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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Super Bowl

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Need to Know: Five things the Redskins can learn from the Super Bowl

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 3, 94 days before the NFL Draft.

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Here are five things the Redskins can learn from the Seattle Seahawks’ 43-8 rout in last night’s Super Bowl:

1. Draft and develop—The Seahawks did make some free agent acquisitions like Cliff Avril (see below) and Michael Bennett and pulled off the big trade for Percy Harvin. But they were built by drafting and, just as important, developing their own. Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor were fifth-round picks, Super Bowl MVP Malcolm Smith was a seventh-rounder. It’s not just finding players like that in the draft, it’s getting them into your system and teaching them your way of doing things and giving them an opportunity to succeed. The Redskins have drafted 32 players in the last four years and precious few have contributed to the extent that the Seahawks’ picks have. They need to improve here.

2. Have an identity—The Seahawks are the Legion of Boom disrupting receivers, Marshawn Lynch with power running, and Russell Wilson making a huge play when it’s needed. Who are the Redskins? OK, they’re a zone running team on offense. But what do they do on defense? Do they prefer size, speed, football IQ? Back to the previous item, if you know who you are you can draft and develop players in the mold of your identity.

3. Special teams turn games—The big play was Harvin’s TD return of the second-half kickoff (Harvin was helped by some atrociously sloppy play by the Broncos’ coverage unit) but I’ll take it back to the first play of the game. Tridon Holliday made a dumb decision to take the opening kickoff out from six yards deep in the end zone and the Seahawks made him pay for it by tackling him at the 14. If the ball is at the 20, that first, errant snap might not result in a safety. It’s not just about the huge plays, it’s about field position. It goes without saying that the Redskins have a long way to go here.

4. Pass defense starts with pass pressure—The player who would have had my vote as MVP make just three tackles and didn’t record a sack. But Cliff Avril was in Peyton Manning’s grill all night long with two hits, five hurries, and on pass batted down. His pressure created Chancellor’s interception that the Seahawks converted into a TD for a 15-0 lead and Smith’s pick six that essentially ended things before halftime. Even one of the greatest ever can’t get it done with pressure in his face.

5. Have an attitude—As the Seahawks built their lead they became more and more confident. For that matter, they were confident when they led 2-0. They kept on doing what they were doing and steamrolled to the win. The Redskins have tended to be nervous with a lead, afraid that someone would make a mistake to blow it rather than confident that they could build on it.

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Timeline

—It’s been 36 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 216 days until they play another one.

—Days until: NFL Combine 16; NFL Free agency starts 36; Offseason workouts start 63; NFL Draft 94

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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

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