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Need to Know: Redskins face personnel turnover on special teams

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Need to Know: Redskins face personnel turnover on special teams

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 6, 22 days before the NFL Draft.

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game 87 days ago. It will be about 158 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins offseason workouts start 12; 2016 NFL draft 22; Redskins training camp starts 113

Hot topic

The Redskins took a major leap forward in special teams last year. They went from near the bottom in one of the most respected rankings in 2014 into the middle of the pack last year. Like the other units on the team they want to keep improving the kicking game. But due to personnel losses it may be hard to do that.

The two players who led the team in special teams snaps, Darrell Young and Jeron Johnson, will not be back. Kyshoen Jarrett, who averaged 10 special teams snaps per game, is a question mark after suffering an injury that affects strength in his arm. Derek Carrier (103 special teams snaps) also is an injury question mark and Dashon Goldson (109) and Trenton Robinson (99) are not currently on the roster.

These players will be replaced. The team signed David Bruton and Terrance Garvin with the idea that they will play a lot of special teams. Nile Paul, a key contributor since he was drafted in 2011, is returning after missing all of last year with an injury. Others, like Deshazor Everett, will have to step up from minor special teams roles into major ones.

But you never know how changes like this are going to work out. It will be up to Ben Kotwica to make sure that the new players learn the system and buy into it.

Fan question of the day

Today's question is from the Real Redskins Facebook page.

I like it when someone gets right to the point with a question.

The right to the point answer is, there isn’t a whole lot of it. But they may have enough of it on the team right now.

Last year they went with two reserves at tackle, Ty Nsekhe and Tom Compton. The former is still under contract, the latter left as a free agent and joined Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta.

Nsekhe played both left and right tackle last year, filling in when Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, respectively, were sidelined with injuries. He could be the swing tackle again this year and back up both sides. Most of Compton’s snaps came as an additional blocking tight end.

Many teams go with one swing tackle on the roster. If the Redskins want another one, they could look either to the veteran free agent market or perhaps to their practice squad. Takoby Cofield was undrafted out of Duke a year ago but the Redskins paid him the largest allowable signing bonus to sign with them. He spent 2015 on the practice squad and he may be ready to step into a backup role this year.

(Hit me up on Twitter with #NTK @Rich_TandlerCSN or here in the comments to submit a question)

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Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Bucs QB Jameis Winston wants DeSean Jackson in Tampa

Plenty of teams will line up for the services of soon to be free agent DeSean Jackson, but Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston made clear he wants D-Jax with the Bucs. 

"You better believe we want DeSean here," Winston told the the Tampa Bay Times. "I think he would be a great asset to our team. Me growing up an Eagles fan, seeing what he did for the Eagles and back in his Cal days and even with the Redskins, I would love to have DeSean."

Jackson has been clear he looks forward to the free agent process. He's only hit the open market once, and that was under inauspicious terms. The Eagles released Jackson well past the start of free agency in 2014, and the Redskins moved quickly to sign the speedster. 

In three seasons with the 'Skins, Jackson has been a solid teammate and strong player. In 37 starts for the Burgundy and Gold, Jackson has more than 2,700 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. 

RELATED: DeSean Jackson wants to play for an elite QB

With elite speed and arguably the NFL's best ball tracker, Jackson makes sense for a lot of teams. Tampa, in particular, could use a deep threat to play alongside Mike Evans. Teamed with Winston, who has a strong arm and loves to go deep, the Bucs offense would be formidable. 

That does not mean Tampa is a sure thing.

While ESPN's Josina Anderson reported the Bucs could be a  "possible destination" for Jackson, Philadelphia has long been rumored to want him back. His old coach Andy Reid is in Kansas City. Former 'Skins offensive coordinator Sean McVay is now running the show in LA. For a player like Jackson, just about any potential destination could make sense. 

Like it almost always is in NFL free agency, guaranteed money will be a major factor in DeSean's decision. At 30 year's old and with a game reliant on speed and quickness, this could be the last big contract of Jackson's career. Odds are he will land a big deal, and the team with the biggest bag of cash may prove the most tempting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Redskins draft countdown: Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell

Redskins draft countdown: Michigan State defensive lineman Malik McDowell

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 63 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 they might fit in Washington.

Malik McDowell
Defensive line
Michigan State

Height: 6-6
Weight: 276
40-yard dash: TBD

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Slippery and long. Combination of arm length and flexible torso allow him to slither into gaps and create disruptions for blockers. Freaky combination of size and athleticism. Can overwhelm blockers with pure strength and explosiveness when his feet are right. Strong enough in lower half to play through contact and cause stress in the pocket. Has tremendous amount of untapped potential waiting to be unlocked.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: If you’re reading this, you know that the 2016 Redskins’ defensive line was manned by one pretty good player in Chris Baker and a cast of journeymen and youngsters with some potential but little immediate production. They need to add at least one top-flight D-lineman in the draft and McDowell could be the guy.

If you are spending a top draft pick on a D-lineman you want one who can be an asset against the run and be able to rush the passer. McDowell’s profile fits that job description. He could defend the run as an end in the base 3-4 defense and kick inside to provide pass rush up the middle in nickel situations.

McDowell is generally rated behind Jonathan Allen of Alabama and Caleb Brantley of Florida among interior defensive line prospects. Allen and Brantley are likely to be gone by the time the Redskins pick at No. 17 but McDowell should be there as an option.

MORE REDSKINS: Will Chris Baker be back in 2017?

Potential issues: His production was inconsistent and his technique needs a lot of work. The fact of the matter is, I can probably copy and paste that sentence into the write up of virtually any defensive lineman in the draft. The college linemen who are NFL prospects are generally just bigger and stronger than the players trying to block him.

A look of some plays in the Spartans’ game against Notre Dame shows McDowell’s inconsistency. At times, he can’t disengage from a single blocker and a few plays later he was able skirt around three blockers and make a tackle for a loss. He also was good at getting push upfield when he rushed the passer but too often the pressure was not in the direction of the quarterback.

McDowell also had some issues with major penalties. He drew an unsportsmanlike conduct flag in the Notre Dame game, although the film didn’t show what he did to earn it. Later in the year he was tossed from a game against Indiana, a game his team lost in overtime. Since the ejection came in the second half, he had to sit out the first half of Michigan State’s next game.  

Bottom line: Interviews with his coaches, MSU weight room staff, etc., will be keys in the evaluation of McDowell. If the Redskins try to teach him the proper fundamentals of line play will he absorb it? Will consistency come with maturity (he will be 20 on draft day)?

It seems like a good fit as if McDowell is believed to be coachable he may be the best player available at No. 17 and even if the Redskins manage to retain Chris Baker and sign another veteran or two the position will need an infusion of youth. We will see if it works out

Previously in Redskins draft countdown: