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Need to Know: The Redskins need more pass rushers

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Need to Know: The Redskins need more pass rushers

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 26, 29 days before the NFL Combine in Indianapolis.

Why the Redskins need to sign and draft more pass rushers

You don’t have to dip too far into advanced stats to figure out why the Broncos were able to beat Tom Brady and the Patriots on Sunday to advance to the Super Bowl. Brady dropped back to pass 60 times and he was hit on 20 of those dropbacks. In sheer numbers that’s the most a quarterback has been hit in any game, regular season or playoffs, since 2006.

Mostly as a result of the pressure, Brady completed fewer than half of his passes (27 of 56), mustering just 5.5 yards per attempt. His passer rating was 56.4, his worst in any game since he posted a 53.5 against the Jets in 2013 and his second-worst ever in the playoffs (49.1 vs. Ravens in 2010). He barely resembled the guy we know as one of the best who ever played the game and a quarterback who is money in the playoffs.

The Broncos were able to control Brady and win because, simply put, they had a lot of good pass rushers. Von Miller, the second pick of the 2011 draft, had 2.5 sacks and 4 hits (sacks also count as hits) of Brady yesterday. DE Derek Wolfe (1 sack, 4 hits) was a second-round draft pick in 2012. Former Cowboys star DeMarcus Ware (0.5 sacks, 7 hits) was a free agent pickup in 2014. DE Malik Jackson didn’t get a sack but the 2012 fifth-round pick did hit Brady three times.

Denver spent its first round pick last year on OLB Shane Ray, who didn’t get in on the sack party yesterday. But he did post four sacks on the year and he is expected to develop into a double-digit sack type of player. It would not be surprising if they tabbed another player with pass rushing ability in the draft this year as Jackson is set to be a free agent and Ware don’t have a whole lot of effective years left.

And that is why Redskins fans do not need to be concerned about the possibility that re-signing Junior Galette will stunt the development of Preston Smith. Or that there won’t be snaps for Trent Murphy. Or how Ryan Kerrigan fits into the picture. Or what happens if (when?) Scot McCloughan drafts or signs another pass rusher (or two?) this spring.

To be sure, it can’t be all about pass rushers. Denver can put on pressure because its defensive backs do a good job covering one-on-one. Cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Chris Harris and safeties T.J. Ward and Darian Stewart help the pass rushers do their thing so the draft and free agency can’t be all about the guys up front.

Right now the Redskins have three effective pass rushers in Kerrigan, Smith, and Chris Baker. Galette is a free agent but he has said that he will re-sign with Washington. Jason Hatcher was better getting to the quarterback than his two sacks indicate but he may not be back due to retirement and a high salary cap number. Murphy, who had 3.5 sacks last year, may or may not develop into a consistent pass rusher.

So with possible retirements and other question marks, the Redskins need a few more players who can get to the quarterback to get into the pipeline. And when they do that, McCloughan needs to stockpile a few more.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 16 days ago. It will be about 229 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 29; NFL free agency starts 43; 2016 NFL draft 93

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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