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Redskins draft countdown: Will Roquan Smith be the best available player at No. 13?

Redskins draft countdown: Will Roquan Smith be the best available player at No. 13?

The Redskins hold the No. 13 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

With draft day roughly a month away, our countdown of potential picks continues with Georgia lineback Roquan Smith

Redskins 2018 NFL Draft Countdown

Roquan Smith

— Linebacker
— Georgia 

Roquan Smith is fast and mean. He changes direction quickly and has a knack for finding the football. These are traits you want in a linebacker who will go high in the draft.

Smith performed on the big stage, playing for a Georgia team that came very close to winning it all. The football instincts he developed in the SEC will serve him well at the next level.

— Height: 6-1
— Weight: 236
— 40-yard dash: 4.51

Projected draft round: 1st


How he fits the Redskins:

There was a lot of talk about Smith to the Redskins while inside linebackers Mason Foster and Zach Brown were unsigned. Now both are in the fold. So why would the Redskins need another ILB?

For one thing, both Foster and Brown missed time with injuries last year. Having a first-round pick come off of the bench if either player is nicked up is an excellent situation to be in. And Smith may be the best available player on the board and if players at other need positions are on the board, he may be the smart pick.

And both Foster and Brown will turn 30 next year. That’s not necessarily the end of the line on today’s NFL but it’s the point where you have to start looking towards the future. Having a young player like Smith in team control for five years would be excellent succession planning.

Are there potential issues? Sure, and we’ll look at them below.


Film review: vs. Auburn, vs. Oklahoma

—Smith usually lined up four yards off of the line of scrimmage, about where a 3-4 inside LB usually lines up in the NFL.

—Teams did not have much luck running jet sweeps with Smith on the field. He’s just too fast getting to the edge

—Smith can get to the quarterback. Against Auburn, he was blitzing from the outside, was blocked, kept fighting, and he eventually got the sack when the QB scrambled up the middle. In the playoff game against the Sooners, he was through the A gap in a flash and forced Baker Mayfield to scramble into a sack.

—He also can affect the passes of other players. He reacted to an end around pass play quickly, forcing the player to throw incomplete.

—Against the Sooners, he did a lot of spying on Mayfield. It was hard to tell if he was supposed to be staying with Mayfield on the play just before the end of the half when the QB caught a touchdown pass on a trick play (similar to the Eagles’ play in the Super Bowl, maybe it could be dubbed the “Sooner Special”).

—Smith takes some false steps and sometimes reacts too quickly. He is fast enough to make up for it most of the time, but he could benefit from some extended time in the film room. He won’t be able to get away with that as

—He also could use time in an NFL weight room. Shedding offensive linemen is a problem for him, as it is for many inside linebackers. Smith isn’t always the best player to have in on runs up the middle.

—It looked like the Bulldogs were in zone coverage frequently and in the games, I watched he wasn’t challenged often so his pass coverage was hard to judge. Against Oklahoma he did a good job in man coverage on a back, taking away Mayfield’s safety valve to set up a sack.

—Also against the Sooners, he made a key play in overtime, flying in on a second and 10 swing pass to get a tackle for a loss.


Potential issues:

The Redskins do have a lot of needs on both sides of the ball and taking a player at a position where they have two good players under contract for two years may be considered a luxury that they can’t afford.

Smith is somewhat undersized, and he might be better suited to playing the Will linebacker spot in a 4-3 defense. While he was able to thrive on sheer speed in college, he will have to refine his game to succeed in the NFL.

Bottom line:

We will see how this plays out. No team drafts based strictly on need and none go purely with the best available player. There is a good chance that Smith will be the best player on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 13. Will they see enough need at the position to justify the pick? Or will they reach a bit and get another player they can plug in as an impact starter right away?

Redskins 2018 NFL Draft Countdown

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Week 11 Redskins vs Texans: An opportunity for a statement game at FedEx Field

Week 11 Redskins vs Texans: An opportunity for a statement game at FedEx Field

If the Redskins want to make a statement, Sunday marks a real opportunity. 

Washington, sitting at 6-3 and in first place of the NFC East, hosts Houston, a team that sits at 6-3 and in first place of the AFC South. Despite their records, neither team gets much consideration among the real Super Bowl contenders in the NFL. 

Like any NFL team, both the 'Skins and Texans have weaknesses. And unlike the top NFL teams, both the Texans and the 'Skins have a few warts, too. 

