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WVU safety Karl Joseph's high football character could interest Redskins

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WVU safety Karl Joseph's high football character could interest Redskins

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 34 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.

Karl Joseph
Safety
West Virginia

Height: 5-10
Weight: 205
40-yard dash: --

Projected draft round: 2-3

What they’re saying
Fiercely competitive with immense football character. Different teams may have differing opinions of how best to utilize him, but Joseph has proven he can make plays in man coverage or play disciplined enough to be trusted on the back. His average size and subsequent durability will concern some teams due to his aggressive, attacking demeanor; however, Joseph is talented enough to become an early starter and high-impact safety down the road if the medicals check out.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: I don’t think I have to go into much detail about the Redskins’ need at safety, which is entering its 10th year. Earlier this week Jay Gruden called it an area of "great concern". They are taking a safety by committee approach right now but they would like to solidify the position and Joseph could be the guy to do that.

When you see the words “immense football character” in the evaluation above, you immediately think of the kind of player that Scot McCloughan likes to collect. Joseph graduated from high school early and enrolled at West Virginia so he could participate in spring practice. He won the starting job and as a true freshman he was the Mountaineers’ defensive player of the year with 104 tackles, seven for loss, two interceptions, and three forced fumbles.

He could have entered the 2015 draft but he decided to stay. His “reward” was a season-ending knee injury he suffered in a non-contact portion of practice.

The injury deprived West Virginia of plays like this one:

Potential issues: Obviously the knee will have to check out. Joseph did not participate in any combine drills, certainly understandable after having suffered the injury in early October. It seems reasonable that he could be ready for training camp, which would start almost 10 months after the injury.

At 5-10, 205, his size is another concern. McCloughan would probably prefer a safety with more length. And there are legitimate concerns that the impact of his hard hits could shorten his career.

Bottom line: Mike Mayock called Joseph a “poor man’s Earl Thomas” and we know how McCloughan likes Legion of Boom style defensive backs. If his knee checks out the presence of a high-character top performer at a position of need would put him under serious consideration by McCloughan if he’s there in the second round. If he is there in the third you could probably measure him for a Redskins uniform.

But with the need for safeties outstripping the supply, the chances that Joseph will make it to the latter stages of the second round seem iffy. We will see how things shake out.

Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

Redskins Playbook: 2017 schedule reveals some good news for Kirk Cousins

The Redskins offense performed at a high level in 2016, moving the ball well though the unit struggled in the red zone. Much of the success comes from Kirk Cousins' ability to quickly advance through his progressions and release the football before he takes too many hits.

Expect more of that in 2017, especially early in the season.

The Redskins don't face their first Top 5 sack defense until Week 9 when they travel to Seattle. From there, Cousins will face another Top 5 sack team when the Vikings visit FedEx Field in Week 10. 

After that, Washington's schedule doesn't feature a Top 5 sack defense until nearly Christmas. Unfortunately for Cousins, those two teams will come back to back in December when the Redskins host the Cardinals and the Broncos.

Sacks should not drive too much worry for Redskins fans. The Washington offensive line only allowed 23 sacks last season, two less than the Cowboys vaunted offensive line gave up on Dak Prescott. Cousins quick release and mastery of Jay Gruden's offense helps too. 

The Redskins have plenty to worry about in 2017, though facing fierce sack opponents shouldn't be too high on the list. 

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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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