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Redskins draft countdown: Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey

Redskins draft countdown: Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 17 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins will select to wear the burgundy and gold. Between now and the draft we’ll look at some of the players who might be of interest to the Redskins and discuss how they might fit in Washington.

I am not a scout but I will pass along my observations from watching some game tape of each of the players profiled here.

Christian McCaffrey

Running back
Stanford

Height: 5-11
Weight: 202
40-yard dash: 4.48

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Smooth, controlled stride length with choppy feet for instant cuts and change of direction. Plus vision with above average anticipatory feel for opening creases. Hugs contours of the running lane and staggers and stutters his feet to maneuver in tight quarters. Protects football while running through traffic. Reads keys quickly on stretch plays.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have given their defense a boost in free agency with some free agent acquisitions and the move of Su’a Cravens to safety. The offense, however, was hit by the free agency losses of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. They could make up for some of the lost production with the addition of a back like McCaffrey.

Rob Kelley can get you 1,000 yards on the ground but that may be his ceiling. He can be effective but not one of the centerpieces of an NFL offense. With his speed and elusiveness, McCaffrey can. And if Kirk Cousins is going to be gone in a year—and despite what many fans want to believe that seems to be more of a probability than a possibility—the Redskins will need to have someone to feature offensively.

His versatility is key. He’s not going to be able to carry 25 times a game consistently but nobody does these days. Ezekiel Elliott led the NFL in carries with 20 per game. An average of 16 carries per game gets a player in the top 10 in rushing attempts. So while there may be concern that McCaffrey can’t be a workhorse back, there is really is no such animal in the modern NFL.

Film review (2016 unless indicated): vs. USC, vs. Arizona

McCaffrey fumbled just three times in his three college seasons and one of them came early in this game against USC. It was a careless type of fumble as he didn’t have the ball secured as he was going to the ground. Later in the first half he made a nice stutter step to get wide open but the quarterback overthrew him.

McCaffrey was effective lined up next to the quarterback in the shotgun and in the I-formation and as a single back with the QB behind center. A few times he took a direct shotgun snap and gained yardage. He can find running room between the tackles as well as outside. In one goal to go series against Southern Cal he ran three straight times out of a four-point stance and pounded in for the touchdown on fourth and one. McCaffrey can play like a small back when the situation calls for it but he can be just as effective as a bigger back when needed.

McCaffrey is a matchup nightmare against a linebacker trying to cover him coming out of the backfield. He just needs a step and he turn a short catch into an explosive play.

His outside runs are nice but his runs between the tackles, as he reads his blocks and pick his way through traffic, are the most fun to watch. He is able to break tackles not because he powers through them but because the defenders rarely get a clean shot at him.

McCaffrey isn’t asked to pass protect much and he has a tendency to dive at the pass rushers legs. He’ll need some coaching up in the NFL.

Potential issues: There must be some concern about his size even though he was pretty durable in college, missing only a few games besides the bowl game he famously decided to sit out. It’s one thing lasting at 5-11, 202 in college; he will be pounded more in the NFL.

And he has already taken some pounding. In the last two years he has 590 rushing attempts and 82 receptions. That’s a lot of punishment and it would be a concern even with a larger back.

Then there is the question of if running back would be the best use of the Redskins’ No. 17 pick. While they have upgraded the defense, they could always use more help there. And even though Jay Gruden has said that he loves Rob Kelley if they do want to upgrade there will be plenty of quality backs available later in the draft.

Bottom line: Bruce Allen has said that the Redskins will take the player on the board who has the best grade. It’s quite possible that there won’t be a defensive lineman, inside linebacker, or even a guard on the board with a better grade than McCaffrey. For that matter, it’s not a given that McCaffrey will be there.

But if he is, he might be too good to pass up. The defense might have plenty of time to rest up if McCaffrey is added to what could be a potent passing attack.

In his own words:

When asked about his position flexibility:

Something I really pride myself on is not just being a running back that can catch the ball but if I move out to the slot, I become a receiver. If I move out to X or Z, I become a receiver and not just a running back. I really try to pride myself on route running, catching and being able to be a mismatch anywhere on the field.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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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Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

Redskins Week 3 injury report: Five are listed as questionable

The Redskins had a tough, physical game against the Rams last Sunday and it shows on the team’s injury report. Five players are listed as questionable for the coming game against the Raiders at FedEx Field.

TE Jordan Reed (chest), RB Rob Kelley (ribs), ILB Mason Foster (shoulder), S Montae Nicholson (shoulder), and CB Josh Norman (shoulder) are the players who are questionable.

RELATED: MUST-SEE PHOTOS FROM REDSKINS' WIN IN LA

Of those players, Reed was the only one to miss a practice this week. He was out on Wednesday and was back on a limited basis on Thursday and Friday. The Pro Bowl tight end told reporters in the locker room that he will be in the lineup on Sunday.

There is particular concern about Kelley’s injury. He is likely to start as he usually does. But CSN is reporting that the team will have four running backs on the game day active list instead of the three they went with in Weeks 1 and 2. Mack Brown will dress for the Redskins after being inactive in both previous games.

MORE REDSKINS: A STRONG START FOR SMITH BUT MORE IS NEEDED

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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Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

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USA TODAY Sports

Pierre Garcon was fantastic vs. the Rams, but don't lament his departure just yet

Thursday night's Rams-49ers game was surprisingly fun. It was also unofficially the Check Out All These Ex-Redskins Now Playing or Working in California Bowl.

Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, two former Washington offensive coordinators, are now in charge of the two teams. Old 'Skins like Aldrick Robinson, Derek Carrier and John Sullivan, meanwhile, were a part of the on-field action.

It was Pierre Garçon, though, who pushed Burgundy and Gold fans to take their phones out of their pocket and pen sad tweets. That's because the 31-year-old wideout caught seven Brian Hoyer passes (that's impressive on its own, by the way) for 142 yards vs. Los Angeles on Thursday Night Football.

And while his team lost 41-39, Garçon didn't deserve to with plays like this:

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Even with that standout performance, however, Redskins fans shouldn't be cursing the franchise for letting Garçon go. Not yet, anyway.

This past march, the veteran left D.C. after five seasons to sign with San Fran. His deal was a rich one: five years for $47.5 million ($17 million guaranteed at signing). The Niners can get out of it after two years, but it still is a sizable contract even with that potential exit.

That kind of money is the first thing those who miss Garçon should think about. Now, the Redskins didn't exactly handle their negotiations with him that smoothly, but in the end, unless he gave Washington a nice discount, he just would've cost a lot to keep.

Secondly, it's easy to slam the 'Skins for losing Garçon while Kirk Cousins and Co. have stalled through two games in 2017. But the reason that's happening thus far has more to do with Cousins' inaccuracy in Weeks 1 and 2 and an offensive line that's not at the level it should be than with that familiar No. 88 not lining up outside anymore.

RELATED: NEGATIVES LEAD TO POSITIVES FOR CHRIS THOMPSON

Would Garçon have made a difference for the Redskins against the Eagles and Rams if he were still here? Yeah, probably. But when Jay Gruden's unit starts operating at its normal speed and precision — and it will — the upset voices lamenting Garçon's departure will get quieter.

This is nothing against the guy who was the NFL's 2013 receptions leader and who's well on his way to another productive campaign. It's just that it feels premature to make the connection that allowing him to move on is what's ailing the Washington offense, or that it was a disastrous decision. 

Give Garçon's far cheaper replacements (Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson) more time. Wait for the quarterback and his linemen to sync up again. In a league with just 16 games, that's very hard to do, but let's see if those in the area long for Garçon in December as much as they are currently longing for him in September.