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    • By Destino in ES Coverage
      Good afternoon Redskins nation!  I’m in beautiful Landover, MD with Spaceman Spiff who has been pulled away from Instagram models and tailgating and sent down to the field to do what he does best (roll around in the mud).
      Let’s get down to business...  Can we block them?  There are other story lines entering into this game but worrying about them feels largely academic.  The Texans have two terrifying pass rushers and the Redskins intend to block them with optimism and underdog stories.  Alex Smith isn’t a statue but he does take time in making decisions and getting the ball out.  This combination looks disastrous.  The sort of thing that has us all after the game consoling each other with things like “well, it was just a bad matchup" and “we caught them at the worst possible time.” 
      Or... we could walk away wondering just how the heck this team managed to pull off another improbable win.  Last week the gave up something like twelve thousand yards of offense to the Bucs, I’ll have to check those numbers to be sure, but only three points.  That’s not supposed to happen.  Maybe we can enjoy an outrageously unlikely result again.  Not probably, not likely, but you know... maybe.  I’m saying there’s a chance.   
      I’m here for that chance.  (and you know... the free food and climate controlled free seats) 

      1st Quarter Update
      Redskins are running their bend and break defense, and I’m not sure a little over three quarters is enough time for the Redskins offense to close a 10-point gap.  I’m having flash backs of week nine, but having human emotions is considered “disruptive behavior.”  I'm fine.  Everything is fine. 
      That Quinn celebration, whatever that was, was the highlight of the 1st quarter. 
      2nd Quarter Update
      Is there a better way to start a quarter than by scoring a touchdown?  There is, if you follow that TD drive with a forced turnover on defense.  Things are looking good! 

      So much for that.  A great start was quickly ended up canceled out by the Redskins offense.  With a chance to take a lead Alex Smith throws a pick six in the red zone and takes the air out of the stadium.  He followed that up by throwing another interception on the very next drive.  Alex Smith almost made me forget about Vernon Davis dropping that pass.  Almost. 
      Texans missed a field goal attempt and the lead remains frozen at 10. 
      This quarter feels like a giant blown opportunity.  
      Halftime Update. 
      I should have stopped at one hotdog.  I deserve this.
      3rd Quarter Update
      You know the feeling where you say and think all these bad things about a player and then he breaks his leg and you immediately feel bad about it?  I live there now.
      Colt McCoy has freed me from that place of sadness! 
      As much as I love this defense, they have to start forcing teams to punt at some point.  Is there a stat for defense tha thas forced the fewest punts?  We have to be near the top of that list.  Texans have punted just once today.  Holding them to three was good, though.   
      The lead is down to six and Colt McCoy has arrived to save us.  (Please let that be true.) 
      Personal Note:  Someone just stomped, loudly, out of the press area like a while muttering at his phone.  Laughter and comparisons to toddlers followed him.  The media's laugh is an evil laugh!  Good times. 
      4th Quarter Update
      Colt has brought us back.  Welcome to the first lead change of the season, Redskins fans.  You like that?!  (Yeesh, was that always so lame?)  I guess you could say Adrian Peterson contributed by actually scoring the touchdown.  I bet Colt told him to score though, so you have to factor leadership into things.
      Once again, the defense cannot force a punt, hard to feel great about holding a team to a field goal when that field goal gives them the lead in the 4th quarter 
      Remember that whole "can we block them" thing?  The answer was absolutely not on the Redskins 2nd drive of the 4th quarter.  Watt and Clowney each sacked our man Colt, and ended that drive before it really had a chance to begin. 
      Horrible, no good, very bad holding called on Norman gifting Houston a first down at the worst possible time for it.
      Colt chooses to throw deep at an inopportune moment resulting in a 60+ yard attempt for an injured kicker.  Heartbreaking end to a game that cost this team entirely too much (via injury) yet still seemed to be within reach several times. 
      I'm off to the post game press conference and locker room, check back later for updates.
      Final Thoughts
      I’ve always found it preferable to watch my favorite team simply get destroyed, than to feel that they were the better team and still managed to lose.  The Redskins gave this game away with mistakes in the 2nd quarter.  Fred Davis makes a routine catch and Alex Smith doesn’t throw a pick six, and the scoreboard shows at least 7 fewer points for the Texans.  Even if the Redskins had settled for field goals, that’s a 13 point swing in 2 point game.   
      Losing the game wasn’t even the worst part.  Losing Alex Smith, for at least the remainder of the season, is likely enough to push the Redskins past the point where they can continue toughing their way through key injuries. 
      We'll all feel better after a win against the Cowboys next week. 


