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Redskins Draft Countdown: LSU OT La'el Collins

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Redskins Draft Countdown: LSU OT La'el Collins

The NFL Draft is just  five 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.

La’el Collins
Offensive Tackle
LSU

Height: 6-4
Weight: 305
40 time: 5.12 sec.

What they’re saying:
Strengths: Thick through chest and displays upper-body strength. Has strong hands and will snatch and control less active defenders. He takes defenders for a ride once he's engaged on the move. Loves to mash and intimidate opponents. Mean player.

Weaknesses: Fails to consistently bring hips and feet with him through contact in the running game, causing him to fall forward and lose balance. Hand usage is a major concern. Hands will start too low in pass pro at times and has to work hard to redirect. Change of direction is slow for a tackle. Relies on lunging rather than foot movement to counter inside moves.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: If the Redskins trade back in the first round and end up with their top pick somewhere in the teens, they could decide that it’s time to upgrade at right tackle. The position has been in turmoil ever since Jon Jansen’s ability started to go downhill about 10 years ago. Collins could fill the bill on the right side of the line for the next eight to 10 years.

There are two right tackles in Washington now but the fact that the position is still up in the air speaks volumes about how they are viewed. Tom Compton started the last half of the 2014 season and Morgan Moses was a third-round draft pick last year. But the organization was still hot on the trails of right tackles Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, and Bryan Bulaga in the early phases of free agency. The bidding for each of them got too high for the Redskins’ budget but the fact that they were looking is a strong indication that they won’t hesitate to take a tackle if he’s the best available player if they are on the clock with, say, the 12th pick.

Potential issues: He’s a bit on the light side; Scot McCloughan might prefer a tackle that weighs about 20 pounds more. It’s easy to say that Collins could add some weight but he’s already pretty thick in his upper body and those pounds could come at the cost of some quickness.

Collins also doesn’t seem to have the athletic ability to play left tackle. That isn’t relevant right now. But Trent Williams is going into the last year of his contract. While it’s clear that the Redskins would like to have him for the long term, things don’t always work out. If the team is going to spend a top-20 pick on a tackle they may want to get one who can move to the left side if needed. Collins is more likely to move to guard than he is to left tackle.

Bottom line: With talk that the Redskins are very open to trading back from the fifth pick buzzing around at the owners meeting earlier this week, the possibility that their first pick will be back in the teens, maybe even further back, has to be considered. That puts players at positions such as right tackle squarely in play.

Collins will be in the mix with a few other tackles who will be under consideration in the middle of the first round, players like Brandon Scherff of Iowa and Andrus Peat of Stanford. They all have their plusses and minuses and McCloughan’s pick, if he does go in this direction, may come down to factors like the background check and which one never missed a workout.

In his own words:

Collins on his personality and versatility:
“A guy who is extremely confident in his play and ability and ready to come into the NFL and be coached at a very high level. A guy who wants to be the best at the next level and is ready to compete. That’s why I’m looking forward to being here doing all the drills and a couple weeks ago at the Senior Bowl . . . When I started playing football, I started playing defense and made the transition to playing offense in high school. I’ve always had a mentality of a defensive lineman, and I was able to bring that over to the offense, but also bring intelligence over to play offensive line. For me to go out there with that mentality and just get after it is something I bring to the table.”
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!