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Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller could be a playmaker for the Redskins

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Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller could be a playmaker for the Redskins

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 69 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.

Kendall Fuller
Cornerback
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-0
Weight: 196

What they’re saying
The playmaking production didn't happen by accident. Fuller has the twitch and the anticipation to challenge throws on the NFL level and come away with his fair share of interceptions, but scouts are very leery of the chances he is willing to take as they have concerns about his ability to carry long speed. With the way Fuller plays the ball in front of him combined with his tackling prowess, his home could be with a Tampa 2-oriented defense that values physical, zone corners over speed.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins’ cornerback unit consists of Bashaud Breeland, who could be very good but is still learning, Chris Culliver, who may or may not be recovered from a serious knee injury by the time the season starts, and some assorted players they either promoted off of the practice squad or signed off of the street. In short, it’s shaky.

Fuller is a playmaker who could contribute as a rookie and probably slide into a starting role as the slot corner in 2017. He reacts to the ball well, a trait that showed up as he picked off eight passes and defensed 34 in 2013 and 2014.

Fuller is not afraid to mix it up as a tackler in run support. And while I'm not real big on "legacy" type items, it should be noted that he is the youngest of four brothers who played defensive back for the Hokies including Kyle, who was a first-round pick of the Bears in 2014. The Redskins have done well with DB's who went to school in Blacksburg with DeAngelo Hall and Kyshoen Jarrett.

Potential issues: At 6-0 Fuller isn’t a small corner by any stretch but Scot McCloughan might want a cornerback he drafts early to be an inch or two taller. That doesn’t rule out Fuller but McCloughan will need to be impressed with his other traits to pull the trigger on him in the early going.

Fuller only played two season plus a few games at Virginia Tech and he has plenty of learning to do; scouting reports have noted he particularly has trouble with double moves. His career as a Hokie was cut short by a torn meniscus. He tried to play through it in 2015 but after three games he decided to have the injury repaired with surgery.

Bottom line: Although there isn’t a lot of concern over lingering effects from the injury to Fuller’s meniscus, the knee will still be thoroughly poked and prodded at the NFL Combine next week. If it passes muster he could emerge with a second-round grade. If there are still issues he could slide to the third.

Fuller could represent an opportunity for McCloughan to land a first-round talent later in the draft. He will need to be coached up but the Redskins could do that while having Culliver and Breeland start. The master plan for 2017 then may be to move on from Culliver and the $8 million in salary remaining on each of the final two years of his contract and go with Breeland and Fuller at cornerback.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

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Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

Jay Gruden disappointed by firing of Scot McCloughan, yet optimistic for 2017

It's never easy to say goodbye to a well-liked coworker, especially when that employee has been fired. In the NFL, that's no different. Redskins head coach Jay Gruden opened up about the departure of former GM Scot McCloughan while speaking with reporters at the NFL Owners Meetings in Phoenix.

"I was disappointed. I liked Scot. I liked working with Scot. He’s a good person, and a great talent evaluator," Gruden said.

The highly publicized demise of McCloughan as Redskins general manager made plenty of headlines, but as far the organization goes, Gruden believes the team is still in good shape.

"Any time you lose somebody that you become close with, whether it’s a coach or a GM or a player it's disappointing but at the end of the day in pro football, anybody that’s been around it long enough understands, change is going to happen and you have to react and adjust to it and move forward with a positive outlook," Gruden said.

Part of that positive outlook stems from moves the team has made this offseason.

Offensively the franchise brought in a big new weapon in receiver Terrelle Pryor. Paired with 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson, assuming he's healthy, the Redskins could have two dynamic pass catchers to offset the loss of DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. On the defensive line, Gruden thinks new players Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee can emerge as solid players with high upside. Further, Gruden made clear he thinks new defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will make the players on the 'Skins roster into better defensive linemen.

For many fans it's hard to remain optimistic after the controversy that surrounded McCloughan's ouster, but on the field, there's little reason to expect the 'Skins to slide.

In 2016, the team finished one game out of a playoff berth, losing a disappointing final game to the Giants to seal that fate. In 2017, Gruden expects to be right back in the playoff hunt.

"I think everybody in this organization has a positive outlook," Gruden said. "We are going to miss Scot, obviously, but we’re also positive that we can get things we need to get done to be successful."

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

Peter King, Ian Rapoport say Redskins can't afford to let Kirk Cousins get away

After he signed the franchise tag a couple of weeks ago, the speculation, rumors and, for some fans, panic around Kirk Cousins has largely quieted down.

The Redskins can ink their quarterback to a long-term deal any time between now and July 15, but talks may not pick up until summer rolls around. A trade can also occur, but no recent reports have indicated that one is in the works.

Therefore, it currently looks like Cousins and the franchise that drafted him back in 2012 will be together for at least one more season. And according to Sports Illustrated's Peter King, that's a wise choice by the Burgundy and Gold.

"I think they did the absolute right thing in making sure Kirk Cousins is gonna be their quarterback this year," King told CSN Redskins Insider JP Finlay at the NFL owner's meetings in Phoenix. "I absolutely, unequivocally would not trade him. That's a white flag." 

As for why King wouldn't move on from No. 8, his explanation was very simple.

"You don't get rid of a guy who's got the second-most passing yards in football over the last two years," he said.

MORE REDSKINS: WILL JAY GRUDEN'S ROLE IN DECISION-MAKING EXPAND THIS YEAR?

Finlay also gathered input on the Redskins' and Cousins' relationship from the NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, who's another major voice in the league's media. Rapoport first stated that he would be "beyond stunned" if the 28-year-old was not in D.C. for the 2017 campaign and then laid out how he envisions the year unfolding.

"I do not believe he will sign the extension before the season," he said. "So, he's going to go out there, play on another one-year deal, bet on himself like he did last year. You hope it's the same thing. And then we'll see, because I know there's some talk about him not signing an extension — I'm not so sure about that. Everyone has a price, right?"

"If they offer him $25 [million] a year, Andrew Luck's deal, I would imagine plans would change pretty quickly, right?" Rapoport continued. "So you get to the end of the season, assess where you are, assess the value and see if you can make a business deal. It's terrible to have to pay so much money to your quarterback. The only worse thing is not being able to pay so much money to your quarterback." 

King and Rapoport are clearly both in agreement that losing their rising signal caller would be a huge blow to the Redskins. But while King says Washington should keep Cousins because of his production, Rapoport took a different route when concluding how the negotiations will end up.

"Really good quarterbacks never leave their team. It just never happens," he said. "So I would think there's a way to work this out."

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