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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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Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Accentuating the negative leads to positive results for Chris Thompson

Some NFL players ooze confidence. They thrive on emphasizing what they do well and not speaking about weaknesses. In a game as tough and physical as pro football, some players need to feel bulletproof to survive.

Chris Thompson is not like that. He was one of the stars in the Redskins’ 27-20 win over the Rams on Sunday. He rushed three times for 77 yards and two touchdowns and caught three passes for 29 yards. And while he enjoyed the win, he did not revel in his performance as he made a glaring mistake.

RELATED: JAY GRUDEN NOT INCREASING THOMPSON'S WORKLOAD

In the third quarter, quarterback Kirk Cousins threw him a perfect pass over the middle. The speedy Thompson had nothing but green grass and white stripes in front of him. But he dropped the pass, turning what likely would have been a 62-yard touchdown into an incompletion.

That play stuck with him despite his touchdown runs of 61 and seven yards.

“I’m not going to lie to you,” he said. “On the plane ride, getting dressed after the game, this morning watching film, when I was outside at practice, I was thinking about that one play. My first thing I wanted to do when I got out there in individuals with the quarterbacks was to run that route again and catch the ball.”

FANTASY: TO START CHRIS THOMPSON OR NOT?

Instead of reliving his glory, he went to work to correct one mistake.

This is not a lone instance of Thompson focusing on negative plays that he made. He said that mistakes stick in his mind more than good plays. During a few minutes talking to reporters on Wednesday, he recalled going the wrong way on a choice route against the Dolphins in 2015, costing a possible touchdown, making a similar mistake against the Browns last year, and errors that led to sacks of Cousins last year and of Robert Griffin III a few years ago.

“All of those things that I look back at that I did wrong, it helped me become a better player this year,” said Thompson. “I’ve been able to go back and look at that and see what went wrong and fix it now. As of late as I’ve become more confident in what I’m doing and more confident in my abilities I’m able to play better.”

Whatever Thompson is doing to become a better player is working. He signed a two-year contract extension earlier this month. Jay Gruden sings his praises whenever he’s asked about him. His teammates almost universally admire and respect him. In his fifth NFL season, many analysts around the league are starting to recognize him as a main cog in the Redskins’ offense.

It is unlikely that he will change his approach.

“I had to mess up a lot in order to get where I am now,” he said. Thompson will continue to perfect his game by putting his imperfect moments under the microscope. 

MORE REDSKINS: FIVE UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

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Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

Redskins Playbook: Cousins, Gruden remain quite confident in offense. Maybe they're right

One of the best offenses in 2016, the Redskins early returns so far in 2017 rank somewhere between underwhelming and underachieving. That does not mean good games aren't coming in the future, however, at least according to head coach Jay Gruden and quarterback Kirk Cousins. 

"I would like to think that as the year goes on the offense gets better and better," Cousins said Wednesday. "Hopefully we take those steps going forward and we just hit our stride and play much better than we have the first two weeks."

RELATED: FIVE REDSKINS UNDER PRESSURE VS. RAIDERS

In the first two games of the season, a loss at home to the Eagles in Week 1 and a win in Los Angeles over the Rams, Cousins hasn't played particularly well. Against Philadelphia, he played poorly, accounting for three turnovers and completing just 57 percent of his passes. In LA, he showed progress. No turnovers and his completion percentage jumped up nearly 10 points. 

More importantly, Cousins shined on the final drive of the game, going 3 for 3 and throwing the game-winning touchdown. It was that drive, and a number of near misses in both games, that has Gruden optimistic. 

The coach called the Redskins passing game "very, very close" to hitting on all cylinders.

"There is a lot we can improve on in the passing game, from Kirk to the routes to the protection. It’s a work in progress, but we will get there," Gruden said Monday. "We have total faith that we will get it done and his numbers will get better."

Considered in a certain way, he's right. 

In Week 1, the Redskins offensive line struggled and Cousins was sacked four times. The run game got nothing going, generating just 64 yards on the ground. Cousins was able to throw for 240 yards, and despite all the turnovers, the offense still had a chance to steal a win late in the fourth quarter. 

In Week 2, the Redskins line blocked better and the run game produced at a high level. Cousins' yardage total was quite low, only 179 yards, but a big gainer got dropped and a few other opportunities were missed. 

Cousins supporters will scream about passes being dropped in Weeks 1 and 2. Cousins detractors will scream about passes missed in Weeks 1 and 2.

READ MORE: KIRK COUSINS' HITS AND MISSES FROM WEEK 2

The truth is likely in the middle. There is a solid baseline of production from Cousins from the last two seasons, and clearly Gruden expects that to come. Perhaps Week 3 against Oakland will be the opportunity. 

"We’re just going to keep sticking with the plan, getting these guys open the best way we can and hopefully we give Kirk the protection and he sees the throws and makes the throws," Gruden said. "But we’re right there, really. I like the group that we have."

The 2016 Redskins finished third in the league in total yards gained. Obviously the team lost a ton of production with the exits of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Don't discount that, or the departure of former offensive coordinator Sean McVay. 

Despite all that, Cousins still has weapons. And talent. He knows he can be better, and knows he needs to be better.

"We have still done some really good things the first two weeks and have moved the ball, but I think there is more in the tank there that we have got to bring out,” Cousins said. 

To beat the Raiders, the Redskins will need to bring everything out of the tank. That likely means a 300-yard passing game from Cousins along with multiple touchdowns. 

The quarterback and the coach think the offense is ready, and close to a breakout game. Maybe they're right. 

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