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Will the Redskins believe Nkemdiche's upside is worth the risk?

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Will the Redskins believe Nkemdiche's upside is worth the risk?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 66 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 they might fit in Washington.

Robert Nkemdiche
Defensive end
Ole Miss

Height: 6-4
Weight: 296

What they’re saying
Production was definitely minimal, but Nkemdiche offers plenty of disruption potential. After playing outside early in his career, Nkemdiche looks at his best inside. His natural athleticism is an advantage there, winning around heavy footed offensive linemen off the snap or through weaker opponents.
Josh Norris, Rotoworld

How he fits the Redskins: It’s no secret that the Redskins want to start to rebuild their defensive line. In the past they have done so mostly through free agency; the last defensive lineman they took in the first round was end Kenard Lang in 1997. Scot McCloughan believes that the draft is the lifeblood of the organization and there’s no doubt that he will look to build the defensive line there. This year’s first-round pibk would be a good place to start.

Is Nkemdiche (pronounced kim-DEE-chee) the guy McCloughan wants to be the cornerstone of the line? He certainly has the physical tools to do so. He has the athleticism and quickness of an outside player but the size and toughness to play inside. He received second-team All-American honors from multiple media outlets as both a junior and as a senior.

Potential issues: Although he looks good both getting off of the bus and when he gets in his stance on the line he doesn’t have much to show for it in terms of numbers. Last year as he was earning those All American honors he posted just three sacks and seven tackles for a loss. Those are not the gaudy stats you might want from a top draft pick.

And there is the little matter of the end of his career at Ole Miss. A about 10 days before the Rebels were schedule to play in the Sugar Bowl, Nkemdiche fell out of the window of an Atlanta hotel and suffered mild injuries. That was not a big issue; the marijuana found in the room was a problem. Nkemdiche was arrested for possession and was suspended from the Sugar Bowl. After that he decided to enter the draft.

Bottom line: The on-field numbers won’t make McCloughan pause if he likes what he sees on tape. But the arrest in Atlanta raise questions about how important football is to him.

If the Redskins find Nkemdiche’s on-field talent to be good enough to pursue then they will start looking into his background to see if the incident in Atlanta was an aberration or part of a pattern.

If I had to guess, I’d say that if the Redskins had, say, the No. 10 overall pick they wouldn’t consider Nkemdiche very strongly. There could be better options that have fewer question marks. But if he slides in the draft due to the production stats and the arrest in Atlanta McCloughan could find himself looking at a top-10 talent at pick No. 21. If character concerns are minimal might McCloughan overlook his weak statistical output and make his pick based on Nkemdiche’s high ceiling and can do in the future? We could find out.

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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