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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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Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Need to Know: Redskins looking for consistency from Preston Smith

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, December 9, two days before the Washington Redskins play the Philadelphia Eagles.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Practice 12:05; Jay Gruden and news conference and open locker room after practice approx. 2:00

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 10; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 15; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 23

Injuries of note vs. Cardinals:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot),
Thursday injury report

Around Redskins Park

—The Redskins’ third-down defense is the worst in the NFL in a long time. They are giving up first downs on 48 percent of opponents’ third downs. Since 2002 only one team, the 2011 Chargers, has been worse over the course of a full season. The Redskins have a chance to improve in the last four games of the season. Their remaining opponents rank 15th, 22nd, 26th, and 27th in converting third downs on offense. So, while the damage is done perhaps they can avoid historically bad territory.

—Perhaps one of the reasons why the Redskins haven’t done well on third down is because Preston Smith, a player they were counting on to generate pass pressure and rack up sacks, isn't getting that done. He has 3.5 sacks on the year, two of them coming into one game. What are they looking for out of Smith? “Consistency is the truest measure of performance,” said defensive coordinator Joe Barry. “You have got to show up every single week . . . Preston is giving great effort, he’s trying. He just has got to show up in the statistic column.”

—Barry was candid in admitting that they were taken by surprise when the Cardinals snapped the ball on the fourth and one play from their own 34 in the fourth quarter. “I think everyone was a little shocked that the ball actually was snapped and they ran a play, but that’s football,” Barry said. The center’s hand is on the ball, ball is ready, the ball can be snapped, we have got to be ready to execute.” Should the season go south from here that play will be remembered as the turning point.

—Although whether or not the season goes south will largely be dependent on the play of Kirk Cousins, he doesn’t think about the pressure. “I just go about my business. I think you take it one game at a time, that’s the best way to manage it, and just enjoy the process,” he said. “We’ll see where we are in a few weeks but I can’t play the game today, I can’t play next week’s game today. All I can do today is prepare and go to practice and have a great practice, and I thought today I had a great practice and that’s a good step.”

—Jay Gruden wants to see the defense improve in two specific areas in addition to third downs. “Turnovers the last couple of weeks and red zone,” he said. “Those are three big time areas of concern . . . We’ve been lacking in all three of those categories of late.” They have had just one takeaway in their last three games and in their last five games teams have punched it into the end zone on 14 of 17 red zone opportunities (82.3%).

Tandler on Instagram

A little more left arm use by Reed on this catch. #Redskins

A video posted by Rich (@richtandler) on

In case you missed it

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Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

Redskins injury report: Three return but still plenty of question marks

The Redskins’ injury report is looking a little better today, three days away from their game against the Eagles. 

DE Chris Baker (ankle), CB Will Blackmon (concussion), T Ty Nsekhe (ankle), C Spencer Long (concussion) didn't practice today. That is a substantial reduction of the number of players who were out of practice on Wednesday.

Going from out yesterday to limited participants today were S Donte Whitner (illness), DE Ricky Jean Francois (knee/foot), and DE Anthony Lanier (leg).

Also limited were TE Derek Carrier (knee), ILB Will Compton (hip), TE Jordan Reed (shoulder), G Brandon Scherff (ankle), and OLB Preston Smith (groin).

A player moving from out of practice to limited is no guarantee that he will be able to participate come Sunday but it’s a step in the right direction.

On area of concern is the offensive line. Three players who started against the Cardinals have not practiced this week. One was Nsekhe and he already was headed to the bench after the return of Trent Williams from suspension.

RELATED: Five Redskins who need to perform vs. Eagles

According to Jay Gruden, the line will have enough bodies even if Long, Nsekhe, and Lauvao are out. Second year guard Arie Kouandjio would start at guard and John Sullivan, who finished up after Long left the game on Sunday, would be the starting center. They could activate Kory Lichtensteiger from injured reserve to back up guard and center and Vinston Painter would be the backup tackle.

It appears that Reed is making progress from the AC joint separation he suffered in his left shoulder on Thanksgiving Day in Dallas.

“He looked good out there today,” said Gruden. “He’s still a little sore. Right now I have absolutely no idea (if he will play).”