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Redskins Draft Countdown: Clemson edge defender Vic Beasley

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Clemson edge defender Vic Beasley

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.

Vic Beasley
Edge defender
Clemson

Height: 6-3
Weight: 246
40 time: 4.53 sec.

What they’re saying:
What I liked:  You are looking for pass rushers with explosion who will transform themselves on occasion to an absolutely unstoppable force.  Out of his stance he explodes up field and either goes right around the edge with a blur and the type of body angle that says “edge force” or he sets that up to spin back inside.  He is relentless and he cannot wait to blow up a play.

What I did not like:  It completely starts and stops with the reality that he is 6’3, 235.  Basically, he is the same size and weight as Seattle safety Kam Chancellor.  It means that he would be one of the very smallest edge rushers in the NFL and you would have to know that the second he gets there, opposing teams would run right at him.  He is not stout and he is not going to stand his ground when teams do run at him.
Bob Sturm, Dallas Morning News

How he fits the Redskins: I think that the need for another edge rusher after the departure of Brian Orakpo is pretty well established. Yes, Trent Murphy can start there if you need him to and although he works hard and can be effective he is not the sort of premiere pass rusher you want going after the quarterback’s blindside. Beasley is among a group of players who could fill that role.

Beasley is a playmaker, with 25 sacks and additional 44.5 tackles behind the line of scrimmage. The plan would be to have him and Ryan Kerrigan, who can also be a disruptive force, make for a week of sleepless nights for opposing quarterbacks and offensive coordinators.

Potential issues: As Sturm noted above, Beasley is on the small side. Other than the obvious issues that might create in rushing defense, Scott McCloughan generally prefers bigger players. Compared to the other top prospects at edge rusher the Redskins might be considering with the fifth pick Beasley gives away 15 pounds to Dante Fowler and is almost two inches shorter than Randy Gregory.

It should also be noted that being a bit smaller isn’t necessarily a fatal flaw in McCloughan’s book. “I think it is a big man’s game, but I think it’s a football player’s game. It’s not about the height, weight and speed,” he said as his introductory news conference in January. “It’s about consistency and being a football player every day.”

In other words, McCloughan delivers a slightly more elegant version of the old saying that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog. It’s likely that McCloughan will like Beasley’s fight.

Bottom line: Taking a stab at what might happen in a draft that isn’t for another five and half weeks is risky. But it seems to me that the three things the Redskins are most likely to do with the No. 5 pick are, from most likely to least likely, are draft an edge rusher, trade the pick, or draft a wide receiver. Beasley, Gregory, Fowlers, and Shane Ray will all go under the microscope at Redskins Park.

The odds are that not all four will cut it in the NFL, at least to the extent where using the No. 5 pick was be justified. At the very least McCloughan will have to pick out the player or players who aren’t going to make it and avoid them. If he can pick the best player out of those who remain, that’s a bonus.

So Beasley will get his shot and we will see how it works out for him.

In his own words:

Beasley on where he’ll play in the NFL:
“The majority of the teams are going to want me to play outside linebacker and I’m fine with that . . . Outside linebacker, D-end, I’m willing to play either one. Whatever the team I get picked by and whatever position they want me to play, I’m willing to move wherever they want me to move.”
Previously in Draft Countdown:

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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