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Do the Redskins believe that McKensie Alexander is the best CB in the draft?

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Do the Redskins believe that McKensie Alexander is the best CB in the draft?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 16 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how he might fit in Washington.

Mackensie Alexander
Cornerback
Clemson

Height: 5-10
Weight: 190
40-yard dash: 4.50

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying
The self-proclaimed best cornerback in the draft, Alexander is a player whose stock is all over the place. Anybody criticizing him for zero college interceptions is missing the point entirely, but there are enough concerns about his play and size to prevent him from being a sure fire top-10 pick. Still, Alexander should be a solid first-round player.
PFF draft guide

How he fits the Redskins: You hear all the time that the Redskins are in great need at the safety position but cornerback isn’t far behind on the list of concerns. Bashaud Breeland is a solid starter but beyond him you have an injury question mark in Chris Culliver (knee), Will Blackmon, who will turn 32 around midseason, the inexperienced Quinton Dunbar, and some other young projects.

Is Alexander the answer? He is a “football player” as McCloughan defines the term—confident, tough, good instincts, and he loves to play the game. The fact that he had no interceptions jumps out at some. But he also didn’t allow a touchdown in 2015 and he was thrown at just 57 times, per the PFF Draft guide.

Alexander certainly doesn't lack for confidence. "I'm telling you I'm the best corner in this draft class," he said at the combine.

Although he lacks size he knows how to use what he has. Here he comes flying into the picture after Calvin Ridley, Alabama’s top receiver, catches a swing pass. Alexander stays in control, breaks down, and takes Ridley down with a one-on-one tackle in the open field.

Potential issues: Alexander might be able to add a few more pounds but he likely will spend his NFL career as a 5-10 corner who weighs under 200 pounds. Do the Redskins want someone that size to guard Dez Bryant (6-2, 225) or Jordan Matthews (6-3, 212) twice a year?

Although he was fairly durable at Clemson, a hamstring injury knocked him out of the national title game against Alabama early.

Alexander played just two years a Clemson, declaring for the draft after his redshirt sophomore season.

Bottom line: McCloughan has put out the contradictory notions that he like big guys and that a player’s attitude and fight matter more than his height and weight. Which way he leans could be tested if Alexander is on the board when the Redskins are on the clock with the 21st pick.

In his own words

On how he deals with different types of receivers:
"If I'm going against (Laquon) Treadwell, which I've studied, I know who he is, I haven't played against him, my game plan is -- he's a big guy, he uses his body real well -- (like) another guy we have at Clemson, Mike Williams. Same personnel (type). He's not very fast, but you know they're going to give you what they've got. They're very aggressive, very physical, they snatch the ball in the air. I'm taking away what they do best. I'm taking those jump balls away. "If I'm covering Will Fuller, I know he's a deep vertical guy. He just ran 4.3, I'm proud of him. He's a fast guy. I'm fast too," he said. "But I know he's a vertical guy. If I take his vertical game away, I wouldn't say he sucked, but he's not that good. You force (Notre Dame coach Brian) Kelly to go to the screen game, which they did against us a lot, just to get him touches. Feed him some kind of way."
Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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'I'm letting all hell break loose' – Josh Norman belittles Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.

'I'm letting all hell break loose' – Josh Norman belittles Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham Jr.

NFC East opponents don't challenge Josh Norman. Dez Bryant and Odell Beckham, Jr. are fake tough, no real threat to him. Not like some other receivers in the NFL. 

At least that's how the Redskins corner described them in a wide-ranging interview with Bleacher Report published on Thursday. 

The gist? The Cowboys and Giants stars get no respect from Norman, though both were involved in memorable feuds with him the past year. 

Norman got his first opportunity to talk trash when asked to do word association with the name "Dez Bryant." He took the opening and returned it for a touchdown. 

"That's a guy. Just a guy. Dez was Dez in 2012, '13, '14. Maybe '14. Now? He's a guy," Norman said.

"He doesn't 'wow' you. For me, he don't. For other guys, he probably will do the worst to them because he'll bully them. But you can't bully a bully. You know what I'm saying? That's why his game doesn't resonate to me."

To jog your memory, Norman and Bryant went at it after the Cowboys beat the Redskins on Thanksgiving last year. Bryant said Washington should get a refund on Norman's contract. There was also drama about whether Norman falsely accused Bryant of threatening to "unload the clip" on him.

Real mature, substantive conflict. 

RELATED: Redskins’ Norman confident that changes will improve defense

The Redskins corner didn't go any easier on Beckham, who of all receivers in the league has had the most explosive run-ins with Norman. 