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By Mel Kiper Jr.

Special to ESPN Insider



With the regular season concluded and teams preparing for bowl games, here's a look at my top five prospects by position. Running back Kevin Jones of Virginia Tech is the only junior to declare thus far, but this list is subject to change as underclassmen begin to reveal their intentions.

Four players on the current list -- Ole Miss QB Eli Manning, Texas WR Roy Williams, Iowa OT Robert Gallery and Ohio State DE Will Smith -- are worthy of top-five overall picks, while positions like wide receiver and offensive tackle could see all of the current top five come off the draft board by the end of the third round.



Eli Manning is running toward the No. 1 overall selection in the NFL draft.

1. Eli Manning, Ole Miss, top five overall -- Improved pocket awareness this season has turned Manning into one of the top five players on the board overall. He was expected to be the top senior quarterback at the beginning of the year and that's what happened.

2. J.P. Losman, Tulane, late first-early second round -- Surrounded by a below-average line and did not have a top-flight receiver, yet posted solid numbers while taking some vicious hits. Has a very live, snappy arm and is decisive with his throws. Late-first to second round.

3. Philip Rivers, NC State, second round -- Compares favorably to former Miami (Fla.) and Cleveland Browns great Bernie Kosar. Rivers is smart and instinctive with a quick release -- probably the quickest since Dan Marino -- that compensates for his unorthodox delivery.

4. Matt Schaub, Virginia, third-fourth round -- A big quarterback at 6-5¼, 245 pounds, Schaub has an NFL arm and better feet and athleticism than most give him credit for.

5. Jason White, Oklahoma, third-fourth round - With his accuracy on all types of passes White is quarterback in the mold of Kansas City Chiefs starter Trent Green. He has torn the ACL in both knees, though, so health could be a concern.

Running Back

1. Kevin Jones, Virginia Tech, first round -- A little upright with his running style, but tremendously athletic with game-breaking speed and the ability to catch the ball and block. A complete player.

2. Chris Perry, Michigan, second round -- Ranks with Jones at the most complete backs in the draft. Perry runs hard and has good size at 6-0½, 225, making him an excellent short-yardage and red zone runner. Not a home-run hitter but is an excellent pass-catcher and blocker.

3. Greg Jones, Florida State, second-third round -- A year removed from a major knee injury Jones' yards-per-carry average dipped from near 6.0 last season to 4.2 this year, dropping his rating a bit. But at 6-1½, 246 pounds Jones has the athleticism to be productive if he regains his form.

4. Quincy Wilson, West Virginia, third round -- A low-slung, compact runner at 5-9, 215 pounds, Wilson had his biggest games against the biggest opponents this season. The only question is a tendency to cough the ball up on occasion.

5. Julius Jones, Notre Dame, third-fourth round -- Coming off a year away from football because of academic issues, Jones came on like gangbusters down the stretch this season. He ran with strength and determination and also showed he can hit the long gainer at times.


1. Travis Wilson, Kansas State, fifth-seventh round -- The best blocker of the group, Wilson led the way for Darren Sproles most of the season and carried the ball just 10 times.

2. Mike Karney, Arizona State, fifth-seventh round -- Primarily a blocker, though he did catch 14 passes for the Sun Devils this season.

3. Thomas Tapeh, Minnesota, fifth-seventh round -- A former tailback who is the most complete all-around back in this group.

4. Lousaka Polite, Pittsburgh, fifth-seventh round -- Ran the ball 63 times this season after tailback Brandon Miree went down with injury, and also caught 23 passes.

5. Luke Lawton, McNeese State, late-rounder/free agent - Scored seven combined touchdowns this season.

Wide receiver

1. Roy Williams, Texas, top five overall -- Touch and physically gifted at 6-2½, 210 pounds. Williams put up tremendous numbers in a conservative offense and should be one of the first five players off the board on draft day.

2. Lee Evans, Wisconsin, first-second round -- Gradually worked his way back from a knee injury, displaying soft hands and a tremendous feel for the position. Also has decent size at 5-10½, 195 and showed toughness coming back from injury.

3. Rashaun Woods, Oklahoma State, second round -- A gifted natural receiver, but there are questions about his speed and ability to separate and Woods also struggled against top-echelon defenses.

4. James Newson, Oregon State, second-third round -- Catches nearly every ball thrown his way and is a good threat in the red zone with his 6-0½, 210-pound frame. Work hard on every play but needs to showcase more speed.

