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Redskins report card vs Vikings—Smith has the day they've been waiting for

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Redskins report card vs Vikings—Smith has the day they've been waiting for

Here is my report card on some players, coaches, and various other aspects of the Redskins’ 26-20 win over the Vikings. If you think I’m off or if I didn’t issue a grade where you think one is needed, hit the comments.

A

The Redskins have been waiting all season for Preston Smith to have a game like this one. He became the first Redskin with multiple sacks and at least one interception in a game since Marcus Washington did it in 2005. If he continues to make big plays the defense will improve by leaps and bounds.

For a couple of games it looked like Dustin Hopkins was trending towards being a bit wobbly, with misses of makeable field goals against both the Lions and the Bengals, the latter being a critical error. But he was back in form yesterday, drill four of four tries including one from 50 yards out.

B

I think that Rob Kelley got about 50 more yards than his blocking should have given him. That’s not based on film analysis, just from watching and figuring that he averaged around two additional yards on his 22 carries. Why not an A? I’m looking for over 100 yards and/or a couple of TD’s for him to earn that grade.

Since I graded them with an F a couple of weeks ago, I should point out when the officials do a good job. The crew of Pete Morelli kept the game moving along. Accepted penalties were exactly equal with each team with four for 35 yards for each team. The non-PI call on the throw to Ryan Grant was borderline but not awful. And the game moved at a brisk pace, finishing up in 2:52.

I really can’t find much to fault Jay Gruden on. He’s had his team ready to play just about every game this season and yesterday was no exception. There were no questionable fourth-down calls yesterday, no replay challenges. Just a normal, nerve-racking win in a critical game.

Pierre Garçon had another workmanlike day, with six receptions for 81 yards, leading the team in both categories. There is plenty of talk of him being underutilized but he’s on pace to catch 75 passes for 850 yards, not a bad season at all. He will make some money next year at age 30 whether it’s in Washington or elsewhere.

C

Slot corner Kendall Fuller was on Stefon Diggs for most of the Vikings’ wide receivers’ 13 receptions for 164 yards. It was a tough assignment and Fuller did prevent Diggs from breaking a long one. But it still was a rough day for the rookie.

D

WR Ryan Grant played 78 percent the offensive snaps (more than any WR except Pierre Garçon) and did not catch a pass. He was only targeted three time and perhaps he should have drawn a flag on one second-quarter throw. But at times it seems like the Redskins are playing with four eligible receivers when he is on the field.

The Redskins’ red zone efficiency was, well, not efficient at all. They scored a TD on their first trip to the red zone and they had to settle for field goals on the three subsequent trips inside the Minnesota 20. They are now dead last in the NFL in red zone performance at 38.9 percent.

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The Redskins aren't big on analytics but the numbers are likely to influence their top draft pick

The Redskins aren't big on analytics but the numbers are likely to influence their top draft pick

There are always surprises in the NFL draft, but the 2018 edition may be the most unpredictable in years. There are a few factors at play here and they will affect who is available to the Redskins in the first round and who they end up drafting there. 

One factor is analytics. Not all teams have a big analytics department but all 32 are aware of the trends in the game. One is that teams no longer emphasize establishing the run early in games. Teams pass in the first quarter on about 57 percent of the snaps. That run-pass ratio is about the same as it is during the other three quarters. It’s still a passing league from the opening kickoff until the clock hits 0:00. 

So why, then, is Vita Vea, a pure nose tackle who likely will be of limited help against the pass, a possible top-10 pick who the Redskins reportedly would like to take at 13? 

The way it looks now, Vea is going to be one of the best available players with a significant drop off to any players associated with the passing game except quarterbacks—wide receiver, left tackle, edge rusher, and outside cornerback. 

The Redskins might rate Vea as more valuable than other teams because of how weak their rushing defense is. Teams ran at them on 47 percent of first-quarter plays, taking advantage of the weakness. This kept up through all four quarters; teams ran against the Redskins on 46 percent of the plays compared to 42 percent of all plays league-wide. Washington’s vulnerability against the rush may push Vea and probably Da’Ron Payne up on their draft boards even if they are of limited utility in the nickel defense. 

Here is one more example of the numbers and talent affecting this draft. Alabama’s Minkah Fitzpatrick played a variety of positions in Alabama’s secondary. The consensus opinion is that his best NFL fit is slot corner. Traditionally, that is not a first-round position because it’s has been a role, a part-time position. 

But the view is shifting. Offenses take 62.6 percent of their snaps with three or more wide receivers on the field. That number only counts true wide receivers, so you can add a percentage point or two in for when a running back or tight end lines up out wide. As you would expect, a comparable number of defensive snaps (65.3%) are with five or more defensive backs on the field. The Redskins were in line with this. Slot corner Kendall Fuller played nearly 66 percent of the snaps last year. 

