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Grading the Redskins' 2016 draft

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Grading the Redskins' 2016 draft

Since we don’t know how the careers of the players picked by the Redskins yesterday will turn out we have to dig in a little more to come up with a grade for Scot McCloughan’s second draft with the team. Here’s my assessment, feel free to leave yours in the comments.

Strategy—C+

Scot McCloughan let the world know that he wanted to increase the number of picks he had to work with. He did not succeed in doing so. The Redskins went into the draft with eight picks and they ended up selecting seven players. He did get three additional picks for 2017 so there is a plus there. But McCloughan said he wanted “more swings” and he didn’t get them.

It appears that they were on the verge of swinging a significant deal in the first round. There really isn’t any other reason why they would take a 2017 6th-round pick from the Texans to move back one spot except to buy some time to try to complete a trade back. But there was no deal and the Redskins had to move on and pick Josh Doctson. I don’t think they’ll regret getting a receiver like Doctson but they didn’t get the additional picks they were looking for.

How the Redskins fared in that deal on the Jimmy Johnson draft trade chart is difficult to judge. By moving from 21st overall to 22nd the Redskins lost 20 points in chart value. Since picks for the next year are generally discounted by a round the 2017 sixth was only worth about 8 points, depending on how the Texans do next year. But since they accomplished what they wanted to and got a player they wanted anyway it’s hard to fret the dozen or so points they lost in the deal.

Let’s look at the other deals on the chart, for what it’s worth. On Saturday, the Redskins traded their fourth-round pick (No. 120 overall) to the New Orleans Saints for New Orleans’ fifth-round pick (No. 152 overall) and a 2017 fifth-round pick. The Redskins’ fourth is worth 54 points and the Saints’ fifth-rounder has a value of 31. That’s a difference of 23 points. That’s about the value of a mid sixth-round pick so again “deducting” a round because it’s a 2017 pick that’s an even swap. So was the Redskins deal with the jets where they sent their fifth-round pick (No. 158 overall) to the New York Jets for a 2017 fourth-round pick.

So the Saturday trades were reasonable deals if McCloughan wasn’t particularly happy the players on his draft board. But he still didn’t achieve his stated goal of adding to his stockpile of picks so the Redskins get a C+ in terms of strategy.

Talent/fit—A

It think that it’s safe to say that just about all of the players they got fit what they are looking for in at some respect.

—They want players to have had to work for what they got. Josh Doctson came to TCU as a walk on and left holding most of the team receiving records. RB Keith Marshall was highly recruited but at Georgia, injuries and players like Todd Gurley and Nick Chubb limited his playing time. But he kept at it, stayed at Georgia, and got himself a chance to keep playing football by being drafted.

—They wanted versatility and Su’a Cravens almost defines that. He’ll play linebacker strong safety, cover backs and tight ends, make tackles and contribute on special teams. Matt Ioannidis could play anywhere along the defensive line, including nose tackle if he can bulk up from his current 299 pounds.

—Toughness was a major theme, with Gruden particularly citing Ioannidis, Cravens and inside linebacker Steven Daniels.

—Other intangibles such as love of football, hustling and not taking plays off, and leadership keep popping up while reviewing the various pre-draft scouting reports on the players the Redskins drafted.

When you can stick to your plan and get seven players who have the traits you’re looking for to one degree or another, that’s a pretty good draft.

Overall—B+

If you haven’t figured it out after two drafts I don’t know if you can be helped. Scot McCloughan doesn’t care what you think, what I think, what Mel Kiper, Mike Mayock or any other draft analyst thinks, or what anyone else thinks. He is going to do things his way.

Immediate needs are not on his to-do list when he approaches the draft. Even though most viewed someone who can play nose tackle as their most pressing issue, he didn’t take a defensive lineman in the first round. Or in the second, third, or fourth rounds. The defensive lineman he took in the fifth may or may not play nose tackle.

It’s more important to him to get a good player who fits what they do not just in terms of scheme but also in terms of the culture the organization is trying to build than it is to plug a hole with a player who doesn’t really fit. If you make a habit out of that you will find yourself shopping for another player to fill that hole a couple of years later.

Again, if you haven’t figured this out by now you possibly never will and you’ll probably be perpetually disappointed in the Redskins’ drafts for as long as he’s here.

I could have gone with an A as the overall grade if McCloughan had not stated multiple times that he wanted to get more picks this year. He didn’t get them so I had to go with the B+.

The Redskins seem to be a better team today than they were last year and they could be much better in 2017 if this draft class and the group that McCloughan drafted last year start hitting their strides.

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The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

The five key plays in the Redskins’ win over the Panthers

Every play in an NFL game is important but some matter to the outcome more than others. Here are the key plays in the Redskins’ 23-17 win over the Panthers.

1. Q1, 10:41 — Tress Way punts 51 yards to CAR 21, D.J. Moore to CAR 22 for 1 yard (Shaun Dion Hamilton). FUMBLES (Hamilton), RECOVERED by WAS-Jeremy Sprinkle at CAR 21. Sprinkle to CAR 22 for -1 yard. 

The Redskins did not get off to a promising start on offense as they went three and out on their first possession and punted. Panthers rookie D.J. Moore fielded the punt and tried to find some running room. He found Hamilton, who stripped the ball away and Sprinkle pounced on it.

