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Will the Redskins consider drafting one-dimensional DL Jarran Reed?

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Will the Redskins consider drafting one-dimensional DL Jarran Reed?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 31 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.

Jarran Reed
Defensive tackle
Alabama

Height: 6-3
Weight: 307
40-yard dash: 5.21

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying
Country strong with tree trunks for thighs and long arms, Reed is a classic two-gap run-stuffer stout enough to play inside at defensive tackle or outside at end. At 6-3, 311 pounds, Reed has the girth and strength to line up virtually anywhere along the defensive line, making him a fit for 3-4 and 4-3 teams, alike.
Dane Brugler and Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins were one of the worst teams in the NFL when it came to defending the run. Forget about the regular season stats; when the playoffs rolled around the Packers’ running game (141 yards) was just as responsible for beating the Redskins as was Aaron Rodgers.

As noted in the evaluation above, Reed could line up just about anywhere along the line and create problems for any team trying to run the ball. Here he uses excellent technique against the Georgia tackle and creates a logjam that completely kills the play.

(Gif via Dallas Morning News and Draftbreakdown.com

Potential issues: Reed didn’t demonstrate much ability to make plays behind the line of scrimmage. He had just one sack and 4.5 tackles for a loss starting 14 games on a dominant defense. At Alabama he was mostly a two-down player. Scot McCloughan may prefer a player who has demonstrated better ability to get to the passer and may be hesitant to spend his first-round pick on a player who comes off of the field on third down.

Bottom line: Can Reed be taught to rush the passer? He has good fundamentals in the run game and the coaching staff on the NFL team that ends up with him will spend a lot of time trying to teach him how to shed blocks and get after the quarterback. It’s likely that he’ll never be really good at it but if he can get to the point where he can get three or four sacks a year that might be good enough to make it worth his run-stuffing ability.

Depending on how important that is to McCloughan, Reed could well be in the mix of linemen the Redskins will consider at pick No. 21 along with his Crimson Tide teammate A’Shawn Robinson, Andrew Billings of Baylor, and Robert Nkemdiche of Ole Miss.

Despite his limitations, Reed is not likely to get out of the first round. As you get later in the first round, teams that advanced in the playoffs may be happy to take a lineman who can do one thing well.

In his own words

On why he didn’t record many sacks:
It was the system we played in. Run-first, then-covert-to-pass system, but I did apply pressure on the quarterback. I definitely hit the quarterback, I definitely got sacks, too.
Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

How big a need do the Redskins have at running back?

Do the Redskins have a draft need at running back? It depends on who you ask.

Jay Gruden seems to be very happy with incumbent running back Rob Kelley. Here is what he had to say last month about the second-year back, signed as an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, last month:

“Oh, man, I love Rob Kelley,” Gruden said. “I thought he played great. You throw a rookie free agent into the fire like that and see him play and compete. Not one time did I feel like it was too big for him. Not once. That’s a hell of a thing to say for a kid out of Tulane who only had a couple of carries his senior year. He came right in, he competes on every play.”

Kelley played in 15 games last year and rushed for 704 yards and scored six touchdowns. He started the last nine games and if you project his numbers in this games out over a 16-game season you get about 1,050 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Le’Veon Bell production but it’s good for a team that is going to rely mostly on the pass.

Gruden also praised third-down back Chris Thompson and backup Mack Brown. In a telling sign, he acknowledged that 2015 third-round pick Matt Jones is still on the roster but he didn’t have much good to say about him.

Why, then, do you see so many draft analysts listing running back as one of the team’s most urgent needs? Mark Maske, who is the Post’s national NFL writer but also a former Redskins beat reporter, has them taking Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey in his mock draft. “There certainly are issues on defense for the Redskins,” writes Maske. But there also is a need at running back.”

Lance Zierlein of NFL.com said that the Redskins “obviously” need a running back as his rationale for mocking Florida State’s Dalvin Cook to Washington at No. 17.

So, what is it? Is Kelley adequate for the Redskins’ needs considering they call pass plays on over 60 percent of their offensive snaps? Would they run more often if they had a back like McCaffrey or Cook? And if they did run more would the offense improve?

I think that running back is like several positions with the Redskins. If they have to get through the 2016 season with what they have they will be OK. But if there is an upgrade on the board when they are on the clock they won’t hesitate to make the pick if he’s the best player available.

We will see what happens if, say, McCaffrey is still on the board when the Redskins pick at No. 17 and top defensive targets like Rueben Foster and Haason Reddick are off the board. That will be the true test to see how committed Gruden and the rest of the organization are to Kelley, Thompson, and company. 

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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

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