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Can the Broncos’ exploit Cam’s weakness?

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Can the Broncos’ exploit Cam’s weakness?

There will be about 150 plays from scrimmage during the Super Bowl on Sunday. While all of them will matter, about a dozen and a half of them will be decisive. It is likely that Carolina plays on third down with five or more yards to go will be among those decisive moments. If the Broncos can contain Cam Newton on those plays as well as he has been contained all year, they will have a better shot a pulling off the upset. 

Newton has excelled in most situations this year, a performance that will almost certain earn him the league MVP honor when the awards are announced tonight. But one area where he has struggled is on third down with five or more yards to go. 

In 2015, Newton completed 46 of 91 passes in such situations, a completion percentage of 50.5. Of the 37 quarterbacks who attempted 40 or more third and long passes Newton ranked 35th. (h/t to ProFootballReference.com for crunching the numbers).

Newton also took 11 sacks on third and long, costing 100 yards in losses. When you include the sacks he averaged 5.8 yards gained every time he dropped back to pass. 

Not only is third and long something of a problem area for the Panthers, it’s a situation that the top-ranked Broncos handle well. They racked up 16 third and long sacks, more than all but two other teams in the league. 

The challenge for the Broncos will be getting Carolina into third and long. They average 4.1 yards per run on first down so they frequently get most of what they need to stay out of bad situations right there. 

But the Broncos were very good at forcing third and long situations this year. In fact, their opponents had an average of 7.8 yards to go on all third downs, the longest in the league.

So while you’re watching the game, note what happens when Carolina gets in third and long. If the Broncos get a sack or force an incompletion, asserting their strength against a Panthers weak spot, that’s a big win for them. The more the Newton and the Panthers can succeed where they have had some problems, the more it will be their kind of day.

RELATED: A Super Bowl MVP with the D-O-Double G

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Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

Late push for McGlinchey, Landry and Davenport would help Redskins at 13

For months, draft conversation suggested that there wasn't an offensive tackle to pick in the Top 10. And after Bradley Chubb, there wasn't an edge defender worth a Top 10 pick either. 

All of a sudden, that conversation is changing. 

Late charges from Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey, Boston College defensive end Harold Landry and University of Texas San Antonio pass rusher Marcus Davenport are starting to influence mock drafts.

On Wednesday, NFL Network's Peter Schrager predicted the 49ers to take McGlinchey with the ninth overall pick. Charley Casserly, in a mock draft with NBC Sports Washington on Monday, predicted the Chicago Bears take Davenport with the eighth overall pick. Reports on Landry are all over the place, but some guess he could break the Top 10 as well.

The thing to remember about the NFL: It's a passing league. Positions tied to the quarterback are the most important, and that means protecting the QB and getting after the QB is in high demand. No position will ever get over-drafted like quarterback, but it's not a surprise that teams might reach for players at tackle or edge rusher.

What does this mean for the Redskins holding the No. 13 pick?

It means great news. 

Washington will already benefit from four QBs going in the Top 10. That will likely push down an elite talent to their draft spot.

If McGlinchey, Davenport or Landry also crack the Top 10? Even better.

The Redskins need help at just about every position group on the defensive side of the ball. It's well documented how the team struggled against the run in 2017, but the defense also lost Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller this offseason. 

There will be a number of weapons available for Washington at 13, and that could include players like Minkah Fitzpatrick or Derwin James in addition to Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne. It might mean Tremaine Edmunds or Roquan Smith lasts to 13 too. 

For the Redskins, Fitzpatrick or James at 13 seems like a steal. Both players present elite potential at the evolving position of nickel cornerback. They can play some corner, some safety, and James might even be able to play some linebacker. 

Regardless of the eventual destination for James or Fitzpatrick, if more surprise players sneak into the Top 10 on Thursday night, the better Washington's options become. And that includes the possibility of trading down, Vea or Payne, Smith or Edmunds.

More elite options at 13 only helps the Redskins. 

Redskins fans should be rooting for Mike McGlinchey, Harold Landry or Marcus Davenport early Thursday night. The folks in Ashburn will be. 

MORE 2018 NFL DRAFT:
- Mock Draft 9.0: Almost draft day
- Top Prospects: RB options for the Redskins
- Top Prospects: WR options for the Redskins
- Need To Know: Rich Tandler's Seven-Round Redskins Mock Draft
- Mega-Mock Predictions: DC Media choose No. 13 pick

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Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

Once undrafted, how Trey Edmunds found his way as a rookie in a crowded backfield

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the third episode above and more here.

A position change. A school change. A season-ending injury. 

Those are the kinds of things that prevent an NFL career from ever starting. But none of those things stopped Trey Edmunds from reaching the league and contributing for the Saints as a rookie in 2017.

Trey, the oldest brother in a family that features 2018 prospects Tremaine and Terrell, came out of high school as a linebacker, but became a running back after enrolling at Virginia Tech. After three productive seasons with the Hokies, he transferred to finish up his career with Maryland, yet his senior season was cut short after fracturing his foot five games in to the schedule.

That injury was a big reason why the 2017 NFL Draft came and went without a phone call for Edmunds, so he signed with the Saints as an undrafted free agent in May. There, he played spot duty on special teams for much of his rookie campaign before his breakout moment in November:

Now, heading into his second pro year, Edmunds will reportedly have to fight for a roster spot in New Orleans again. But hey, adversity is something the 23-year-old is very familiar with, so don't bet against him.