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How good can Aldrick Robinson be?

How good can Aldrick Robinson be?

The Redskins signed Aldrick Robinson to a one-year contract sometime last week. There was no doubt that Robinson would be back. Although he technically was a free agent since his contract expired he has only two accrued years of NFL service. That meant he was an exclusive-rights free agent and his options were to stay with the Redskins or find something else to do for a living. With the contract coming in at $570,000, the minimum for a player with two years in league, Robinson made the wise choice and signed with the Redskins.

In order to collect on that contract Robinson has to make the team and that is not a given. Any player who was drafted by the previous regime and has just 29 receptions in 31 games played will have to fight off challengers to get a roster spot.

It’s a no-risk proposition for Jay Gruden and the Redskins. There is no guaranteed money in the deal and if they decide he isn’t what they are looking for they can release him.

He will get a look for a roster spot for the same reason he was drafted, his speed. He ran a 4.35 in the 40 at the combine and the Redskins took him based on the old adage that they could teach him how to improve his route running and ball catching but they can’t teach him how to run that 4.35.

In three years with the Redskins (he spent all but one game of his rookie season on the practice squad) his progress in moving from “wow, he’s fast” to “hey, he’s a quality NFL receiver” has been spotty.

For most of the 2012 and 2013 seasons Robinson didn’t get much of an opportunity to play. In 2012 he played 96 snaps the first two games and after that he got more than 15 snaps in a game just once. It looked like he was going to take off after catching touchdown bombs of 49 yards against the Eagles and 68 yards in Dallas to help start a season-ending seven-game winning streak. But Robinson played a total of 21 snaps in the last five games and was not targeted once.

He continued to play sparingly in 2013 until Leonard Hankerson suffered a knee injury in Week 11 in Philadelphia. He started to take advantage of his opportunity. He caught 11 passes for 213 yards (19.4 yards per catch) in the last four games of the season. One encouraging aspect of his performance was that eight of those receptions were good for between 10 and 20 yards. That means that he was making catches on intermediate routes and getting some yards after the catch (44 per Pro Football Focus) and he wasn’t just going deep.

Can Robinson duplicate what he did in the latter part of 2013 for the entire 2014 season? We will find out. If he makes the team—and challengers for his roster spot could be brought in via free agency and the draft—he will benefit from Jay Gruden’s tendency to rotate his receivers. Robinson should get his chance and we’ll see if he can convert from fast guy to fast NFL receiver.

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Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Redskins Draft Room Revealed: Who works the phones, and who makes the call

Since the dismissal of former general manager Scot McCloughan, there's been little question who was in charge at Redskins Park. Unofficially anyway. 

Bruce Allen is back running the show, if he ever stopped, and will be at the center of the Redskins draft room and decision making process.

For weeks, Allen and Jay Gruden made clear that the entire Redskins front office - from scouts to the top brass - have input on draft grades. Those grades will determine what players the 'Skins take, and the team is unlikely to deviate from their draft board. 

On Monday, however, Washington director of college scouting Scott Campbell addressed the media and explained that when a decision needs to be made, it will be Allen's call. 

From Campbell:

The way we have the room when the draft is ongoing is we have Eric Schaffer and Alex Santos are constantly calling teams above us. They’re taking the phone calls from the other teams – also behind [us]. A lot of times per Bruce’s instructions, he’ll say, ‘Hey, you take these five teams. You take the next five teams. Start making calls.’ And then we’re receiving calls too at the same time. Once they get that information, they’ll tell the table in the front and say, ‘Hey, we can trade back for this, we can trade up for that.’ It would be me and Bruce and Jay saying ‘No, no, we’ve got enough guys there’ or say ‘I like these guys,’ or like, “Hey, there’s guys there.’ So it’s kind of a discussion amongst the people, and most times it’s Bruce saying, ‘Just tell them we’re not interested,’ or he says, ‘Get the league on the phone. We’re going to make that trade.’”

Campbell's comments reveal quite a lot. To start, it's interesting to know the roles of Schaffer and Santos during the draft. Both men carry a lot of impact in the team's personnel selection. Also, and it was fairly obvious since McCloughan's firing, but Jay Gruden's role continues to increase.

The biggest tell, however, is that ultimately Bruce Allen makes the decisions. It's not a surprise, but it is important to know. Officially.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

Redskins won't say if Joe Mixon is on their board but say character does count

The Redskins may or may not have one of the most polarizing members of the 2017 draft class on their draft board. But they do believe that character counts.

Scott Campbell, the Redskins’ director of college scouting, would not say if  Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon, who is seen on video striking a woman and knocking her to the floor in an incident that occurred in July of 2014, is on the team’s board.

“We don't announce who's on and off the board for strategic reasons,” said Campbell on Monday at the team’s pre-draft news conference, saying that it’s the team’s policy.

He added that incidents like the one that Mixon was a part of do come into consideration.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 10.0

“Character is very important to me, it's very important to the Redskins,” said Campbell.

He explained that early in the scouting process, character issues are not taken into account.

“What I always told the scouts and how I was trained 30 years ago when I started is when you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don't factor in the character, you don't grade character, you grade talent,” said Campbell, who has been with the Redskins organization for 16 years. “You don't throw away somebody early who may have some redeeming quality or a part of the story you didn't know about.”

It’s later on that the scouts gather information on such incidents as problems with the law, failed drug tests, and other quarters of character.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins mock 2.0 goes offense early, defense often 

“Our scouts do a great job getting a lot of information,” said Campbell. “Some of the incidents you brought up happened after the season, at the combine, and just a few days ago. All those things are factored into an evaluation as they are gathered.”

With that information at hand, they start the process of elimination, deciding who fits and who doesn’t.

“When it comes close to the draft, you start weeding out all that, getting more information, deciding, OK, that guy's not our kind of guy, that guy's not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted but good luck to them,” said Campbell.

It seems like much more of a gut feel type of process than anything rigid. There is not much of a clue there as to whether or not the team will consider bringing Mixon aboard, who is inarguably one of the most talented running backs in the draft. The upside is that Mixon could provide a jolt to the team’s offense. The downside would be an immediate public relations hit. The team also must consider what will happen if Mixon were to run afoul of the NFL’s domestic abuse policy in the future, which calls for a six-game suspension for a first offense with penalties getting progressively worse if problems persist.

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.