In fact, Beckham's helmet-to-helmet hit on Norman in a 2015 contest between the Giants and Panthers led the NFL to change rules for ejections. Beckham had racked up three unnecessary roughness penalties in that game. 

"[Beckham] tries to be a tough guy. He tries to put on this persona which he's not. Because he's always going to have his head on a swivel. Always. Always when we play each other," Norman said, suggesting that he's able to push OBJ over the edge and out of control. 

"He's scary like that. He does things that he normally wouldn't do because of all the pressure and added hype that he has to put on his whole persona. He's not this guy. If you go back and watch the games in which we play compared to the games we don't play each other, he's a totally different guy."

"When people get physical, tough, like the Minnesota game, he acts out. He's a kid. He's a big kid, man," Norman concluded.

It must have been an exercise in restraint not to mention OBJ's kicking-net tantrum after losing to the Redskins last year. 

As the interview moved on, there wasn't a receiver that drew respect from Norman until the name Julio Jones came up. Norman got to see the Falcons receiver twice a year when he played for Carolina in the NFC South. 

"Now, that is the ultimate challenge. That's when I can do things in a split-second, a millisecond, just choo-choo-choo," Norman said of facing Jones. He said he's missed that challenge since moving to the NFC East. 

"It's the worst. Because I'm just battling 'guys.' I'm not battling against something I can call 'greatness.' I'm not enhancing my craft. Don't get me wrong. They're tough. But they're not [Jones]," he said. He also named Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Chicago's Alshon Jeffrey as other receivers who could provide a real test. 

But whether those matchups excite Norman or not, he knows they can't touch the hype of NFC East showdowns, especially ones involving Beckham. 

"That game gets so hyped up by the time we play them, it won't even be Giants vs. Washington—it'll be me and him. ... Because now you have us on Thanksgiving Night. C'mon, man!"

The interview ended with Norman looking forward to playing with new Redskins safety DJ Swearinger, who has a reputation as a hard-hitting intimidator.

"Trust me when I tell you, it's going to be bad blood this year. You think the NFC East didn't like each other before? This year right here? There's going to be a lot of fines and maybe some suspensions. I'm going to be honest with you: This s--- is going to get really ugly. Because I do have a safety that don't give a f--- and I definitely don't. And I know they don't have that many people on the offense who do on their side."

"I'm letting all hell break loose."

MORE REDSKINS: Josh Doctson ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

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Redskins WR Josh Doctson is ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

Redskins WR Josh Doctson is ready to show the NFL, "I'm good at what I do"

An Achilles injury robbed Josh Doctson of the bulk of his rookie season with the Redskins. After a strenuous offseason spent rehabbing and a clean bill of health, Doctson is ready to fight back.

"It feels good to be back out here with them and to be playing football again," Doctson said Wednesday at Redskins OTAs (full video above). "It's what I’ve been doing for a long time, it's why I’m here. I'm good at what I do."

Sure it's May and there was no contact, but Doctson showed how good he can look on Wednesday. He caught a number of balls throughout the two hour session and looked smooth in his routes. The second-year pro from TCU makes cuts while maintaining speed and balance, and the skills allowed him to get open a number of times to haul in passes using soft hands.

"Right now, so far, so good," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said. "I like the way he looks, like the way he runs and love the way he catches."

Late in the OTA session, Colt McCoy found Doctson for a deep touchdown. While the sidelines erupted, Doctson just calmly jogged back to the line of scrimmage and talked with coaches. 

Doctson explained that to "show my teammates, coaches and myself again that I can play with these guys, play at this level, it feels real good."

The Redskins will need the 6-foot-2, 202 lbs. Doctson this fall. With the exit of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon, more than 40 percent of Kirk Cousins' passing yards left the Washington offense. Free agent addition Terrelle Pryor will be expected to pick up a large chunk of that yardage, but Doctson will need to offset that loss as well.

"He’s been impressive. I think the big thing for him is the confidence in his Achilles and I think he’s got that right now. I saw him out there today and yesterday, the last two days he’s looked better and better. It looks like he can run down the field," Gruden said.

Doctson described the pain in his Achilles as "pretty much non-existent now."

Never a good place to look for nuanced analysis, last season some social media speculation suggested Doctson was homesick dealing with his injury. That theory seems foolish, as the receiver spent the entire offseason in Ashburn, working out and rehabbing.

"I'm feeling good. I'm feeling healthy," he said. "I got after it every day. It’s a tribute to my hard work why I'm feeling so feeling healthy."

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