Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 31, 97 days before the NFL Draft.
As you read here yesterday, the Redskins have a huge hole in the middle of their defense now that it’s been determined that Brandon Meriweather is going to be a free agent. They will need immediate help and last week we looked at some free agents they could sign. Here are some who they could look at in the NFL draft.
1. Jimmie Ward, Northern Illinois—Tarik did a profile of him during the Senior Bowl. He picked off seven passes for the Huskies and defended another 14. Ward has solid coverage skills but like most safeties coming out of college he’ll have to prove that his tackling is good enough for the NFL. (Projected round 2-3)
2. Vinnie Sunseri, Alabama—You always have to wonder about damaged goods and Sunseri qualifies as such after he suffered a torn ACL in October. Most thought he would come back to the Crimson Tide to boost his draft stock. If the Redskins are in a gambling frame of mind they could go for the 6-0, 210 prospect. He could well be available when the Redskins pick in the fourth or maybe even fifth round. (Projected round 5)
3. Ed Reynolds, Stanford—According to Rob Rang’s scouting report he “understand his role as the last line of defense”, “takes excellent angles” and is a “reliable open-field tackler”. In other words, he could be better than any safety the Redskins employed in 2013 right off the bat. (Projected round 2)
4. Terrence Brooks, Florida State—He’s a touch short at 5-11 but he has 30-inch arms to compensate. A former cornerback who is tough and aggressive and is another one who needs to sharpen his tackling technique. Brooks was often overshadowed on FSU’s undefeated team but he can make plays both near the line of scrimmage and back deep in coverage. (Projected round 4)
5. Deone Bucannon, Washington—Here’s your big, “Legion of Boom” guy at safety. Bucannon carries 215 pounds very well on his 6-1 frame. Rang said that he delivers “bone-rattling hits” and has a knack for big plays and turnovers. (Projected round 2-3)
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—It’s been 33 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be about 219 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 19; NFL Free agency starts 39; Offseason workouts start 66; NFL Draft 97
In case you missed it
Tandler on Redskins Nation
As should be expected when a team goes 8-7-1, there were plenty of good moments and a lot of frustrating times during the Redskins’ 2016 season. Over the next couple of weeks, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will take detailed looks at the 10 best plays of 2016 and, to present a more complete picture of the season, the 10 worst.
No. 6 worst play of 2016
Redskins at Cardinals Week 13
3:47 left in Q4, Cardinals ball at their own 34, 4th and 1, Cardinals leading 24-23
David Johnson up the middle to ARZ 48 for 14 yards (Josh Norman).
Related: A team to watch in the Cousins situation
Tandler: What's worse than a punch in the gut? A gut punch you don't see coming. The Redskins had pulled to within a point with plenty of time left to get a winning score—if the defense could get a stop. When Bruce Arians sent out his offense on fourth and one, the Redskins had to watch for Carson Palmer to try to draw them offside. In fact, Joe Barry told the Redskins not to expect a snap and to be sure not the jump. But they did snap the ball and Johnson ran for the easiest 14 yards up the gut you’ll ever see. The air was out of the Redskins’ comeback balloon and Palmer all but put it away a few plays later with a 42-yard TD pass to J.J. Nelson.
More Redskins: Will the first round fall into place?
Finlay: This is not the first 4th Down conversion on our list of bad plays, but perhaps the most important one. Washington desperately needed this stop, and the defense thought they had it on the 3rd down play prior. Only Arians did not flinch about going for it, much to Barry's surprise, and the 'Skins D had no shot at Johnson. This play illustrated the weakness of Washington's defensive front perhaps better than any other run all season.
10 best plays countdown
10 worst plays countdown
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Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN 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!
Kirk Cousins' price tag just moved even higher with the news that he will replace Matt Ryan in the Pro Bowl. ESPN's John Keim reported the roster move first.
Ryan's Atlanta Falcons advanced to the Super Bowl on Sunday with a 44-21 dismantling of the Green Bay Packers. That victory means Ryan will not be available for the Pro Bowl, held this Sunday in Orlando. Cousins got his spot as an alternate.
Cousins gets the spot deservedly. This season he passed for 4,917 yards, completing 67 percent of his passes and throwing 25 TDs to 12 INTs. In two seasons since being named starter for the Redskins, Cousins has thrown for more than 9,000 yards.
The Pro Bowl nod for Cousins will only make the Redskins pending contract talks that much tougher. The quarterback played in 2016 under the franchise tag, which netted him nearly $20 million. This season Washington could again place Cousins on the franchise tag, with a price tag around $24 million. Both sides can still work for a long-term deal, though the value of that contract would likely soar past $100 million and closer to $120 million.
Some questions exist within the Redskins organization if that is too much money devoted to one player, even if it is a Pro Bowl quarterback.
It's fitting that Cousins is subbing in for Ryan, who has found much success playing under Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan. All signs points to Shanahan taking over as the 49ers head coach after the Super Bowl, and a report emerged that San Francisco would make a strong push to obtain Cousins, either in free agency or via trade.
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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!