5. Michael Jenkins, Ohio State, second-third round -- Big and athletic at 6-4, 215 pounds, Jenkins could become a very capable No. 2 receiver at the NFL level.

Tight End

1. Ben Troupe, Florida, first round -- A Shannon Sharpe-type natural pass receiver, Troupe ranks in the top 10 on my current Big Board. He is a gifted athlete at 6-4¼, 260 and makes the difficult catch look easy.

2. Ben Watson, Georgia, second-third round -- Banged up early in the season and was not as productive as possible, the former Duke transfer has a lot of natural ability.

3. Ben Hartsock, Ohio State, third-fourth round -- A hardworking, dedicated player who rose up the draft board with a productive senior campaign, Hartsock checks in at 6-4, 258.

4. Chris Cooley, Utah State, third-fourth round -- An outstanding pass catcher out of the H-back position, he averaged 11.8 yards on his 62 catches and scored six touchdowns. Also has tremendous body control.

5. Ronnie Ghent, Louisville, fourth-fifth round -- Shows a lot of athletic prowess at 6-2, 249 pounds but is not an outstanding blocker.


1. Robert Gallery, Iowa, top five overall -- A super blue-chip prospect at 6-7, 318. Gallery is a great pro-style pass blocker at left tackle and also gets after it in the running game.

2. Jacob Rogers, USC, late first-mid second round -- Won't jump out during individual workouts because of various injuries over his career, but Rogers is very steady with the pads on and goes 6-5½, 305.

3. Travelle Wharton, South Carolina, second round -- Has started at left tackle since his freshman year and was hampered some by an ankle injury this season, but at 6-3½, 316 pounds he can still work his way into the second round with a good all-star game showing.

4. Max Starks, Florida, second round -- Not as physically dominant as his 6-7, 344 frame would imply, but Starks is light on his feet and versatile enough to play both guard and tackle.

5. Tony Pape, Michigan, second-third round -- A battle-tested Big Ten veteran, Pape has maintain ted consistency over his career.


1. Vernon Carey, Miami, first-second round -- Was not at full strength this season because of an ankle injury, yet the 6-4, 355-pounder played every line spot except center this year. An excellent player when healthy.

2. Sean Locklear, NC State, third-fourth round -- Athletic and strong at 6-3&189;, 305 pounds Locklear has made a successful transition from defensive tackle and has been versatile late in his career.

3. Atlas Harrion, Alabama, fifth-sixth round -- A major-college sleeper, Harrion is versatile enough to play every spot on the line but looks like a guard in the NFL. At 6-3&189;, 300 pounds he could still maximize his play and be a better pro than collegian.

4. Stephen Peterman, LSU, fourth-fifth round -- A former tight end and defensive end who is still mastering the technical aspects of the position, but at 6-3&189;, 325 you have to like his fire and aggressiveness.

5. Shannon Snell, Florida, second-day choice -- A proven entity and very good from a technical standpoint, but maybe not as dominant as he should have been at 6-4, 333 pounds.


1. Jake Grove, Virginia Tech, first round -- Has moved up the draft board lately and has the mean streak teams look for in an anchor. Game day performances have been excellent.

2. Nick Leckey, Kansas State, third-fourth round -- Experienced at both guard and center and a solid technician at 6-3&189;, 313, Leckey has banged heads with some of the best defensive tackles in the country during his career.

3. Nick Seitze, Kentucky, fourth-fifth round -- Has worked in practice and games against top-drawer DTs and checks in at 6-4&189;, 291 pounds.

4. Scott Wells, Tennessee, late rounds -- Experienced and well-coached, Wells understands leverage and is a solid, reliable anchor at 6-1, 300 pounds.

5. A.J. Ricker, Missouri, late rounds -- Has started since his freshman year and has done a good job developing his technical skills and confidence.


Defensive end

1. Will Smith, Ohio State, top five overall -- Smith has maintained an elite level all season and is deserving of a top five overall pick.

2. Darrion Scott, Ohio State, second-third round -- A 'tweener type who could play either end or tackle.

3. Isaac Hilton, Hampton, third-fourth round -- Showcased his versatility by finishing second on the team in tackles, including 5.5 tackles for loss against Howard and 10 tackles to go with two sacks against Morgan State.

4. Roderick Green, Central Missouri St., third-fourth round -- A feared sack artist who is athletic enough to play outside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme.

