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Redskins Combine Countdown: Nebraska DE Randy Gregory

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Redskins Combine Countdown: Nebraska DE Randy Gregory

The NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis in just 6 days. I will be there and in between now and then I’ll be doing a lot of work getting up to speed on the draft class of 2015. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.

Randy Gregory
OLB
Nebraska

Height: 6-5
Weight: 242

What they’re saying:
What I liked: He is clearly a sight to behold with very long arms and a slender build that makes you think Aldon Smith as a possibility on the edge just ruining plays. He can be a very active pass rush guy and when he sees something in front of him, he has this explosive gear that is uncommon. They also try to move him around and he can either stand or put his hand down and has some Clay Matthews explosion and versatility from all sorts of spots.

What I did not like: I really look for a high motor in my front 7 defensive players . . . We will trade motor for ability to a certain point, but for the most part, I need a guy that is always chasing. I did not see that consistently from Gregory. Some weeks, every play looked important. Other weeks, it did not.
Bob Strum, Dallas Morning News

How he fits the Redskins: Although the Redskins do have Ryan Kerrigan on one side of the line they could use a premiere pass rusher on the other side. They had 36 sacks in 2014 and 10 of them came in one game. If you throw out the Week 2 game against the lowly Jaguars they averaged just 1.6 sacks per game, well below the NFL average of 2.4 per team per game.

Getting Gregory, who said that he prefers to play standing up despite the fact that he played with his hand in the dirt most of the time in Nebraska’s 4-3 scheme, would allow the Redskins to utilize Trent Murphy in nickel situations.

In the mock draft that Mel Kiper released on Wednesday, he had Gregory going to the Redskins with the fifth pick in the draft. Kiper apparently is on board with the notion of the Redskins taking a pass rusher with their top pick. It may be a matter of choosing which of a few different prospects to take and Gregory certainly is in the mix.

The Redskins would want him to put on some weight to play the outside linebacker spot for them. Gregory said that he played at around 250 pounds at Nebraska and that he could get up to 270 if that’s what a team wanted. If he becomes a Redskin Jay Gruden and Joe Barry probably would be happy with him somewhere in the 250-260 range.

Potential issues: There are a few red flags with Gregory. One is the lack of a high motor that Strum talks about above. He also admitted that he got a case of “senioritis” his last year in high school, costing him his scholarship at Purdue. These certainly aren’t major issues but Scot McCloughan might look at them and question how much Gregory loves football.

There also has to be concern about the drop he had in production between his sophomore and junior years. Gregory went from 10.5 sacks and 19 tackles for loss two years ago to seven and 10, respectively, last year. He said that it was because teams focused on stopping him more and the added attention given to him opened things up for his teammates. That is a claim that McCloughan will examine very closely on film.

On the injury front, he suffered a broken fibula just before what would have been his second season at Arizona Western Community College. That will be examined thoroughly by doctors in Indianapolis and possibly again when he visits teams in the spring.

Bottom line: There is a long way to go until the April 30 draft. McCloughan will put pass rushers Gregory, Shane Ray of Missouri, and Dante Fowler of Florida under the microscope between now and then and there is a chance he’ll take one of them. In his better moments Gregory has the ability to be worth the No. 5 pick. It could come down to a matter of McCloughan deciding if the team can correct some of Gregory’s issues or live with them.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

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A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

A Redskin fan's guide to the NFL Draft Combine

This week in Indianapolis the NFL world will converge at the Scouting Combine to watch college football players work out, sprint and lift weights in anticipation of the upcoming draft. For the Redskins front office, this draft needs to be a win.

The 2016 Draft could still yield strong results for Washington, but overall the class did not play particularly well as rookies. This year, Scot McCloughan has nine picks at his disposal, with the extra picks late in the draft in the fourth, fifth and sixth rounds.

It's no secret that the 'Skins need help along the defensive line, a lot of help. That should be a major area of focus for the Redskins scouts and coaches, and that will make next Sunday arguably the most important of the week in Indianapolis. 

The combine divides players into 11 position groups, but Groups 7, 8 and 9 will matter most. Groups 7 and 8 represent defensive linemen and 9 are the linebackers. That group officially arrives on Thursday but won't work out on the field until Sunday. The days in between include interviews, psychological testing and the bench press.

Obviously the Redskins won't spend all nine picks on only defensive linemen. The team will likely invest in the offensive line as well, and that group will arrive earlier in the week and work out on Friday. Cornerbacks and safeties are the last to work out on Monday, March 6. 

With the likely departure of at least one of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon, and the possible departure of both, it would make sense for the 'Skins to bring in another receiver via the draft. They work out on Saturday, and should the Redskins decide to take a quarterback in the draft, the passers will work out that day too. 

Running back could be another spot the 'Skins invest. Jay Gruden said that Robert Kelley is locked into the RB1 role, but still the team might want increased competition at the position. The backs will work out Friday.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

Why won’t Redskins brass talk to the media at the NFL Combine?

The NFL has released the official schedule of when NFL coaches and executives will take the podium and address the media at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis. You can find it right here but I’ll save you a click—nobody from the Redskins is scheduled to talk.

NFL teams are not required to have a representative speak at the combine but most do. This year only the Saints and Patriots are joining the Redskins in avoiding the media.

Bill Belichick never talks at the combine and I believe that the Saints have bypassed the opportunity to do so in the past. However, the Redskins head coach traditionally has gone to the podium in the past. Joe Gibbs spoke when he was in his second stint as the head coach. Mike Shanahan, as tight lipped as anyone, met with the press in Indy each of his four years as head coach. Jay Gruden has spoken during each of the three years that he has been head coach.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 3.0

And last year Scot McCloughan held a small media gaggle with local reporters in his hotel in Indianapolis.

This year the Redskins are going somewhat dark. McCloughan did not speak to reporters at the Senior Bowl (Gruden held a brief availability in Mobile), a departure from his first two years with the team. And now no Redskins representatives at the combine.

One of the problems with changing what has been a longstanding practice and going into radio silence is that it leaves people speculating. If the team doesn’t want to put any information out there that is the organization’s option. But if you choose not to fill in the blanks, the fans and media will.

So why aren’t they talking? The best bet is that they are in a delicate stage when it comes to dealing with the future of quarterback Kirk Cousins. He is a pending free agent who is likely to be hit with the franchise tag on Wednesday, the day before the combine starts. At that point, the clock will be ticking on Cousins either signing a long-term contract or getting traded to a team that is willing to meet his asking price. It’s my guess that Jay Gruden does not want to face questions about Cousins’ future.

More Redskins: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice for his own good?

Gruden is not a very good liar; his poker face needs a lot of work. Perhaps that is a good quality for a human being but not a very good attribute for someone who would need to go out and talk about Cousins as the long-term quarterback for the team, or at least the QB for the coming season, when his status may be very much in doubt.

This is not to say that there is definitely going to be a trade of Cousins worked out at the combine. But it is very possible that a deal will be discussed with Kyle Shanahan and the 49ers and any number of other quarterback-needy teams. And perhaps there is concern that Gruden will let something slip or, more likely, say a lot on the subject of Cousins by not saying anything.

Again, this is just reading the tea leaves on my part. But by going silent the Redskins are sending an invitation for people to fill in the blanks. I am just taking them up on it.

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.