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Need to Know: Will the Norman deal affect the Redskins' draft strategy?

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Need to Know: Will the Norman deal affect the Redskins' draft strategy?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, April 26, two days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 107 days ago. It will be 139 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: 2016 NFL draft 2; Rookie minicamp 17; Redskins training camp starts 93

Hot topic

Scot McCloughan says that despite the $75 million acquisition of free agent cornerback Josh Norman the Redskins’ draft possibilities remain the same.
“It doesn’t really change. The thing that’s cool about it is that it gives us another good football player on the field. You can never have enough corners—ever . . . You can’t just say, ‘OK, we’re great there. Let’s just forget about it.’ No, I’ve been in situations like that. All of a sudden a guy gets hurt or two guys get hurt, and you’re like, ‘Son of a gun, we had that really good player that we passed on because of a need.’ We’re going to take a football player. A corner? We’d love to.”
It’s easy to dismiss what McCloughan said as typical GM speak a couple of days away from the draft. And it probably is when it comes to early picks. Even though some quality corners such as Eli Apple and William Jackson III could be available when the Redskins’ top pick at No. 21 overall is on the clock it’s hard to see McCloughan bypassing other areas on much greater need to take another corner.

But at almost any point on Saturday it’s certainly easy to see the Redskins dipping into the cornerback pool. As McCloughan noted and emphasized you can’t have enough good cornerbacks. The Redskins learned that the hard way last year when they suffered a rash of injuries in training camp and then saw both DeAngelo Hall and Chris Culliver miss significant time during the season due to injuries. They survived thanks to the early-season pickup of Will Blackmon and the emergence of rookie receiver turned corner Quinton Dunbar.

Like any team, they would rather rely on guys they drafted than guys they picked up off of the street. With Blackmon and Deshazor Everett likely to move to safety, the cornerback position may again be vulnerable to injuries.

Stat of the day

Since 2000 the Redskins have make six trades involving their first-round draft pick. Twice they moved up in the draft (2000, Chris Samuels and 2012, Robert Griffin III). They traded down in 2002 (2 times), 2008, and 2011.

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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