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The Internet Responds To The Existence Of Cam Newton And The Redskins Tenth Overall Pick

Posted by Matt Terl on January 20, 2011 – 10:38 am

Two years ago, Mel Kiper was correct about the Redskins’ eventual first-round draft pick from the moment he released his first official mock draft. On January 22nd, 2009, Kiper predicted that Brian Orakpo of the Texas Longhorns would be Washington’s pick; just shy of two years later, Orakpo in unofficially slated to go to his second consecutive Pro Bowl wearing a burgundy and gold helmet. Nice work, Mel!

Last year didn’t go quite so well for Kiper’s Redskins projections. His first effort, almost exactly a year ago, had QB Sam Bradford going to Washington. And who knows, perhaps Kiper would’ve been correct on that as well — but Bradford’s stock rose and he wasn’t on the board for Washington to even consider.

On the other hand, that wouldn’t have mattered to Kiper’s projections, because a month later in his version 2.0 mock, he had switched the Redskins pick to QB Jimmy Clausen — with Bradford still on the board. “Clausen will gain momentum after the combine,” Kiper confidently wrote. “Once he’s fully recovered from his toe surgery, he’ll show teams he can make the throws, but there’s more to it. His intelligence, competitiveness and toughness will impress personnel people, and his stock will rise.”

This, of course, was spectacularly, catastrophically wrong in almost every way imaginable, but it’s worth bringing up now because it’s that time of the year again: Mel Kiper has emerged from his eight-month hibernation period blinking in the winter sun, and — as is the way of his people — immediately released a mock draft. And like last year, it features the Redskins taking a big-name quarterback with their first-round pick — specifically Heisman Trophy winner Cam Newton, from the National Champion Auburn Tigers.

The actual mock draft is for ESPN Insiders only, but ESPN’s NFC East blogger Matt Mosley was kind enough to post Kiper’s commentary on Newton for us ESPN Outskirters: “A gifted athlete, Newton has good arm strength and size, has developing accuracy and continues to show that the more you ask him as a passer, the more he’ll develop. This spot might be a bit high based on his current grade in the eyes of scouts, but Newton’s skill-set is such that personnel people are going to become more enamored, if they already aren’t. Newton has character questions that need to be answered, but the Redskins have a long-term need at this position and the prospect of developing Newton is a tantalizing one.”

And, as is also traditional at this time of the year, the sportsy internet has very nearly trampled over itself in their rush to respond to Kiper’s vaguely-reasoned prediction. (I mean, really: “people are going to become more enamored”? Because it worked so well when he suggested that “Clausen will gain momentum after the combine”?)

Anyhow, here’s what people are saying about the Cam Newton possibility.

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Draft Day Does Not Bring Transparency To Redskins Plans

Posted by Matt Terl on April 22, 2010 – 10:42 am

You would think, given that the start of the NFL Draft is a scant eight hours away, that the picture would be resolving. That things would be settling into place, the smokescreens of the last weeks and months would be lifting, and we would have a much, much clearer idea of who is being selected.

This would not be correct. Here, for example, is Mike Lombardi of National Football Post, writing this morning:

Many people in the NFL believe the draft will start with Washington at the No. 4 pick. No one really has a feel for what the ‘Skins will do, and they can head in a number of different directions. But I keep hearing offensive tackle is not one of the positions they’ll pick – no smoke screen. I have a hunch, and it’s only a hunch, that it might be safety Eric Berry.

Or Peter King, in the introduction to his final mock draft yesterday (which he considers “the mock draft of record,” for whatever that’s worth), noting that “Washington GM Bruce Allen and coach Mike Shanahan have always been pros at disguising their draft intentions,” and:

Washington has a crying need for a tackle, its biggest need by far. There are three or four very good ones projected as top picks. Washington has the fourth pick in the first round, its only pick in the top 100. Shanahan twice shocked the world with Denver, picking John Mobley (1996) and Jay Cutler (2006) when no one had a clue he cared about either. His son, new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, has been talking about how swell he thinks his line is, particularly tackles Stephen Heyer and Artis Hicks. Allen and Mike Shanahan have said they might take a quarterback at number four.

So here’s where things stand right now, if you read the internet: the Redskins are either taking an offensive tackle, taking a safety, taking a quarterback, trading up to take a quarterback, — and whatever they do, they’re controlling the entire draft. Awesome.

Some of the reports: Read more »

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On One Of The Other Draft Suggestions

Posted by Matt Terl on February 22, 2010 – 1:53 pm

Over the course of this season, LaRon Landry was more-or-less constantly criticized for one thing: trying for the highlight knockout hit rather than wrapping up and form tackling.

