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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

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Need to Know: Is Washington DT Shelton a good fit for the Redskins at No. 5?

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 26, 44 days before NFL free agency starts for the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL.

Question of the day

We’re changing up the format of Need to Know for the offseason. Every day I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

This morning’s question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page:

Allstair is referring to Washington nose tackle Danny Shelton, who most experts saw as the most impressive player at any position during the week of the Senior Bowl. He’s not just a nose tackle, although at 6-2, 342 he can plug the middle in the 3-4 just fine. Shelton could play tackle if the Redskins line up in a 4-3 as they will a significant percentage of the time in Joe Barry’s hybrid scheme.

The versatility is important because a player has to be a three-down player to justify being the fifth overall pick. He has moved up to No. 7 overall in the prospect rankings on CBSSports.com and is likely to have a similar ranking when other sites are updated with their post-Senior Bowl rankings. That’s certainly close enough to the Redskins’ top pick in the five hole to raise the possibility that he will be the guy.

But the important thing to keep in mind is that Scot McCloughan doesn’t look at the CBS website or listen to Mel Kiper or Mike Mayock. I’ve already used this quote from McCloughan a few times here but it bears repeating. “I think game tape is the DNA,” he said at his introductory press conference.

He’s not going to be very impressed by what Shelton may have done at the Senior Bowl. The player will not rise or fall on McCloughan’s draft board during the combine. Most of Shelton’s resume is set in stone in McCloughan’s eyes.

“I always go back to the tape. I have to,” he said. “That’s the way I was taught. You’re going to see all of a sudden – Georgia is playing Alabama, it’s fourth quarter, it’s fourth and three, who wins on that line of scrimmage? That guard come off and get the play?”

Substitute Washington and Washington State for Georgia and Alabama and the nose tackle for “that guard” and you can see what McCloughan is looking for.

There also will be background checks and talks with former teammates and strength coaches and others who will be able to vouch for his character and work ethic. And McCloughan likely talked to him in Mobile and will one or two more times before draft day.

There also will be conversations and tape-watching sessions with Joe Barry and the new defensive line coach to make sure that Shelton will be a good fit for what they have in mind defensively. Then Shelton will be compared to other candidates for the fifth pick to see how he stacks up.

So there is a long way to go here. Right now Shelton looks like a player that the Redskins could use and he seems to be in the mix for the No. 5 pick. Should they trade back a few spots to a position later in the top 10, he would seem to be even a more attractive possibility. But we don’t know what is going on in McCloughan’s head and we probably won’t until they turn in the card on April 30.

Timeline

—It’s been 29 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 230 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 24; NFL free agency starts 43; 2015 NFL Draft 94

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

With one catch, Josh Doctson proved just how dangerous he can be for the Redskins

LANDOVER, Md. — It took a while, longer than likely anyone expected, but Josh Doctson's first career touchdown catch may just have been worth the wait.

In the third quarter of the Redskins' 27-10 win over the Raiders on Sunday night, Kirk Cousins lofted a deep ball from a bit beyond midfield toward Doctson, who was being boxed out by David Amerson. And as the pass made its descent, Amerson went up to go snag it.

There was just one problem for the corner: Doctson went up and got to it first.

The result? A 52-yard touchdown that made the score 21-0 in favor of the hosts but, far more importantly, opened — quite forcefully, too — everyone's eyes to the sheer talent No. 18 possesses.

MORE: WHY THE DEFENSE'S EFFORT WAS SO ENCOURAGING

"I just made the play," the second-year wideout said afterward, about as nonchalantly as he made the TD look even though it absolutely wasn't. "It was pretty simple to be honest."

Against the Eagles and Rams in Weeks 1 and 2, Doctson suited up for Washington's offense but wasn't involved at all. And in the early going vs. Oakland, it again looked like he'd walk off the field with the same statline as an inactive player, on the verge of facing more questions about why he isn't producing. 

But that all changed on one jump-ball, which is exactly what his head coach has been anxiously waiting for.

"I think it was some relief for him," Jay Gruden answered when asked about the highlight. "I think the players have seen him do that in practice quite often but nobody else has... It wasn't a perfectly thrown ball, but to give him a chance where he can go up and make a big time catch, hopefully we'll get more of that."

RELATED: REDSKINS PLAYERS SIT AND KNEEL DURING ANTHEM

Doctson's QB, who gestured toward him during the post-score celebration as if to say There's the dude you've all been hearing about for months, certainly appreciated it.

"I do like Josh's ball skills and his ability to catch the ball up in the air and I thought, 'You know what, I'm going to give him a chance, they have been asking me to give him that chance and let's give it to him," Cousins said.

As fans of the team know all too well by now, Doctson isn't someone that can be counted on yet. He's oft-injured, and the grab he made over Amerson, while spectacular, was just the third of his career. 

But that sequence provides hope that many more similar to it will follow if he continues to stay healthy and gains more of Gruden's and Cousins' trust this year. He's still far from validating his 2016 first-round selection, but it's now obvious he has the skills to distance himself from those who so badly want to label him a bust.

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Redskins offense finally clicked, but their defense is why you should be thrilled

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins offense finally clicked, but their defense is why you should be thrilled

LANDOVER, Md. — It'll be tempting to focus on the Redskins' offense as you bask in the glow of their 27-10 Sunday night win vs. the Raiders. In fact, it'll be tempting not to just spend Monday at work watching that graceful Josh Doctson grab over and over again. 

But don't be too distracted by how well Kirk Cousins and his unit played, because it was the defense's effort that should have you most excited throughout the week as you talk about the now 2-1 Burgundy and Gold.

Allow Jay Gruden to explain how proud he is of the group that dominated throughout the Week 3, nationally televised matchup against an AFC favorite.

"I think it was as good a defensive performance that I've seen in a long time by anybody," the head coach said in his press conference. "To hold that offense with Marshawn [Lynch] and Derek [Carr] and [Michael] Crabtree and Amari Cooper... the list goes on and on. 0-11 on third downs. I mean, it's a great tribute to Coach Manusky and the staff, but the players were executing."

MORE: QUARTER-BY-QUARTER BREAKDOWN OF THE WIN

Trying to select a defensive player of the night? Write down about 10 names, toss them into your favorite 'Skins hat, mix them up and choose one. Odds are, you'll find a deserving player.

Montae Nicholson hauled in his first career interception on the Raiders' first passing play. Kendall Fuller notched his first pick, too. Preston Smith and Jonathan Allen, meanwhile, both posted a sack and were around Derek Carr on plenty of other occasions. And you could make a compilation of Zach Brown and DJ Swearinger's hardest hits, and it'd probably run a few minutes featuring just their tackles.

The Raiders came into D.C. as one of the league's most productive offenses through two contests. They left, however, with just 128 total yards, never able to find any momentum against an opponent that was flying around from beginning to end.

"D-line was going out there and just attacking, hunting, eating," Fuller said afterward. "I remember just being on the sideline — just all the DBs — just telling them how much we appreciate it. The linebackers helping them in the run game, helping us in the pass game. So just all three levels, all three phases of the game."

"We just got our butt kicked," Carr stated matter of factly.

Coming into the season, it was expected that the Redskins' offense would author complete performances like the one they did at home vs. the Silver and Black. Turning over a rising young QB a couple of times, manhandling a premier offensive line and coming up with clutch red zone stands, though?

Those are the types of things that could make the 2017 season a special one. And those are the types of things that make the defense's showing the best part of an excellent overall victory.