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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama WR Amari Cooper

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Alabama WR Amari Cooper

The NFL Draft is just over a week 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.

Amari Cooper
Wide receiver
Alabama

What they’re saying:
What I liked: This shouldn’t take too long.  He is fantastic in almost every regard.  He has tremendous hands and long speed that puts him in a class of receivers that can run the entire route tree from just about any spot.  He is great as an outside threat with comebacks and crosses and go-routes, but from the slot, he is a real strong, underneath threat as well.

What I did not like: Like everyone, I have to wonder why the drops occur when they do. He has great hands and technique most of the time, but perhaps from sheer volume or a lack of concentration he sometimes loses sight of the ball.  Also, he doesn’t always appear convicted about blocking.
Bob Sturm, Dallasnews.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins would be fine without adding a wide receiver this year but the draft is about the future and they will be in need of a top wide receiver very soon. DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon will carry cap hits totaling nearly $20 million next year and both will turn 30. Andre Roberts is younger but his cap number jumps up to $5 million next year, a number that makes him of questionable value given his mediocre production.

Amari Cooper would be an instant help to Robert Griffin III or whoever is playing quarterback for the Redskins. The fact that he’s a sharp route runner already—that’s a skill that a rookie receiver doesn’t always have—will let Griffin operate knowing that Cooper is where he is supposed to be. As Griffin works on his game he would have a friend in Cooper. With Cooper, Jackson, and Garçon in the lineup, if Griffin doesn't make it, it won't be because he had no weapons to work with.

Cooper is used to playing with a QB who is a work in progress. He caught 109 passes last year with Blake Sims as his quarterback.

Potential issues: I think we should dispose of the knock that Cooper has too many drops. Yes, he dropped eight passes in 2014 according to the guys at CollegeFootballFocus.com. You read some analysts who have watched him and you'd think he is a modern-day version of Rod Gardner, a former first-round pick of the Redskins who was nicknamed 50-50 because it seemed that those were the odds that he would hang on to a pass that hit him in the hands. But CGG also counted 174 targets for him, a huge number, making his drop rate 6.1 percent. That’s higher than you want ideally but it’s not awful by any means.

As Sturm noted, Cooper does not seem to be very enthusiastic about blocking at times. However, when he is at the point of attack he does an adequate job. There should be time to coach him up on this since so many other parts of his game seem to be NFL ready.

Bottom line: Let’s say that the two quarterbacks go 1-2 in the draft and Dante Fowler Jr. and Leonard Williams are taken next. That would mean the top two defensive players are gone and Cooper and West Virginia receiver Kevin White are still on the board. Does McCloughan go with the polished Cooper, perhaps the most NFL-ready prospect in the draft? Or does he turn in a card for White, who is not nearly as polished but a couple of inches taller, a step faster and the more physical of the two.

To put it in simplistic terms, White appears to have a very high ceiling but also a low floor. There is little chance that Cooper will bust but he may never be an All-Pro, dominant receiver. Does McCloughan take a chance on greatness? Or will he take the player who appears to be more of a sure thing (with the caveat that there really are no sure things in the NFL draft)?

In his own words:

Cooper on what he thinks he can do better:
I think I can be more consistent in everything that I do. There were definitely times when I didn't look the ball all the way through when I should've, which could've propelled me from maybe 200 yards to probably whatever that catch may have been. There were definitely times when I could've high-pointed the ball, and again could've made my numbers look better.
Previously in Draft Countdown:

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Need to Know: The 2017 Redskins—5 reasons for optimism

Need to Know: The 2017 Redskins—5 reasons for optimism

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, August 22, 11 days before the Washington Redskins cut their roster to 53 on September 2.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 233 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 19 days.

Today’s schedule: Off day

Days until:

—Preseason national TV vs. Bengals (8/27) 5
—Redskins @ Rams (9/17) 26
—Sunday night Raiders @ Redskins (9/24) 33

5 reasons for optimism

Here are five reasons to be optimistic that the Redskins’ 2017 season will be successful. Tomorrow, the other side of the coin.

All starters will be healthy—They still must navigate that third preseason game but assuming they are able to do that they will field 22 of the 22 starters they have planned on since after the draft if the timetable for Spencer Long’s return from a knee scope is accurate. Except for Trent Murphy, all key reserves should be good to go. An NFL season consists of four months of attrition and starting with a nearly full complement of players is a solid advantage.

Depth—The depth is not across the board (as you’ll see in the 5 concerns post tomorrow) but at most positions, if someone gets injured the Redskins can insert an NFL-caliber player in his place. Of course, there will be a drop-off in talent at most places but that is to be expected. They should be able to survive a reasonable amount of the above-mentioned attrition.

Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson—It seems that everywhere I look someone is saying the Redskins are going to go 5-11 because they lost DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. And while it would be foolish to say that Pryor and Doctson are just as good, both are large, talented receivers who will be productive in Jay Gruden’s offense. They will bring strengths (red zone, third and five) that one or both of the departed receivers lacked. There may be a drop-off but it won’t be huge.

Jonathan Allen and Zach Brown—I lump the defensive end and inside linebacker together because they bring an element of speed and athleticism at their positions that the defense hasn’t had in a while. Both can go sideline to sideline and both play tough inside. Brown went to the Pro Bowl last year and Allen could develop and become the Redskins’ first Pro Bowl interior defensive lineman since Dave Butz in 1983.

Pass protection—Yes, there is concern over the offensive line’s performance in the running game. But the pass blocking looks solid, just as it has for the past two years. Between their abilities and Kirk Cousins’ knack for getting rid of the ball quickly, the Redskins again should be in the top five in the league in sacks allowed.

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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Redskins struggling O-line takes hit as Spencer Long gets knee scope, per report

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USA Today Sports

Redskins struggling O-line takes hit as Spencer Long gets knee scope, per report

The Redskins offensive line struggled through the first two games of the 2017 preseason, and more bad news arrived Monday night when CBS Sports reported that center Spencer Long underwent a knee scope and is expected to miss the next two weeks.

Long moved to center last season when Kory Lichtensteiger got injured, and the results were solid. In 2015, Long started a number of games at left guard, but at center in 2016, he seemed a natural fit as a leader and a quick learner calling the Redskins protections. 

With Long expected to miss some time, rookie Chase Roullier will take over the top center job. Rouillier played center his senior season at Wyoming and earned All Mountain West honors. At 6-foot-4 and 312 lbs., Roullier has comparable size to Long, who goes 6-foot-5 and 320 lbs. Both players also played some guard in college. 

Washington coach Jay Gruden has repeatedly talked about the importance of a backup center, and with Roullier now moved to the top line, expect the Redskins to move quick to bring a veteran in for depth. This will make sorting out the offensive line roster even murkier as the Redskins approach roster cuts after their fourth preseason game. 

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