It only took one play for the Redskins to cash in as Alex Smith found Vernon Davis wide open—as in nobody else in the picture open—for a touchdown to put the home team up 7-0. 

2. Q1, 8:50 — Alex Smith pass short middle to Jordan Reed to WAS 45 for 7 yards 

The Redskins were looking to add to their lead on their possession following the Davis touchdown. On third and eight at their own 38, Smith threw for Reed in the middle of the field. The pass was high and inside, forcing Reed to jump, reach back and stab the ball with his right hand. It was a true one-handed catch because he never touched the ball with his left hand. 

The only thing Reed did wrong on that play was to signal for a first down. It was short, but Smith got the first with a sneak on the next play. Some Adrian Peterson runs and a 21-yard pass from Smith to Davis helped get the Redskins down to the two-yard line. On third down from there, Smith found Paul Richardson for a TD to make it 14-0.

3. Q2, 11:32 — Cam Newton pass short middle to Moore to WAS 37 for 17 yards (Josh Norman). FUMBLES (Norman), RECOVERED by WAS -Mason Foster at WAS 33. 

Norman got his first interception since 2016 earlier in the second quarter but the offense couldn’t do anything with the possession. The next time the Panthers had the ball, Newton went to Moore on a crossing Pattern. He had some running room and it looked like the Panthers would advance well into Redskins territory. But as defenders converged on Moore, Norman reached in and stripped the ball out. “He never saw me coming,” said Norman. Foster recovered, and the Redskins drove for a field goal to go up 17-0. 

4. Q4, 13:43 — Alex Smith sacked at CAR 46 for -6 yards (Julius Peppers). FUMBLES (Peppers), recovered by WAS-Trent Williams at CAR 46. Williams to CAR 38 for 8 yards.

The Panthers had rallied to make it a one-score game at 17-9. On third and seven from the Carolina 40, Smith was immediately swarmed by the pass rush. The ball popped out and it fell into the hands of Williams to the left of the scrum. Going on sheer instinct, Williams headed upfield. Starting from six yards behind the line of scrimmage Williams rumbled eight yards for a net gain of two. That’s not much but it was enough to have Jay Gruden send Dustin Hopkins into the game to attempt a 56-yard field goal. The boot just made it over the uprights and Hopkins’ career-long kick had the Redskins up by two scores at 20-9. 

5. Q4, 0:38 — Cam Newton pass incomplete short right to Jarius Wright.

After the Redskins kicked a field goal to go up by six, Newton led a final drive that kept everyone on edge. Starting with 3:15 to play, Newton was sharp, completing six of seven passes for 50 yards to move the Panthers from their own 16 to second and five at the Washington 16. The Washington defense finally stiffened, and Newton’s next three passes fell incomplete. The last one went harmlessly to the ground, not particularly close to Wright or any other receiver. The Redskins and their fans could finally exhale and celebrate. 

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Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Need to Know: Redskins stock up-stock down vs. Panthers

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, October 15, six days before the Washington Redskins host the Dallas Cowboys.

Talking points

Here are the players who saw their stock go up against the Panthers on Sunday and others who saw their stocks drop. 

Stock up—A few days ago, CB Josh Norman was a penny stock. He had mixed up assignments in the blowout loss to the Saints and take a ton of criticism after the game, much of it warranted. During the Panthers game, he was a blue chip. Norman got his first interception in 20 games and he forced a fumble. There is still a lot of season to be played but for now, at least it’s good to be Josh Norman.

Stock down—They won the game and that’s the quarterback’s main job. But for the second straight game, Alex Smith did not play up to his $18.4 million cap number. He passed for 163 yards. At times you really wondered where he was throwing the ball and/or to whom he was throwing it. They were able to win thanks to Adrian Peterson’s rushing and three takeaways. To Smith’s credit, he protected the ball well and it should be noted he was without favorite targets, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder. Regardless, it was not a sharp performance by Smith. 

Stock upPeterson came into the game with an injured ankle, knee, and shoulder. Not only did he fight through the pain, he thrived. Six days after he rushed for just six yards against the Saints and sat out most of the second half, he picked up 97 yards on 17 carries, an average of 5.7 yards per carry. Peterson did rip off a 19-yard run but mostly it was three yards here, six yards there. It was what the Redskins were expecting when the signed him. 

Stock down—With Thompson out, Kapri Bibbs had his big chance to show what he can do. He didn’t do much. Bibbs, who was promoted from the practice squad earlier this season, picked up 11 yards rushing on two carries and he caught one pass for six yards. There were some high hopes for Bibbs among Redskins fans. For today, he didn’t live up to them. 

Stock up—I know that Daron Payne didn’t make a ton of plays and his streak of games with at least one sack ended at two. But he was part of a defensive front that held Christian McCaffrey, who came into the game averaging 82.3 rushing yards per game (fourth in the NFL) and 5.2 yards per attempt, to 20 yards on eight attempts, a 2.5 per carry average. And he made a remarkable play, which is becoming routine for him, when he made the tackle on a tight end who had taken a screen pass well outside of the numbers. He’s a special talent and his stock will continue to rise. 

The agenda

Today: Open locker room 11:30; Jay Gruden press conference 3:00 

Upcoming: Cowboys @ Redskins 6; Redskins @ Giants 13; Redskins @ Eagles 49

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