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Need to Know: DT Billings, WR Thomas to Redskins in latest mock draft

Need to Know: DT Billings, WR Thomas to Redskins in latest mock draft

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, March 25, 34 days before the NFL Draft.

I’m changing around the Need to Know format a bit. There may be some more tweaks in the coming days and weeks; your comments are welcome.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 75 days ago. It will be about 170 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 24; 2016 NFL draft 34; Redskins training camp starts 125

Hot topic

Todd McShay of ESPN has a new mock draft out (here's the link but it's behind a paywall) and many Redskins fans would be pretty happy if the top of the actual draft, which starts five weeks from yesterday, turned out like McShay predicts.

In the first round McShay has the Redskins going with Baylor defensive lineman Andrew Billings. He could fill the hole at nose tackle and play end as well. He is a load at 6-1, 311 and, as you can see in the GIF in my article on Billings, he plays hard.

In the second round McShay sends Ohio State wide receiver Michael Thomas to Washington. I’d like to congratulate someone in the national media for recognizing the Redskins’ need to draft a WR, with both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson turning 30 later this year and both entering the final years of their contracts. And who is going to complain about the team finally landing a big (6-3) wide receiver?

It seems that Billings will be there when the Redskins pick at No. 21. Thomas could be gone by early in the second round but you never know how things will unfold.

Fan question of the day

It’s true that Scot McCloughan wants to get more picks in the draft but it’s not necessarily because he sees a lot of defensive talent that he can stockpile. His philosophy is like that of many GMs—the more picks he has the better chance he has of hitting on them.

If you want to hit on, say, six solid players in a draft you probably aren’t going to do it with seven draft picks. You need, as McCloughan said earlier this week, more “swings”. Not all of your picks are going to succeed so if you want to build through the draft, having more picks increases the chances you will be able to do so.

This draft is strong on the defensive line but it’s just OK elsewhere on defense. There aren’t many strong edge rushers and, as seems to be the case frequently, safety is also weak.

So McCloughan’s desire for more draft picks is not about rebuilding the defense so much as it is a general team building philosophy at this phase of the team's development.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

Stat of the day

Jamison Crowder set the Redskins rookie record last year with 59 pass receptions. The most receptions for a Redskins player in his first year in the NFL was 72 by Gary Clark in 1985. Clark had played in the USFL prior to coming to the Redskins so he was not a rookie by the NFL definition.

In case you missed it

 

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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.