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Need to Know: How much have the Redskins improved?

May 1, 2016, 7:04 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 1, 12 days before the Washington Redskins hold their rookie minicamp.


—The Redskins last played a game 112 days ago. It will be 134 days until they host the Steelers in their 2016 season opener.

Days until: Rookie minicamp 12; OTAs start 23; Redskins training camp starts 88

Hot topic

A look back at the most popular posts during the Redskins week that was from here and from the freshly redesigned

Details of Norman’s contract reveal some exit ramps for the Redskins—Norman, of course, dominated the news over the week leading up to the draft. This post detailed his contract. There is good and bad for both sides in the deal, meaning that it’s fair. It pays Norman a ton of money over two years and that’s good for him. But the Redskins have reasonably-priced ways out of the deal after the second year. I think he’ll play at least three years of the deal and maybe all five.

Need to Know: Norman deal will force tough choices for Redskins in 2017—The big cap hit in Norman’s contract comes in 2017 when it will be $20 million. Although the Redskins still a large amount of cap space left next year they still may be forced to make decisions on whether to re-sign the likes of Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, and Chris Baker or to let them walk? Details are in the post.

Does the Norman deal mean it’s the same old Redskins?—Stop me if you heard this before—the Redskins moved in on a high-priced free agent, sent Redskins One out to pick him up, and locked him in Redskins Park until he agreed to a deal. Sound familiar? Have things really changed with Scot McCloughan in charge?

Doctson is “ready to get to work” with Redskins—The Redskins’ first-round draft pick does not seem like the stereotypical diva wide receiver. He turned down some scholarship offers and walked on, transferred to TCU, and set most of the school’s major receiving records. If he is productive he will quickly become a fan favorite.

Should the Redskins be the NFC East favorites?—This was written before the draft but the question remains. Norman makes Washington better right away, no doubt. But what we don’t know is how much the draft class will contribute in 2016. If they get some key first down and red zone catches from Doctson, if Su’a Cravens generates some turnovers at important moments, if Matt Ioannidis can help shore up the rushing defense, and if Steven Daniels can fill some of the holes in special teams, the Redskins can get considerably better. They will have to be to repeat as division champs as they aren’t likely to be able to do it again with nine wins and they face a tougher schedule.

Stat of the day

The Redskins selected seven players in the draft. They have now picked seven or more players in six straight drafts, going to back to 2011. That is the longest such stretch since the draft went to its current seven-round format in 1994.

In case you missed it


  1. bk70 - May 1, 2016 at 7:17 AM

    Yes. I see improvement with the 7 draft picks. HTTR, take time to bring each one along during the 2016 season.
    No pressure to use any of them as starters this year, barring major injuries.

    My only concern can be filled with UDFA. We don’t have enough OL and RB to begin training camp with at least 3 players deep at every position.

  2. austrianhttrfan - May 1, 2016 at 7:33 AM

    Loved the draft….
    Although I´m never a fan of picking a QB when you have one, but I understand every aspect of it…

    Every pick up was solid, and when you leave the draft with making 7 picks and securing 9 picks for the following season…this only can be called a good draft IMO…

    • Skulb - May 1, 2016 at 10:53 AM

      Most teams carry three QBs. We were always drafting a def QB in the later rounds I thought, so that did not surprise me.

    • samhuff96 - May 2, 2016 at 12:26 PM

      Oh, you should draft a QB when you don’t need one. You can get a QB to develop and should develop a QB for your system and not throw a rookie to the lions; you can *RUIN* a perfectly good QB that way. Besides if you NEED a QB you have to draft high which likely means you your team future drafts. If you have a high draft pick, it probably means the rest of your team is a vacuum and you’re throwing him to the lions without much protection and making him try to bring the team from behind, which is bad for a QB’s health especially with a *bad* team.

      Remember Kirk is eligible shortly to be an unrestricted free agent.

      • Trey Gregory - May 2, 2016 at 12:53 PM

        You guys remember that time Greenbay made that HUGE mistake by drafting Aaron Rogers even though they had Brett Favre? Or when the Patriots made that huge mistake by drafting Brady even though they had Bledsoe? What about when the Seahawks drafted Wilson even though they just paid Matt Flynn a monster contract to be the guy. Or when Washington took Cousins even though they had RG3? What a bunch of idiots.

