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Need to Know: It's science--Preston Smith is one of the NFL's top pass rushers

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Need to Know: It's science--Preston Smith is one of the NFL's top pass rushers

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, February 7, 35 days before NFL free agency starts.

A scientific evaluation of Preston Smith

Preston Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. That’s not an opinion, that’s science talking.

According to data gathered by the NFL via Next Gen Stats, the Redskins’ outside linebacker had a higher pass rush pressure rate than anyone in the NFL in 2017.

That’s right. A higher pressure rate than Von Miller, Demarcus Lawrence, Aaron Donald, Everson Griffen, or whatever other pass rushers you want to name.

The data does not come from someone with a pen and notepad watching the All-22 from NFL Game Pass. Next Gen Stats are generated from the precise GPS chips that are located in each player’s pads. If the pass rusher is within a certain distance of the quarterback at the time the pass is released, he is credited with a pressure.

Per that data, Smith got pressure on 15.9 percent of his 309 pass rushing plays. That put him just a tick ahead of the Cowboys’ Lawrence at 15.8 percent. In third was another member of the Redskins, Junior Galette, with a rate of 15.1 percent on his 219 attempts.

The Redskins had one other player in the top 12 with Ryan Kerrigan 10th with a rate of 13.4 percent on 380 pass rush plays. Only one other team, the Rams with Donald and Robert Quinn, had more than one player in the top 12.

Something else should be noted here. The old adage is that a baseball player can fail seven out of every 10 trips to the plate and still have a shot at the Hall of Fame. As a pass rusher, your failure rate can be even higher, nearly 85 percent, and you can still be one of the best in the business. The top rushers average about two or three pressures per game. Just like seasons where the .300 hitter goes through some 0 for 4 games, the top pass rusher will have games where he just can’t get to the quarterback.

The Redskins organization will have some work to do if it wants to keep the trio together. Kerrigan is signed through 2020 so he is not a concern. Galette was unhappy with his playing time last year (he replied to the tweet with these stats in it wondering if his snap count was too high) and he might move on as a free agent this year unless the Redskins can persuade him they will give him more snaps.

Smith should be the priority. He has completed three years of his four-year rookie contract and he is now eligible to get a contract extension. The Redskins would be wise to at least attempt to lock him up for the next several years. But Smith might want to wait a year and test the open market where he could really cash in.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 22
—NFL Draft (4/26) 78
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 214

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Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

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USA TODAY Sports

Martavis Bryant could make sense for the Redskins, at the right price

A 2017 midseason trade for Martavis Bryant made no sense for the Redskins. A 2018 offseason trade for Martavis Bryant, however, might make sense for the Redskins. 

Bryant is on the trade block, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, and will be an intriguing prospect for receiver-needy teams across the NFL. In parts of three seasons with the Steelers, Bryant has 17 touchdowns and a 15.2 yards-per-reception average. 

A big play threat from any place on the field, Bryant would immediately make the Redskins receiving unit more athletic and explosive. 

It's not all good news with Bryant, though.

He was suspended for the entire 2016 season after repeated drug violations and caused some distraction for Pittsburgh during the 2017 season when he asked for a trade via social media. 

MORE: CAN YOU GUESS THESE REDSKINS BASED ON THEIR COMBINE NUMBERS?

Is the talent enough to overcome the off-field distractions? Many would say it is. 

Last year, in just eight starts, Bryant grabbed 50 catches for more than 600 yards and three TDs. In their lone playoff loss to the Jaguars, Bryant caught two passes for 78 yards and a TD. 

Remember, too, the Steelers have an explosive offense, and Bryant is coupled with Antonio Brown on the receiver front along with Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback and Le'Veon Bell at running back. The Pittsburgh offense is loaded. 

Washington's offense is not nearly the prolific unit that the Steelers send out, but Jay Gruden does design a good offense. 

The real question surrounding any talk of trading for Bryant is the cost.

The Redskins are not in a position to send away any more draft picks this offseason after giving up a third-round pick, in addition to Kendall Fuller, to acquire Alex Smith. Bruce Allen and the Redskins front office need to improve their team in plenty of spots, and the team's draft picks are quite valuable. 

Bryant only has one year remaining on his rookie deal, and it's hard to balance that sort of short-term investment with the value of adding a rookie committed to the team for at least four years. Perhaps a late-round pick would make sense, but it would need to be a sixth-rounder. 

This could be one of those rare situations in the NFL where a player for player swap could work, though pulling that type of maneuver requires a lot of moving parts. 

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

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Need to Know: The most overrated Redskins events of 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, February 23, 19 days before NFL free agency starts.

I’m out this week so I’ll be re-posting some of the best and most popular articles of the past few months. Some may have slightly dated information but the major points in the posts still stand. Thanks for reading, as always.

The overrated Redskin moments of 2017

Originally published 12/30/17

Sometimes in the NFL, something happens that grabs headlines and appears to be a momentous event that has ripple effects that will last all season and perhaps beyond. Other times something that is greeted with a yawn by fans and the media turns out to be something with lasting impact. Yesterday we looked at three events that were underrated at the time they happened. Here, in no particular order, are three overrated events from 2017.

Beating the Raiders—At the time, the Raiders were 2-0 and they still had the status of being one of the favorites to get to the Super Bowl. The Redskins whipped them 27-10 and the prevailing view was that the Redskins were on their way to a special year. But that loss started a four-game losing streak for the Raiders. They are currently riding a three-game skid and at 6-9 they are contenders for a top-10 draft pick, not for the Super Bowl. The win became less impressive for the Redskins as the year went on.

Signing Terrelle Pryor—There was plenty of excitement when the Redskins signed the Browns wide receiver, who had 1,000 receiving yards catching passes from a sub-mediocre group of quarterbacks in Cleveland. Imagine what he could do with a quality QB and a good offense around him. The hype grew when a fan captured him making this catch in training camp:

But the production was not there. In nine games before going on injured reserve with an ankle injury, Pryor caught 20 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Su’a Cravens departure—There was a lot of concern about issues both on and off the field when Cravens abruptly let it be known to teammates that he intended to retire just after the Redskins finalized their 53-man roster on September 2. All offseason Cravens’ name had been written at the top of the depth chart at strong safety in Sharpie. When he walked away and was put on the Exempt/Left Squad list (and eventually on the Reserve/Left Squad list, ending his season), there was plenty of speculation about whether the organization botched the situation and, of more immediate importance, what would happen at safety without Cravens. We’re still not sure about what happened but Montae Nicholson and Deshazor Everett did a respectable job at safety.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL Combine (3/1) 6
—NFL Draft (4/26) 62
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 198