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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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Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Redskins offseason questions: Can Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out.

That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players. In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

RELATED: #RedskinsTalk podcast: Is Kirk too nice?

Will Kirk Cousins take the next step in 2017?

Finlay: The better question might be what constitutes the next step for Cousins? And going one step further, will it be with the Redskins? Answering the second part first, Cousins will be the 'Skins quarterback in 2017. Taking the next step is trickier, since the passer has thrown for more than 9,000 yards in the last two seasons.

For me, Cousins can still get much better, particularly in the red zone. If the Redskins scored at the same pace they pile up yards, this team would have won 11 games in 2016. 

In 2016, Cousins ranked 3rd in the NFL in passing yards, yet outside of the Top 10 in TDs with 25. To really enter the next phase of his career, Cousins needs to lead an offense that scores more, and that means 30+ touchdowns. He can do it. 

Tandler: I don’t look at the next step for Cousins being about numbers. Sure, maybe he can throw for 5,000 yards and 30-plus touchdowns on year. But being a top quarterback is more than that.

I want to see him go into Seattle next year and rally the Redskins from a 10-point deficit in the fourth quarter. I want to see him go into a playoff game and, unlike what happened against the Packers after the 2015 season, will the team to a win when the Redskins aren’t playing their best and when a QB like Aaron Rodgers is on the other side. I want to see him glare at a lineman who missed an assignment and correct a receiver who went the wrong way on a route.

To be sure, he has led the team to some comeback wins and he has played very well in some key games, like the division-clinching win in Philadelphia in 2015. But a top-flight quarterback can’t essentially negate one of those with a play like the season-ending pick against the Giants. Sure, any quarterback is going to have an off day. But you have to have more pluses than minuses on the ledger.

Cousins has been a starter for just two years so maybe he can develop into a top-shelf quarterback. Putting up good stats is part of the picture but he won’t be there until he elevates and motivates those around him. Maybe he can take that next step but until he does there is no way of knowing if he will. 

More offseason questions: 

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson?

— Will there be a surprise salary cap cut?

— Should the Redskins defense switch to the 4-3?

— Is Spencer Long the answer at center?

— How many D-linemen do the Redskins need?

— Should the Redskins draft another QB? 

— With Sean McVay gone, will the Redskins run the ball more?

— Can Cravens handle the transition to safety? 

— Will the Redskins re-sign Pierre Garçon? 

— Will Rob Kelley be the lead running back in 2017?

— Defense in the first round?

— Will they make a change at left guard?

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTuneshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

Some good news from Redskins Park: Josh Doctson running, catching football (VIDEO)

There hasn't been much good news out of Redskins Park lately, as the team deals with pending free agency for QB Kirk Cousins and others combined with rumors of infighting among the front office. So video of 2016 first round pick Josh Doctson running and cutting comes at a great time for beleaguered 'Skins fans. 

Doctson posted the video to his Snapchat account. When he last spoke after the Washington season ended, Doctson made clear he was feeling much better and that '100 percent health' is his main goal this offseason.

His rookie year, however, was a different matter.

The receiver out of TCU missed all but the first two games of the year. Even in those games, he played a very reduced role. Drafted 22nd overall, he had just two catches all year as an obscure Achilles' injuries landed him on the injured reserve. His plight could not be figured out by a slew of doctors and specialists, and the team finally decided to sit down their prized rookie.

A breakout year in 2017 would serve Jay Gruden's squad well, as the team stands to lose DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon to free agency. It looks likely the 'Skins will lose at least one of their starting WRs, and losing both is a distinct possibility. That could result in more than 2,000 receiving yards leaving the Redskins offense, and the team will need Doctson to pick up a good chunk of that production.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!