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Redskins going defense first in many mock drafts

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Redskins going defense first in many mock drafts

With the entire 2015 season now in the rearview mirror the mock draft industry is cranking into full gear. Let’s take a look around at some of the more popular mocks that have been posted lately and see who they have the Redskins taking.

Rob Rang, CBS SportsReggie Ragland, ILB, Alabama
General manager Scot McCloughan might see Ragland as able to provide an immediate impact similar to the one Patrick Willis made when Washington's top scout was heading up the 49ers front office.
The Redskins are adequately set at inside linebacker with Will Compton and, if he re-signs, Mason Foster. But Ragland could be the kind of difference making player that the defense needs to move from mediocre to Super Bowl caliber. He’s a smart player who tackles well and has good instincts. Right now, early in the process, he has to be considered one of the favorites to be the Redskins first-round picks.

Dan Brugler, CBS SportsMackensie Alexander, CB, Clemson
The Redskins have had good luck drafting cornerbacks out of Clemson (Bashaud Breeland) and if Alexander falls to No. 21, I don't think he'll be around at pick No. 22.
While the Redskins could well go with a cornerback in the first round I would be very surprised if Alexander got the call. McCloughan is looking for bigger, longer cornerbacks and Clemson has Alexander listed at 5-10 and his measurement at the combine later this month could come up shorter than that. And Bruce Allen drafted Breeland and while he’s worked out pretty well I don’t see McCloughan feeling any compulsion to go back to the Clemson well again.

Note: Mel Kiper of ESPN (article behind pay wall) and Chad Reuter and Bucky Brooks of NFL.com also have the Redskins picking Alexander. Reuter also explains the pick with the Breeland-Clemson connection.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.comJaran Reed, DT, Alabama
While Reed won't offer much as a pass rusher, he is an elite run defender with tremendous power and hand usage.
A different Alabama defender headed the Redskins way per Zierlein. I don’t quite get this one. The Redskins certainly could use some help stopping the run but you can find D-linemen who can do that later in the draft. If you’re going to spend a first rounder on a 3-4 DE he doesn’t have to be J. J. Watt but I think he should bring you something as a pass rusher.

Daniel Jeremiah, NFL.comSheldon Rankins, DE, Louisville
Rankins is a disruptive interior defender and he would complement the edge rushers in Washington.
At 6-1 he might be a bit shorter than McCloughan would prefer. But he is strong, powerfully built and does bring some pass rush. I think he’s probably a long shot for the Redskins at No. 21 but he’s worth keeping an eye on.

Chris Burke, SI.comJosh Doctson, WR, TCU
Washington can take its pick between Doctson and Ohio State's Michael Thomas for the “big” receiver it needs—Doctson stands 6’3”, 195. His height, hands, leaping ability and body control combine in a highlight-reel package.
Yes, I know most fans are on the “build the defense” bandwagon. But Kirk Cousins needs receivers to throw to and both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon are turning 30 this year and are in the last season of their contracts. There is not adequate depth behind them. Given that most receivers take a year to catch on to the NFL the Redskins would be wise to get started on a succession plan now.

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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.