NFL Draft 2011: Latest Draft Predictions for Washington Redskins

Here’s just a few of the latest mock drafts, some of which were just updated today. A few quick thoughts: Part of me just can’t fathom Cam Newton in Washington, but then another part of me thinks it would be just the kind of quarterback Mike Shanahan loves. …Love that Robert Quinn pick, too.
Here ya go:
Pat Kirwan, NFL.com: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
“It looks like the Redskins will have to move up if they want a top quarterback. Quinn can really help their ailing 3-4 hybrid defense, but also has health issues that have to be evaluated due to a benign tumor on his brain. Even so, he is moving up draft boards.”
Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia
“In terms of draft position, this could be a worst-case scenario for Green, who some scouts believe is the top player in the 2011 draft. Green is talented enough that if he does begin to slip, a team could elect to trade into the top 10 to get him. The Redskins desperately need a receiver with size to pair with diminutive playmakers Santana Moss and Anthony Armstrong. Green falling into Mike Shanahan’s lap could be the fortuitous slip the coach needs to get this offense on track.”
Don Banks, SI.com: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina
“I’m not sure if anyone has a great handle on where Washington is headed, because the Redskins’ options seemingly abound. Receiver Julio Jones was the pick in my mock 3.0, and Washington’s desperate need for an offensive playmaker might still carry the day. But how many rookie receivers actually produce impact? Running back Mark Ingram might be an intriguing wild-card choice, but in Quinn the Redskins would get a bookend complement to pass-rushing 3-4 outside linebacker Brian Orakpo.”
Pro Football Weekly: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
“Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen take pride in crafting misperceptions, playing poker and never revealing their hand, and traditionally both do a very thorough job of concealing their draft intentions. The Redskins’ roster is still littered with holes from the days of former personnel chief Vinny Cerrato, who placed too much authority in the hands of a revolving door of coaches, and the team could go any number of ways with huge needs to fill. If Newton remains on the board, Shanahan could have a difficult time resisting his urge to address the all-important QB position. Newton’s physical skill set compares closely to that of John Elway and Jay Cutler.”
Most recent updates:
NFL Draft 2011: Is Taking Julio Jones a Wrong Move for Washington Redskins?NFL Draft 2011: Washington Redskins’ Biggest Problem? QuarterbackNFL Draft 2011: What Does Julio Jones’ Return Mean for Washington Redskins?View all updates

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Isaiah Thomas says he’ll return to Washington

Washington guard Isaiah Thomas said after the Huskies’ 86-83 loss to North Carolina that he plans to return for his senior season instead of declaring for the NBA draft.
“Love my teammates. Sucks we lost but God has a plan! Thanks 2 all the people who believed in us. I will be back NXT yr so don’t worry,” he tweeted.
Thomas also told King 5’s Chris Egan that he’ll be back, though Percy Allen of The Seattle Times reports that Thomas gave some noncommittal answers when asked repeatedly after the game about his future.
Thomas said on the Kevin Calabro show in January that he would consider leaving Washington a year early for the NBA if he thought he would be taken high enough.
He led Washington this season in scoring (16.9 ppg) and assists (6 apg). His 1,721 career points are sixth-most in school history.

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Sabres have been re-energized under Pegula

