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Need to Know: Redskins view DeSean Jackson as their first-round pick

Need to Know: Redskins view DeSean Jackson as their first-round pick

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, April 21, 17 days before the NFL draft.

Nickel coverage

Here are five thoughts on the Redskins and the NFL draft, which I think we can all agree is taking forever to get here.

1. The Redskins are looking at DeSean Jackson as their first-round draft pick. Of course, it’s not exactly the same since Jackson will cost more (although not that much more, see below) and is unlikely to be around for as long as the player taken with the second overall pick will be. But the veteran wide receiver is a proven NFL talent who should provide instant impact.

2. What’s the cost comparison? This year, it’s just about even. Jackson’s contract carries a 2014 cap charge of $4.25 million while the No. 2 overall pick will cost the Rams $4.21 million against the cap. But the difference widens quickly. Over the next three years, Jackson’s cap charges will total $22.75 million while the second pick will cost around $15.8 million. That’s why you want to build through the draft.

3. The Redskins may have been targeting a wide receiver with their top draft pick, No. 34 overall. With the draft being so loaded at the position it’s easy to envision a scenario where a wide receiver is one of the best available at that pick. This is also an indication that Gruden wants to run a lot of sets with three wide receivers.

4. Although I’m on record as saying that I think that the Redskins’ top pick will be an offensive tackle, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if it’s a defensive front seven player who can get after the quarterback. The Jackson contract will squeeze the cap somewhat next year. It’s not like they will be unable to tag Brian Orakpo for a second time if they want to but it might be better to have a replacement ready so that decision is not made from desperation.

5. I’m going to keep an eye on the Redskins third- and fourth-round picks as an indication of what they think of Keenan Robinson’s chances of moving into a starting role at inside linebacker. If they believe that he can, they are likely to bypass taking a inside linebacker. Should the belief be that Robinson will be nothing more than a backup, the third or fourth would be a good area to target one.

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Timeline

—It’s been 113 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 139 days until they play another one.

Days until: First veteran minicamp 8; NFL Draft 17; Training camp starts 93

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Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Redskins plan to 'spy' Cardinals' David Johnson with rookie Su'a Cravens, per source

Facing one of the NFL's best running backs in Arizona's David Johnson, the Redskins plan to use rookie linebacker Su'a Cravens as a spy in nickel coverage to slow down the Cardinals' threat, per a source close to the team.

Johnson ranks third in the NFL with 921 rushing yards, but it's the variety of ways the Arizona offense uses their second-year running back that makes him so difficult to handle for opposing defenses. Johnson also has 55 catches for 613 yards, and that's just through 11 games.

Cravens comes into the game with momentum as perhaps the Redskins most dynamic defensive threat. With size to play linebacker and enough speed to play coverage, the 6-foot-1, 220 lbs. rookie out of USC will be put in a tough position covering Johnson. The reality of his assignment is to try and contain Johnson as the Cardinals offense is so reliant on the runner that he will get a number of chances.

In their last two games, Johnson has gone for more than 150 total yards in each contest and scored multiple touchdowns. For his part, Cravens has proved a playmaker in his rookie season. To go with 29 tackles in nine games, his stat sheet has sacks and an interception listed.

Getting to Carson Palmer is the best path for the Redskins defense - especially considering the Cardinals' offensive line woes - but using Cravens to try and limit Johnson is a smart course of action for the 'Skins.

One member of the Washington defense explained that Johnson is "going to make plays" but that the key is to limit the damage. If the running back catches a ball out of the backfield, Joe Barry's defense will be focused on making a stop after a five-yard gain, instead of a 20-yard gain.

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!

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Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates: Score, stats, highlights, analysis, video

The Redskins and Cardinals highlight the Week 13 schedule with a showdown in the desert with heavy NFL playoff implications on the line.

If the Redskins (6-5-1) can score a victory over the Cardinals (4-6-1), the team can move closer to solidifying one of the top two Wild Card spots in the NFC playoff race.

Depite the Redskins' difficult Week 12 loss to the Cowboys, Kirk Cousins is playing the best football of his career as of late, and earned the NFC Player of the Month honors for his efforts.

While running back Robert Kelley did have a slip-up against the Cowboys, the team's run game still looks vastly improved from the early season, which allows the passing game to thrive even more. Jamison Crowder continues to impress, and although Jordan Reed will miss the Cardinals game with an injury, Vernon Daivs has proven to be an excellent option for Cousins.

The most entertaining matchup of Week 13 might be Redskins DB Josh Norman vs. Cardinals WR Larry Fitzgerald, but the most important matchup will undoubtedly be the Redskins defensive line vs. Cardinals RB David Johnson. 

RELATED: NFL PLAYOFF SCENARIOS HEADING INTO WEEK 13

Johnson trails just DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott -- who finished with 83 yards and one TD in Week 12 -- in total rushing yards with 920 and trails just Elliott and Legarrett Blount in rushing touchdowns with 10. The Redskins rank 25th in rushing defense, and have given up an average of 108 rushing yards in their last five games.

Redskins vs. Cardinals kicks off at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, Dec. 4 on FOX. Redskins Kickoff gets things started at 3:00 p.m. ET on CSN Mid-Atlantic. (Channel Finder)

CSN is providing all the live updates, stats, scores, highlights, videos and analysis from Redskins vs. Cardinals. Got a comment on the game? Be sure to let us know in the comment section and join Santana Moss and Sebastian Salazar at halftime for the Facebook Live Q&A.

RELATED: BEST & WORST REDSKINS ALTERNATE UNIFORMS

Redskins vs. Cardinals Live Updates

PREGAME:

10:30 AM: Game Preview: The five things you need to know before Redskins vs. Cardinals.

1. Keep it moving
2. Missing in action
3. Consider the source
4. Problems don't go away
5. Harder they fall

10:15 AM: Be sure to follow CSN Insiders J.P. Finlay and Rich Tandler, who are at University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Ari. Also, give our CSN Redskins Twitter account too. Come for the analysis, stay for the dank memes.

10:00 AM: Welcome to CSNMA's live updates blog of Week 13 Redskins vs. Cardinals. As always, I am Troy Machir and today I will be your online guide to Redskins vs. Cardinals football in the painted desert of the southwest. If you have an issue with me, you can cuss me out on Twitter, 140 characters at a time. It's fun.