Since you will utilize your slot corner on nearly two-thirds of your plays, if you can get a good one with the 13th pick you shouldn’t hesitate just because of the old view of the position. When you add in the fact that Fitzpatrick can play safety and outside corner as well the Redskins could well pull the trigger if he’s still there. 

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

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Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft Predictions: Pundits, analysts project Redskins pick

Final 2018 NFL Mock Draft Predictions: Pundits, analysts project Redskins pick

The 2018 NFL Draft is almost here.

It is time to finalize your final mock drafts and finish fine-tuning your big boards.

The NFL's biggest offseason event takes place in Dallas  in a little under 48 hours, there's still a lot of uncertainty about what the Redskins plan to do with their first-round pick.  

With that in mind, the guys of Redskins Talk podcast decided to ask those who follow the team closest - local media - to take a guess at who the team will take with the No. 13 overall pick.

40 different media members chimed in with their picks, and here's who they see going to the Burgandy and Gold: 

Final 2018 NFL Draft Redskins Predictions

— Larry Michael, Voice of the Redskins: Defensive player or trade down
— John "Cakes" Auville, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Derrius Guice, RB, LSU - "Guice will look nice in a Redskins uniform"
— JP Flaim, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Vita Vea, DT, Washington
— Jason "Lurch" Bishop, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Derwin James, S, Florida State - "could be the Sean Taylor of this draft"
— Eric "EB "Bickell, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies:: Da'Ron Payne, DT, Alabama
— Matt Valdez, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Tremaine Edmunds, LB, Virginia Tech
— Matt Cahill, 106.7 The Fan's The Sports Junkies: Derrius Guice
— Craig Hoffman, 106 The Fan: Vita Vea
— Chad Dukes, 106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes vs. The World: Derrius Guice
— Brock,106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes vs. The World: Derrius GuiceVita Vea
— Chris Russell, 106.7 The Fan: Tremaine Edmunds
— Nick Ashooh, 106.7 The Fan: Vita Vea
— Andy Pollin, 106.7 The Fan: Vita Vea - "if he's a bust, we can call him 'oy Vita Vea'"
— Adam Epstein, 106.7 The Fan: Vita Vea
— Chris Cooley, The Team 980:: Trading down for Da'Ron Payne
— Kevin Sheehan, The Team 980 Radio: Da'Ron Payne
— Scott Linn, The Team 980: Vita Vea
— Bram Weinstein,The Team 980: Vita Vea
— Brian Mitchell, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Ron Payne
— Chick Hernandez, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— Santana Moss, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Ron Payne
— Michael Jenkins, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Rony Payne or Vita Vea
— Rich Tandler, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— JP Finlay, NBCSW Redskins Insider: Vita Vea
— Pete Hailey, NBC Sports Washington: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Mitch Ticshler, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— Troy Machir, NBC Sports Washington: Vita Vea
— Ajay Atayee, NBC Sports Washington: Da'Ron Payne
— PFT Commenter, Barstool Sports: Vita Vea
— Barstool Nate, Barstool Sports: Trade up to take Baker Mayfield -"all eyes have to be on us, that's the Redskins way"
— Brent, Burgandy Blog: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Sherree Burruss, Sports reporter, NBC4 Washington: Tremaine Edmunds
— Diane Chesebrough, USA Today: Vita Vea
— Kareem Copeland, Washington Post: Vita Vea
— Erin Hawksworth, WJLA: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Jake Kring-Schreifels, Redskins.com: Vita Vea
— Lake Lewis, USA Today: Vita Vea
— Moises Linares, NBC Telemundo: Tremaine Edmunds
— Thom Loverro, Washington Times: Derrius Guice
— Ken Meringolo, Hog's Haven: Vita Vea
— Matthew Paras, Washington Times: Vita Vea - "he's a very large human, and the Redskins need one of those"
— Michael Phillips, Richmond Times Dispatch: Tremaine Edmunds
— Chad Ryan, Redskins Capital Connection: Derrius Guice - "he might have a higher ceiling than Saquon Barkley"
— Fred Smoot, former Redskins CB: Vita Vea
— Rick Snyder, Washington Post: Vita Vea
— Dimitri Sotis, WTOP: Derrius Guice
— Marc "Nigel" Sterne, producer at Tony Kornheiser Show: Shane Tripuka, P, Texas A&M
— Matt Terl, Washington City Paper: Darrius Guice -"and I will be miserable"
— George Wallace, Sports Director at WTOP: Vita Vea
— Ben White, Chief Economic Correspondent at Politico: Minkah Fitzpatrick
— Chris Worthy, REDSKINS GM (@chris_worthy): Vita Vea

You can listen to the whole podcast here:

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