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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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Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins Playbook: Niles Paul forcing a fourth tight end roster spot?

Redskins coaches appreciate Niles Paul. Not just for the immense physical skills, a 6-foot-1, 225 lb. college receiver turned NFL tight end and fullback. He works hard every day at practice, and demands the same from his teammates. 

Last season, Paul landed on the injured reserve after an injury in London during a Week 8 tie against the Bengals. Because of that, some speculation emerged that Paul could be the odd man out in the Redskins tight end group, behind Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis and fighting with 2017 draft pick Jeremy Sprinkle, not to mention veteran Derek Carrier. 

After two preseason games, it's clear Paul is ready to fight for that spot. Against Green Bay on Saturday night, Paul logged a touchdown catch and a fumble recovery on special teams, showing the versatility that makes him so valuable to Washington. 

For Paul, he's just happy to be back on the field. 

"I got my season cut in half last year. I just want to be back on the field by any means necessary. I've just been missing it. I've been missing football in my life," Paul said after the game (full video above).

Paul's acrobatic TD grab showed that he still has the explosiveness to help the offense, but his special teams play is what will keep him on the roster. It also helps that head coach Jay Gruden complimented Paul for an outstanding camp and work ethic. 

"His speed looks where it was before the injuries. I mean, I think he's had an outstanding training camp so far. He's done so many different things. And that's one of the toughest positions," Gruden said of Paul. 

The Redskins offense hasn't hit full cylinder yet, but Paul thinks the return of Jordan Reed will help. 

"We're missing a major piece and that's Jordan Reed," he said. "We got some fine tuning to do."

Considering Reed's injury history, and backup tight end Vernon Davis starting the season at 33, a healthy Paul is a luxury for the Redskins. He stands to make nearly $2.5 million this season, but he also brings versatility. Paul is happy to play fullback, a role that seems to be growing, as well as all over the field on special teams. 

Washington will absolutely keep Reed and Davis. With his play this preseason, Paul seems a sure thing too. And if the squad wants to keep their draft pick in Sprinkle, who has tremendous size and has shown promise, four tight ends on the 53-man roster looks like the future. 

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

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With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

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USA Today Sports

With Spencer Long on the shelf, could Redskins make a run at Nick Mangold?

News broke late Monday night that Redskins' center Spencer Long underwent a minor knee scope and is expected to miss two weeks. That timetable spells good news for Washington, as that would bring Long back to the team before the first regular season game against the Eagles on September 10th. 

In the meantime, expect rookie Chase Roullier to take over at center for the Redskins. A 6th round draft pick, Bruce Allen and the Washington brass moved up to select Roullier, and the young player out of Wyoming had a strong training camp. 

RELATED: NILES PAUL FORCING HIS WAY TO A ROSTER SPOT?

"He’s done a great job, he really has. For a rookie to come in here and handle all the things he has to handle, it’s been very impressive," Redskins coach Jay Gruden said of Roullier in early August. 

Still, Jay Gruden has been very clear about the need for a backup center on the roster. Last season the team brought in veteran John Sullivan during the year to provide depth at the position after Kory Lichtensteiger went down with injury.  Sullivan ended up starting one game for Washington, and is now playing with the Rams. 

With Long on the mend, the only other center on the Redskins roster is Roullier. Ronald Patrick is listed with the more generic OL designation though he has played center too.

It seems likely the team will move quickly to add another center, and one name that will get suggested is Nick Mangold. An 11-year veteran that played his entire career with the Jets, Mangold has more experience than Long, Roullier and Patrick combined.

He's also played the position at a very high level. Twice named to the NFL's All Pro team, Mangold has made seven Pro Bowls, most recently in 2015.

It's not entirely clear why Mangold isn't on an NFL roster already. He worked out for the Ravens this offseason, though some reports suggested Mangold wanted more guaranteed money than was discussed. 

A quick look at his Twitter feed does not suggest a guy missing the NFL life. A big soccer fan, Mangold seems very dialed in to London's Tottenham Hotspur and the New York City Football Club. (Check his Twitter out here)

If the team truly believes Long should not miss any regular season action, Mangold is probably not a fit. At 33-years-old with an impressive resume, Mangold likely doesn't want to come back just to be a backup, and Gruden has repeatedly talked about Long's ability and potential in the middle of the line. Should Long suffer a setback, the equation could change. 

Other names are likely to pop up for tryouts, as the 'Skins must consider more interior line depth. Making a run at Mangold might be something fans want to do, though it might not make sense at this point.

<<CLICK HERE FOR PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS TRAINING CAMP>>

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcasts, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!