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Redskins Draft Countdown: Miami OT Ereck Flowers

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Miami OT Ereck Flowers

The NFL Draft is just 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.

Ereck Flowers
Offensive tackle
Miami (FL)

What they’re saying:

Strengths: Big, athletic frame carrying more than 320 pounds with ease. Ascending mauler in the run game. Bender who is low man off snap and pops hips into block to leverage defender at the point. Combines hips, arm extension and upper-body power to consistently turn his man when base blocking. Once he gets upper hand in run game, he usually sustains and finishes. Secures combo block with a vengeance. Has feet to become solid zone blocker. Mean and highly competitive. Wants to dominate and gets surly when beaten on a snap.

Weaknesses: Pass protection needs plenty of work. Footwork gets sloppy and undisciplined, causing base to narrow. Ducks head into contact and is a leaner in pass pro, creating balance problems. Rarely flat-footed upon initial hand contact. Throws hands rather than firing authoritative punch. Hands ride too high and too wide. Content to become grabby around framework of defender. Flagged for six holding penalties over last two seasons.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: Robert Griffin III recently recounted a conversation he had with Scot McCloughan about the Redskins getting “tough in the trenches”. If that really is their goal they should take a close look at Flowers. I particularly like the parts in the strengths description above where Zierlein talks about Flowers being “mean and highly competitive” and says that “he usually sustains and finishes.” You don’t always find those traits in such big players.

He looks like someone the Redskins could drop in at right tackle opposite Trent Williams and have bookends for the next five years or so. And, although most Redskins fans don’t like to think about this, should Williams depart in free agency after this season, Flowers has the ability to move to left tackle.

Potential issues: His technique is sloppy, particularly in pass protection. It’s odd that he is very light on his feet (at times he moves like someone who is about 30 pounds lighter) but he still has plenty of problems with his footwork.

As we’ve noted here, it’s not unusual for big college players to have some poor fundamentals. They can physically dominate regardless of hand placement or other such technical details. When they get into the NFL and football becomes a full-time job the coaches can work with them to clean up the issues. It will be up to McCloughan to determine if Flowers will be willing to put in the time and if he will be responsive to the coaching.

Flowers also had an oddly ineffective game against Virginia and their edge rusher, Eli Harold. Harold is projected to be a second-round pick so he’s a solid player. But if you have an off day against him you aren’t going to get your quarterback seriously injured. If you have a bad day when Jason Pierre-Paul or J.J. Watt is lined up against you, it could be a different story.

Bottom line: Flowers has visited Redskins Park so there could be some interest there. Earlier in the draft process many projected him to be a second-round pick. But now it looks like he might not last past the middle of the first round. If the Redskins trade back to the middle of the first, Flowers could well be on their radar.

Previously in Draft Countdown:

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Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Need to Know: The best Redskins late-round picks of the last 10 years

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 29, 25 days before the Redskins start OTAs on May 24.

Timeline

At Redskins Park—Fourth through seventh rounds of the NFL draft; conference calls with players selected; Gruden will speak to media shortly after Redskins’ final pick.

Days until:

—Redskins rookie camp (5/12) 13
—Redskins OTAs start (5/24) 25
—Training camp starts (7/27) 89
—Redskins opener vs. Eagles (9/10) 134

The Redskins’ best late-round picks since of the last 10 years

While no aspect of drafting in the NFL is easy, it is much harder to find key contributors on the last day of the draft than it is in the first three rounds. The Redskins will have seven picks in this afternoon's draft to try to find one or two of them. 

Since the 2007 draft the Redskins have taken 56 players from the fourth round on. Of those, 45 played in at least one NFL game but only 12 of them were the Redskins’ primary starter at their positions for at least one season. Here are the five best of those players.

QB Kirk Cousins (round 4, 2012)—He was probably the most controversial pick on this list since the Redskins had just drafted Robert Griffin III a couple of days earlier. History proved Mike Shanahan right.

RB Alfred Morris (6, 2012)—This pick came a few hours after and with much less noise than the Cousins pick did. Many believed that the Redskins were set a running back with Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Morris not only surprised many by making the team but he lined up as the Week 1 starter. He went on to break the team’s single-season rushing record by piling up 1,613 yards rushing.

LB Perry Riley (4, 2010)—He didn’t get into the lineup until midway through his second season. Riley was always solid for four-plus seasons as the starter but never spectacular. The team let him go last year in training camp and he played well for the Raiders after they picked him up.

CB Bashaud Breeland (4, 2014)—Breeland started 15 games as a rookie. At first he was in the slot but after DeAngelo Hall was injured in Week 3, Breeland moved to the outside and he has stayed there ever since. He has seven career interceptions and seven forced fumbles.

WR Jamison Crowder (4, 2015)—At 5-9, many teams thought Crowder was undersized and he didn’t run a great 40 at the combine. But he was big enough and fast enough to break the Redskins rookie record for receptions in a season and then to lead the team in touchdowns with eight last year.

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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Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Jay Gruden squashes perception that Alabama defenders don't produce in NFL

Alabama dominates college football in a way few teams ever have. In the last two seasons, the Crimson Tide has lost just two games, winning one national title and narrowly missing a second.

The strength of 'Bama, year after year, is their defense. Nick Saban coaches it, Nick Saban knows it, and Nick Saban demands the best from his players. 

Oddly, however, a few recent Alabama defenders drafted to the NFL have not produced. Or at least their production did not match their draft status. 

It's not too hard to pick names that fit that perception. Rolando McClain. Terrance Cody. Dre Kirkpatrick. And at running back, Trent Richardson didn't help.

Still, the Redskins invested heavily in the Tide during the 2017 draft. Their top two picks played for Saban's defense last year, and Washington coach Jay Gruden does not buy any part of the perception that 'Bama products regress in the NFL.

"I don’t see any negative whatsoever with them going to Alabama," Gruden said late Friday night.

The 'Skins selected Jonathan Allen in the first round and Ryan Anderson in the second. Both guys started on the Tide's front seven, and both players dominated.

"They come there and they are well coached. Anytime you watch college football, and you watch other defenses, no disrespect, and then you flip on an Alabama game, it’s different," Gruden said. "The speed is different. They are well-coached, they are in their gaps, they play hard, they play physical, and that’s from Week 1 until the end. That has to appeal to you as a coach. They are using their hands, they are physical, they are chasing the ball, they are running to the ball."

The perception, right or wrong, has two main positions. The first is that the Alabama defense looks so good because it is full of five-star recruits. When everyone is good, or great, on the college level, it's hard to truly judge any singular player's game tape. The second is that Saban is so exhausting, so demanding of his players, they arrive to the NFL with too many reps.

For those around the NFL, both theories are laughable. Pro scouts know game tape. How else can they judge a future first rounder when he matches up against a walk-on? And for every alleged 'Bama bust, think about Haha Clinton-Dox or Landon Collins or C.J. Mosley or Dont'a Hightower. 

Might some Tide players get overdrafted because of their success and high profile? That's a different conversation. What's certain is the Redskins are quite confident in both of their Alabama draft picks.

"We know they are both highly intelligent guys. They understand football, understand X’s and O’s and they both play very hard with a high motor and they are well-coached."

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