The team that best plays to their strengths will leave FedEx Field on Sunday at 7-3, almost assured of a playoff spot and no longer looking for a signature win. 

Going streaking

The Texans started the season bad, losing their first three games. Since then, Houston hasn't lost. Bill O'Brien's team didn't play last week, enjoying their bye in the actual middle of the season unlike the Redskins, but it's possible the layoff slowed the momentum.

When Houston last played, the Texans escaped Denver with a narrow, last-second victory. A six-game win streak is incredibly hard to come by in the NFL, and a seven-game heater is even harder to put together.

So. Much. Talent.

Not many teams can boast the type of elite talent like the Texans. The team has two possible future Hall-of-Famers in J.J. Watt and DeAndre Hopkins both playing in their prime. Watt has nine sacks in nine games, and the Houston defense aggressively moves him around on the defensive line.

That means Watt will face up against Redskins right tackle Morgan Moses, but also probably inside against right guard Tony Bergstrom. Charley Casserly described Watt against Bergstrom as a significant mismatch, and Washington will need to be creative to slow down the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

As for Hopkins, expect Redskins cornerback Josh Norman to travel with the athletic Texans wideout for much of the game. Hopkins is averaging nearly 100 yards receiving per game, and has seven touchdowns in nine games. He will be a major part of the Houston attack. Oh yeah, we didn't even mention Deshaun Watson or Jadeveon Clowney.

Ground game

The Redskins and the Texans run the ball well. Washington ranks 10th in the NFL on the ground, averaging 121.2 yards-per-game. Houston ranks 11th, averaging 120.2 yards-per-game.

For the Redskins, however, the run game is their only means of offense. Their pass game ranks in the bottom third of the NFL, and in four of his last five games, Alex Smith has thrown for fewer than 180 yards. Weirdly, all four of those sub-200 passing yard games from Smith have resulted in wins for Washington.

The Texans throw the ball better, ranked 18th in the NFL, but aren't the type of dominant offense that the Redskins have struggled against (cough Atlanta, cough New Orleans).

Turn around bright eyes

Few things change NFL games like turnovers, and the Redskins' win last week in Tampa might be the best example. Washington got dominated in just about every offensive category, but the Bucs turned the ball over four times, and the 'Skins skated with a 16-3 victory.

At +4 in turnover margin, the Texans take care of the ball, but not like the +11 Redskins. Watson has thrown seven INTs this season. Not a lot, but four more than Smith. A huge part of the Redskins winning formula is protecting the ball and generating turnovers, and certainly Jay Gruden wants to replicate that on Sunday. 

They said it

  • Jay Gruden on the Redskins mindset in first place: "We're obviously not satisfied or sitting in the lounge chair with our feet up right now relaxing. We've got to get back to work and continue to work. We know there is a lot of football ahead of us, a lot of great teams come in here to play and we have to go there to play and we have to do better. We have to do better on offense and there's a lot more for us to get offensively and defensively for that matter. I'm glad that we're winning without a doubt."
  • Alex Smith on facing J.J. Watt and the Texans defensive line: "They are one of the most disruptive fronts in football. I think when you just talk about just creating problems, penetration. They're all over the place. They obviously are really, really talented. They get up the field."
  • Texans coach Bill O'Brien on Redskins RB Adrian Peterson: "He is obviously one of the best to ever play the game. I mean, he's big, strong, fast, has got good vision, great cutting ability, very, very difficult to stop."



The 1991 matchup between the Redskins and Oilers is the only game D.C. fans should think of when they hear Washington vs. Houston. 

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Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman wants to play 'early Santa,' will give away Redskins tickets

Josh Norman caused quite a stir with his comments Sunday about the atmosphere at FedEx Field, and the Redskins cornerback made it clear he plans to do his part in making sure the stadium is packed for Sunday's game against the Texans. 

Norman told reporters Thursday he's going to be giving away "40 or 50" free tickets for the Houston game, online and perhaps even in person.

"Yes, I will be giving out free tickets," he said. "I'll be doing it on my socials as well, I think I'll probably post tonight or something about it."

"Who knows, you may see me coming out and being an early Santa somewhere in the mall or something, just handing out tickets."

And if you are one of the lucky fans who gets a ticket from "Santa Norman," he has specific instructions on how you should behave at Sunday's game:

"Whoever get(s) them, we want them loud and just obnoxious. Just really obnoxious."

Norman joins several Redskins players who have promised to give away tickets to the Texans game.

It may be November, but the Christmas spirit is alive and well at Redskins Park.