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Redskins draft countdown: If they draft S Derwin James, the Redskins will have to alter their defense

Redskins draft countdown: If they draft S Derwin James, the Redskins will have to alter their defense

Redskins draft countdown

Derwin James

Safety
Florida State

He lines up deep, pressed up against the line of scrimmage, and everywhere else in between. Derwin James not only sets the tone for games defensively, he changes outcomes. Just line him up wherever you need him. He will find the ball. James can quickly become a major presence in an NFL locker room. 

Height: 6-2
Weight: 215
40-yard dash:4.47

Projected draft round:1

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have their two starting safeties in D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson. But Nicholson’s ability to stay on the field for the entire season is in question. James would be high-quality depth. 

On a broader level, the Redskins lack impact players, especially on defense. A lineman like Da’Ron Payne or Vita Vea would fill a more urgent need in a specific spot. But would either player be able to lift the whole defense and give the opposing offense a player they have to account for on every snap? James has that potential and that could fill a greater need than more beef on the D-line. 

Film review: vs. Florida, vs. Clemson

—James does line up everywhere. He lined up as the deep single safety, as one of two deep safeties, at inside linebacker and pressed up against the line in the middle and on the edge. 

 —His mobility is tremendous. A few times he was backing up out of the picture before the snap and then he shot to the line to help make a run stop or assist on the tackle after a short pass.

—James has great anticipation, but he doesn’t always make the play. Against Florida, he was able to sniff out a swing pass but after he flew to the receiver he missed the tackle in the backfield. 

—That play was one of few where James seemed to be out of control. On most plays when he was lined up at safety he took his responsibility as the last line of defense seriously. He doesn’t go for the big hit; he makes sure the ball carrier gets to the ground. Sometimes this makes him appear to be overly cautious but it’s better than overrunning and allowing the big play. 

—If you want to find the ball, find James. If you want to find James, find the ball. 

—The Redskins want to improve their rushing defense. Adding a lineman isn’t the only way to do that. Against Clemson, the defensive front was tiring in the fourth quarter and James made tackle after tackle on running plays. 

Potential issues: Despite his presence around the ball, James did not make many big plays. In 26 games with the Seminoles, he had just three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Teams generally look for more takeaways from highly-drafted safeties. Eric Berry, to whom James has been compared, picked off 14 passes in three years at Tennessee. 

James suffered a torn meniscus in his sophomore year that ended his season after two games. Such injuries don’t tend to have lingering problems but it’s certainly something to check out. 

Bottom line: The team that drafts James won’t have to completely revamp its defense but the coordinator will have to be creative to make him worth a top-15 pick. Just lining him up at free safety will get you a good player but not an impact player. 

If James is still on the board along with Payne and/or Vea, the Redskins will need to make the classic choice between filling a need and taking the best available player. The organization will need to decide how to utilize James if they are going to take him. If they just want him to “fit in” they should pass and take the lineman. If they are willing to make him a centerpiece in their defense and use him in an active, attacking “robber” role from Day One, they should go ahead and take him. 

Redskins draft countdown

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

Doug Williams says Redskins will listen to draft trade offers but a trade up is unlikely

The Redskins aren’t in the quarterback business, so it’s highly unlikely that they will look to trade up in the first round of the draft on Thursday. But their phones will be open for business to move down. 

Speaking at the team’s pre-draft press conference, Doug Williams didn’t rule out trading up from the team’s first-round spot at 13thoverall but he doesn’t think it’s likely. 

“The chances of trading up might be a little slimmer than trading down,” he said. 

Williams said that the phones in the room will be ringing and that they will listen to any offers. But usually the team that wants to move up initiates the call and because the Redskins are set at one particular position they probably won’t pick up the phone. 

“If we were in the quarterback business, which is what this league is about, if we were in the heavy quarterback business we’d talk about moving up,” he said. “At this time, we can sit back and see what comes up if we stay at 13.”

The Redskins are set at quarterback after they traded their third-round pick and cornerback Kendall Fuller for veteran Alex Smith to replace the departed Kirk Cousins. Williams thinks that the Redskins already got good value from the pick. 

“When I think about Alex Smith, I say we got the best third-round pick in the draft,” he said. “I don't care what nobody says. You can't get a better third-round pick.”

Because they think they got a good player, albeit an older one, with that pick, the Redskins are not necessarily looking to make a deal to move back and recoup that pick on draft day. 

Williams emphasized that in order to move back, you have to have a team that wants to trade up. Often that is easier said than done. 

“They don’t just call you to ask you, they have to get a player that they want,” said Williams. “At that particular time, they’re afraid that somebody else might pick him. They might call you to ask you if you want to move back . . . If we move back, that’s because somebody called us to see if we want to move back.”

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Why the Redskins should take a serious look at Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds

Why the Redskins should take a serious look at Virginia Tech’s Terrell Edmunds

NBC Sports Washington’s four-part digital series ‘E-Boyz’ -- chronicling the illustrious past, decorated present and bright future of the Edmunds family -- is NOW LIVE. Check out a new episode daily, leading up to the 2018 NFL Draft. Watch the second episode above and more here.

Many Redskins fans are hoping the team secures a defensive back in the first round by landing a guy like Derwin James or Minkah Fitzpatrick. But if Washington opts to address a different position in Round 1, there'll be a quality safety available in the middle rounds in Terrell Edmunds.

Terrell, the brother of top-10 prospect Tremaine, is projected to be taken in the third or fourth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. As of now, the Redskins don't have a selection in the former, but a trade could change that. They pick 109th in the latter.

"Terrell possesses high end speed and explosion traits that are coveted for his position," writes NFL.com. "He has man cover talent against big targets and should step right into a role on the coverage units for special teams."

With D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson, Washington's starting safety tandem is taken care of on paper. Nicholson was injured often as a rookie, though, so depth is needed behind him. And their special teams have been leaky for quite some time, providing the Virginia Tech Hokie a place to make an immediate impact while he works his way into the defensive rotation.

It's a rotation he would likely feel at home in, too. Edmunds is more than comfortable talking trash, so if he does become a Redskin, he'd fit right in alongside the likes of the fellow vocal guys like Swearinger, Josh Norman and Quinton Dunbar.