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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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Rob Kelley hopes cutting out his favorite fast food restaurants means a better 2017

Rob Kelley hopes cutting out his favorite fast food restaurants means a better 2017

While his job and athletic ability separate him from most commoners, Rob Kelley is just like you and me when it comes to his diet. Well, when it came to his old diet, actually. 

Like many, the second-year Redskins running back loves him some crispy fried chicken, buttery, pillow-like biscuits and piping hot french fries. He also can get down with piles of nuggets, double cheesburgers and creamy milkshakes. 

But during this offseason, Fat Rob is looking less and less so, and that improvement is largely due to some new eating habits.

MORE: OVER/UNDER — HOW MANY TDs FOR DOCTSON?

"Changed the diet up," Kelley told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay this week at the former's youth camp (full video above). "Slowed down on the fast food and processed food and tried to eat more healthy."

When asked what places he's specifically cut out from his rotation, Kelley answered with a laugh. It wasn't a happy laugh, though — it was like one of those laughs people let out when they're feeling major pain but not trying to show it.

"Popeyes. McDonald's," he said. "Not trying to discredit those fast food places, but just, it's not working well for me."

Limiting trips to those establishments can no doubt be a difficult task (it's OK to nod your head in agreement) but it's also working for the 24-year-old. He told Finlay he thinks he's lost about six pounds since OTAs and now checks in at 229 thanks to his workouts and an increased reliance on Whole Foods, vegetables and his grill. 

But just because he's shedding pounds doesn't mean he's shedding the moniker that caught on during his rookie campaign. He may be trending closer to Svelte Rob than he is to Fat Rob these days, but No. 20 is going to keep his nickname moving forward anyway.

"It's always accurate," he said.

RELATED: TOP JERSEY SELLER IN MARYLAND AND VIRGINIA WASN'T A REDSKIN

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Top selling jersey in Virginia and Maryland is not a Redskin or Raven

Top selling jersey in Virginia and Maryland is not a Redskin or Raven

Virginia and Maryland may be Washington Redskins/ Baltimore Ravens country, but their fans are not buying their jerseys. That is at least for the month of May. 

NFLShop.com released their top jersey sales for May 2017 on Thursday morning and the un-retired Marshawn Lynch was the top seller for the nation in the 31-day span. Even if his return does not pay off on the field for the Oakland Raiders, it paid off in terms of sales. 

In the same release, NFL Shop revealed the top jersey per state in the same month and it was not a Washington Redskin or Baltimore Raven at the top of the list for Virginia and Maryland. Instead, it was Super Bowl LI MVP Tom Brady. 

Brady, a five-time Super Bowl champion, was the top seller in 17 different states, the most of any player.

The latter is not that surprising, but Brady owning Virginia and especially Maryland is. 

In terms of the Top 25 overall, there are no Redskins or Ravens making the list. Overall Brady was No. 2, followed by Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott. The first rookie, DeShaun Watson, came in at No. 5.

There may be a multitude of reasons for the Brady-love, aside from the typical bandwagon fans, but it does make one think which jersey are you confident in buying?

Other notable jersey sales:

#6 Derek Carr -- Oakland Raiders quarterback
#11 James Conner -- Pittsburgh Steelers rookie running back 
#17 Colin Kaepernick -- San Francisco 49ers (currently unsigned quarterback)
#25 Adrian Peterson -- New Orleans Saints running back

MORE REDSKINS: Statement on Kirk was a mistake, won't impact on-field performance