5. Dave Ball, UCLA, third-fourth round -- A highly-competitive overachiever, Ball benefitted from the presence of Rodney Leslie at tackle.


1. Dwan Edwards, Oregon State, first round -- One of the most underrated tackles in the country, Edwards has had a tremendous senior year for the Beavers.

2. Rodney Leslie, UCLA, second round -- Hampered by injuries each of the last two years, but at full strength Leslie is a force to be reckoned with.

3. Marcus Tubbs, Texas, late first-early second round -- Has tremendous athletic ability for a 6-4¼, 325-pounder, but Tubbs needs to be more active and intense from play to play.

4. Tommy Kelly, Mississippi St., second-third round -- Can play tackle or end but is not a finished produce and needs to keep developing from a technical standpoint.

5. Chad Lavalais, LSU, second-third round -- Bounced back from an injury-plagued 2002 season with some dominating performances, and if he can continue to maintain that level for 60 minutes Lavalais has a chance to be an excellent pro with his 6-2, 295-pound frame.

Inside linebacker

1. Courtney Watson, Notre Dame, second-third round -- Smart, productive and extremely consistent, Watson is a Tampa Bay Bucs-style linebacker.

2. Jonathan Harrell, Northern Iowa, third-fourth round -- A good Division I-AA player who has played both inside and outside linebacker.

3. Daryl Smith, Georgia Tech, third-fourth round -- Did not really take his game to the next level this year.

4. Louis Moore, Pittsburgh, fifth-sixth round -- Has talent and moved in from the outside this season, but did not benefit from a top-flight defensive line to keep blockers off him. Moore did not have a great year but held up well.

5. Cody Spencer, North Texas, fifth-sixth round -- Always around the ball, Spencer grows on you the more you watch him play.

Outside linebacker

1. Jonathan Vilma, Miami (Fla.), first round -- Does not have great size at 6-0&189;, 231 pounds but has been one of the elite defensive players in college this year. A hit-lift-drive tackler and one of the more instinctive linebackers you will see.

2. D.J. Williams, Miami (Fla.), mid-to-late first round -- Big and fast (a former fullback), but still learning the position.

3. Karlos Dansby, Auburn, mid-to-late first round -- Gifted physically and can attack off the edge, but needs to get off blocks quicker and improve his coverage skills.

4. Michael Boulware, Florida St., second round -- A speedy, multi-dimensional linebacker who needs to get up to about 235 pounds on his 6-2&188; frame, Boulware can stay on the field all three downs.

5. Demorrio Williams, Nebraska, third-fourth round -- One of the most-improved players in the country, Williams can cover the field and has outstanding awareness. Does not have ideal size, though, at just 6-1, 223.


1. Will Poole, USC, first round -- Did not become a starter until the third game this season yet turned into an elite cover man who led the Trojans in interceptions and pass breakups. Has a keen understanding of positioning.

2. Dunta Robinson, South Carolina, late-first to early-second round -- An underrated major-college standout who did a great job this season in coverage and has outstanding toughness.

3. Ricardo Colclough, Tusculum, late first-early second round -- Exceptional small-college corner who had nine interceptions and is also an excellent kick returner. Has good size at 5-11, 189 and 4.45 speed in the 40 but needs to get a little stronger.

4. Keith Smith, McNeese St., late first-early second round -- Was challenged a lot early in his career but held up well and did not see a lot of balls thrown his way this season.

5. Derrick Strait, Oklahoma, second round -- Does not have ideal size at just 5-9, but Strait is an excellent pure football player who did a great job in coverage during his career.


1. Stuart Schweigert, Purdue, first-second round -- An interception machine and outstanding centerfielder, Schweigert has been a thorn in the side of opposing quarterbacks throughout his career. Has good size at 6-2, 209.

2. Bob Sanders, Iowa, second or third round -- Has moved into my top 25 overall, and were he two inches taller than the 5-8&189; he checks in at Sanders would be looking at a mid-first round slot. Very strong and should run the 40 in the 4.35 range.

3. Will Allen, Ohio State, second-third round -- An excellent athlete with corner-type cover skills but not a headhunter. Good size at 6-1, 193.

4. J.R. Reed, South Florida, third-fourth round -- An outstanding player with good ball skills and great feet, Reed could even be tried at corner in the right scheme.

5. Rashad Washington, Kansas St., third-fourth round -- A great athlete who also played basketball for the Wildcats, Washington checks in at 6-1&189; and 212 pounds.

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The danny is probably :jerkoff: over this report already. Never too early to prepare for the draft, ya know.

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