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Houston CB Jackson a rare playmaker who could interest the Redskins

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Houston CB Jackson a rare playmaker who could interest the Redskins

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 13 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.

William Jackson III
Cornerback
Houston

Height: 6-0
Weight: 189
40-yard dash: 4.37

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying
Having looked at all of the cornerbacks who are talked about for the first round, I am willing to say that William Jackson III is no worse than the second-best for me. He really was better than I expected to see when I first started this, and I really think he is capable of helping anyone in any scheme. I love his aggressiveness and his ability to be a ball hawk, as well as his ability to securely bring his man down. He is an older prospect, but that in no way takes away from his value.
Bob Sturm, Dallas Morning News

How he fits the Redskins: There is plenty of talk of them taking a defensive lineman in the first round. But with the draft so deep at the position, McCloughan’s strategy could be to go after a different position with his first pick and then come back in the second and get a D-lineman who represents just a slight drop off from the player he could have had in the first.

Cornerback is one of those positions of value that justifies a first-round pick and Jackson could be the best one on the board when the 21st pick is on the clock. At 6-0 with 31 3/4-inch arms he has the length that the Redskins like and the size needed to guard receivers like Dez Bryant.

Unlike some other top corners in the draft, Jackson has demonstrated the ability to make plays. He had five interceptions. Two other corners who could be considered at the Redskins’ draft spot, Eli Apple and Mackensie Alexander, had one and zero interceptions last year, respectively. Jackson also led the nation with 23 pass breakups.

His speed, instincts, and playmaking ability are all on display here in this play against Florida State in the Peach Bowl. It was one of two interceptions he had in one of the biggest wins in the history of the Houston Cougars.

Potential issues: He has issues with missed tackles; his technique needs a lot of work. Jackson sometimes has a tendency to drop his head when he goes to make a stop and that can not only cause missed tackles but also can lead to serious injuries.

Bottom line: Jackson overcame a tough upbringing in Houston. Usually the best solution is to get away from your old neighborhood but he stayed in Houston for both junior college and to play for the Cougars. By all accounts he has grown into a model citizen. It’s the type of story about overcoming adversity that McCloughan likes in his players.

If the Redskins do bypass the defensive line and look at cornerback Jackson could be a good fit. It appears to be a good year to get a first-round cornerback since the supply of quality corners is pretty good and there aren’t as many teams who are in need at the position as there usually are.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

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