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Is Arkansas RB Alex Collins what the Redskins want in a second back?

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Is Arkansas RB Alex Collins what the Redskins want in a second back?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 22 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.

Alex Collins
Running back
Arkansas

Height: 5-10
Weight: 217
40-yard dash: 4.59

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying
Collins was an ideal fit for [Arkansas coach Bret] Bielema's blueprint on offense with his light feet to make sharp cuts, but also his physical nature to welcome contact, finish forward and do most of his damage between the tackles. Collins is a physical runner, but needs to improve his pad level and ball security to be more reliable at the next level.

Although he won't consistently create on his own, Collins has an excellent blend of quickness, patience and power to get what is blocked for him and contribute as an NFL rookie.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: How much can they trust Matt Jones? He flashed some potential on plays here and there but he lacked consistency and his four fumbles all seemed to come at the worst times.

If they just want a Plan B in case Jones fizzles in 2016 they could wait and sign Pierre Thomas or another veteran still on the street. But if they want to go with running back by committee, with two backs carrying the load they should look to the middle rounds of the draft and perhaps to a back like Collins.

At Arkansas he was a model of consistency; he rarely failed to go to the right spot and get at least as much as the play is blocked for. Collins is not a burner and he’s not a big back but he’s a good combination of speed, size and football smarts.

Potential issues: Jones’ fumbles are an issue and they were an issue for Collins as well. He lost the handle on the ball 16 times during his career, usually due to not protecting the ball properly when fighting for extra yardage. No doubt, McCloughan and company will need to figure out if this is something that the coaches can remedy before they seriously look into him.

Bottom line: Should the Redskins spend a mid-round draft pick on a running back two drafts in a row? Whether they do or not will depend largely on if a running back is the best available payer on the board when they pick.

And I they do take a running back, should they take on with a skill set similar to Jones’? Or should they look towards a back with some demonstrated pass-catching ability (Collins caught just 27 passes in three years with the Razorback)?

If they want a guy who is more like Jones to compete with Jones, Collins should be under serious consideration.

In his own words

About the importance of patience:
I would say it's definitely patience, that plays a huge factor in it because if you're the type of runner that just always runs outside, then they'll just come from the outside and force you up the field. Just being patient, letting things lead up to it, if that's the road it takes you, then you go with it. If you've got cuts up the field, you take the cuts. But I would definitely say it's just being patience, letting things play out. If that's the best opportunity, take that opportunity. But as far as just aiming for the outside, it wouldn't work every time because defenses wouldn't let you keep doing that.
Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!