They say that the sideline is a defenders best friend. Old Man Sideline never missed a tackle or blew a coverage.DeAngelo Hall could be missing his best friend a lot this season.The veteran cornerback, who is entering his entering his ninth season, has been getting a great deal of work at the slot cornerback position after having played on the outside for most of his career.I'm getting a lot of reps out there as the nickel, Hall said. I'm feeling comfortable I'm feeling good.Calling the slot corner the nickel makes it sound like its a substitute position that should be filled by a lesser player. That used to be the case. However, the game has changed with teams going into three-wide sets on first and 10 about as often as they do on third and eight.Greg Cosell of NFL Films wrote the followingKeep in mind teams also run three-wide groups in normal down and distance situations as a regular feature of their offense. What burden does that place on the defense, as it specifically relates to the slot corner? It means he has three responsibilities: cover man (the most apparent), blitzer and run defender (not talked about enough). Those are three distinct skill sets, but they are all required of a slot corner.In short, the position cant be an afterthought. No longer can you get away with throwing your third-best cornerback out there and hoping that he can hold it down. Thats what the Redskins tried to last year by putting Kevin Barnes in the slot. The results were mixed at best. Barnes was benched late in the year in favor of Byron Westbrook, who is no longer with the team.Hall recognizes the challenge involved in the playing the slot including the loss of the reliable chalk line.There's a lot more room out there is the slot, he said. The receiver's got two ways to go, you've got to cover the whole field as opposed to playing corner where you can go, that's the sideline.You can see your friend over there, the sideline, you've got help sometimes. It's definitely a lot easier as opposed to playing nickel but we've got a lot of things with the nickel where you've got a chance to go our and have some fun, too.Among the fun things Hall will get to do if he plays the slot would be, as Cosell noted, blitzing the quarterback.I don't have but one career sack so it's going to be interesting to see if I get around the quarterback, said Hall.It also will be interesting to see how this plays out. The teams of the NFC East and many of the rest of the teams on the Redskins schedule are loaded at receiver and the Redskins are going to need to put their cornerbacks in spots that best utilize their talents. If that means teaching a veteran like Hall new tricks that is what they will need to do.
Redskins Director of College Scouting Scott Campbell will speak to the media on Monday, and there are plenty of questions as Washington prepares for the draft on Thursday.
Some of the most important topics will not be about what college players the 'Skins will target, but rather the state of the front office since the ouster of former general manager Scot McCloughan. That said, Campbell plays a huge role in draft decisions, and it will be quite interesting to inquire on strategy.
Below are five questions for Campbell:
- What now - With McCloughan gone, what, if any, changes have happened in the front office? Does Campbell have more control or input on player selection?
- Final say - Again, with McCloughan gone, who makes the final call on players? Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden made very clear during NFL League Meetings a few weeks back that a composite of Redskins officials work to establish a grade for each draft prospect. The team then drafts based on those grades. But eventually, the team will be forced to deviate from the draft board or make a decision on two players with similar grades. Who makes the final call?
- Need or talent - Redskins fans tend to grow frustrated at the suggestion of taking the best player available in the NFL Draft, but that is also the methodology the franchise has employed. That system delivered first-round picks of a guard in 2015 and a receiver in 2016; neither position had great need. Washington most needs help on its defensive line, and the defensive side of the ball overall.
- Sweet 17 - The entire draft is an opportunity for the 'Skins to add talent, but no pick carries as much potential as the 17th overall. The speculation is wild about what player might land with the Burgundy and Gold, and the rumors will only build this week. Is a running back in play? Haason Reddick? Could off-field concerns drop Reuben Foster to 17?
- Another arm - Washington has Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy and Nate Sudfeld under contract in 2017. After that, however, Cousins could be gone. Will the 'Skins look to add another passer, perhaps on Friday or Saturday in the later rounds? If they do, it's unlikely the team will carry four QBs this fall, so a decision could accompany that pick.
- Trading places - Might a trade be in the works? Last year the Skins made a number of trades over the course of the three-day draft, and it's likely more deals get worked out this week in Philadelphia. Does that mean a mega-trade that includes Cousins? Probably not. But it would not be a surprise if the franchise traded down in the first round, like they did in 2016.
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Are the Redskins moving towards the edge in the draft on Thursday.
Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 23, three days before the April 27 NFL draft.
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 18
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 30
—Training camp starts (7/27) 94
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 139
The best edge rushers who should be available at pick 17
In the big picture, the Redskins weren’t too bad when it came to bringing down the quarterback. They compiled they compiled 38 sacks, good enough to tie for ninth in the NFL.
But when you put the numbers under closer scrutiny you can see that they didn’t get it done when they really needed to. On third down, when most teams are expected to pass the ball, the Redskins got just 12 sacks on 166 pass attempts. That was tied for seventh-fewest in the league.
It’s easy to see the linkage from this to the Redskins league-worst third down defense that gave up first downs on 46.6 percent of opponents’ attempts. The time opposing quarterbacks had to pass was a factor in the passer rating of 110.3 that they posted on third down. The composite passer rating for all third-down pass attempts throughout the league last year was 86.1.
Looking at this, it would be difficult for any Redskins fan to object to the selection of an edge rusher with the team’s top draft pick on Thursday. Here are some possibilities who may be available when the Redskins draft with the 17th pick.
Derek Barnett, Tennessee—A highly productive player who racked up double-digit sacks in the last three seasons playing in the SEC.
Charles Harris, Missouri—A high-motor player who has a jaw-dropping spin move to get to the quarterback.
Takkarist McKinney, UCLA—The Bruins moved him around at times, sneaking him inside to rush through the A gap. He may not always win but it won’t be because he doesn’t try.
Taco Charlton, Michigan—He’s 6-6, 277 and very athletic. Vidaunte (his given name) recorded 10 sacks and 13.5 tackles for a loss for the Wolverines.
T.J. Watt, Wisconsin—The buzz is that the Redskins are very high on Watt’s potential. In just his second year as an outside linebacker he had 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.
Haason Reddick, Temple—This one has an asterisk as he likely would be an inside linebacker in the Redskins’ 3-4 base defense. But they could slide him onto the edge, where he starred for the Owls, on passing downs and get help at two problem areas with one draft pick.
Tandler on Twitter
The #Redskins will open the 2017 season against the Eagles 20 weeks from right now.— Rich Tandler (@Rich_TandlerCSN) April 23, 2017
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