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Was Brandon Scherff really a "safe" pick for the Redskins?

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Was Brandon Scherff really a "safe" pick for the Redskins?

After the draft, the conventional wisdom was that the Redskins made a very safe pick in tackle Brandon Scherff, perhaps the safest pick in the draft. That’s because, well, nobody is exactly sure. Maybe because we always say that offensive linemen taken at the top of the draft are bust proof.

But a look at the record reveals that linemen taken near the top of the draft are anything but safe picks. The guys at Football Perspective took a look at the performances of O-linemen who were taken early in the drafts from 2009-2014. The record is spotty at best.

—Last year three tackles were taken in the top 11 picks. Greg Robinson (2 overall, Rams) was the one of the worst starting tackles in the game while Jake Matthews (6-Falcons) was THE worst according to Pro Football Focus. Taylor Lewan (11-Titans) started the season on the bench and then was mediocre for six games before an ankle injury ended his season early.

—Do you want to go back a little further to see someone who has had a chance to establish himself? Matt Kalil (4-Vikings) had a good rookie season in 2012 but he has not played well since; he gave up a league-high 12 sacks last year.

—Let’s go back to 2009. Jason Smith (2-Rams) has been out of football since 2012. Eugene Monroe (8-Jaguars) was up and down for Jacksonville before they dealt him to the Ravens for a couple of late draft picks. Taken in between them was Andre Smith (6-Bengals), who was thought to be a risky pick due to weight issues but he has turned out to be a good pick for Cincinnati after a couple of tough years to start out.

—How about guards? In 2013 Chance Warmack (10-Titans) and Jonathan Cooper (7-Cardinals) were top-10 picks. Warmack has started 32 games but has been nondescript while Cooper has battled injuries and has taken just 182 snaps in two seasons.

All of this doesn’t mean that Scherff is destined to fail. There have been some successes near the top of the draft. The Redskins got a good one in 2010 in Trent Williams (4) and the Cowboys started to build one of the best lines in the game in 2011 when they took Tyron Smith (9).

Each draft is different and each player is different. Scherff could turn out to be an All-Pro or at least a solid player. But it's likely that the same was said about Robinson, Kalil, Jason Smith, and Cooper. I don’t even have to go look that up because it’s said about virtually every lineman that is taken early in the first round.

Like every edge rusher, every quarterback, every wide receiver, every player at every position taken in the draft, Scherff will have to work every day and prove himself. He has been given a good chance, with a team that desperately needs his services and one of the best offensive line coaches in the game in Bill Callahan. Scherff might become a success but, as a look at history reveals, he might not.

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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.