  3. bk70 - May 1, 2016 at 7:40 AM

    What was the final number of picks for 2017? I thought we picked up a 4th, a 5th and a 6th for 2017. Not sure!

    • Bryan - May 1, 2016 at 8:03 AM


    • bangkokben - May 1, 2016 at 12:02 PM

      That is correct. Picked those up and lost our own 5th for Derrick Carrier which equals nine total.

      I loved that. It says you like what you have on your roster and that you’re looking toward the future building an arsenal to move up in future drafts if need be.

  4. pyroman99 - May 1, 2016 at 8:36 AM

    We clearly improved, with Doctson and Cravens (and Daniels at least on teams), but IMO not as much as we could have. Ioannides will be an OK addition, but I don’t think he’s enough of an upgrade at DT. There are significant injury concerns with Fuller and Marshall. And I give Sudfeld a grade of “meh”.

    I’m certainly willing to give Scot the benefit of the doubt, but my overall grade is in the B/B- range.

    • jonevans511 - May 1, 2016 at 8:48 AM

      Did you watch Ioannides in college? I’ve watched every game he’s played in all 4 years as a season ticket holder for Temple (I’m an alum!), and this kid will impress you from rookie mini camp on trust me. His progression from freshman year forward was very impressive, but most importantly this kid left it all on the field as a young & undersized freshman. He’ll gain a good 15-20 pounds at the next level and be an absolute force. I have to admit I’m biased, but I also heard the Seahawks and several other teams had higher-than-average grades on this kid so it’s not as though we reached at all.

      He’s gotthe ability to play all along the DL, and while I’ll agree with you there were other DLs earlier in the draft with more skill and speed Matt is exactly what Scot loves- a hard-nosed football player. His ceiling may not be All-Pro, but I can tell you with confidence you will not be upset with this kid’s performance on the field. He’s the anti-Trent Murphy in that he’s relentless and very rarely gets taken out of plays. He makes his impact felt one way or another, which for a young and upcoming defense is exactly what we need.

      • pyroman99 - May 1, 2016 at 9:12 AM

        I’m an ACC guy, so I didn’t see Ioannides. If he turns out how you and some others are saying, that will be great. But even if that’s the case, IMO we could still have used another young guy at DL/DT – this was a good year for them, and DL is pretty much our oldest position group.

        I know the argument against 2-down DTs, but we rotate them all game long anyway. Some of these guys could provide some interior rush pressure even if they didn’t get sacks. And we did seem to have an issue drafting a 2-down ILB (or re-signing Riley).

      • COSkinsFan - May 1, 2016 at 9:32 AM

        Thanks for the info on this guy. He sounds like a football player. I’m happy with the draft and at the same time still concerned about our dline. Starting Kendric at this point doesn’t sound good to me. Hopefully they have seen something in Ziggy Hood or Powe that makes this less of a concern to them. I wanted them to take WR or CB at 21 so after we signed Norman was hoping for WR.

      • renhoekk2 - May 1, 2016 at 9:57 AM

        As a Skins fan in Philly also, with no ties to TU, I can confirm that Ioannides will have an impact on the DL, and at a minimum improve the the run defense. He’s slightly underrated I think.

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 1, 2016 at 8:58 AM

    I think McGlue clearly signaled that there wasn’t much left in the draft cupboard from our pick at 120 on by trading out of it, and then adding a 2017 pick again in the 5th.

    I’m a big fan of the Doctson pick. Pittsburgh has great success with a hybrid safety/LB, let’s hope Joe Barry can put Cravens to good use. And don’t sleep on Fuller, he could have been a 1st rounder if not for the knee injury.

  6. Bob Sullivan - May 1, 2016 at 9:52 AM

    Rich, when Coach Gibbs was here they talked about fan support all the time. The current crew only pays lipservice to the fans. Have they forgotten about us.

    • bangkokben - May 1, 2016 at 12:15 PM

      I all fairness, the fans are different. In the 80s ticket-holders that couldn’t go to the game gave their tickets away to other Redskin fans. If that is still happening, it is the vast exception. In fairness to that, in the 80s most of the fans with tickets were from inside the beltway and could give their tickets to neighbors. Now, half of the ticket-holders live outside the beltway and often two hours plus from the stadium. The ability to recoup money for tickets is often an easier alternative than finding takers for tickets. Bottom line: the interaction current Redskin employees experience is vastly different than what Gibbs experienced and the response from the current crew is in proportion.

