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Is Arkansas RB Alex Collins what the Redskins want in a second back?

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Is Arkansas RB Alex Collins what the Redskins want in a second back?

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 22 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.

Alex Collins
Running back
Arkansas

Height: 5-10
Weight: 217
40-yard dash: 4.59

Projected draft round: 3-4

What they’re saying
Collins was an ideal fit for [Arkansas coach Bret] Bielema's blueprint on offense with his light feet to make sharp cuts, but also his physical nature to welcome contact, finish forward and do most of his damage between the tackles. Collins is a physical runner, but needs to improve his pad level and ball security to be more reliable at the next level.

Although he won't consistently create on his own, Collins has an excellent blend of quickness, patience and power to get what is blocked for him and contribute as an NFL rookie.
Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: How much can they trust Matt Jones? He flashed some potential on plays here and there but he lacked consistency and his four fumbles all seemed to come at the worst times.

If they just want a Plan B in case Jones fizzles in 2016 they could wait and sign Pierre Thomas or another veteran still on the street. But if they want to go with running back by committee, with two backs carrying the load they should look to the middle rounds of the draft and perhaps to a back like Collins.

At Arkansas he was a model of consistency; he rarely failed to go to the right spot and get at least as much as the play is blocked for. Collins is not a burner and he’s not a big back but he’s a good combination of speed, size and football smarts.

Potential issues: Jones’ fumbles are an issue and they were an issue for Collins as well. He lost the handle on the ball 16 times during his career, usually due to not protecting the ball properly when fighting for extra yardage. No doubt, McCloughan and company will need to figure out if this is something that the coaches can remedy before they seriously look into him.

Bottom line: Should the Redskins spend a mid-round draft pick on a running back two drafts in a row? Whether they do or not will depend largely on if a running back is the best available payer on the board when they pick.

And I they do take a running back, should they take on with a skill set similar to Jones’? Or should they look towards a back with some demonstrated pass-catching ability (Collins caught just 27 passes in three years with the Razorback)?

If they want a guy who is more like Jones to compete with Jones, Collins should be under serious consideration.

In his own words

About the importance of patience:
I would say it's definitely patience, that plays a huge factor in it because if you're the type of runner that just always runs outside, then they'll just come from the outside and force you up the field. Just being patient, letting things lead up to it, if that's the road it takes you, then you go with it. If you've got cuts up the field, you take the cuts. But I would definitely say it's just being patience, letting things play out. If that's the best opportunity, take that opportunity. But as far as just aiming for the outside, it wouldn't work every time because defenses wouldn't let you keep doing that.
Previously in Redskins draft countdown:

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was-Cousins' value, the Redskins' top pick

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, January 20, 53 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline  

Days until:

—NFL franchise tag deadline (3/6) 45
—NFL Draft (4/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 232

The Redskins week that was

Jags big win could spell bad news for Kirk Cousins—If the Jaguars’ accomplishment of getting to the AFC championship game does indeed make Blake Bortles’ job safe, the laws of economics say that the amount of money that Cousins can command in a free agent contract should go down. It’s the demand part of supply and demand and if demand goes down, prices should, too. But the NFL quarterback market doesn’t follow the laws. If the Lions see fit to pay Matthew Stafford, a quarterback under whom they have had very limited success, a contract with an average annual value of $27 million without any team bidding against them, that sets the price.

Setting the odds on what happens with Kirk Cousins—Despite his happy talk at the 106.7 The Fan event earlier this month, the possibility that Cousins will play in a Redskins uniform in 2018 does not warrant a large bet of imaginary casino chips. If you missed the post, take a look and let me know what you think of my assessment.

Don't freak out about latest Zach Brown tweet—It’s that time of year. A player sends out a tweet with no context and fans assign the worst possible meaning to it. In Brown’s case, a tweet about not getting respect was interpreted as a sign that contract negotiations with the Redskins were not going well. But JP Finlay found out that the tweet was about Brown being upset that another alternate getting selected to the Pro Bowl and not him. It still is unclear if Brown will return to the Redskins but at least there are no indications of rocky negotiations at this point.

Bang for the free agent bucks for the Redskins? Brown was a solid free agent acquisition for the Redskins last year. Terrelle Pryor, not so much. Take a look at the post for the other hits and misses in free agency.

Tweet of the week

Even though the draft is over three months away there are plenty of opinions out there as this tweet drew a ton of reaction. On the offensive side of the ball, the suggestions ran towards quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield although some want a running back. It will be interesting to see how those two non-conventional quarterbacks look after they spend the next few months under the microscope of the NFL draft process. The defensive name that kept coming up was Washington defensive lineman Vita Vea, a large specimen who could play the nose in base defense and move to three-technique in nickel.

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

In case you missed it

 

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Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Scot McCloughan simply said what plenty of others think about Kirk Cousins

Redskins fans were frenzied when Scot McCloughan said that Kirk Cousins is a good quarterback, but not a special one. The #KirkHive shuddered and the Kirk Haters celebrated.

McCloughan, the former Redskins GM who's wildly popular with fans, explained what few people will say publicly: Cousins is a skilled player but probably not deserving of the money he might make in free agency. 

Let's start with the obvious: Cousins is good.

He's a durable passer in a league that doesn't have enough of them. He's started the last 49 games for the Redskins and thrown for more than 4,000 yards each of the past three seasons. 

Now more obvious: He isn't great.

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Bleacher Report's Chris Simms, speaking on the #RedskinsTalk podcast, said Cousins ranks about 12th among NFL passers. It's top half of the league, but it's not Top 5 or even Top 10. 

Cousins has had tremendous games with the Redskins, like a near perfect performance against Oakland in 2017 or a dominant performance against Green Bay in 2016. 

Cousins has also been awful, as recently as Week 17 in New York a few weeks ago, or an equally stinky Week 17 game against the Giants two seasons ago. 

While some might view McCloughan's statement as controversial — "He’s a good player. Is he special? I don’t see special," he told Denver radio station 104.3 the Fan — it's not. 

Plenty of people agree with McCloughan, including some in Redskins Park. Last year, a source told NBC Sports Washington that the team believed they could get nearly as much production from Colt McCoy as Cousins provided. 

Even this year, Washington head coach Jay Gruden offered lukewarm praise of his quarterback.

When the season ended, asked to evaluate Cousins' play, the coach said, "When you’re 7-9, it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ There’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent [Williams] when he played was a Pro Bowl-type and Brandon [Scherff] when he was healthy was a Pro Bowl-type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know, we’re 7-9."

That quote made headlines when Gruden said it, much like McCloughan's comments now are circulating faster than Beltway traffic. 

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Truth is, it's not new. And it's not news.

There are coaches that think Cousins is only scratching the surface of his capabilities. Kyle Shanahan and Sean McVay come to mind, but both of those coaches have other QBs likely for the long-term future. 

Cousins might end up being paid like a Top 3 quarterback in the NFL, and that might be the right move given the demand at the position. Will that make him a special passer?

Not if special is defined as Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers or Drew Brees. Even Cousins wouldn't argue with that.