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After the draft, how much improvement should we expect out of the Redskins defense?

After the draft, how much improvement should we expect out of the Redskins defense?

The Redskins went heavily for defense in the NFL draft last month. The raw numbers show a slight tilt towards the defense, with six of the 10 picks going on that side of the ball. But the value of the picks they used on defense really tells the story. As valued by the Jimmy Johnson draft pick trade chart, the Redskins used picks worth 1,596 points on defense and 126 points on offense.

And that’s good because the Redskins defense needed a lot of help. You can pick almost any key defensive stat and the Redskins’ performance in 2016 generally ranged from mediocre to awful. They couldn’t stop the pass (opp. 7.4 yards/pass attempt, 21st in NFL) or the run (4.5 yards/attempt, 26th) or opponents on third down (36.6%, 32nd).

RELATED: Will the Redskins go running back by committee?

How good could the Redskins’ record have been with even an average or slight above-average defense. Certainly, they would have recorded the one additional win they needed to make the playoffs. But it goes deeper than that. Better defensive play could have meant wins over the Cowboys (2 times), Lions, Bengals, and Cardinals.

That’s enough lamenting the past. How much better can the Redskins defense be after the draft and after bringing in four key free agents on defense?

The likely answer is better, but it is not reasonable to expect the defense to morph into a dominant unit, or even a top-10 group.

Looking at the free agents in isolation, their net effect was just a little better than break even. Defensive linemen Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee should be competent. But the Redskins lost Chris Baker to free agency and they cut Ricky Jean Francois so the two free agents need to replace their top two defensive linemen. That is about a wash.  

Even if D.J. Swearinger is not a natural free safety he should be a moderate upgrade over David Bruton and the others who tried to man the position last year.

MORE REDSKINS: Defensive depth chart has lots of moving parts 

The wild card is inside linebacker Zach Brown. The Redskins have not had a player with his speed and athleticism at the position in the seven seasons they have been running the 3-4 defense. If they can figure out how to utilize him he could have a substantial impact. If they plug him in and have him do what they’re always had the inside backers have done, his influence will be minimal.

Before moving on from free agents it’s appropriate to mention OLB Junior Galette, who has not played a snap since signing in August of 2015. He is the ultimate wild card; the Redskins could get a dozen sacks from him or he may have little to no impact.

The bottom line on the free agents is that fans should know better than to expect much out of an influx of defensive free agents. If you have any questions, just Google Albert Haynesworth or Adam Archuleta.

As far as the draft, it is reasonable to expect first-round pick Jonathan Allen to have an immediate impact on the line? Whether he starts or comes off the bench, Allen will inject youth and athleticism to a line on a team that has not invested a first-round pick in the position since 1997.

Second-round pick OLB Ryan Anderson can help but don’t expect him to explode onto the scene. Since sacks became an official stat in 1982 only seven players who were drafted in the second round or later got double-digit sacks as a rookie. It hasn’t been done since Mark Anderson of the Bears got 12 sacks in 2006 after Chicago drafted him in the fifth round.

No doubt, Anderson can give the pass rush a boost and he should get better over the next couple of seasons. The same can be said of Fabian Moreau, who may not be ready to fully practice until well into training camp. His 2017 impact is likely to be minimal. Fourth-round safety Montae Nicholson and seventh-round defensive backs Josh-Harvey-Clemons and Joshua Holsey are going to have to compete to make the team and their biggest impact could be felt on special teams.

This all should add up to improvement for the defense in 2017. That’s improved, not transformed or dominant. That still may be enough to put an extra win or two on the board.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

One crazy stat that connects Dwayne Haskins with Cam Newton, but also Mark Sanchez

The Redskins selected Dwayne Haskins with the 15th overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. While his record at Ohio State was impressive, Haskins didn't log many starts. 

Washington head coach Jay Gruden talked about Haskins back in March during the league meetings, before the Burgundy and Gold drafted the quarterback, and said that because he played just one year in college he would need significant time to learn the NFL game. 

"You would like a guy to play more than a year to see how he’s developed over the years. Haskins has a unique skillset. He’s big, strong and can really throw it," Gruden said. Then, "Is he going to be ready for the first year?"

After OTAs and minicamp, it's obvious Haskins has all the talent needed to play quarterback in the NFL. He's made touch throws and he's rifled balls into tight windows. At the same time, he seemed confused in spots about play calls and struggled with the speed of the pass rush. 

All of that is normal for a player with just 14 starts. But it's that number, the one year of starting experience in college, that makes one statistic stand out about Haskins. 

That's some serious company, both good, bad and ugly. 

As a rookie in 2011, Cam Newton went 6-10 with 35 total TDs and 17 interceptions, not to mention a Rookie of the Year trophy. His running prowess made up for average numbers in the pass game. The more important comparison for Redskins fans is that Newton eventually developed into an NFL MVP and got the Panthers to the Super Bowl. 

For Mark Sanchez, the rookie numbers and the career comparison aren't as kind. Sanchez threw 12 TDs and 20 INTs in 15 games as a rookie, though he was at the helm as the Jets got to two straight AFC title games. Still, for his career, Sanchez threw more INTs than TDs and could not keep a starting job after his rookie contract. 

Trubisky is a different deal. He's only started 26 games since being the second overall pick in the 2017 draft with a record of 15-11. He's thrown 31 touchdowns against 19 interceptions, and run for another five scores. It's hard to describe Trubisky's game. At times he's terribly inaccurate, but in other spots, he looks like a future Pro Bowler. 

Newton is the sure thing, Sanchez is the poor outcome. Trubisky is still to be determined. 

For Haskins, it's not good company or bad company. With only 14 starts at Ohio State before the Redskins drafted Haskins, it's just the company he's in.


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Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Packers' Davante Adams has high praise for rookie Darnell Savage

Darnell Savage was the third NFL draft prospect profiled in our series ‘I Am the Prospect

Darnell Savage has been getting a lot of buzz since the Packers traded up to the 21st overall pick to select him in the 2019 NFL Draft, and his teammates are on board.

The Maryland star was one of the draft's biggest risers, and it was well warranted.

The Packers' Instagram account posted a video of Savage Wednesday, and his teammate Davante Adams chimed in.

“The boy gonna be special,” Adams wrote.

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BORN READY. #MondayMotivation #GoPackGo

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“He’s going to be that guy — I can tell," Adams said, via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal. "We definitely got a steal." “I know we got him early, but I still think that he could have gone even earlier just based on what he’s doing out there. He plays like a vet, he knows how to practice, and he’s smart, man.

Savage will face the Redskins in Week 14 when the Burgundy and Gold head up to Lambeau Field on December 8 for the matchup against the Packers.