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Redskins draft countdown: Wisconsin edge rusher T.J. Watt

Redskins draft countdown: Wisconsin edge rusher T.J. Watt

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 23 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.

T.J. Watt

Outside linebacker
Wisconsin

Height: 6-4
Weight: 252
40-yard dash: 4.69

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

Uses his length and heavy hands to take on blocks, locking out to dictate the point of attack. Edge acceleration to threaten the corner. Natural balance and active feet to continue his momentum through contact. Attacks and disrupts the rhythm of blockers with his violence, rarely allowing himself to be locked up. Off-the-chart football instincts with an instant reactor. Senses what is about to happen and understands his surroundings.

Dane Brugler, CBSSports.com

How he fits the Redskins: The younger brother of three-time NFL defensive player of the year J.J. Watt told NFL.com that he has a pre-draft visit scheduled with the Redskins. While a draft visit doesn’t necessarily indicate great interest in a player—each team can bring in as many as 30 players and the Redskins have only 10 picks—it does mean that the team has seen something in the player that they want to explore further.

The Redskins have four outside linebackers who have double-digit sack potential on the roster but question marks surround all but the steady Ryan Kerrigan. Trent Murphy is entering the last year of his rookie contract. Preston Smith has shown flashes of dominance surrounded by long stretches of near invisibility. Junior Galette has missed the last two years due to injuries and he is on a one-year deal.

Since you can’t have too many good pass rushers the Redskins are looking at more of them in the draft. Watt was a playmaker at Wisconsin, leading the Badgers with 11.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for a loss.

The arrow could be pointing up on Watt. He entered college as a tight end but he was moved to outside linebacker in 2015. A knee injury kept him out that year but he burst onto the scene as the starter last year. He is a meticulous worker who plays with a high motor. He could be headed straight up.

Film review (2016 unless indicated): vs. Ohio State, vs. Minnesota

He switches from one side of the line to the other, usually on the edge but occasionally a few steps off the line.  

On a third and goal against Ohio State he showed his aggressiveness and recognition. He stormed in from the left edge and the pulling guard who was supposed to keep him from blowing up the play never had a chance to get him. QB J.T. Barrett tried a play action fake but Watt slammed into the running back right after the fake, allowing another player to come in a tackle Barrett for a loss.

Watt was not asked to do much in pass coverage. He usually just dropped into the flat in zone coverage.

You can see his high motor on display frequently as he chases down plays from the back side and keeps chasing the ball.

Watt can get pass pressure based on his hustle and quickness. But if he’s in a situation where he needs to overpower a blocker he’s in trouble. He might have to bulk up from his current weight of 252.

In the fourth quarter of a tight game against Minnesota he had a sack and three pressures that led to three Badger interceptions.

Potential issues:

As noted, Watt has just the one season of experience playing outside linebacker. While that leaves room to grow and improve, it also leaves room for the possibility that his strong performance last year was that of a one-year wonder.

In Brugler’s analysis on CBS Sports, he said that Watt “needs to mature his pass rush arsenal.” In the two games I watched he didn’t have enough moves to be considered “an arsenal”. It goes back to his lack of experience and it remains to be seen how much he can develop.

And, again, his size makes him kind of a tweener. He should be able to pack some more pounds onto his 6-4 frame and maintain his hustle.

Bottom line:

Watt seems to be a tweener in more ways than one. He would be a reach with the Redskins’ pick at No. 17 but he could well be gone when their second-round picks rolls around. Should the Redskins look to add some extra picks by trading back to a spot later in the first, somewhere in the late 20’s perhaps, they could find Watt to be a good value.

In his own words:

Watt on his potential:

"I’m only scratching the surface. I've only played defense for 18 or 20 months. If I can do all the things I did this last year what can I do when I'm under the tutelage of an NFL coach? Obviously lack of film lack of experience point that's come across I think it's not a problem with my work ethic and my bloodlines and stuff like that."

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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Mic'd up: This is what it sounds like as the Redskins running backs go through drills

Mic'd up: This is what it sounds like as the Redskins running backs go through drills

During a chat on the #RedskinsTalk podcast last month, Washington's running back coach Randy Jordan clued in CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay about the way he teaches his players and the things he wants to see from them.

Now, though, thanks to an exclusive Redskins Nation video, you have a chance to truly watch and listen to how Jordan and his students approach their on-field work.

In this all-access Mic'd Up segment (which was filmed at minicamp and which you can watch in the player above), you'll see the assistant encourage Samaje Perine, correct Matt Jones and compliment Rob Kelley. You'll also hear every grunt, bump and cut, an important ingredient that these types of packages must have.

It's clear from the footage that Jordan cares about the details. Now, don't blow this assignment, and go check out the video above.

RELATED: FILM STUDY - ALL THAT "ULTRA BACK" CHRIS THOMPSON DOES

Special thanks to Redskins Nation for the video.

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Poll: Three weeks out; does a Cousins deal get done?

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Poll: Three weeks out; does a Cousins deal get done?

Three weeks from right now, Kirk Cousins will either have a new long-term deal or he will be playing on the tag. Which will it be?

Thanks for participating. Feel free to leave your comments here on the site or just respond to the tweet. Thanks.