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Should the Redskins draft a second power running back?

derrick-henry-head.png

Should the Redskins draft a second power running back?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 65 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan 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 he might fit in Washington.

Derrick Henry
Running back
Alabama

Height: 6-2
Weight: 242

Projected draft round: 2

What they’re saying
Bell-cow running back with an ability to strap on feedbag and eat for four quarters. Henry's long legs and angular running style is a much better fit for downhill running teams who value lead backs and physicality. Henry needs early running room as he's not a creator in the backfield, but once he gets up a full head of steam, he is a nightmare with his ability to punish on the second and third level or take it to the house. Henry should come in and provide immediate production as a starter.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: Starting a year ago all anyone on the Redskins wanted to tell you was that the Redskins were going to be a power running team, a physical bunch that would wear teams down. Well, we saw how that turned out with the team finishing 20th in rushing yards and 29th in average per carry. It just didn’t work.

The team is unlikely to make wholesale changes on the offensive line since the unit did a good job in pass protection. With Alfred Morris likely on his way out of town they will have a different running back and Henry could be just the guy.

The Heisman Trophy winner is big, physical, and powerful and has a good knack for finding a hole. If he gets through the line and into the second level, defensive backs fear for their lives. Henry is not a speed demon but he has good second and third gears when he gets some running room. The Redskins need a north-south runner and Henry is the best one of those in this year’s draft class.

Potential issues: The Redskins already have a big back in Matt Jones. They might be better off shopping for a more elusive back who is a home run threat from anywhere on the field. While

Some scouts are concerned that with 406 touches last year Henry may have more tread wear than they would like to see. His pass catching skills are a question mark; Henry caught just 17 passes in three years in Tuscaloosa.

Bottom line: The concerns that Henry was overworked at Alabama are overblown. He came into 2015 with just 207 carries. Sure, 406 touches in one season is a very heavy load but it shouldn’t have any long-term effects.

Scot McCloughan likes big players but does he want two big running backs? Jones had some flashes in his rookie 2015 season but he is very much a work in progress. He may never become a reliable front line player. If the opportunity to draft Henry comes along McCloughan could take a serious look.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

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Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Need to Know: The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, June 25, 32 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.

Timeline

The Redskins last played a game 175 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 77 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 22
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 46
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 69

The top five running backs the Redskins will face in 2017

Here are the five running backs on the Redskins’ schedule who gained the most yards in 2017. We looked at the top QBs last week.

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys, 1,631 yards in 2016—The NFL’s leading rusher didn’t pop for a big day against the Redskins as a rookie last year. He still did plenty of damage in two games with a combined 180 yards and three touchdowns. We’ll find out in Week 8 just how much the Redskins’ rushing defense has improved.

David Johnson, Cardinals, 1,239 yards—Yeah, him again. He chewed up the Redskins in Arizona last year, picking up 84 yards rushing and another 91 yards receiving. I think I might pick Johnson over Elliott in a draft simply due to Johnson’s versatility.

LeGarrette Blount, Eagles, 1,161 yards—Blount picked up those yards with the Patriots last year and rushed for 18 touchdowns for good measure. He averaged 3.9 yards per carry, 27th among qualifying running backs. It should be noted that the Eagles probably have a better offensive line than the Patriots do. It’s safe to say Blount is one dimensional; none of the top 50 in rushing yards had fewer than his seven receptions.

Mark Ingram, Saints, 1,043 yards—While Ingram had a good year, the Saints apparently weren’t overly impressed. They signed Adrian Peterson as a free agent and they drafted RB Alvin Kamara in the third round. We’ll have to see who is healthy and on the field in Week 11

Melvin Gordon, Chargers, 997 yards—The 2015 first-round pick missed the last three games and most of another one with an injury. When healthy, he was very effective. His stats projected over 16 games come to over 1,300 yards.

Best of the rest: Carlos Hyde of the 49ers just missed the top five with 988 rushing yards last year Besides Kamara, the only running backs drafted in the first three rounds the Redskins will face are Dalvin Cook (Vikings) and Kareem Hunt (Chiefs). It will be interesting to see if new Rams coach Sean McVay can revive Todd Gurley, who followed a 1,100-yard rookie season with a 4.8 per carry average by gaining 885 yards with a paltry 3.2 average in 2016. Marshawn Lynch comes to town with the Raiders after spending a year in retirement; with the Seahawks, he picked up 111, 72, and 132 on the ground against the Redskins. 

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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In case you missed it

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Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

Kirk Cousins shows off competitive spirit, soft touch - at Jenga (VIDEO)

After NFL minicamps end in mid-June, and before the grind of training camps start in late July, players are free to have a little bit of fun and try to relax. For Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins that evidently means a game of Jenga.

Fun at Kirk's 10 year high school reunion!!!

A post shared by Julie Cousins (@juliehcousins) on

The video comes from Cousins' wife Julie, and the caption explains that the couple were attending the quarterback's 10-year high school reunion. Looks like a fun scene, and the Michigan waterfront looks even better.

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

For anybody that has watched Cousins on the practice field or listened to him mic'd up during a Redskins game, the competitive outburst is no surprise. Cousins likes to win, period. Even at life-size Jenga during his 10-year high school reunion. 

Obviously, contract talks between Cousins' representatives and the Redskins continue, and likely will until the July 17th franchise tag deadline. Last season, Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 passing yards, completing 67 percent of his passes to go with 25 TDs and 12 INTs. He's allowed to have a little fun here and there.

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