Team owners in professional sports rarely attend all of their team’s games. If the Buffalo Sabres keep this up, look for Terry Pegula to be an exception.
Since Pegula bought the Sabres from Tom Golisano last month, his new team is 5-0-2 — with Pegula in attendance for all seven games. He’ll make it No. 8 when the Sabres play the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday night, with Pegula expected to watch from a seat in the stands rather than from a private box.
Pegula wants to know what the fans are saying, what they’re feeling, and he believes he gets a better idea of that when he’s surrounded by ticket holders.  So far, it’s obvious he’s liked what he’s heard — and what he’s seen.
What he won’t see Tuesday night is Sabres leading scorer Thomas Vanek, who was ruled out with the flu after missing the pregame skate. Vanek has 23 goals and 32 assists for 55 points in 65 games.
Since Pegula took over, the Sabres have played themselves back into the top eight in the Eastern Conference standings — exactly where they want to be when the regular season ends next month.
NHL INSIDER
Flyers try to pick up the piecesDave Lozo – NHL.com Staff WriterAfter being decimated Sunday by the New York Rangers, the Philadelphia Flyers are trying to figure out why they’re suddenly playing their worst hockey of the season. READ MORE › Johnson filling a key role for streaking BlackhawksMaple Leafs feel they have a miracle run in the cardsPlayers already making impact after the deadlineMORE NHL INSIDER STORIES ›”I think Terry coming over has changed the mentality, it’s been a good change for us, a little bit of fresh air,” defenseman Jordan Leopold said. “We’re playing well as a result of that, and also (because of) the time and situation of the season.”
Some ownership changes are cosmetic, with no real difference other than the name atop the team’s organizational chart. That’s not the case in Buffalo, where Pegula has re-energized a city that’s always had a passion for the sport, but fretted over the Sabres’ future when the franchise went through bankruptcy in 2003.
“I think the good part is, with all of the rumors swirling around for months about whether the ownership was going to change, the person who stepped in is going to be a great owner,” Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. “I think we’ve seen an immediate impact of that. Just since the press conference, you can see the excitement, the passion the man has for the team and the Sabres. And I think that’s given us a little boost.”
If there’s another NHL franchise the Sabres might want to emulate with Pegula in charge, it’s the Penguins. They also went through bankruptcy under a former owner 12 years ago but, under co-owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle, have become one of the model franchises in pro sports.
The Penguins will play before a 199th consecutive sellout crowd Tuesday night.
“It’s pretty amazing,” coach Dan Bylsma said. “Two days ago, I was in Barnes & Noble, and a woman tapped me on the shoulder, a Pittsburgh lady talking about ‘our boys’ and ‘our team.’ We’ve got great fans, great support, a great franchise, and we’ve got this beautiful new building (Consol Energy Center). It’s tough to remember that time, but it wasn’t that long ago.”
While the Penguins played their 27th consecutive game without injured captain Sidney Crosby (concussion), they’re actually closer to the Eastern Conference lead than they were when Crosby last played on Jan. 5.
They went into Tuesday’s games trailing conference-leading Philadelphia by only two points after going 12-9-5 since Crosby last played. They are 4-6-4 without both Crosby and former NHL scoring champion Evgeni Malkin, who will miss the rest of the season following knee surgery.
“It looks different when you take Sidney Crosby off the ice because he’s one of the best players in the world. You’re not going to see as many highlight-reel goals from Craig Adams as you are Sidney Crosby,” Bylsma said. “But we’re playing the exact same way. We’re asking the exact same from the team.”
To Ruff, they’ve simply been the Penguins.
“There’s a reason why they won the Stanley Cup a couple of years ago, and part of that is their depth and how hard they play,” Ruff said.
The Sabres tapped some of their own organizational depth by calling up 34-year-old forward Mark Parrish and forward Luke Adam from Portland (American Hockey League). They are depleted not only because of Vanek’s illness, but because of injuries to Jochen Hecht, Mike Grier and Patrick Kaleta. They recalled forward Mark Mancari from Portland before their 3-2 overtime win at Minnesota on Sunday.

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Mediator Cites ‘Strong Differences’ in N.F.L. Talks

INDIANAPOLIS — The federal mediator working with N.F.L. team owners and the players union said Thursday that “very strong differences remain on the all-important core issues that separate the parties.”

With a week to go before the collective bargaining agreement expires, and after seven days of lengthy talks, it was an indication that it was unlikely a new deal would be done by next week, setting up possible decisions by team owners about whether to lock out players and by the union about whether to decertify.
In his statement, George H. Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, said that there had been “some progress” in the talks, which he described as highly focused and constructive, and he asked the sides to assess their position before they reconvene on Tuesday.
That will be one day before owners convene outside Washington to discuss their plans. When the sides gather again with Cohen, it is possible owners will join the group. No owners attended the week of bargaining sessions.
The labor deal expires at 11:59 p.m. Eastern on Thursday, and owners and players continue to struggle with the most fundamental issue: how to divide the $9 billion in revenue and how much owners should receive off the top of the revenue pool to pay for expenses like stadium construction and renovation.
The labor uncertainty was a prime source of conversation among coaches and general managers during the first day of the league’s scouting combine.
They were briefed by league officials in a meeting Thursday evening on how to operate in the event of a lockout, with the league emphasizing that team personnel are not allowed to have contact of any kind with players during a lockout, including players who are rehabilitating injuries. The league provided them no specifics about negotiations, beyond telling them that talks continue.
“Basically kind of a review of where we are,” Jacksonville Coach Jack Del Rio said. “ ‘We hope to get something done. In case it doesn’t, here are some of the scenarios that can play out.’ We got some information.”
Coaches said publicly they were preparing for a normal off-season. But privately, teams that have made coaching changes or that will have considerable roster overhauls are concerned that a lockout will put them at a competitive disadvantage against more established teams, especially those with established quarterbacks.
In St. Louis, for example, quarterback Sam Bradford has to learn his second offense in two years, but he will be unable to meet with the new coordinator Josh McDaniels, who is still constructing the offense. Compare that with the Ravens; quarterback Joe Flacco is making plans to work out with some of his receivers in Arizona if there is a lockout.
John Mara, the president of the Giants and a member of the N.F.L.’s negotiating team, said he had told team employees — football and nonfootball staff — that the Giants would not have layoffs, furloughs or pay cuts for at least the first few months. That includes assistant coaches. Some teams plan to cut pay for assistant coaches during a lockout.
“Everybody’s got to make their own decisions,” Mara said. “We just looked at our own team, our own organization, and made a decision we felt was in our best interests and we were comfortable with.”
EXTRA POINT
The competition committee met with union representatives to talk about player safety issues. The Giants president John Mara said that the committee was again looking at ways to reduce hits to the head, including trying to determine if it was possible to prohibit players launching themselves at opponents.

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