For example, from John Keim’s season review for the Washington Examiner: “Landry was back deep to prevent big plays, yet he gave them up by being too aggressive or falling for double moves.”

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Mel Kiper Changes His Tune: Jimmy Clausen

Posted by Matt Terl on February 17, 2010 – 3:12 pm

When last we checked in with ESPN’s Mel Kiper, the well-coiffed draft guru was predicting that the Redskins would select Sam Bradford, quarterback out of Oklahoma, with the fourth overall pick in the upcoming draft. With version 2.0 of his draft now on the record, Kiper’s in the same QB-tastic church, just at a slightly different pew:

Kiper now predicts the Redskins will select Jimmy Clausen, QB out of Notre Dame.

John Keim of the Washington Examiner has Kiper’s reasoning FOR Clausen:
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Offseason Speculation Roundup

Posted by Matt Terl on February 11, 2010 – 2:04 pm

A look at some of what’s being suggested out there for the Redskins as the offseason officially kicks into gear:

DC Pro Sports Report continues to aggregate mock drafts to find the consensus picks for each spot, and right now the leading pick for the Redskins at four is quarterback Sam Bradford. This, based on my previous informal research on the subject, would not be an exceedingly popular choice, but DCPSR does offer this nugget for the “must draft O-line” contingent:

Trend: Keep an eye on Oklahoma State OT Russell Okung here. More mocks are beginning to project the big tackle at No. 4.

Meanwhile, what would drafting Bradford actually mean? Over at Rotoworld.com, Evan Silva has a pretty comprehensive look at the available QBs in this year’s draft. Here’s what he’s got to say about Bradford: Read more »

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Perhaps I'm Confused By What "Best Case" Means

Posted by Matt Terl on April 29, 2009 – 2:40 pm

So ESPN’s SportsNation has these “What Now?” polls up for each team in the NFL. The polls are meant to reflect where the teams stand after free agency and the draft as they head into minicamps and OTAs. And I’m not going to lie: the headline question on each poll is not making a whole lot of sense to me: “What’s the best case scenario for Team X?”

Here, for example, is the one for the Redskins as of Wednesday afternoon:

Let’s detour for a moment and review the Arizona Cardinals’ 2008 NFL season, shall we? Coming off an 8-8 year, the Cardinals finished only 9-7 while playing in a weak division. Their recent first-round quarterback was benched in preseason in favor of an aging also-ran whose best years were thought to be behind him. Their defense finished the regular season ranked 28th in the league in points allowed. They’re a historically lousy franchise with criminally low expectations almost every year. And yet they were just a few breaks away from winning the Super Bowl.

I’m not going to rehash every surprise team story from the last decade (1999 Rams! 2000 Ravens! 2001Patriots!) or even every surprise from last season (Tyler Thigpen! Matt Cassel! Kerry Collins!), but really. At this point in the season, how is “Win Super Bowl” not the best-case scenario for every single franchise in the NFL? And, for that matter, when is “Miss playoffs” EVER the best a team can hope for.

And yet, despite this being a ridiculously dumb question, 39% of respondents don’t even aspire to more than a “Deep playoff run” for the Skins. Bizarre.

There is some good news in these polls, though. Read more »

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The Jay Cutler Rumors Strike Back

Posted by Matt Terl on April 1, 2009 – 2:19 pm

After just under two weeks of relative calm, the rumors of disgruntled Broncos QB Jay Cutler becoming a Redskin picked up steam again today, mainly because the Broncos have decided that they’ve had enough of the guy and are throwing him on the open market. And when a superstar player goes on the open market, guess where he’s inevitably linked.

Actually, in Charles Robinson’s initial roundup of the likely Cutler destinations last night on Yahoo Sports, he doesn’t list the Redskins in his top seven (although he does acknowledge that ProFootballTalk is rumoring a Cutler-to-D.C. move). Four hours later, though, Robinson has the Redskins solidly on his expanded list of Cutler’s possible suitors.

This would be Dan Snyder all the way, and he’s sending some signals that would make Washington obvious contenders. First, he has declined to extend current starter Jason Campbell, who is entering the last year of his deal, showing the team still isn’t sold that he’s a long-term answer. Second, Snyder was on hand when the Redskins worked out USC’s Mark Sanchez, a clear indicator that Washington has more than a faint interest in exploring other options. In Washington’s favor, it has a solid No. 1 pick to offer, and Campbell could be part of a deal as well. Working against the Redskins are other teams with better draft picks to offer, and Campbell’s skills don’t fit in the system the Broncos will run under McDaniels.