  7. mtskins - May 1, 2016 at 10:05 AM

    I was a big fan of our first two picks and Fuller as well as I floated him as an option in the 2nd so in the 3rd think he was a great value. Supposedly his knee checks out and if they can coach him up a little think he could be good addition in 2017. I was one of the whiners wanting Billings and I’m not sure how you go into a draft deep in DL and Center and come away with one DL player in the 5th. Felt like they punted day three a little for 2017and Sudfield wasn’t my favorite pick for a developmental QB. Not expecting much from our 7th rounders but sounds like there is some upside and some special teams value which is all you can ask.

    If Ioannides works out and you consider the 2017 picks they acquired it seemed like a pretty good draft.

  8. redskinsnameisheretostay - May 1, 2016 at 10:11 AM

    The theme from most of this draft appeared to be about getting the safe pick. Only one player up to the 7th I see as a player that has some risk but also could come with the highest reward. Fuller is the one for me to watch as a player that could be the steal of the draft much like I saw Preston Smith last season. However, he also could be come the player that gambles too much and get’s burn the most. So I think Fuller is the boom or bust player who has the best chance of becoming an elite at his position.

    Every other player before the 7th look like capable players that will produce on the field in various degrees. I know most are very high on Doctson. I just want to see if he can get regular separation on the field. If he can then he could be special but at the very least he should be a productive player for this team.

    I really love the quality they got in the 7th and especially by picking up Keith Marshall. He was a player that showed great potential but was derailed by injury. However, if you are going to gamble on a player who disappeared because of some serious injuries then doing it the 7th round is the place to be. Marshall could be electrifying and I expect the team will be very careful in how they use him. He’ll never be an every down back but he become a very dangerous home run threat when he is on the field.

  9. redskinsnameisheretostay - May 1, 2016 at 10:21 AM

    My biggest concern about this draft is did the team achieve anything for next season to improve at stopping the run? I would say there were serious questions on how that was going to be achieved before the draft and it still is after. Some of the players they did draft on defense have high marks in containing the run however these are rookies with no clear indication at the moment that they can be productive in their first season. There was no player that looks ready to fill the NT position either so I’m not sure what brand of 3-4 is going to be run next season. If it is still a 3-4 base then it’ll be with an undersized NT.

    • Skulb - May 1, 2016 at 10:47 AM

      They did. Cravens will play at ILB, which was the biggest weakness on D last year. He can also drop back in coverage like a safety, so he will be great in the passing game and better than anything we had last year in the running game. Arguably Ioannidis is also better at nose than Knighton was, plus he is better at tackle, which is 75% of the plays anyway.
      Defense is about synergy so strengthening the backfield will help the run defense by making teams more one dimensional. And that’s Norman, Fuller and Whatshisname at safety. They will make the rush better (where Galette is also back) which will make the interior pressure more effective. Synergy see?

      • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 1, 2016 at 11:32 AM

        I get you but Cravens is reported to be used as a dime linebacker. I’m not sure how the team plans to use a dime linebacker on most 1st downs or 2nd and short situations. I do like Loannidis and he seems like a great value pick. However, he is 299 pounds and may not be ready to provide much help this season. Certainly a grinder to look forward watching in the future.

        I think the team has committed to Bates, Fosters, and Riley for the interior next season in run situations. The team certainly could do better there. I think Cravens is a situation player that will be relied more on coverage and getting additional pressure next season. I think the team has a better chance with Stephan Daniels in stopping the run but he is most likely a special team player next season who I think could become a regular on the defense later.

        At NT, its probably either Powe or Golston. I’m hoping Powe can show some improvements since Golston hardly excites me as a regular NT.

        • Skulb - May 1, 2016 at 11:38 AM

          Right. But then they’re all situational players on this team, aren’t they? The defense in particular rotates so much that I had a hell of a time keeping track of who was even on the field last year.

          The way I see it Cravens will compete for snaps with Compton, Foster, Hall and Bates at the ILB/SS spots. If he’s good enough already they will find a spot for him in as many formations as they can, which should be easy given his flexibility. We might even see him at OLB now and then if he finds his feet early. So I consider him just the player we needed out of this draft. At worst he will provide good depth at multiple positions and at best he’s a season 1 starter who will become out new London Fletcher. Hell he might become our Kam if they decide he’s best at SS.

