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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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Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

Will Jay Gruden increase his 'big role' in the Redskins' personnel process?

While it hasn’t been the best offseason for the Redskins organization in many respects it has been a good one for coach Jay Gruden. In the midst of turmoil over the status of general manager Scot McCloughan, Gruden got a two-year contract extension.

Although the final agreement on the deal came on March 4 in a steakhouse in Indianapolis during the NFL Combine, team president Bruce Allen said that talk of extending Gruden started much earlier.

“It was after the season, Dan [Snyder], Jay and I got together and we talked about the game plan because we’d made some changes on the coaching staff as well following the season,” Allen told CSN’s JP Finlay at the owners’ meetings in Arizona.

Gruden became the team’s head coach in 2014. His original five-year contract was set to expire after the 2018 season but now he is in the fold through 2020.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

Gruden’s record in Washington is 21-26-1, not the kind of record that normally has an organization rushing to extend a head coach. But after a 4-12 inaugural season, Gruden has led the Redskins to records of 9-7 and 8-7-1 the last two years. While by many standards that is a modest achievement, it marked the first back-to-back winning seasons in Washington since 1996-1997. The hope is that Gruden will keep them moving in the right direction.

The extension is likely to be popular in the locker room as players have come to like Gruden’s style.  

“His directness, his sarcasm and at the same time he gets his coaching point in but the guys do like his sense of humor as well,” said Allen. 

It’s not known if Gruden’s extension gives him more authority over personnel. His original deal gave him very little, with first Allen and then McCloughan having the final say in personnel selection and control over who makes the 53-man roster. Some NFL head coaches have final say in free agency acquisition and in the draft while many have control over who makes the 53.

MORE REDSKINS: 3 takeaways from talking to Allen

Gruden does have some informal influence when it comes to the draft.

“He’s got a big role,” said Allen. “First of all, he coordinates all the coaches’ reports and when we set the draft board, Jay will be up there. He watches every player who will be on the draft board and he will have an opinion.”

There is a power vacuum at Redskins Park with McCloughan gone. A new general manager won’t get hired until after the draft and the authority of that GM will have will be a matter of negotiation. It would not be surprising to see Gruden ending up with roster control.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Need to Know: What is the Redskins' plan for QB Kirk Cousins?

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, March 28, 30 days before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/17) 20
—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 45
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 57
—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/15) 109
—First Sunday of 2017 season (9/10) 157

Tuesday three and out

1. Maybe Bruce Allen and the Redskins have a master plan for saving the whole Kirk Cousins situation but right now it just looks like they’re stuck without a solution to paying $24 million to a quarterback who likely will be gone in a year. That’s money that could either be rolled over into future seasons if Cousins gets traded or used as a down payment on a long-term Cousins deal. Maybe there’s a master plan there somewhere but right now it looks an awful lot like the organization is just stumbling around in the dark, stubbing its toe while trying to find the light switch.

2. WR Brian Quick will cost the Redskins less against the salary cap than they are paying him. That’s because his contract takes advantage of the minimum salary benefit. He gets the sixth-year minimum salary of $775,000 plus an $85,000 signing bonus, a total of $860,000. Because of the minimum salary and low signing bonus the CBA rules allow the team to essentially discount the cap hit for the contract down to $695,000. The rule is designed so that younger players are necessarily cheaper, at least when it comes to the salary cap.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 6.0

3. Allen hinted that the Redskins won’t necessarily hire a general manager after the draft. While talking to colleague JP Finlay he said, “We’ll talk about what we need after the draft from a staffing standpoint.” Not “we’ll search high and low for the best GM in the business” but that needs will be examined. It’s going to be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

And out—Allen didn’t have much to say when JP asked about the stadium project that was a hot topic a year or so ago, only confirming that talks are ongoing. The fact that he had so little to say, not even some platitudes about the desire to build a great environment for the fans. Reading between the lines, this makes me think that a deal is getting close and the less that is said about it at this point the better. Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe will be term limited out of office next January and the feeling is that he will want to leave a Redskins stadium deal as his legacy.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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