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NFL Draft 2018: College playoff prospects to watch

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NFL Draft 2018: College playoff prospects to watch

Five New Year’s Day bowl games means five opportunities to TV scout potential draft selections for the Washington Redskins. Part 1 focused on prospects in Outback, Peach and Cirtus bowls including LSU running back Derrius Guice. Now, here are the names to watch in the Monday’s two national semifinal games with virtually all listed likely going in the first or second round.

Rose Bowl: Georgia-Oklahoma

Nick Chubb, running back, Georgia

Measurables: 5-foot-10, 220 pounds

Projection: 1-2 round

Need: Even if the pass-catching Chris Thompson returns to form following his season-ending leg injury, the Redskins still have questions with early down work. It’s also quite possible the decision to give the Robert Kelley-Samaje Perine combo another run this season.

Analysis (WalterFootball.com): “Chubb is averaging 7.1 yards per carry in 2017 for 1,547 yards with 14 touchdowns. The senior has two receptions for 20 yards as well. His production is suppressed by Georgia splitting the carries among a huge stable of backs. Scouting sources have liked what they've seen from Chubb this year, and he looks back to his old form. Chubb is faster, more physical, tougher to tackle, and more decisive than he was in 2016. 

Roquan Smith, inside linebacker, Georgia

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 225 pounds

Projection: First round

Need: Washington’s top three inside linebackers are 2018 free agents. Even if one or two return, the defense could use an impact player in the middle. Smith, the Butkus Award winner as the nation’s top linebacker, qualifies.

Analysis (Albert Breer, SI.com): “I think Roquan Smith will be a huge part of the Bulldogs’ plans to pin Baker Mayfield in the pocket and prevent his normal theatrics. Do yourself a favor and watch Smith. He’s got the “I know where the play’s going before it goes there” thing that so many great ’backers have, and he could be an instant impact guy for a team that needs one (like Oakland) next year. I had him going 12th.

Baker Mayfield, quarterback, Oklahoma

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 209 pounds

Projection: First round

Need: There’s no need if Kirk Cousins signs a long-term deal. There would be the rationale for selecting a passer for the future if Cousins is only back for a one-year tag. Should he leave altogether, Washington could absolutely seek a replacement in the first round. Projections have 4-6 quarterbacks in round one.

Analysis (WalterFootball.com): “Mayfield has completed 71 percent of his passes this season for 4,340 yards with 41 touchdowns and five interceptions. He also has five rushing touchdowns. Mayfield led Oklahoma to an impressive road win at Ohio State, lost a shootout at home to Iowa State, and led the Sooners to an epic win over Oklahoma State, in which Mayfield threw for 598 yards on the Cowboys. Mayfield has accepted an invitation to play at the Senior Bowl, which was a smart move as he is very likely to help himself by participating in Mobile. 

Sugar Bowl: Alabama-Clemson

Christian Wilkins, defensive tackle, Clemson

Measurables: 6-foot-4, 310 pounds

Projection: 1-2 round

Need: Adding Jonathan Allen provided the defensive line with a game-changing talent. As evidenced by the way Washington’s run defense cratered after the 2017 first rounder suffered a season-ending foot injury in Week 5, they could use more beef up front. Clemson defensive end Clelin Ferrell may hear his name called among the top 10 picks, but his teammate could be a solid fallback plan.

Analysis (WalterFootball.com): “In 2017, Wilkins has 45 tackles with seven tackles for a loss and four sacks. All year, he has played well, using speed and athleticism to cause disruption at the point of attack. In speaking with sources at multiple teams, they see Wilkins as a future first-rounder. He is a fast interior pass-rusher who can collapse the pocket and provide an inside pass rush. Wilkins dominated Miami in the ACC Championship.”

Read more here.

Ronnie Harrison, strong safety, Alabama

Measurables: 6-foot-3, 214 pounds

Projection: First round

Need: The Redskins found a nice piece in free agency last off-season with D.J. Swearinger. They also made a nice discovery with fourth-round pick Montae Nicholson, who ended up missing half the season with injuries. With DeAngelo Hall likely moving on, Washington could view a safety addition as a “best available” type move.

Analysis (USA Today): A hard-hitting defender with a prototypical frame for a pro safety, Harrison’s combination of athleticism and physicality have made him a constant headache for opposing offenses.

Harrison’s size and physical playing style make him a terror in the box, but his fluidity and athletic ability allow him to also hang with pass-catchers down the field. 

Others: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama; Rashaan Evans, ILB Alabama; Orlando Brown, OT, Oklahoma; Ogbonnia Okoronkwo, DE, Oklahoma.

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

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Redskins Fan of the Year bracket: Which Washington supporter deserves the title?

Every week during the 2017 Redskins season, NBC Sports Washington found two Redskins fans in the crowd and paired them in a head-to-head matchup on Twitter to determine the fan of the game.

And now that the season is over, it's time to take each of those winners, throw them into a NCAA Tournament-style bracket and let Twitter pick the Redskins Fan of the Year.

Starting on January 8 over on the @NBCSRedskins Twitter account, one matchup a day will be posted at 11 a.m., and fans will have 24 hours to vote for their favorite supporter by retweeting or liking depending on their preference. Week 1's winner will face off with Week 17's, Week 2's will play Week 16's, etc.

The winners will advance, and eventually, one member of the Burgundy and Gold faithful will stand above all the rest, earning the coveted title of Redskins Fan of the Year. 

Check out the results below, which'll be updated every day. To see the tweet that corresponded with each matchup, click the link after the date, but remember, retweets and likes submitted after the 24-hour period won't be counted.

ELITE 8 RESULTS

January 18: Round two, matchup one

The first Elite 8 matchup was... not close:

January 19: Round two, matchup two

The Elite 8's second tilt is underway. Vote now:


FIRST ROUND RESULTS

January 8: Round one, matchup one

This was a close one that came down to the last-minute, but at the 24-hour mark, Week 17's winner garnered justtttttttt enough retweets to move on.

January 9: Round one, matchup two

In this tournament, a giant Redskins chain is apparently worth more than a giant football hat.

January 10: Round one, matchup three

In the tournament's third showdown, we have our first winner from the Likes side:

January 11: Round one, matchup four

Was there anyway she wasn't gonna win, especially with the little Hogettes nose?

January 12: Round one, matchup five

Our fifth matchup's winner earned the most retweets of anyone up to this point:

January 15: Round one, matchup six

These three 'Skins fans had to witness Washington's Thursday night flop in Dallas, so it's only fair that they get to advance to the second round:

January 16: Round one, matchup seven

You'd think a turkey hat would be enough to capture a W, but not in this one:

January 17: Round one, matchup eight

The Elite 8 is now set with this showdown going to the retweets side: