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Redskins' defense set to face another MVP candidate in Cam Newton

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Redskins' defense set to face another MVP candidate in Cam Newton

Tom Brady, Drew Brees and now Cam Newton.

Indeed, it gets no easier for the Redskins on Sunday when they visit the undefeated Carolina Panthers in Charlotte.

Although Newton is only completing 56-percent of his passes and his passer rating of 84.8 ranks just 21st, passing stats aren't why he’s in the MVP discussion with Brady, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton. Newton is in the conversation because of everything else he does, namely the fact that he’s gained 366 yards on the ground (11 more than Seattle’s Russell Wilson) while rushing for six touchdowns (second in the league) and 32 first downs (tied for fifth). For comparison’s sake, Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins has rushed for two touchdowns and four first downs.   

“He's something to deal with now,” Coach Jay Gruden said this week. “He's playing...you can make a case for him for MVP now. He's playing like it. He's gotten their team in great positions to win at the end of games. He's making plays in key situations, goal line, third down. He's playing at a very high level.”

Gruden said sound tackling will be especially important given Newton’s athleticism and 6 foot 5, 245-pound frame. Which, of course, is easier said than done for a unit that's struggled with tackling, particularly on run plays, all season. 

“If you’re a defensive player and you’re watching the tape and you’re watching the Carolina Panthers, you notice that they have a huge quarterback and he breaks tackles,” Gruden said. “It’s something that pops out of the screen at you. We’ve got to be sure tacklers. We’ve got to be fundamentally sound…wrap him up, try to get him down.”

Newton averages 1.50 yards after contact—the highest among quarterbacks—according to ESPN Stats and Info.   

"He can fall down and get two yards," Gruden joked. "He's 6 foot 11." 

Defensive end Ricky Jean Francois added: “It might be a tie between him and Big Ben [Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger as to] who is the hardest to get down to the ground. He is athletic. Ain’t no arm tackles fitting to take this type of dude down. You literally have to put your body on him, to make him fall. And make sure you wrap his feet up to make sure he falls. Because if he can get up out there, he’s strong enough to do it.”

Nose tackle Terrance Knighton, however, says he’s confident the Redskins' defense will be up for the challenge.

“It just gives us more target to hit,” Knighton cracked, referring to Newton’s height. “He’s always been that big. He’s always been fast. He’s always been able to run the ball. He’s always been a red zone threat. But what’s making him different now is he’s able to make all the throws, he’s maturing as a quarterback and a leader. We’ll put our best foot forward. We have a good game plan to go out there and stop him. We just have to put it to work.”

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When is the NFL Draft 2018? TIme, TV Channel, Online Stream, Draft Order

When is the NFL Draft 2018? TIme, TV Channel, Online Stream, Draft Order

Draft week is finally here. The predictions and projections, mock drafts and prospect rankings can be put to the side.

On Thursday, April 26, the top college football players will hear their names called and find out their first destination in their professional football careers as the 2018 NFL Draft takes place.

More than 250 players will join the league this weekend, starting with the Cleveland Browns and the No. 1 overall pick.

The 2018 NFL Draft will be televised on six television channels: NFL Network, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes and ABC. The first round will starts at 8:00 p.m. ET on Thursday and will air on NFL Network, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes.

Round 2 and Round 3 start at 7:00 p.m. ET on Friday and will air on four networks: NFL Network, Fox, ESPN and ESPN2.

The final day of the 2018 NFL Draft (Round 4 through Round 7), will air on NFL Network and ESPN, with ESPN's coverage simulcasted on ABC for the first time ever.

All seven round of the 2018 NFL Draft will be broadcast on national television for the first time ever.

When is the 2018 NFL Draft?

The 2018 NFL Draft starts Thursday, April 26, and ends Saturday, April 28. The first round will take place at 8 p.m. Thursday night, with the second and third rounds happening Friday night.

The final five rounds will be on Saturday.

This year's draft is being held at the Cowboys' home, AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. 

2018 NFL Draft Schedule

  • Round 1: Thursday, April 26, 8 p.m. ET
  • Rounds 2-3: Friday, April 27, 7 p.m. ET
  • Rounds 4-7: Saturday, April 28, 12 p.m. ET
     

How to watch or stream the 2018 NFL Draft:

Live coverage of the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft starts at 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 26. The draft continues at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 27 for the second and third rounds, and then again at noon on Saturday, April 28 for the final rounds.

This year's draft will be broadcast by Fox and ABC, along with ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN Deportes, NFL Network.

For the first time, all seven rounds of the three-day event will air live on broadcast TV.

On Thursday, April 26 at 8 p.m. the draft will air on five channels: NFL Network, Fox, ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Deportes. 

You can also stream the draft on the WatchESPN app or the NFL Mobile app (or ESPN.com or NFL.com), along with Fox Sports Go. 

When do the Redskins pick in the 2018 NFL Draft?

As of now, these are when the Redskins will pick in the 2018 NFL Draft:

  • First Round, Pick No. 13
  • Second Round, Pick No. 44
  • Fourth Round, Pick No. 109
  • Fifth Round, Pick No. 142
  • Fifth Round, Pick No. 163
  • Sixth Round, Pick No. 188
  • Seventh Round, Pick No. 231
  • Seven Round, Pick No. 241
     

2018 NFL Draft Order:

1. Cleveland Browns
2. New York Giants
3. New York jets (via Colts)
4. Cleveland Browns (via Texans)
5. Denver Broncos
6. Indianapolis Colts (via Jets)
7. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
8. Chicago Bears
9. San Francisco 49ers
10. Oakland Raiders
11.  Miami Dolphins
12. Buffalo Bills (via Bengals)
13. Washington Redskins
14. Green Bay Packers
15. Arizona Cardinals
16. Baltimore Ravens
17. Los Angeles Chargers
18. Seattle Seahawks
19. Dallas Cowboys
20. Detroit Lions
21. Cincinnati Bengals (via Bills)
22. Buffalo Bills (via Chiefs)
23. New England Patriots (via Rams)
24. Carolina Panthers
25. Tennessee Titans
26. Atlanta Falcons
27. New Orleans Saints
28. Pittsburgh Steelers
29. Jacksonville Jaguars
30. Minnesota Vikings
31. New England Patriots
32. Philadelphia Eagles

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The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the draft pool will shape the Redskins' first-round strategy

The makeup of the top players in the 2018 NFL Draft pool may push the Redskins into continuing a short-term draft trend that appears to be working out fairly well for them. 

For seven straight years beginning in 2009, the Redskins went along with the conventional wisdom in the draft, taking a player that primarily impacted the passing game or stopping the other team’s passing game, with their top draft picks. 

Their top pick (whether in the first or second round) in every draft from 2008-2014 was at a traditionally high-value position associated with the passing game — wide receiver (Devin Thomas), edge rusher (Brian Orakpo, Ryan Kerrigan, Trent Murphy), left tackle (Trent Williams), quarterback (Robert Griffin III), or outside cornerback (David Amerson). 

This was the Redskins going along with the conventional wisdom. Since 2000, 62 percent of first-round NFL draft picks have been players at those positions even though they account for just 32 percent of a team’s starters. 

The Redskins have shifted away for conducting the draft focused on the passing game at the top in two of the last three drafts. The Redskins selected guard Brandon Scherff (No. 5) in the first round of the 2015 NFL Draft and interior defensive lineman Jonathan Allen (No. 22) in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. In between, they went the old way, selecting wide receiver Josh Doctson (No. 22) in the 2016 NFL Draft. 

This trend is likely to continue due in part to the makeup of the top talent in the draft.

If you’re not looking for a quarterback, the top half of the first round is very light in talented players playing the positions that are most important to the passing game — outside cornerback, edge rusher, left tackle, and wide receiver. Cornerback Denzel Ward is a top-10 player as is edge rusher Bradley Chubb. But that’s about it at those positions and there are no wide receivers or left tackles worthy of consideration in the top 15.

That leaves players like interior defensive linemen Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne and inside linebackers Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds as players who have the potential to be the best available players on the board when the Redskins are on the clock. Traditionally, these players play positions that teams are looking for in the latter stages of the first round at the earliest. 

They could go the non-traditional way for the third time in four years with Vea, Payne, Fitzpatrick, or Smith. In fact, unless Ward slips or they pull off a major surprise it’s likely that they will.

Scherff has worked out well and Allen was getting the job done as a rookie before he got injured so perhaps the way the draft plays out will work out well for Washington.

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