Redskins

Roby finally gets on board with first picks

Roby finally gets on board with first picks

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) A week ago, Bradley Roby was getting a lot of kidding from his fellow Ohio State defensive backs because they had interceptions and he didn't.

After all, Roby was the one member of the secondary who was consistently getting rave reviews from the coaches to that point. Yet he had dropped his only real shot at picking off an opposing pass.

``Everybody gives me a hard time because I'm supposed to be all this and all that,'' Roby said at the time. ``It's tough, but I don't really worry about it. It's going to come to me when I need it and when my team needs it.''

Boy, was that right.

Roby returned one interception 41 yards for a score and later collected another errant throw in the eighth-ranked Buckeyes' 63-38 victory over Nebraska on Saturday. He provided Ohio State's first points to help shake the Buckeyes out of a lethargic start, then thwarted perhaps Nebraska's last gasp of getting back in the game with another pick late in the third quarter.

Just like before, his coaches are praising him.

``He's by no means a finished product,'' Roby's position coach, Kerry Coombs, said this week. ``He's going to be a phenomenal player. Frankly, I think the sky's the limit. Bradley's a first-round draft pick down the road.''

Oh, and Roby's not taking any heat from his friends this week.

In a season in which the Ohio State defense is yielding 21 points and a jaw-dropping 385 yards a game, Roby has stepped forward as a budding star. Despite some shaky efforts by the defense - the unit has given up lots of big gainers and missed lots of key tackles - the Buckeyes (6-0, 2-0 Big Ten) are still rolling heading into Saturday night's game at Indiana (2-3, 0-2).

Roby, a 5-foot-11, 190-pound redshirt sophomore cornerback, has made a remarkable turnaround after being a bit player on a sub-.500 team a year ago.

Despite still recovering from a shoulder injury that caused him to miss a game, Roby has been perhaps the top playmaker for the Buckeyes on defense.

He's fourth on the team in tackles with 32, has two tackles for a loss including a sack, has recovered a fumble and made an incredible number of important stops and pass deflections. For example, he has broken up nine passes - as many as the next two Buckeyes combined.

Roby graded out at an almost unheard of 95 percent against Nebraska according to the coaches' evaluations. He was at 94 percent the week before after a make-or-break win at Michigan State.

``If he wasn't playing well, then I'd say he wasn't,'' coach Urban Meyer said. ``But he's played very well. He's grading extraordinarily high for a corner - I mean, like, real high.''

Before the Nebraska game, Roby said he had watched enough film to know that if he concentrated on a couple of particular pass routes he might be able to ``jump'' the route and step in front of a pass. And that's precisely what he did.

``I already I have a couple of routes that they run a lot that I'm looking for an interception,'' he said three days before the game. ``Hopefully, they're throwing and I'm in the right position. I've got to get one this game.''

After the game, Roby said he had a dream earlier in the week that he would return his first interception of the year for a touchdown - and that his father had texted him on Saturday morning saying he had had the exact same dream.

``It's crazy how things work out like that,'' Roby said.

Just as he had envisioned scoring on the pick in the dream, he had almost foreseen what he was going to do after all the hours he spent looking at Nebraska passing plays.

``Both of them were routes I had seen on film,'' he said. ``I told someone I would try to get picks on the routes I saw, because they don't throw much and I wanted to capitalize on my opportunities.''

Linebacker Ryan Shazier recognized the value of Roby's timing in making the two big plays.

``His play was amazing,'' Shazier said. ``We just really needed that.''

Roby intercepted three passes a year ago but more times than not was victimized by a costly completion or a long bomb. Early in the spring, Meyer had questioned whether he was serious about being a great player.

His recent play has clearly provided an answer.

``I don't think he ever gets beat, or rarely ever gets beat,'' lineman John Simon said of Roby. ``He's a huge playmaker for us. We love having him out there for us.''

Coombs said it is Roby's confidence which has helped him become an elite defender.

``I don't ever want to coach a single corner who's not cocky, who doesn't have swagger, who doesn't have an arrogance about him,'' Coombs said. ``Because the corner who doesn't is going to (get beat).''

Roby, however, believes it's just luck if a ball is completed on him.

``The reason that he's good, God gave him a lot of ability,'' Coombs said. ``But the reason he's great is because he's taken what God has given him and he's mastered his craft.''

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter:http://www.twitter.com/rustymillerap

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Need to Know: Who will be left for the Redskins to draft at No. 13?

Need to Know: Who will be left for the Redskins to draft at No. 13?

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 26, one day before the second and third rounds of the 2018 NFL draft.  

The players the Redskins will have to choose from at No. 13

As the 2018 NFL draft unfolds tonight, the Redskins are going to look to be able to pick from a group of players when their pick comes on the board. “You’ve got about six or seven guys on that board that you’re hoping is there when you get there,” Doug Williams said on Tuesday. “If you lose one, you put another one up.”

So, who is likely to be in that group? Based on a bevy of mock drafts and big boards plus my own analysis guessing, here are the seven players I think will wind up in that group that will be under discussion when the Redskins pick, in no particular order. 

  • QB Lamar Jackson, Louisville 
  • DL Da’Ron Payne, Alabama
  • Edge Marcus Davenport, Texas-San Antonio
  • LB Tremaine Edmunds, Virginia Tech
  • LB Leighton Vander Esch, Vanderbilt
  • S Derwin James, Florida State
  • CB Joshua Jackson, Iowa

Right off the top, did I forget RB Derrius Guice? No. While the Redskins like him I don’t think he is in consideration for the 13thpick. 

