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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama S Landon Collins

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama S Landon Collins

The NFL Draft is six weeks away and I’ll continue researching the prospects throughout the lead-up to the draft. 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.

Landon Collins
Safety
Alabama

Height: 6-0
Weight: 228
40 time: 4.53 sec.

What they’re saying:

Strengths: Well-built athlete with light feet and fluid hips to change direction quickly. Forceful and reliable open-field tackler who often rips at the ball aggressively as he's taking opponents to the ground. Better working downhill when he can attack the action, but has shown improvement in pass coverage, learning from past mistakes and improving his awareness in the deep half of the field.

Weaknesses: Trusts his eyes and can be deceived with good play-action or by savvy quarterbacks who will look one way and fire the other. Much more effective coming downhill in run support or protecting the middle on crossing routes than with his back turned to the quarterback. Possesses good but not elite speed and doesn't show the burst to recover when beaten initially.

Dane Brugler and Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: Earlier this week I wrote about West Virginia WR Kevin White and said that he could be the big, fast, physical receiver the Redskins haven’t had in, well, forever. Landon Collins could be the smart, physical, aggressive strong safety the Redskins haven’t had in a long time, except for brief stretches when LaRon Landry was healthy. He has the potential to be a very good one.

This is a team that has been unable and/or unwilling to find a permanent, quality solution at either free or strong safety. Certainly the untimely death Sean Taylor was something that couldn’t be anticipated. But seven offseasons have passed since then and the Redskins haven’t come close to replacing Taylor and haven’t found a solid strong safety either.

This is not to say that Collins will be as good a strong safety as Taylor was a free safety. But he could be very good and, barring misfortune, he could be around for a very long time.

Potential issues: He’s a question mark in coverage and he has some technique issues to clean up (as does virtually every player coming out of college). And although he’s not small by any means, Scot McCloughan likely would want a bigger strong safety manning the middle of the field for the better part of the next decade.

But the big issue with Collins is if the Redskins can will the trigger on drafting him.

Under the philosophy of drafting the best available player, which is what Scot McCloughan espouses, it doesn’t look like they will be in a position to take him. Although Collins is a quality prospect, there are other quality prospects at positions of higher value that are likely to be graded higher than Collins.

Suppose the Redskins trade back? They might be able to justify taking him somewhere in the 10-15 range. But he might not make it out of the back end of the top 10, given the shortage of quality safeties both in the draft and currently in the league.

Bottom line: A reach at five and gone at a realistic trade back landing spot. That is the tweener status that is likely to have Collins lining up for a team other than the Redskins this fall.

It should be noted that you never know what will happen in a draft that is six weeks away. Certainly it’s worth monitoring, as it remains unlikely.

In his own words:

Collins on Taylor, who Collins starting watching when Taylor was still in high school.

"I idolized Sean Taylor for his physical play, his passion for the game, you could see it every time he touched the field . . . and I like being physical in the box . . . I've watched YouTubes on him, I've watched everything -- hour-long videos on him, I watched a 30 for 30.”

Previously in Draft Countdown:

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

<<<NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT>>>

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ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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.

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