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2018 NFL Draft: New Year's Day prospects

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2018 NFL Draft: New Year's Day prospects

For many New Year’s Day means three things: Hangovers, resolutions and college football. We’ll focus on the latter and specifically the 2018 NFL Draft prospects playing in five games. More overtly, here are the names of prospects that could make sense for the Washington Redskins.

Let’s start with the three non-playoff games: Outback Bowl (Michigan-South Carolina), Peach Bowl (Central Florida-Auburn) and Citrus Bowl (Notre Dame-LSU)

Maurice Hurst, defensive tackle, Michigan

Measurables: 6-foot-2, 282 pounds

Projection: First round

Need: The Redskins may have struck gold with last season’s first rounder Jonathan Allen, but the current defensive line options are more about rotation pieces than playmakers.

Analysis (USA Today): “An explosive force at the point of attack, Hurst uses his quickness and well-rounded skill set to make frequent trips into opposing backfields. Hurst has the versatility to line up in multiple spots along the defensive line, and will be valuable at the next level, regardless of scheme.”

Quenton Nelson, guard, Notre Dame

Measurables: 6-foot-5, 329 pounds

Projection: First round

Need: Starting left guard Shawn Lauvao is heading into free agency after another injury-plagued season. Washington likely looks for a new option. That could be keeping free agent Spencer Long and moving him from center back to guard.

Analysis (Albert Breer, SI.com): “Notre Dame’s Quenton Nelson is probably the most agreed upon prospect that I’ve discussed with scouts. When I told an exec last week that I’d probably write that Nelson was “maybe a better guard prospect than ex-teammate Zack Martin,” he told me to take the “maybe” out of there. In 2014, Martin, you may remember, became the first rookie linemen to make first-team All-Pro in 57 years. I had Nelson going fifth in my mock.”

Derrius Guice, running back, LSU

Measurables: 5-foot-11, 212 pounds

Projection: First round

Need: Injuries certainly hampered the ground game, but Washington’s running attack didn’t wow anyone outside of a handful of games in 2017 and remains a question mark entering 2018.

Analysis: Guice battled a nagging leg injury late in the season, but he will play in the Bowl game. Arguably the No. 2 running back in the 2018 class behind Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Guice rushed for over 2,500 yards combined the past two seasons with 26 touchdowns. Caught 15 passes in 2017 after 14 total during his previous two seasons.

Carlton Davis, cornerback, Auburn

Measurables: 6-foot-1, 195 pounds

Projection: 1-2 round

Need: Starter Bashaud Breeland is headed to free agency and the bidding war could knock the Redskins out of the mix assuming they are interested in keeping him.

Analysis (WalterFootball.com):” (Davis) is a good corner with size, speed and length. The junior can battle big wideouts as he is a physical defender who really competes. Davis can have issues with coverage downfield and deep speed like many big corners. Some sources believe he could end up being a first-round pick, but others aren't as high on Davis.”

Others: Auburn edge rusher Jeff Holland, Auburn running back Kerryon Johnson, Central Florida cornerback Mike Hughes, Notre Dame left tackle Mike McGlinchey

Next: Prospects playing in the college football playoffs

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Five drills the NFL Combine should add to its rotation but never, ever will

Five drills the NFL Combine should add to its rotation but never, ever will

The NFL Combine does a solid job of preparing college prospects for what they'll face at the next level. However, the Indianapolis event is missing a few practical drills that would really ensure each draft class is ready for life on Sundays.

With that in mind, here are five more things future pros should be asked to do during their time in Indy. To be clear, none of this will ever, ever, ever happen, but they still should.

1) The 10-yard backwards walk

Yes, the 40-yard dash is the headline attraction at the Combine and it's certainly a valuable way to measure a player's raw speed. 

Know what happens more than 40-yard sprints at NFL stadiums, though? 10-yard backwards walks following a holding penalty on the offense.

In this drill, guys will begin their stroll following a stand-in ref's announcement of the holding infraction, and scouts will have a chance to look at their tempo, gait and how the flag affects their demeanor. With the way officials are calling the action these days, this is a relevant idea.

2) Tackling a Balloon Quarterback

Defenders are allowed to tackle offensive players in the NFL, unless that offensive player is a quarterback. In that case, defenders have to politely place the passer on the ground, make sure he has a warm glass of milk and offer them an apology hug.

So, that's why the Combine should give defensive up-and-comers a chance to take down a Balloon Quarterback. If the thing pops, they were too aggressive and they have to try again. If it stays intact, then they're ready for their first run-in with Tom Brady. 

3) Deflecting blame on long TDs

This one would be more for the back end of a defense but equally as helpful as the tackling of a Balloon QB.

As an NFL DB, it's crucial to never accept responsibility for a blown coverage. Therefore, in this scenario, safeties and corners would allow a pass catcher to race by them for a long score and then immediately point fingers at one another or shrug their shoulders to suggest they were expecting assistance.

