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Need to Know: What happens to Trent Murphy if the Redskins draft an edge rusher?

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Need to Know: What happens to Trent Murphy if the Redskins draft an edge rusher?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 24, 37 days before the Washington Redskins go on the clock at the NFL draft.

Question of the day

A few days a week 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.

Today’s question is from Twitter:

https://twitter.com/stephen_binder/status/580022132010299393

There is plenty of talk that the Redskins will use the fifth overall pick in the draft on an edge rusher. Scot McCloughan has said that the Redskins will take the best player available on the board and if you believe the majority of the draft analysts out there the best player is likely to be an outside linebacker or a college defensive end who will be converted to an OLB. Some might prefer Nebraska’s Randy Gregory, others think that Vic Beasley of Clemson could be the man or perhaps it’s former Florida Gator Dante Fowler or Shane Ray from Mizzou.

But if the Redskins do take an edge defender, not matter who it is, it will affect the playing status of Trent Murphy. He was last year’s top draft pick, taken in the second round. If the Redskins take another edge rusher is he going to be banished to the bench?

The answer is a resounding no. Let me quote Colts GM Ryan Grigson from the NFL Combine, who was merely repeating what countless other GM’s have said through the years:
“I was always brought up with if you have 12 pass-rushers, give me 13. You can never have enough pass-rushers and that’s Scouting 101. The hard part is actually finding them and then finding ones that, the handful of them that are clean and really good.... If there’s a pass-rusher that gets your blood pumping in the draft, then you’re going to have to consider him, no matter where your needs are.”
Right now, the Redskins have three players who could be considered legitimate pass rushers—Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan, and Jason Hatcher. This is likely to be Hatcher’s last year in Washington so that brings it down to two, and Murphy is untested.

In any case, it’s far short of the 12 or 13 that Grigson covets. So the Redskins will have to find a role for Murphy (it’s safe to assume that the 2015 top draft pick would become the starter very early in the season if not immediately) if they do bring in another pass rusher.

He had a defined role last year when Brian Orakpo was healthy, lining up in nickel situations and on earlier downs in occasional relief of Orakpo. In the first six games of the season (Orakpo went out for the year during the seventh game) Murphy played 162 snaps out of 415, or about 39 percent. That’s a fairly substantial workload.

If the Redskins do draft a first-round edge rusher, Murphy’s role could be expanded beyond what he did with Orakpo in the lineup. A rookie outside linebacker would almost certainly be rotated out more often than the sixth-year veteran Orakpo was. And perhaps new defensive coordinator Joe Barry will find some additional situations for Murphy. It’s not out of the question that the could play at least a dozen more snaps per game than he did in the earlier stages of his rookie year. That would put him up around 60 percent of the snaps, a solid role for a second-round draft pick.

And then there is the “you never know” stuff. Injuries happen and Murphy could serve as valuable depth. Not to bring up the unthinkable for many Redskins fans but Ryan Kerrigan is playing on a one-year team option in his contract. Even though there is plenty of talk that an extension in the works, until that talk results in a signed piece of paper there is the possibility that he won’t be around in 2016. Murphy will then likely move into a starting role and the Redskins will be out in search of even more pass rushers.

In any case, Murphy will have a role as long as he remains healthy. It might not say “starter” next to his name but he will have plenty of snaps to try to get to the quarterback.

Timeline

—It’s been 86 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 173 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 27; 2015 NFL Draft 37; Redskins training camp starts 128

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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In case you missed it

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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.