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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 26, 44 days before NFL free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

This morning’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

Allstair is referring to Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton, who most experts saw as the most impressive player at any position during the week of the Senior Bowl. He’s not just a nose tackle, although at 6-2, 342 he can plug the middle in the 3-4 just fine. Shelton could play tackle if the Redskins line up in a 4-3 as they will a significant percentage of the time in Joe Barry’s hybrid scheme.

The versatility is important because a player has to be a three-down player to justify being the fifth overall pick. He has moved up to No. 7 overall in the prospect rankings on CBSSports.com and is likely to have a similar ranking when other sites are updated with their post-Senior Bowl rankings. That’s certainly close enough to the Redskins’ top pick in the five hole to raise the possibility that he will be the guy.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that Scot McCloughan doesn’t look at the CBS website or listen to Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock. I’ve already used this quote from McCloughan a few times here but it bears repeating. “I think game tape is the DNA,” he said at his introductory press conference.

He’s not going to be very impressed by what Shelton may have done at the Senior Bowl. The player will not rise or fall on McCloughan’s draft board during the combine. Most of Shelton’s resume is set in stone in McCloughan’s eyes.

“I always go back to the tape. I have to,” he said. “That’s the way I was taught. You’re going to see all of a sudden – Georgia is playing Alabama, it’s fourth quarter, it’s fourth and three, who wins on that line of scrimmage? That guard come off and get the play?”

Substitute Washington and Washington State for Georgia and Alabama and the nose tackle for “that guard” and you can see what McCloughan is looking for.

There also will be background checks and talks with former teammates and strength coaches and others who will be able to vouch for his character and work ethic. And McCloughan likely talked to him in Mobile and will one or two more times before draft day.

There also will be conversations and tape-watching sessions with Joe Barry and the new defensive line coach to make sure that Shelton will be a good fit for what they have in mind defensively. Then Shelton will be compared to other candidates for the fifth pick to see how he stacks up.

So there is a long way to go here. Right now Shelton looks like a player that the Redskins could use and he seems to be in the mix for the No. 5 pick. Should they trade back a few spots to a position later in the top 10, he would seem to be even a more attractive possibility. But we don’t know what is going on in McCloughan’s head and we probably won’t until they turn in the card on April 30.

Timeline

—It’s been 29 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 230 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 24; NFL free agency starts 43; 2015 NFL Draft 94

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

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USA TODAY Sports

Five takeaways from the Redskins' necessary win over the Giants

Here are my five takeaways from the Redskins’ ugly 20-10 win vs. the Giants.

A Win is a Win:
If you are worried about style points you are doing it wrong. This was a banged up team on a short week playing for its life. Perhaps a better start would have made for a more comfortable win but they got done what they needed to do.

Jamison Crowder is on a Roll
:
He gained a career-high 141 yards on seven receptions. The yardage broke his career high of 123 that he set in Week 8. The third-year receiver got off to very slow start, not posting over 52 yards in any game.

But he has broken out of his slump in a big way and Kirk Cousins is very glad to see it.

Perine is Ready:
The rookie was elevated into the starting role after Rob Kelley went onto injured reserve two weeks ago. His importance elevated when Chris Thompson went out for the year with a broken leg.

Fortunately for the Redskins, his play has elevated since becoming the starter. He rushed for 117 yards against the Saints on Sunday. Thursday, four days later, he couldn’t get anything going in the first half, gaining only three yards on seven carries. But he got rolling in the second half and finished with 100 yards on 24 carries.

The Redskins may well have lost this game if Perine, the only back who was on the roster as of three weeks ago, had not gotten himself on track.

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

Defense Got Help: 
Eli Manning passed for 113 yards. Only six times in his career, which spans 211 games, has he thrown for fewer yards. There are three entities mainly responsible for Eli’s woes. The Redskins defense did a good job of putting pressure on him and for the most part the back seven played well in coverage. But Eli himself contributed to his own production problems.

On many occasions he had time to throw and a receiver open but he either sailed the ball well over the receiver’s head or threw it in the ground. Finally, when Manning did have time and delivered the ball on the money, his receivers frequently were unable to find the handle; there were several costly drops.

RELATED: BIGGEST UP'S AND DOWN'S FROM REDSKINS-GIANTS

There is Hope:
It’s too early in the weekend to go into much detail about the Redskins chances of making the playoffs but the losses earlier in the day by the Lions and Cowboys certainly helped.

It’s still a tough path to navigate.

But they did what they needed to do today in winning one of six games that looked winnable earlier this week. All they can do is try to get a winning streak together and they did all they could do in that regard on Thanksgiving.

Now it’s on to Dallas to see if they can take the next step.

MORE: THIS ONE THROW SHOWS HOW COUSINS IS EVOLVING

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

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Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

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USA TODAY Sports

Want to see how Kirk Cousins is evolving as a quarterback? Then watch this throw

LANDOVER — At times during the Redskins' 20-10 Thanksgiving night victory over the Giants, Kirk Cousins and Washington's offense performed at a level somewhere between sloppy nausea-inducing.

There was that awful sequence where the offense botched a fourth-and-1 more than they normally do.

There was also No. 8's slightly off-target throw to a running back he barely knows that ended up as six points for New York. And there were plenty less notable, but still gross, plays before and after those.

But Cousins' first touchdown pass to Jamison Crowder was far from gross. It was beautiful. It was creative.

And it showed how the 29-year-old is still developing as a quarterback:

MUST-SEE: BEST IMAGES FROM REDSKINS' THANKSGIVING VICTORY

"The touchdown he had to Crowder was one of his best touchdown passes that I've seen since I've been here," Jay Gruden said about it afterward.

He's right.

By now, you know the boxes that Cousins checks off as a passer. He has the requisite arm strength. He's usually able to move an offense, even one like the Redskins' 2017 version that includes a ton of spare parts, up and down the field. He has the work ethic and leadership skills. 

But a common knock against him is that he can't extend a play and find a receiver when things aren't there during his initial dropback. And that weakness becomes a glaring one in the red zone.

Yet on Thanksgiving night, there Cousins was, avoiding an edge rusher, stepping up, rolling right and then nailing Crowder right on the numbers for a crucial TD. Like his head coach, Cousins was proud of how that score unfolded.

"I felt some pressure so I just tried to escape up and to the right and kept my eyes down field," he said. "I think just the longer I play, I'll get a better feel for how to move and escape."

MORE: ALL OF THE UPS AND DOWNS OF THE THANKSGIVING WIN

Cousins' final stats don't stack up to some of his past performances, such as his Week 11 effort in New Orleans where he shined or his pretty perfect evening vs. the Raiders in Week 3. Regardless, this one was encouraging in its own way, because it provided another grlimpse at how the signal caller is becoming more comfortable when things around him become uncomfortable.

Like most of his fellow starters in the league, Cousins has flaws. But the more he plays, the more those flaws diminish. Gruden sees it, he sees it, and you should see it, too.