If Jackson is there, the move is to wait for the phones to ring. There is talk that the Ravens, who pick 16th, would like to add him. Moving back to Baltimore’s spot could potentially add a third-round pick and still have at least four of these seven players still available. The Redskins are intrigued by Jackson but with Alex Smith under contract, they aren’t going to draft a quarterback.  

Payne has been a popular pick to the Redskins in mock drafts (such as the one I posted yesterday). He could be a bit of a reach at 13 and perhaps he is a better candidate to be taken after a trade back. I think that Vita Vea will be gone, probably to the Raiders with the 10thpick. 

If Vea does go to Oakland and there is a top-10 surprise like Notre Dame OT Mike McGlinchey, a hot name lately, then there is a good chance that both Edmunds and James will be available. Let’s do the count as the Redskins would as the first 12 picks unfold. If four quarterbacks go plus Vea, McGlinchey, guard Quinton Nelson cornerback Denzel Ward, running back Saquon Barkley, and edge rusher Bradley Chubb, that leaves two other picks in front of the Redskins. I think those will be cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick and inside linebacker Roquan Smith. That would leave James and Edmunds. Of course, one or both of them could go earlier, leaving Fitzpatrick and/or Smith for inclusion on the Redskins’ list. 

Any one of those four players should give the Redskins pause when it comes to trading down or taking Payne. They need impact players and all of those prospects have potential to be just that. 

Their interest in Davenport may tell us how confident the Redskins are in their ability to retain Preston Smith beyond this year and their confidence in the development of Ryan Anderson. And if they select Joshua Jackson could be a signal that Josh Norman will become a 2019 salary cap casualty. The Redskins reportedly like Vander Esch but he’s a notch below the special talents like Edmunds and Smith. 

If I was presented with this scenario, I’d probably take James. Yes, the Redskins like D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson but they could take James, move him around the defense and figure out some neat name for his position. He would make the defense better immediately. Other needs like the defensive line could be handled later on in the draft.  

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

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Timeline  

Today’s schedule: 8:00 NFL Draft, first round, AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX

Days until:

—Rookie minicamp (5/11) 15
—OTAs start (5/22) 26
—Training camp starts (7/26) 91

The Redskins last played a game 116 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 136 days. 

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Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

Wizards have to find a way to stop DeMar DeRozan to climb back in series

The Toronto Raptors' best player has become a serious problem for the Washington Wizards, as they now face a 3-2 series deficit in their 2018 NBA Playoffs first-round series and the bleak reality that one more loss means their season is over.

DeMar DeRozan, who began this first round series with a modest 17 points in Game 1, has since raised his game to a new level to beyond even what we have seen in the past. In Games 2-5, DeRozan has averaged 31.8 points, including his 32-game outburst in Game 5 that tilted the series in Toronto's favor.

DeRozan is averaging 28.8 points through five games against the Raptors. That's up considerably from his 22.5-point career playoff average.

DeRozan scored his 32 points in Game 5 with efficiency. He shot 12-for-24 from the field and even made three of his four shots from three.

He didn't even need the free throw line like he normally does. DeRozan shot six free throws, less than his regular season average.

The Wizards are having trouble with DeRozan particularly in the first half. DeRozan is averaging 14.8 first-half points during the playoffs, second only to LeBron James. 

DeRozan had 20 points by halftime in Game 5.

"DeMar was in his element tonight," forward Kelly Oubre, Jr. said. "He got it going early. It was kind of hard to shut him off."

The Wizards are paying for disrespecting DeRozan's three-point shot. He made just 31.2 percent from long range in the regular season, but is shooting threes at a 45.5 percent clip in the playoffs.

If DeRozan is knocking down shots from outside, his offensive game is as complete as just about anyone in the NBA. He has shown in this series an impressive ability to not only get to the rim, but finish through contact or draw fouls.

DeRozan does a good job of maintaining body and ball control going straight up against Wizards' big men and is often rewarded by the referees. He shot a playoff career-high 18 free throws in Game 4.

The Wizards are actually doing a decent job of taking away his midrange shots, which usually account for much of his points. Though DeRozan is hitting an impressive 66.7 percent from 5-to-9 feet, up from his season clip of 47.6, his numbers are down from further out.

DeRozan is shooting 40 percent from 10-to-14 feet out, down from 41.5 percent in the regular season, and just 28.6 percent from 15-to-19 feet, down from 43.7.

DeRozan is hurting the Wizards from long range and within nine feet of the rim. He is taking what the Wizards are giving him and Washington has to adjust.

"We’ve gotta pretty much get it out of [his] hands. Make sure we take care of everybody else," Oubre said.

The Wizards should look to how the defended him in Game 4 as a good example of how to limit his impact. DeRozan had 35 points, but required 29 shots from the field and 18 free throws to get there. 

Washington forced DeRozan into an inefficient night and forced others to try to beat them. The result was the Wizards' best defensive game overall, as the Raptors scored a series-low 98 points.

DeRozan isn't the only defensive concern for the Wizards as they look ahead to Game 6 on Friday. Backup point guard Delon Wright scored 18 points for the second time this series and Toronto hit 11 threes in the game.

The Wizards held the Raptors to just seven threes in Game 4 and it was no coincidence they won that game. They have to lock down the perimeter and, as this series has shown, that includes DeRozan even though he isn't known for making threes.

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