          Just super excited about the Cravens selection. Him and Ioannidis I expect to contribute big time on defense right from the start.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 1, 2016 at 12:03 PM

          “Right. But then they’re all situational players on this team, aren’t they?”
          It’s true that most are in today’s defenses and certainly NT is a more situation position today when over 60% of the defense has moved to nickel packages. As long as the team can hold it’s own on stopping the run then I hope this will force offenses to play to the defense’s strength which will be in coverage.

        • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 1, 2016 at 12:06 PM

          Craven does give the team an X factor. His versatility will probably have on the field as much as any starter. I didn’t follow him much in college but I have been watching a lot of video on him. He helps to eliminate match up issues the defense may have had in the past.

  10. Skulb - May 1, 2016 at 10:43 AM

    It’s too late now, but after reading this article yesterday: I cooled a bit on Doctson. The German had the best pro day measurables of any WR EVER. Even better than Megatron. And of course endlessly better than Doctson.

    Other than letting possibly the best receiver (Raw maybe, but just look at the numbers. Look!) to appear in the draft in history go to Minnesota I’m very happy with the draft though.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 1, 2016 at 11:33 AM

      Interesting read!

      • Skulb - May 1, 2016 at 11:43 AM

        Wasn’t it though? I mean just the combination of speed and size is unbelievable. The Vikings could convert him to TE and it wouldn’t take much, and he’d probably still be elite speed for a WR. Obviously unpolished and raw but my God what a talent.

        • Trey Gregory - May 2, 2016 at 2:47 AM

          That guy was one of the best draft day stories. But raw. Had never really played against real competition. I’m rooting for him, but there’s tons of guys who have the measurables and never make it in the NFL. Doctson was a great pick we should all be excited about. Can’t rely on a guy who’s never played football in America to be our #1 in a year

        • Skulb - May 2, 2016 at 6:22 AM

          I am excited about it. We have needed a big receiver for years, and Josh might be the guy. I just wish the Skins would be just a bit more adventurous sometimes, especially when there’s raw talent like this available. If the guy is a quick study, which he seems to be considering that he went from never having played the game to the NFL draft in five years, then the upside is huge and the risk minimal.

  11. Mr.moneylover - May 1, 2016 at 10:58 AM

    They clearly got a better roster then last year… It’s all about coaching these guys up to get the best out of them….RB Keith Marshall is a steal he should been gone off the board…matt Jones with Keith Marshall is a crazy 1 2 punch that other teams will have a problem dealing with

  12. Darren - May 1, 2016 at 1:00 PM

    Its not just d line that stops run. We needed linebackers and cb’s. We got daniels who will be ILB starting, and cravens ss,linebacker will help the run. We just transformed our secondary by big margin. HTTR

    • pyroman99 - May 1, 2016 at 1:16 PM

      We’ve essentially improved the D from the back to the front, instead of front to back. That’s all well and good. BUT, the one thing we may have lost from last year that I think Pot Roast provided, was very short yardage / goal line stands. We seemed to do very well in stopping those runs. That’s where an immovable wide body NT/DT is invaluable, and I don’t think we got a replacement.

      • Skulb - May 2, 2016 at 6:36 AM

        Actually Cedric was one of the big guys in those stands. Not sure how many of them they had in the end, but am pretty sure Cedric came on for most of them. Also I do not think it’s back to front as much as outside in. At corner we look as strong as anyone in the NFL right now. The remaining question marks to me are definitely at ILB/SS more than at DE/DT/NT. This was such a weakness in 15, and you can type in “Perry Riley, wrong angle” in google if you need a reminder of just how bad it was. If it hadn’t been for Jarrett, Blackmon and Dunbar performing heroically out of position there would not have been a playoff game at all I think.

        Last year we were in 34 on 32% of plays, if I remember correctly. And they are apparently planning to scale it back even further this year. So do we even need a specialized nose if they go as low as 25% in 2016? Maybe Ioannidis, Golston and Baker is enough. All three can do the job adequately. The problem with Knighton, for all his protestations to the contrary, was that he took plays off. I love the guy but he really did. I saw so many plays of him in 15 where he never moved after the snap. Let’s be nice to him and pretend he didn’t have to move on those plays and that his role in it was over; move anyway. Standing around is just a bad look.

