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Need to Know: Needs are low on McCloughan's list of draft considerations

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Need to Know: Needs are low on McCloughan's list of draft considerations

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 2, 11 days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 113 days ago. It will be 133 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 11; OTAs start 22; Redskins training camp starts 87

Hot topic

I know that Scot McCloughan could talk about taking the best available player and not drafting for need from now until the cows come home and many of you won’t believe him. But maybe some of you will after reading this.

I have heard from some people I consider to be reliable and have read from some media types that the Redskins’ top target in this draft was Alabama center Ryan Kelly. If he had been there when pick No. 21 came up McCloughan would have turned in a card with his name on it.

To be clear, I’m not quoting a sourced report here or anything like that. I’ve seen and heard it from enough reliable people to believe it but I certainly understand if others are skeptical.

But let’s assume that it’s true. Most would figure that if he was going to draft a center in the first round he must have considered center to be a position of need.

If it is a position of need, however, you would think that the Redskins would draft a center somewhere along the line. But they didn’t draft a center in the second round. Or the third. Or the—, well, you get the idea. Six centers went in the draft and none went to the Redskins. Jack Allen of Michigan State, a center who could well have gone in the middle or later rounds, went undrafted but the Redskins did not bring him in as a free agent. They didn’t draft a guard they might convert to center either.

In fact, if you go back to free agency, McCloughan didn't sign a center then, either.

McCloughan didn’t want just any center; he wanted Ryan Kelly on the team. As the draft went on he tried to find players that had the same traits that Kelly has—toughness, leadership, dedication—whether or not he played center.

Again, the Kelly report seems accurate but you can take it however you’d like. If you want more evidence that needs don’t mean a whole lot to McCloughan, however, you need to look no further than taking cornerback Kendall Fuller in the third round a week to the day after signing Josh Norman to a huge free agent contract. Few believed him when he said that he wouldn’t hesitate to draft another corner and those who took him at his word figured he might take a developmental guy in the sixth round, not take one in the second day.

We will see how this works out. Until the Redskins become consistent contenders to go deep into the playoffs it’s fair to question McCloughan’s methods. But don’t doubt that he doesn’t care about the conventional wisdom and that he will do things his way as long as he is in charge.

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

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Need to Know: Last look at Redskins vs. Giants

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, November 25, five days before the Washington Redskins play the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: No media availability  

Days until:

—Redskins @ Chargers (12/10) 15
—Cardinals @ Redskins (12/17) 22
—Broncos @ Redskins Christmas Eve (12/24) 29

Last look at Redskins vs Giants

Defense is on again—The Redskins have not played well on defense the last couple of weeks, allowing a total of 72 points to the Vikings and Saints. But they had a solid game against the Giants, with some help from inaccurate Eli Manning passes and some drops. But the numbers are what they are and they say three points allowed (not counting the seven on the pick six) and 170 yards of offense for New York. It’s the second time this year the Redskins have held an opponent to 170 yards or fewer (Raiders got 128 in week 3). It’s the first time the Redskins have held two opponents to 170 or fewer in the same season since 2004. For the Giants, it was their lowest offensive output since 2013.

Kirk Cousins’ night—Is it fair to say that he had a solid outing? Or is that not enough? He did lead a drive to the winning touchdown in the latter half of the fourth quarter of a tie game. The Redskins have won five games and Cousins has fourth-quarter game-winning drives in four of them. On Thursday, he completed 61 percent of his passes for 7.8 yards per attempt with two touchdowns and an interception that only the harshest critics (and there are many out there) would pin on him. Both of the TDs were special plays in their own ways. Cousins did take six sacks—those are not all on the makeshift offensive line—and he misfired on some passes. He deserves a solid B+ grade for the game.

Hall sits—A lot of people were alarmed by what they saw out of DeAngelo Hall in New Orleans, especially in the late going as Drew Brees got hot. Apparently, the Redskins’ coaches were among them. Even with starter Montae Nicholson sidelined with a concussion, Hall did not play a single snap on defense. It will be interesting to see if he is inactive when Nicholson is ready to play, possibly as early as next Thursday.

On a streak—No, not in the big wins column. I’m talking about winning the opening coin toss. The Redskins have now won two in a row. In the nine games prior to that, the Redskins had extraordinarily bad luck, going 2-7 in the 50-50 proposition. It remains very much in vogue for teams to defer after winning the toss. That has been the choice of the winners of the toss in 10 of the Redskins’ 11 games. The only team that chose to receive after winning the toss was the Raiders in Week 3.

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.

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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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