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Skins draft a numbers game

Skins draft a numbers game

It'll take a wide-angle lens to take the class picture for the Redskins' 2008 draft.

Ten new players were selected Saturday and Sunday. That ties for the most players drafted by the Redskins since they started the seven-round draft in 1994. They also took 10 players in 2002.

As the '02 draft indicates, a lot of picks doesn't always mean that you better your team considerably. From that haul, only Ladell Betts (second round, #56 overall) and Rock Cartwright (seventh, #257) still are with the team. Tight end Robert Royal (fifth, #260) and quarterback Patrick Ramsey (first, #32) are still on NFL rosters. A few others may be bouncing around trying to catch on but the most are moving on with their post-football lives.

The hopes for the current crop are much higher. It's easy to see the top four picks—wide receivers Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly, tight end Fred Davis and guard Chad Rinehart—still contributing with the Redskins or elsewhere in 2014. In addition to those four, sixth-round pick Durant Brooks could make a string of appearances in Hawaii as the Pro Bowl punter.

Thomas and Kelly will have the perfect opportunity to work themselves into the lineup. Moss and Randle El will start and the two rookies will get a healthy but not overwhelming workload. Davis will be able to work in situations where he can be successful as well. Rinehart will have a year to learn under Joe Bugel and then step in to the starting left guard spot when Pete Kendall is gone in 2009.

As for the rest, time will tell. Cornerback Justin Tyron is not lacking for confidence. How can you not like a fourth-round pick who says, "I bring wisdom to the game. I bring heart to the game. I was made for this. I was made to play football. I was made for this ... This is all I can do."

If his game is anything like his talk, he'll be a nice surprise. He will compete with Leigh Torrence for time as a nickel and dime back.

Colt Brennan is who he is—a developmental quarterback. All of the records he set at Hawaii combined with five bucks will get him a latte at the Ashburn Starbucks.

His sidearm delivery doesn't need tinkering, it needs an overhaul. He certainly was overmatched against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, but so was the entire Hawaii squad. One quarterback, no matter how good he is, is good enough to lift his team to the level of an SEC team that had a legitimate argument that it should be playing for the national title.

He could develop into a solid backup quarterback in a couple of years or the Redskins might have to find another Todd Collins.

The chances of Kareem Moore, Rob Jackson, and Christopher Horton making the team or sticking with the practice squad depend largely on their special teams abilities.

My favorite pick was Rinehart. The scouting reports talked about his mean streak and his aggressiveness. He was taken with the compensatory pick awarded for the loss of Derrick Dockery in 2007. Dockery had the size and athletic ability, but he played timidly, even soft at times. If Rinehart lives up to his nasty billing he'll be an excellent replacement.

I like the Brooks pick as well. This offense will struggle at times while learning a new system and working the rookies into the mix and you can't rely on a fortuitous roll to get you out of the hole. Brooks can both boom the ball and place it inside the 10.

You do have to wait three years to get a good handle on how successful a given draft was but we'll have some kind of idea in late August when the 53-man roster is finalized. If at least seven or eight of these guys are still around that will be a good start.

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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.