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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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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!