    • abanig - May 1, 2016 at 2:58 PM

      Daniels isn’t going to start at ILB. We’ll have the same starters at ILB that we had last year. Will Compton & either Foster or Riley opposite him.

      OLB will be Kerrigan and either Preston Smith or Galette opposite him.

      I think the DL starters will be:

      RDE: RJF(30 tackles, 3 sacks), Reyes (25 tackles, 2 sacks), Murphy (20 tackles, 2 sacks)
      NT: Baker (50 tackles, 6 sacks), Ioannidis (15 tackles, 1 sack)
      LDE: Paea (35 tackles, 5 sacks), Hood (25 tackles, 1 sack)

      I was a bit surprised we didn’t take a DL earlier that we did but, I have always realized that we had good starters returning and we added good depth with Reyes – who has upside to get 5 sacks in a season – and Hood who’s always been a stout run defender at LDE or as a one gap NT.

      They’re also moving Murphy to DE. Murphy has already added about 10 pounds since the end of the season, and wants to add 10 more by the time training camp starts in 3 months. He’s currently 276, and wants to weigh 285 to 290 by the time training camp starts.

      At times last year RJF outplayed Hatcher. He’s a good run defender and is a pretty good pass rusher. He can get you 3 or 4 sacks in a season.

      Paea was playing well before he hurt his back and then he hurt his toe and missed the final 6 games of the season. A lot of people sleep on how well he was playing because Baker beat him out for the LDE starting spot and Baker played awesome all year. Still, Paea is a good player and he’ll be a good starter. Our DL should be better than last years.

      I don’t think we’ll miss Knighton much he was not very good last year. He played too high and got pushed out of the way by offensive linemen a lot because he was out of shape. When he did that it opened up gaping holes for running backs to run through.

      Our defense gave up 5 yards per carry on first downs, the only defense to do that in the NFL. I think we’re better off without him and with the guys we kept.

    • Trey Gregory - May 2, 2016 at 2:48 AM

      Yeah, I think it’s very unreasonable to expect Daniels to start. Unless you’re talking special teams. Speight or Burton have a better chance of starting

    • Skulb - May 2, 2016 at 6:26 AM

      Well said. The defensive depth is looking solid after the last two weeks, and we’ve added a needed piece on offense with Doctson. The way I see it they prioritized the offense last year and got it going after a slow start. This year is about toughening up the defense to the same level. If people can just stay more healthy than last year it’s looking good to me.
      Very excited about the season. In fact I wish it was September already. Maybe I can hibernate.

  13. abanig - May 1, 2016 at 2:39 PM

    Loved the draft and I’m going got love next years draft even more with the extra 5th & 6th added to our other draft picks.

    Now the question becomes how much better are the Redksins after this draft?

    Long term I think they’ve improved on both sides of the ball. Doctson definitely will help in the redzone, he attacks the ball, something out other wide receivers don’t do. Reed attacks the ball, but Garcon, Djax, Crowder, Paul and Ross really don’t attack the ball and go get it as much as I’d like them to.

    Cravens is an upgrade long term also and Fuller, but I’m not sure Cravens will start over Ihenacho as a rookie. I think he’ll be worked in slowly in certain packages on defense. He’ll primarily be a special teams guy as a rookie.

    Fuller may be the skins slot corner this year when he gets healthy enough.

    There’s a great chance Ioannidis will be the reserve NT and a rotational defensive lineman who can help in the run game immediately but has the quickness to shoot gaps and get penetration in the backfield.

    Nick Marshall has a good chance to be the back to Jones a true change of pace along with Thompson. I think we got two steals with him and Daniels who’s a good Thumper at ILB & should help on special teams.

    Sudfeld will be our back up QB in time. He’s got all the tools and he’s big and strong. He’s basically the same size as Roethlisberger.

  14. John - May 1, 2016 at 9:13 PM

    It would have been nice if the rich type of DLineman was there. As it is, they did not see the need for a fulltime nose. Between the kid from Temple and the guys they all ready have, they’ll figure out the right mix. On passing downs, Smith will lineup against the center and shoot either gap or work up and down the line for mismatches. The other guys between Reyes, RJF, Paea, Baker, Ziggy, Golston, etc., they’ll mix and match depending on down and distance to get the rush or stop the run. The secondary has more depth and the kid from USC gives them the freak cover/blitz guy who can pick up the Wittens and Donalds that have killed us the last couple of years. Archives

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