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Redskins Combine Countdown: Syracuse safety Durell Eskridge

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Redskins Combine Countdown: Syracuse safety Durell Eskridge

The NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis in just 9 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.

Durell Eskridge
Safety
Syracuse

Height: 6-3
Weight: 203

What they’re saying
Prototypical frame with broad shoulders and room for additional muscle mass. Balanced, coordinated athlete. Accelerates smoothly and shows above average fluidity when changing directions for a player of his size. Uses his long arms to wrap the legs of ballcarriers and flashes an explosive pop. Good timing and hand-eye coordination.

Rob Rang, CBS Sports

"I haven't seen him do well enough on a game-to-game basis, and I thought another year could have helped him, especially with the safeties that decided to come out . . . With another year, he could've been right up there"

Mel Kiper, ESPN on his decision to come out of Syracuse a year early
How he fits the Redskins: A year ago, Bashaud Breeland decided to come out of Clemson with a year of eligibility left despite the fact that many analysts thought he could have used another year in college. The Redskins took him in the fourth round and he turned out to be one of the few bright spots on defense. Eskridge could be another mid-round steal for the Redskins.

At 6-3 he has the size that Scot McCloughan likes in the secondary although they will have to figure out how much more weight his frame can handle as they will want him to bulk up from his current 203 pounds. If he weighs in at closer to 210 at the combine and is a true 6-3, he could well get serious attention from the Redskins.

McCloughan also could like his background story. Eskridge had an exceptionally rough childhood with his family often homeless. The determination he showed in overcoming those circumstances could serve him well in the NFL.

Potential issues: Eskridge is far from a polished product and the downside, of course, is that he may never put it all together. It seems that at worst he will be a good special teams performer and part-time player on defense. But with a big hole in the back of the defense with no starting-caliber safeties on the roster it would be best for the Redskins if he can find his upside sooner rather than later should they draft him.

Bottom line: His size likely has him somewhere on the Redskins’ radar. If he’s still there when they are on the clock in the third round, Eskridge could well be discussed in the draft room if the intangibles check out. And if he’s still there on Saturday, McCloughan may find him hard to resist.

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.