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Need to Know: The five best players drafted with the 34th pick


Need to Know: The five best players drafted with the 34th pick

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 9, 29 days before the NFL draft.

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Here are the five best players drafted with the 34th pick since the first AFL-NFL common draft in 1966. (per the Pro-Football-Reference.com Approximate Value metric):

1. LB Jack Ham, career AV 112 (drafted in 1971 by the Steelers)—Ham went straight into the starting lineup as a rookie and started all but three games of the Steelers run of four Super Bowl titles in six years. He was first-team All-Pro six times and is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

2. CB Lem Barney, 99 (1967, Lions)—A shutdown corner before the term was invented, Barney was one of the bright spots on a string of mediocre to awful Lions teams from 1967-1977. He made six Pro Bowls, was first-team All-Pro twice and he has a bust in Canton as well.

3. DB Carnell Lake, 81 (1989, Steelers)—Lake played for the Steelers from 1989-1998, a time when they were winning games but they were unable to add “one for the thumb”. They lost his only Super Bowl appearance following the 1995 season. He made four Pro Bowls with the Steelers (plus first-team All-Pro honors in 1997) and one more in Jacksonville in 1999. He finished up his career with the Ravens in 2001.

4. G Chris Snee, 75 (2004, Giants)—Snee was with the Giants for both of their recent Super Bowl wins and has been one of the more solid lineman in the league since he came to the Giants in 2004. He has four Pro Bowls and earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2008. Snee is the only active player on this list.

5. DB Tim McDonald, 71 (1987, Cardinals)—Quite the ball hawk at safety, McDonald picked off 40 passes in 13 NFL seasons. He spent the first six with the Cardinals before moving to the 49ers. After becoming the Cardinals’ starter at strong safety in 1988 he missed just five starts in 12 years. McDonald made six Pro Bowls including five straight from 1991-1995.

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—It’s been 101 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 151 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Draft 29; Training camp starts 105

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Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Want to beat the Cardinals? Bring down Carson Palmer

Many considered the Cardinals a Super Bowl contender this season, though the team has not performed to that level so far in 2016. One huge problem for Arizona - protecting quarterback Carson Palmer. 

In its last four games, Arizona has given up 16 sacks on Palmer, including a staggering eight sacks against the Carolina Panthers. In the last two games, Palmer has gone down six times, and both games have been losses. 

With weapons like wideout Larry Fitzgerald and running back David Johnson, Palmer has lots of options to move the ball. That's why Jay Gruden knows how important it is for his front seven to get home.

"It’s going to start with the pass rush," Gruden said. "If Carson [Palmer] has all day to throw and give Larry time to do double moves and stem you inside and vertical and then get back out or break it back across, I don’t care how big you are or how fast you are, it’s going to be hard."

In all six Cardinals losses, Palmer has been sacked at least two times, and in four of the losses, Palmer has gone down at least four times. Beyond the Panthers' eight sacks, the Bills brought down the Cards QB five times, and both the Seahawks and Vikings got to Palmer four times.

While the sack totals stand out, Washington's Preston Smith knows each week is different in the NFL.

"Every game you’re fired up because you feel like it's an opporttunity to get out there and get sacks," Smith said. "You don’t think about what another team did, they’re going to play us different."

Talking on the latest #RedskinsTalk Podcast, Redskins linebacker Trent Murphy acknowledged that the defense knows how beat up the Cardinals' offensive line is. Murphy, who has seven sacks on the season, added that he's 'drooling' for this matchup and the opportunity to take advantage of the Arizona vulnerabilities up front. (Listen to the full podcast below.)

Bruce Arians knows his team is undermanned on the line, and the Arizona offense will be creative to protect Palmer.

"You have to help them," Arians said of his O-line. "You have got to stay balanced and hopefully not get into a situation where it’s a throw, throw, throw game because then you’re putting them in harm’s way and your quarterback in harm’s way."

It doesn't help that in his 14th season, Palmer is probably one of the least mobile quarterbacks in the NFL. After matching up against Aaron Rodgers and Dak Prescott in their last two games, the Redskins defense knows Palmer won't move nearly as much, though that doesn't mean he's neccesarily easier to get down.

"You’re not going against a mobile quarterback but you still got to get to that spot," Smith said. "Carson’s a good quarterback."

Linebacker Mason Foster said that sacks aren't as important as consistent pressure. 

"On a great quarterback like that you want consistent pressure all day long. Make things tough on him, you don’t want a clean pocket," Foster said. "If you have pressure in his face all day and you don’t get no sacks, I think that's a success."

Even at 36, Palmer is still a dangerous quarterback. He's thrown for nearly 3,000 yards this year with a beat-up offensive line and missing one start. But numbers are numbers, and the data shows that if the 'Skins pass rushers can get Palmer to the ground, the chances of a Washington win shoot right up. 

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


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Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

Poll: What is your approval rating for Redskins coach Jay Gruden?

As always, hit the poll and then head to the comments section here and talk about your answer, or reply on Twitter.