Or, if they want to really impress talent evaluators, they'll just snap off their chinstrap, slowly shake their head and then subtly call out their teammates later in media scrums. That's a super pro-caliber move.

4) Kick return kneels

While the XFL has introduced new rules to encourage kick returns, the NFL is still touchback-heavy.

Because of that, why should kick returners waste time on anything other than kneel downs? 

The special teamers in Indy should get the opportunity to showcase how quick their knee-to-grass ability is and also fine-tune their ball tosses to the refs in the end zone, or even show off their I'm not going to catch this one arm motion when a kickoff flies out of the end zone. It's a ratings boost waiting to happen.

5) Social media skills test

Here's something NFL teams can implement when they meet a potential selection face-to-face in the meeting portion of the Combine.

Forget getting a glimpse into how a player can draw up a scheme or review his own film. Instead, franchises need to ask themselves: How is this dude on Twitter and Instagram? It's 2020 people, not 1920. The Internet isn't going anywhere, so the league has to adjust.

What kind of caption will the kid post alongside a picture of a sweet sideline grab? Can he use the eyeballs emoji in the right situations? Would he like a post from an opponent following a loss?

This addition to the Combine, plus the four above it, would no doubt lead to more well-rounded rookies. Someone grab this story's link and send it to Roger Goodell right away. Thanks in advance.

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Redskins VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith eventually wants to be a GM, but has a 'tremendous responsibility and opportunity' now

Redskins VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith eventually wants to be a GM, but has a 'tremendous responsibility and opportunity' now

After a tumultuous 2019 campaign, the Redskins made several changes throughout the organization, most notably firing longtime team president Bruce Allen and hiring respected head coach Ron Rivera.

But one of the front office members that remained with the Redskins was Kyle Smith, who actually earned himself a promotion in January, moving from director of college scouting to vice president of player personnel. 

As Smith moves up the ladder in the Redskins' front office hierarchy, the general manager position remains vacant. Rivera has assumed some of those typical GM roles under the "coach-centric" approach that Redskins owner Dan Snyder emphasized during the head coach's introductory press conference, but Smith has also taken on some of those duties himself.

Smith spoke to reporters at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis on Tuesday and was asked whether he eventually wants to become the team's general manager. While the 35-year-old admitted that's the ultimate goal, he emphasized he has way bigger things to worry about right now.

"If you're a scout and get into this league as a scout, your ultimate goal is to become a GM," he said. "It's no different than a coach who is quality control. You're a quality control coach, your goal is to become a head coach. That is the ultimate goal, but right now, I've got a tremendous responsibility and opportunity in my role as it is now. And I plan on attacking it.

"If that opportunity comes as a GM, then it does," he continued. "If it doesn't, it doesn't. I'm not worried about that right now."

The next couple of months are crucial for Smith as NFL Draft preparations heat up. In his old title, Smith ran the draft board for the Redskins, among other duties. Now, Smith has a bigger role, dealing with pro personnel in addition to the college ranks.

Smith still has a large impact on the draft board, but the final say for both free agents and draft picks will now be a combined effort with Rivera. 

"It's a collaborative deal. It truly will be a collaborative effort," Smith said. "I wish I had something to tell you that as far as we're going to set the board and we're gonna be sitting there and coach is going to come in and grab whatever board and we not know what we're going to do and say this is who we're taking, or vice versa. Me doing that. It's not that way. We're going to have the meetings, let the process unfold. We believe in our process."

While that's a change from what Smith is used to in the past, he says it's not much different. In his old role, the final decision was never his anyway. Smith still runs the draft meetings but emphasized the biggest change is how the team grades prospects.

"It’s been pretty similar to be honest with you," Smith said. "As far as the draft process, college scouts came in on the 31st and we met until the 13th. That meeting is the same as last year. I run those meetings as far as setting the board, we get together, we assign value. The things that have changed is kind of the grading chart. We're transitioning to more of a color-coded system, keeping numeric value on the college side but so that we're all speaking the same language."

Rivera has let Smith take the lead for the draft process, something Smith is greatly appreciative of.

"[Rivera has] really taken a step back as far as the draft was concerned and just said, 'Listen, do your thing with setting the board. Run your meetings how you've been doing it,'" Smith said. "Once the coaches come in and evaluate, then he and I will sit down and figure out what direction we want to go."

For free agency, Smith and Rivera will lean heavily on advice from Alex Santos, the Redskins director of pro personnel. But like the draft, the final decision on free agents will also be a collaborative effort.

The first test of the Redskins new front office system will be free agency, which begins in the middle of March. But as it stands now, Smith is thrilled with the current system in place.

"I love the way things are running," Smith said. "It's very smooth. Like I said, our working relationship has been outstanding."

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