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Redskins Draft Countdown: Duke G Laken Tomlinson

laken-tomlinson-head.png

Redskins Draft Countdown: Duke G Laken Tomlinson

The NFL Draft is just over four 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.

Laken Tomlinson
Guard
Duke

What they’re saying:
"Some scouts see upside with him, but I think what you see is what you get. Clunky in a phone-booth type." -- NFL director of scouting "He was really impressive matching up against true power players at the Senior Bowl. He made Danny Shelton quit on a couple of reps when he couldn't get any push against Tomlinson." -- AFC general manager

via NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan are both going to move the Redskins towards more of a power blocking rushing attack, although there will be some zone plays incorporated. Power is what Tomlinson is about so he would be a good fit in that respect.

Last week Gruden talked about the right guard position and he indicated that he was comfortable going into OTAs with Chris Chester, who has been the starter for the last four years, and second-year player Spencer Long. But Chester is 32 and in the last year of his contract and Long is an unknown quantity. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Scot McCloughan draft a big guard and let him and Long battle it out with Chester possibly ending up as a cap casualty.

After this season, one of the younger guards could be a fit on the left side. Shawn Lauvao’s salary jumps up to $4 million per season after this year and the Redskins could go with a younger and cheaper pair of guards in Tomlinson and Long.

Potential issues: Gruden and Callahan aren’t going to go strictly with a power running game; like most NFL teams, they will mix in some zone plays. Tomlinson has issues on the second level so those will need to be worked out.

Bottom line: Tomlinson is one of the sharpest players in the draft. He is on track to graduate with a double major in psychology and evolutionary anthropology. His aspirations to go to medical school and become a surgeon will go on hold for him to pursue an NFL career. There is not doubt he will be impressive in interviews and that is an aspect that McCloughan values highly.

He is projected to be a second round pick and that may be too high for a guard. It’s a pretty strong draft for the offensive line so perhaps the Redskins will look for a guard later. Then again, the strength of the O-line draft may push Tomlinson down in the draft if other teams have the same idea. If he’s on the board when the Redskins pick in the third he could be hard to pass over.

It seems that Tomlinson would be a good fit with the Redskins and we’ll see if he’s on the board where the Redskins might think he’s a good value.

In his own words:

Tomlinson on doing film work:
“I pick up a lot from watching film, especially with a defender, you want to know what technique or what body posture he tends to go to for certain stunts or blitzes. So film work is real important . . . It’s something that over the years has been more and more important. As you play more, you have more of the experience to apply it to the game.”
Previously in Draft Countdown:

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QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

QB run will come at NFL Draft, but when it happens matters most for Redskins

Quarterbacks will come off the board in the first round of the NFL Draft Thursday night. That much is certain. Where those quarterbacks come off the board, however, matters much more for the Redskins. 

Mitchell Trubisky will be the first passer off the board, and depending on the information, he could be drafted as high as the first overall pick, and will certainly go early.

Trubisky, though, seems like the only certainty of a QB going early. Questions plague guys like Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes. Those guys could all go in the first half of the draft, but they could all slide into the 20s as well. 

For Washington, the earlier quarterbacks get drafted the better. It seems highly unlikely the Redskins make a draft day trade of QB Kirk Cousins, limiting hardly any interest in a first-round passer.

The more passers that go before the 'Skins pick at 17 means the more high-quality players slide down the draft board. Look around the internet at lists of the best prospects available. Hardly any signal callers crack the Top 20, but the positional need at QB demands the position be overdrafted.

Though the Burgundy and Gold continue to slow-play contract talks with Cousins, he is under contract for 2017 and the team holds an option for 2018. That means Bruce Allen can sit in his draft room and potentially be a trade partner for a team that wants to land a QB, or just wait patiently and watch as they come off the board and send other desirable prospects closer to 17.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Need to Know: Redskins’ needs line up well with the strength of the draft

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, April 25, one day before the April 27 NFL draft.

Timeline

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 16
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 28
—Training camp starts (7/27) 92
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 137

Wrapping up the Redskins pre-draft presser

We’ve looked at a some of what Redskins college scouting director Scott Campbell said during his pre-draft press conference on Monday, covering possible trades, who makes the final call on those trades, and how the organization handles character issues. Here are a few more bullet points from Campbell’s presser:

—Asked if the Redskins would draft to fill needs or take the best available player, Campbell gave the stock answer. “I guess as you asked the question, you kind of framed it and the way I’m going to frame the answer, and the age-old answer of ‘I’m going to take the best player available,’” he said “And if that serves your needs, that’s a bonus.” So, there you go. That said, don’t be surprised if the best players as defined by the Redskins in the first few also happen have the “bonus” of filling one the team’s top two or three needs.

—The needs could line up well because the strength of the draft as Campbell sees it coincides with side of the ball where the Redskins need the most help. “Well, I’m excited because I think it’s one of the strongest, deepest classes on the defensive side of the ball that I’ve seen,” he said. “I’ve told the guys upstairs I’m excited because we’re going to get better . . . And several different positions – sometimes it’s just maybe defensive line or outside backers or corners. Across the board on defense, I’m really excited about the class and the guys we’re going to bring in are going to help us.”

—The draft board is still used after the draft ends and the scramble for undrafted free agents starts up. “There’s going to be guys left on the bottom of that board that didn’t get drafted that we had rated as draftable,” said Campbell. “So that’s our No. 1 targets. I assign a scout to all the coaches, and really the coaches talk to the players – once the draft ends, let me be clear, it’s after the draft ends when we start making calls – the scouts are on the phone with the agent finding out what our competition is, how much.” Campbell said that money isn’t much of a factor in recruiting the undrafted players; selling opportunity is the key.

—The draft board was influenced by former GM Scot McCloughan but adjustments have been made since he was fired in early March. “Well, he certainly had influence on it because we all met as we always did the last couple of years and every team does. You meet right after the all-star games before you go to the combine and kind of get an initial ranking of how you like the guys. Of course Scot hadn’t been here since, so just like when he was here before, there’s adjustments being made to the board with the new information.”

—The 2016 draft class did not contribute a lot but does not mean that there is more pressure on the organization to do better this year. The pressure is always there regardless. “Always pressure. Every year’s pressure,” said Campbell. “I grew up in an NFL household. My dad was a coach and a player for 40 years. Pressure every year to perform, that’s what the NFL is. You’ve got to perform every year.” His father was Marion Campbell who played in the NFL for eight years and then coached for 21 seasons including stints as the head coach of the Eagles and Falcons.

—Campbell also asked for a little patience with the 2016 draft class, citing a group from a few years ago. “It takes a couple of years to develop a class,” said Campbell. “People are saying the ‘14 class had some success. Well, if I read articles and see what happened and what was said right after that draft, our grades in the mock drafts were not very good. It takes time. Morgan Moses didn’t start his first year, you know, but he’s come on to be one of the best right tackles in the league. That’s my opinion anyway. It takes time to develop. I still think with time, that class [2016] will be just fine.” I guess I buried the lede here—Campbell reads draft grades.

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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