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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: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Need to Know: Another big day on the ground on tap for the Redskins?

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, December 11, eight days before the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers.

Timeline

Today's schedule: Redskins vs. Eagles 1 p.m.

Days until: Panthers @ Redskins 8; Redskins @ Bears Christmas Eve 13; Giants @ Redskins, New Year’s Day 21

Injuries of note:
Out:
G Long (concussion), S Blackmon (concussion), DE Lanier (leg)
Limited: TE Reed (shoulder), G Scherff (ankle), DE Jean Francois (knee/foot), DE Baker (ankle), G Shawn Lauvao (groin)
Final injury report

Final thoughts on Redskins vs Eagles

—The Redskins have not stopped a team in a goal to go situation since September. The Eagles are good in such situations, converting TDs 84 percent of the time. If the Redskins can get a stop and force a field goal try when the first time the Eagles get down there that would be a big psychological boost for the visitors. Or, better yet, maybe they can just not let the Eagles get any first and goal opportunities. That’s what happened when the teams played in Week 6.

—In that Week 6 meeting the Redskins rushed for 230 yards, their best performance on the ground this season by 79 yards. Matt Jones picked up 135 yards on 16 attempts, Rob Kelley had 5-59, and Chris Thompson kicked in with 9-37. It’s unlikely that Jones will be active so it will be up to Kelley to get things rolling on the ground.

—For all the talk about Kirk Cousins having the Eagles’ number, he had one of his worst statistical games of the year against them in Week 6. He completed just 52.9 percent of his passes, his lowest completion percentage of the season. Cousins also threw perhaps his worst interception of the year, a pick six that tied the game at 14 in the second quarter. The bottom line was that he made some plays and the Redskins won but he likely will have to play better this time for his team to prevail today.

—Carson Wentz has six interceptions in his last three games, including three last week against the Bengals. Josh Norman is due to get an interception, overdue, in fact. Don’t know what will happen but the chances seem good that a Redskin will get his hands on a Wentz pass today.

—We saw last week that the Redskins are not a lock to go on the road and win against a team that is desperately fighting for its playoff life. Fortunately for the Redskins, the Eagles do not have players who are the equals of David Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, and Patrick Peterson. While plenty can go wrong I think the Redskins come away with with the win.

Redskins 28, Eagles 24

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In case you missed it

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Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

Redskins bring former starting center back to active roster

The Redskins officially brought Kory Lichtensteiger back to the active roster, and while the move is now for depth, it could have other ramifications down the road. 

The move is on the NFL's transaction report for Saturday. To make room for Lichtensteiger, the team released defensive lineman A.J. Francis. 

Dealing with injuries up and down the line of scrimmage, Lichtensteiger's return could give the offensive front more flexibility. When Lichtensteiger got injured Week 3 and sent to the injured reserve, third-year pro Spencer Long stepped in and performed well at center. Last week in Arizona, Long sustained a concussion.

That injury opened the door for John Sullivan, who will start this week in Philadelphia with Long ruled out. Sullivan was brought in as a backup to Long once Lichtensteiger was put on IR. With Long now in the NFL concussion protocol, the Redskins need another center should Sullivan get hurt. Alas, Lichtensteiger's return from the IR. 

Left guard Shawn Lauvao also sustained an injured groin, and that's where things could get interesting. Long is capable of playing guard, as is Lichtensteiger in a pinch. Should Lauvao's injury persist, Lichtensteiger might be able to help there.

Against the Eagles, the plan certainly appears to be second-year man Arie Kouandjio starting in place of Lauvao. Kouandjio made one earlier start this season - Week 4 against Cleveland - and the results were mixed.

If Kouandjio stumbles and Lauvao needs more time, Lichtensteiger's return to the roster gives Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan more flexibility, especially when Long returns from injury.

In fact, once the team has Long, Lichtensteiger and Sullivan healthy, there could be a bit of a logjam roster-wise on the offensive line, but considering all the injuries, bumps and bruises that are part of O-line life by the last four games of the season, the Redskins staff likely won't mind figuring that out. 

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