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Is Buckeyes' WR Thomas the big receiver the Redskins need?

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Is Buckeyes' WR Thomas the big receiver the Redskins need?

The NFL draft is 70 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.

Michael Thomas
Wide receiver
Ohio State

Height: 6-3
Weight: 210

What they’re saying
Thomas isn't the fastest or most explosive, but he is a good-sized athlete and detailed route-runner with little wasted movements to create spacing at the stem. Although he will need time to adapt to a NFL playbook, he projects as an ideal No. 2 wide receiver at the next level due to his savvy footwork, body control and ball-skills to be a reliable possession target.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins could be in desperate need of receivers a year from now. Both Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson are going to be 30-year-old free agents. Andre Roberts is unlikely to be on the roster past next month. Ryan Grant is fine for a fill in role but he’s not a front line receiver. Rashad Ross has speed but he has a lot to learn. Jamison Crowder is a fine slot receiver but you can’t build your attack around him.

If the Redskins are going to need a receiver next year the time to draft him is this year. Thomas seems to fill the bill in terms of what the Redskins have been seeking the last decade or longer—a big wide receiver. He is tall at 6-3 and he plays up to his size, showing an uncanny knack for being able to track the ball out of the quarterback’s hand and going up to get it at the high point.

Thomas would give the Redskins another red zone threat to compliment Jordan Reed, providing another option is Reed is out (and, let’s face it, he’ll probably miss a few games every year) and to force the defense to make tough choices when both of them are on the field.

Potential issues: Thomas does not have great speed and defensive backs will play tight and challenge him to beat them deep. It will be interesting to see what he runs in the 40-yard dash at the combine, although the numbers on the stop watch won’t influence Scot McCloughan much.

For a big receiver his run blocking leaves something to be desired as well. It’s not like he shies away from contact and he should be able to be coached up here.

Bottom line: The temptation to go for an immediate need in the first round, when the chances of getting a player who can start or at least contribute heavily right away are much better. Wide receiver is a big need for the near future but if everyone stays healthy—and that’s a big if—Thomas would be the fourth receiver. That might make Thomas a better option for the second round.

Will he still be there? With over two months to go until the draft gets underway it’s hard to tell. Right now it seems unlikely that he will last until the 53rd pick. But if he is still there you’d have to think that McCloughan would figure he’s the best player available and put him in burgundy and gold.

Previously in Combine 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!