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Redskins Combine Countdown: Oklahoma NT Jordan Phillips

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Redskins Combine Countdown: Oklahoma NT Jordan Phillips

The NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis in just 4 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.

Jordan Phillips
NT
Oklahoma

Height: 6-6
Weight: 334

What they’re saying:
What I liked: Well, we start with the size.  At that height and weight, he is just not a player you would see line up at nose tackle (0 tech) right over the center in most traditional spots.  He moves well enough laterally and forward to cause some issues in the gaps and can certainly demand double team attention to keep him from ripping into the backfield.  He spins pretty well and also feeds off stunts because the off-center opportunities are seized and he is quick to pop through and make a play against Tennessee.

What I did not like: He just doesn’t move a whole lot on most plays.  In fact, some plays he doesn’t move at all.  Against TCU, his battle with Horned Frogs center Joey Hunt was a real disappointing performance where he was single-teamed a lot and did not cause any real disruptive plays all day.  As the season went along, he was on the ground a bit too much making you wonder if he was at full health as his best football was in September for sure.  For me, I want to know about the production issues.
Bob Strum, Dallas Morning News

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have been using the undersized Barry Cofield at nose tackle since 2011. Cofield is about to turn 31, he has a high cap number and although he may survive this season his replacement needs to be found sooner rather than later. Phillips could be the player to do it.

“Big guys win” according to GM Scot McCloughan and at 6-6, 334 Phillips qualifies. But he’s not just a big body; he has the ability to use his size to great advantage with his quickness. He could at least contribute early if not become the full-time starter by midseason.

Potential issues: As Strum and others have noted, Phillips’ motor is not always running. It may be due to him being a year removed from a back injury that caused him to take a medical redshirt in 2013. Or it could be a case of him being like a lot of big players who just can’t generate the energy to keep their large mass in constant motion. In either case, Scot McCloughan has some investigating to do. The back issues will be examined by doctors in Indianapolis and then again if he is invited to Redskins Park for a visit. McCloughan will talk to a number of coaches, trainers and others in Phillips’ circle about his motivation.

His technique is flawed but that is normal for college players who can physically dominate the player lined up across from them. Coachability will be another aspect of his game that McCloughan will look in to.

As it stands now, the Redskins are not in a good draft spot to land Phillips. Right now it looks like his value is in the latter half of the first round, somewhere in the 20’s. He won’t be the right guy to take with the fifth pick and he could well be gone by the time Washington is up in the second round.

Bottom line: The demand for large, quick nose tackles always exceeds the supply. Phillips and Danny Shelton of Washington are the only two in this draft who are better than long-term projects. That may cause teams to overlook Phillips’ flaws and take a shot that he can hold down the middle.

Perhaps if the Redskins trade back to later in the first round they will take a good look at Phillips. If he is still on the board when the Redskins’ second-round pick rolls around, he may be too much of a value to pass up if his intangibles check out to McCloughan’s standards.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

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Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

Redskins Playbook: After worst to first in 2016, how strong will NFC East be?

When the Redskins won the NFC East in 2015 with a 9-7 record, most critics dismissed the division as weak. That theory was largely proved right when the Redskins got stomped at home in the first round of the playoffs by the Wild Card Green Bay Packers.

In 2016, however, the NFC East largely looked like the best division in football, or at least among the best divisions. Dallas won 13 games and took the NFC East title, the Giants won 11 and took the NFC's top Wild Card spot. The Redskins had a chance to make the playoffs in Week 17, but unceremoniously lost and fell short.

Still, Washington won eight games and Philadelphia won seven. In fact, the NFC East was the only division in the NFL without a team that lost 10 or more games. The AFC West - a division that some would argue was tougher than the NFC East - still had the Chargers and their 5-11 record.

What does it mean for 2017? If anything the only team expected to regress would be the Cowboys, and their regression could easily still have them looking to win around 10 games. 

The Eagles have improved with young, star QB Carson Wentz. New York will be interesting, as they have some age at various spots on their roster but still feature a two-time Super Bowl winning QB in Eli Manning and one of the best defenses in the NFL.

As for Washington? The defense should be much improved. It almost has to be as the 2016 version struggled significantly. If the defense can just be average (and I'd argue it could push for Top 15) the offense should continue to move the ball well. Producing in the red zone needs to look different than last season too.

The NFC East looks like a beast yet again. It would be no surprise if both NFC Wild Cards come from the division.

Let us know what you think in the comments. 

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Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Need to Know:Redskins faced one of the toughest schedules in NFL in 2016

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, May 28, 16 days before the Washington Redskins start their mandatory minicamp on June 13.

Timeline

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/27) 60
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 74
—Season opener Eagles @ Redskins (9/10) 105

Note: I am on vacation this week in the Outer Banks. Need to Know will be a mix of new content and some of the most popular posts of 2017.

Redskins faced one of NFL’s toughest slates in 2016

(originally posted January 28)

As the Redskins came off their 2015 playoff season and looked towards 2016, one thing jumped out. Even before any games were played it looked like their path to a repeat playoff appearance would be difficult, more so than it was when they went 9-7 and took the NFC East title.

The 2015 schedule looked fairly easy when applying the eyeball test. They played just two games against teams that made the playoffs and those teams, the Patriots and Panthers, plus the Jets were the only teams they faced that finished the season with winning records.

The eyeball test was borne out by the numbers. According to the stat gurus at Football Outsiders the Redskins faced the 28th toughest schedule in terms of the DVOA of opposing defenses and the opposing offenses added up to the 24th most difficult.

The going was considerably tougher in 2016. The Redskins played seven games against teams that were in the playoff field. The defenses they faced stacked up as the toughest group of any NFL team. They played nine games against teams that finished in the top 11 in defensive DVOA. The offenses they faced were a little better than average, ranking 13th as a group.

While the Redskins’ season was widely regarded as a disappointment, it would be reasonable to say that given vastly improved quality of the competition that they did well in only having their record drop by half a game.

Of course, the goal is to be good enough to prosper and make the playoffs no matter what mix of teams the luck of the draw happens to put on the schedule. They will need to get there in a hurry. Awaiting the Redskins on their 2017 schedule are seven 2016 playoff teams plus one more that finished the year with a winning record.

The fortunes of NFL teams can’t always be predicted in advance, especially more than seven months before the season kicks off. But it’s safe to say that the 2017 slate will be challenging. If they are going to improve their record they are going to have to improve their level of play dramatically.

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.