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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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Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

Oddsmakers give Kirk Cousins favorable shot at 2017 NFL MVP

There continues to be a (ridiculous) debate on whether or not Kirk Cousins can continue to be a successful starting quarterback for the Washington Redskins.

In the betting industry, there is not much debate with Cousins being listed with 50/1 odds to win the NFL MVP award this upcoming season from Bovada. Among all the other players listed, he is in a tie for 14th. 

He is coming off back-to-back seasons with seven 300 yard passing games, a team record, and has an abundance of fresh, young wide receivers to compliment his passing style. Last year he was third in the league in passing yards with 4,917, trailing only Drew Brees (5,208) and Matt Ryan (4,944). 

The team may not be poised for a Super Bowl run in 2017-18, but if the team makes a post-season run, who will it be on the back of? Jordan Reed? Rob Kelley? Ryan Kerrigan?

No, it will be Kirk Cousins. 

RELATED: Ex-GM outlines staggering contract for Kirk Cousins

Entering this season at 40-years-old, and defending Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady is the overall favorite at 4/1. He is closely followed by Aaron Rodgers, and young quarterbacks Derek Carr and Dak Prescott. 

BOVADA 2017-18 NFL MVP ODDS:

Tom Brady, NE — 4/1
Aaron Rodgers, GB — 7/1
Derek Carr, OAK — 9/1
Dak Prescott, DAL — 12/1
Ben Roethlisberger, PIT — 12/1
Russell Wilson, SEA — 12/1
Matt Ryan, ATL — 16/1
Ezekiel Elliott, DAL — 20/1
Drew Brees, NO — 25/1
Andrew Luck, IND — 25/1
Cam Newton, CAR — 25/1
David Johnson, ARI — 33/1
Marcus Mariota, TEN — 33/1
Sam Bradford, MIN — 50/1
Antonio Brown, PIT — 50/1
Kirk Cousins, WAS — 50/1
Julio Jones, ATL — 50/1
Eli Manning, NYG — 50/1
Carson Palmer, ARI — 50/1
Adrian Peterson, NO — 50/1
Philip Rivers, LAC — 50/1
Matt Stafford, DET — 50/1
Odell Beckham Jr., NYG — 66/1
Rob Gronkowski, NE — 66/1
Alex Smith, KC — 66/1
Ryan Tannehill, MIA — 66/1
J.J. Watt, HOU — 66/1
Jameis Winston, TB — 66/1
Blake Bortles, JAX — 100/1
Andy Dalton, CIN — 100/1
Joe Flacco, BAL — 100/1
T.Y. Hilton, IND — 100/1
Marshawn Lynch, OAK — 100/1
LeSean McCoy, BUF — 100/1
Von Miller, DEN — 100/1
DeMarco Murray, TEN — 100/1
Carson Wentz, PHL — 100/1

RELATED: After Derek Carr deal, Cousins' best option may be short-term

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True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

True or False: Rob Kelley will be Redskins leading rusher

Robert Kelley emerged as the Redskins top running back in 2016, an incredible story of an undrafted guy working his way to the top. Of course, Matt Jones' problems with fumbling helped push Kelley to the top. 

Redskins coach Jay Gruden speaks highly of Kelley, particularly his fluidity and vision, but the team drafted Samaje Perine in the fourth round this year to provide additional competition in the backfield.

Here's the crucial statement: Rob Kelley will lead the Redskins in rushing yards in 2017.

Finlay: True.

Kelley averaged 4.2 yards-per-carry last season and the Redskins ground game is very much centered on a "4 or more" philosophy. Washington running backs coach Randy Jordan joined the #RedskinsTalk podcast and explained that the team wants a runner it can count on for positive yards more than creating big plays. The Redskins offense, as designed by Gruden, sets up for big plays in the pass game, and the run should allow for proper use of play action. 

In just nine starts last year, Kelley gained more than 700 yards. Project that out over 16 games, and he would be over 1,000 yards rushing. Perine has much to learn about the NFL, and understanding pass protections will take time for the rookie out of Oklahoma. Chris Thompson will be a key part of the offense, but much of his yardage will come via the pass game. 

Kelley will lead this team in rush yards. He's looked great in OTAs and minicamp while the coaching staff believes Kelley is in much better shape this year than he was as a rookie. Write it down in pen. 

RELATED: How will Kelley and Perine share the carries?

Tandler: True.

After the draft and during rookie camp I was saying that there was a chance that Perine could lead the team is rushing this year. But after seeing Perine playing with the big boys in OTAs and minicamp it’s apparent that he has a long way to go to become a consistently productive running back.

One thing Kelley seems to have going in his favor is that he has a very sensible outlook on the NFL. As JP noted, Kelley showed up to Redskins Park in better shape than he did as a rookie. This indicates to me that he understands that being an NFL players is a year-round job. Staying in great shape is important in the league but at running back it’s vital. Kelley gets that and because he does, his chances of being available for 16 games are much higher.

In turn, that improves his chance of being the team’s leading rusher. I’m not sure if he’ll get 1,000 yards—Perine will get things figured out enough to take some carries before the season gets too old—but Gruden will make sure that he gets fed plenty as long as he is available. 

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