USA Today’s The Huddle blog agrees, listing the Redskins as one of five teams “Hot On Cutler’s Trail”:

Washington Redskins: An intriguing option in that the Redskins can offer the best starting-ready QB in a two-team deal. Current Washington starter Jason Campbell was probably the MVP of the first half last season, and would offer the Broncos a stable, if not top-tier, signal caller. Cutler would appease Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s indulgence in star players. And the Redskins can offer the 13th pick in this year’s draft.

And the Denver Post lists the Redskins “among the leading candidates” for the dissatisfied QB.

The Redskins have a proven young quarterback in Jason Campbell and would meet the Broncos’ preference of dealing Cutler outside their American Football Conference. The Redskins also have the No. 13 selection in this year’s draft on April 25, one spot behind the Broncos.

So far, it’s all just somewhat arbitrary speculation, and no one here has said anything yet to make me believe that anything about the team’s position has actually changed since that last go around two weeks ago. That said, it’s an awful lot of speculation — enough to make me wonder whether such a trade would even make sense. Read more »

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Thursday, March 19: So, About This Jay Cutler Thing

Posted by Matt Terl on March 19, 2009 – 9:29 am

I got a lot of email yesterday about those rumors of the Redskins making a trade for disgruntled Broncos QB Jay Cutler, and I feel fairly confident that there’s absolutely no fire to the smoke. People can parse Vinny Cerrato’s denial in as much minute detail as they’d like, but everything I’m hearing here is that what he meant is pretty much what he said: Jason Campbell is the quarterback next year, and we’re not trading for Cutler.

It’s also useful to remember that the Redskins fans aren’t the only team in the league where such rumors get going when a big-ticket guy is available. Over at SI.com, Don Banks takes a look at the Cutler coverage around the league:

• The Dallas Morning News shooting down a notion that has taken on a life of its own on Cowboys blogs: Trading Tony Romo for Cutler straight up. No word on whether Jessica Simpson goes too.

• Various outlets pooh-poohing the idea that a Cutler for Donovan McNabb trade makes sense in Philadelphia. It has been correctly noted that the thin-skinned Cutler might just get his feelings roughed up a bit in a town of Philly’s ilk.

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Tuesday, March 17: Two More From Yesterday

Posted by Matt Terl on March 17, 2009 – 8:46 am

Chris Cooley and Chris Horton — arguably the two most productive Chrises on the 2008 squad, although I’m sure Chris Samuels and Chris Wilson would disagree — also spoke to the media during yesterday’s first-day-of-offseason-conditioning extravaganza.

Both of them were upbeat, as you’d expect. (I really can’t imagine a pro player getting up on the first day of offseason conditioning and saying, “Yeah, we’re just an umitigated disaster. We’re doomed.”) Cooley has set the totally realistic goal of 110 catches for the year (which would break Tony Gonzalez’s NFL record for catches in a season by a tight end), and Horton is prepared to compete for LaRon Landry’s roster spot. So you can say this, at least: everyone’s spirits seem to be starting off high.

Here are Horton’s comments. Cooley is after the jump.

On the competition at safety:

Horton: “I’m competing with all of those guys, Kareem (Moore), Reed (Doughty). I even compete with LaRon (Landry) and I don’t even play his position, but you just never know how things are going to go. I just look at it as show up every day and put forth your best effort.”

On what he had to do today:

“Today was fairly easy. You come in, they test your measurements on stretching. Then you do the treadmill run.”

On what he has done this off season:

“I spent a lot of time on the west coast, around UCLA. I can’t get enough of that place. I did spend a couple weeks back in New Orleans. I just hung out with my family. I’m not really a guy into big trips and doing all that stuff, at least not yet.”

On what he personally needs to improve on to become better:

“I still think there are some things that I need to get better at in the film room. I need to look at myself from last year and do a self evaluation and figure out where I went wrong in certain games. How could I have done certain things better? I just want to get my physical strength up and just stay healthy.” Read more »

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On March 12, Banks (Still) Says: Andre Smith, OT, Alabama

Posted by Matt Terl on March 12, 2009 – 2:58 pm

When Don Banks projected Andre Smith to the Redskins a little less than a month ago, it didn’t seem like a terrible idea. Then Smith had his pro day yesterday, and now I’m just a bit more skeptical. To say the least.

The NFL Network pictures are even more damning than the early reports; The Big Lead has them if you haven’t seen them yet.

Nevertheless, Banks remains confident that this is the direction in which the Redskins are moving. And boy does he make it sound like an appealing selection!

When you get into the second 10 picks of the first round, teams draft almost exclusively for need. That’s why Smith won’t get past the tackle-starved Redskins, even if he did his reputation damage with that disappearing act at the combine, and followed it up by failing to really impress at his pro day this week.

The other folks that have been rumored to be of interest to the team are all (mostly long) off the board by thirteen in this projection:

Read more »

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