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How others graded the Redskins' draft

How others graded the Redskins' draft

Yesterday I graded the Redskins’ 2015 draft. Now let’s take a look around and see how others viewed what Scot McCloughan and company did last week.

Before we dive in to the analysts’ specific comments, here are a few of the general themes from their evaluations:

—The main concern was that taking Brandon Scherff in the first round may have been a reach, especially with defensive lineman Leonard Williams on the board. That’s understandable and it’s now up to Scherff, Jay Gruden, and Bill Callahan to prove them wrong.

—Preston Smith was a widely praised pick, showing that some analysts can look beyond the players who receive the hype and look at the players who are good fits for the team that drafted them. Smith fits the big, tough guy mold that McCloughan has established.

—The most astute observation came from Evan Silva of Rotoworld. He noted that McCloughan didn’t try to hit home runs in the later rounds of the draft, he focused on building up the back end of the roster. Even if players like Martrell Spaight, Kyshoen Jarrett, and Evan Spencer may never end up contributing much from scrimmage they have a chance to be valuable as reserves and as solid special teams contributors.

—You don't have to be a math major to figure out that the average grade given from this group was B-. That's a little lower than I had. I was more impressed by McCloughan having a philosophy of big men win (and if you're not big, you need to play big) than others were, perhaps due to the helter-skelter shifts in the type of players the Redskins have coveted over the last 15 years.

Note: Only partial comments are quoted here, click on the links for the writer’s full analysis.

Bryan Fischer, NFL.com: B-

The skinny: GM Scot McCloughan is one of the best evaluators in the league, but Brandon Scherff was a big reach, even if he lives up to his potential. Failing to trade down and passing on the best player in the draft (Leonard Williams) is going to be something the team might regret, even if Scherff becomes a top-flight tackle or guard.

Doug Farrar, SI.com: B

New general manager Scot McCloughan made it clear in his first Washington draft that he's going to do with the Redskins what he did in his stints with the 49ers and Seahawks: fill the roster with height/weight/speed monsters who can play the game. Some may question taking Iowa tackle Brandon Scherff with the fifth pick, but he's a perfect right tackle or guard who could fill in should left tackle Trent Williams get hurt. Second-round end Preston Smith from Mississippi State can play all over the formation. He's not a speed-rusher, but he can do just about everything else.

Evan Silva, Rotoworld: B-

. . . He attacked special teams and was willing to use picks on role players. I absolutely loved his first- and second-round haul; both Scherff and Smith project as high-level NFL starters. Beyond rounds one and two, however, I don't think McCloughan was trying to hit home runs. He's got a 53-man roster to build and he wanted to stockpile useful football players, even if they're unlikely to become NFL stars.

Dan Kadar, SB Nation: B-

Best pick: Preston Smith - For Washington Smith will be able to come in and do a variety of things. He can play down in four-man fronts and is athletic enough to be a linebacker.

Questionable pick: Matt Jones - Washington had a need at running back, but I had a low grade on Jones.

With players like Scherff, Kouandjio and Smith, Washington did a really nice job of starting a culture to one that is more gritty and tough.

Mark Maske, Washington Post: B-

Brandon Scherff is a good player and if he becomes a reliable starter at right tackle, all is well. But if he ends up playing guard, he might not have been worth the No. 5 overall pick. Will the Redskins regret passing up DE Leonard Williams, perhaps the draft’s top defensive player?

Pete Prisco, CBS: B-

Best Pick: Second-round pick Preston Smith played defensive end in college, but will move to linebacker for the Redskins. It will be a transition, but he has the tools to make it work . . .

Analysis: They added some solid pieces, and ended up with a solid haul. Scot McCloughan does a nice job with the draft. Scherff is a good player, but that seems high to me. Even so, it was a nice draft.

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.