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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' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

Redskins' Gruden will readjust to calling plays by going off script

RICHMOND—The Redskins offense is dealing with some challenges on the field. Their top two wide receivers from last year left as free agents and replacements Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson have little game experience with quarterback Kirk Cousins. Tight end Jordan Reed (toe) was a surprise entry on the PUP list. Running back Rob Kelley needs to prepare to get ready to carry the load for 16 games.

There is one other change the team must deal with. Sean McVay, the team’s offensive coordinator, left in January to become the head coach of the Los Angeles Rams. He had been calling the plays for the past two years. That duty will now fall on head coach Jay Gruden.

RELATED: Reed one of four to start camp on PUP

Play calling is not new to Gruden. He did it from 2011-2013 for the Bengals when he was the offensive coordinator in Cincinnati. Gruden also made the play calls in 2014, his first season as the Redskins head coach.

Still, he wants to make sure that he’s ready to retake the play caller’s headset. The method he will use is to throw away the script.

“I think early on we’re going to have scripted practices, and once we get going, get our main core of plays in there, I think we’ll have a lot of unscripted practices where I can call plays,” he said. “So I think that’s the most important thing, the unscripted practice. Whether it’s two -minute, whether it’s drives down the field, whether it’s third downs, all that good stuff, do a lot of unscripted work, red zone and go from there, but I feel pretty comfortable already.”

That certainly makes sense. Games are not scripted and the successful play callers who can adjust to the ebb and flow of the game. You can’t duplicate the dynamic but you can come close in 11 on 11 work on the practice field.

MORE REDSKINS: Ranking the Redskins roster, the final update

Another key to making this work will be trusting his defensive and special teams coaches. If Gruden can’t delegate to them he will be getting pulled in too many directions on game days.

“How well I handle that will be how successful I will probably be as a coordinator calling plays and as a coach,” he said. “I feel good about the staff that I have around me. Coach [Greg] Manusky and Jim Tomsula and Torrian Gray on the defensive side of the ball, I don’t think I have to worry so much about that, Ben Kotwica, Bret Munsey on the special teams. The big thing is I have got to be involved in the football game, make sure I’m ready for the red flag tosses and all that good stuff, but for the most part I have confidence in the defense and special team coaches and players.”

We will see how well it works out. As a rookie coach he occasionally seemed to be overwhelmed by all that he had piled on his plate (the situation was complicated by his curious decision not to hire a quarterbacks coach). But now, with three years under his belt and an exponentially better understanding of what is involved in coaching an NFL game, there should be more confidence that he can handle it.

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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Redskins Playbook: Beyond Jordan Reed, questions mount as training camp opens

Redskins Playbook: Beyond Jordan Reed, questions mount as training camp opens

RICHMOND - Everything seemed cool at the Bon Secours training facility when Jay Gruden left the podium on Wednesday, but that quickly changed when the Redskins released their  Physically Unable to Perform list a few hours later. Jordan Reed landing on the PUP list was an unexpected bomber, a big deal even if the star tight end returns to the field quickly.

On Thursday, the Redskins will take to the field for their first day of training camp. There will be plenty of questions:

  1. When and why? Reed on the PUP list for the first day of camp does not mean Redskins fans should panic, but it also doesn't mean there isn't reason for alarm. Reed has a distinct injury history and it seems the team is being smart trying to handle an injury rather than let it linger. The Washington offense is at its best with Reed on the field. Jay Gruden will be asked about Reed a lot in his Thursday press conference; perhaps their will be some clarity.
  2. D-Line questions - Rookie Jonathan Allen should immediately help the 'Skins up front defensively, but beyond that, there are no sure things in the trenches. The Redskins added Stacy McGee from the Raiders and Terrell McClain from the Cowboys in free agency, and both are expected to have a significant role right away. Those guys have had productive flashes in their past, but injuries have been an issue. The Redskins need them to be good, and healthy, right away.
  3. Time to shine - Josh Doctson hardly had a rookie season as he dealt with Achilles injuries. He played just two games in 2016. With DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon gone, the Redskins need last year's first-round draft pick to produce in 2017. A strong training camp, develping chemistry with Kirk Cousins, could help calm fears about the revamped 'Skins offense. 

Stay with CSN all day for updates from the Redskins first training camp practice of the 2017 season. Football is finally here.

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