The NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis in just 13 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.
What they’re saying
An exceptional talent, boasting a rare combination of size, easy athleticism and raw power to go along with a passion for the game. Possesses a naturally large frame with broad shoulders, long limbs and a trim middle that makes it easy to see why the Trojans have rotated him all over the defensive line.
—Rob Rang and Dane Brugler, CBS
How he fits the Redskins: The team has an aging and expensive defensive line and Williams would be an instant, huge upgrade. From the defensive end position in a 3-4 set he could dominate against the run and the pass. Slide him in at tackle in a 4-3 front and he can collapse the interior. Line him up anywhere along the front in an exotic two-man line and watch him disrupt. And, by the way, he’s just 20 years old. If the Redskins manage to draft him he could still be playing when they move into a new stadium in the late 2020’s.
Potential issues: The biggest issue is that he may not be available when the Redskins draft. Many analysts have him as the top prospect on the board. If the Redskins want him they have to hope for a scenario where QB’s Jameis and Marcus Mariota go in the top five and the other two teams drafting ahead of them need a receiver like Amari Cooper of Alabama or an edge pass rusher like Randy Gregory of Nebraska ahead of Williams.
There are some who say that Williams is best suited to playing in a 4-3 defense. It’s true that at 290 pounds he doesn’t have the ideal weight for a 3-4 linemen. But J. J. Watt weighs in under 300 pounds and he seems to operate fine in the Texans’ 3-4. If I’m McCloughan I tell Joe Barry and defensive line coach Robb Akey to figure out how to make Williams an All-Pro or I’ll find someone who will.
Bottom line: In 2011 the Redskins had a chance to draft J. J. Watt but they traded back instead. If they are on the clock with Williams on the board they should immediately turn in the card with his name on it.
The NFC East was a beast for a while, but in recent weeks, the division is fading. All the teams outside of Dallas lost this weekend, and losing streaks are popping up throughout the I-95 Corridor. Here's the NFC East update:
- The Minnesota Vikings gave the Dallas Cowboys all they could handle last Thursday night, and yet, the Cowboys won 17-15. Dak Prescott was not impressive in Minneapolis, but Ezekiel Elliott was and the Cowboys defense did just enough to slow the Vikings terrible offense. At 11-1, Dallas has clinched a playoff berth, and with a date in New York this Sunday night, Jerry Jones' crew has a chance to avenge their only loss of the year, which came in Week 1 to the Giants.
- It seemed expectations met reality for the New York Giants last Sunday in Pittsburgh. Ben McAdoo's team had won six games in a row, but largely, faced poor competition. In their first tough test since the leaves started falling, Eli Manning's offense could not get going and the Giants fell to 8-4, still in possession of the first NFC Wild Card spot. Even on their win streak, the Giants didn't pass many eye tests. Beat Dallas on Sunday night and all that changes.
- Two weeks ago the Washington Redskins were one of the hottest teams in the NFL. Winners of two straight and with a surging Kirk Cousins, the Redskins marched to Dallas on Thanksgiving and gave the Cowboys a real test. Despite the loss, Washington still held its spot with the second NFC Wild Card. After a deflating loss in Arizona, now the 'Skins are on the outside looking in of the playoffs. Good news for Jay Gruden and company: The team can get right back in the thick of things this week in Philly, and the remaining four-game schedule looks advantageous.
- While the Redskins have lost two in a row and are in danger of falling out of the playoff race, the Philadelphia Eagles have lost three in a row and look to be falling apart. Rookie QB Carson Wentz is devoid of offensive weapons to work with and the Eagles have been outscored 85-42 in their last three games. Philly can get their first NFC East win this week with the 'Skins visiting, but it will take a different effort than they've shown in the last month.
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JP Finlay and Rich Tandler address the most important question for Redskins fans after two straight losses - is it time to freak out?
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