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Key stat shows Redskins on the upswing, but can they keep it up?

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Key stat shows Redskins on the upswing, but can they keep it up?

The Redskins’ rise from worst in the NFC East to first is remarkable as they were coming off of what were arguably the worst back-to-back seasons in their history. The won three games in 2013 and four in 2014. The total of seven wins over two seasons was the fewest the team had in consecutive seasons since the advent of the 16-game schedule in 1978.

Looking beyond the wins and losses, one of the best simple metrics to use to gauge the quality of a team’s season is by looking at its point differential, the difference between how many points the team scored and how many it gave up. They were outscored by 144 points in 2014, their worst point differential since the 1970 merger. They were only a touchdown better in 2014, with a point differential of minus-137. That was the second-worst since the merger.

The 2015 Redskins outscored the opposition 388 points to 379. The net differential of plus-9 points isn’t anything to write home about. But the year-to-year improvement of 146 points is one of the best in team history.

The biggest improvement in point differential since 1978 came from 1990-1991. That was a case of a team going from good to historically great. In 1990 the Redskins went 10-6 and outscored the opposition by 80 points. They put it all together in 1991 and posted a point differential of plus-261 (an improvement of 181 points) while in the process of going 14-2 in the regular season. That team rolled through the playoffs and won Super Bowl XXVI.

The only team with a better point differential since the merger was the plus-315 posted by the 2007 Patriots, who went 16-0. You may recall that they did not win the Super Bowl.

The Redskins were bad in 1998, getting outscored by 102 points while going 6-10. The next season they won the NFC East with a plus-66 differential, an improvement of 168 points.

Those are the only two other times since the advent of the 16-game schedule that schedule that the Redskins have improved more from one season to the next than they did from 2014-2015.

Anyone who has been following the team for any length of time, however, knows that they will demonstrate improvement when they can do well for more than just a season. The Redskins have not had back-to-back seasons with a positive point differential since 1999-2000 and they haven’t done it three times in a row since Joe Gibbs’ first stint as head coach, from 1989-1991. 

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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.