Redskins wind up with a football player. 

Chris Russell has covered the Washington Redskins for eight seasons for multiple media outlets and was a part of the Redskins Radio Network broadcast team for five years. He covers the Redskins for Monumental Sports Network (www.DCHotRead.com) & Warpath Magazine. Listen to Chris on Washington D.C.'s # 1 sports radio station, 106.7 The FAN   

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