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Need to Know: Three dark horse draft picks for the Redskins at No. 5

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Need to Know: Three dark horse draft picks for the Redskins at No. 5

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, February 23, 15 days before the Washington Redskins and the rest of the NFL start free agency.

Question of the day

I’m back from the combine but I’m still going to post the question of the day for a few more days before throwing it back out to the readers. Sticking with the draft questions: 

Who are the dark horses for the Redskins top pick?

Yesterday I wrote about the three players I think are most likely to be the Redskins’ pick if they keep the fifth pick in the draft. They were, in ascending order of likelihood, DL Danny Shelton of Washington, WR Kevin White of West Virginia, and edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr. of Florida.

That certainly isn’t the definitive list; we still have over two months until draft day and plenty can happen as the Redskins and the other 21 teams refine their draft boards. Here are three more who seem to be less likely right now but who could jump into the picture between now and April 30

DL Leonard Williams, USC—This pick is unlikely because he probably won’t be there when the Redskins pick. But let’s say that the two quarterbacks, Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, go 1-2 with the Bucs taking one and Titans the other or trading the pick to a team that takes the other. The Jaguars want an edge rusher and take Fowler, the local guy. And the Raiders want a weapon for Derek Carr so they take White. The Redskins gladly take Williams, the athletic, disruptive defensive end. Again, not a likely scenario but it’s hard to rule anything out in the draft over two months in advance.

Edge rusher Shane Ray, Missouri—If Fowler is gone, the Redskins could look to Ray to add to their anemic pass rush. At 6-3, 245 he isn’t quite as big as you’d like a 3-4 outside linebacker to be and we know that Scot McCloughan likes big players. But he has an incredibly quick first step and if he can add 10 or 15 pounds over the next couple of years without losing that quickness he could make life miserable for Redskins opponents.

S Landon Collins, Alabama—I go back and forth on Collins as a possibility at No. 5. Right now he is an in the box safety who likely would play more like a linebacker in nickel situations. A player like that may not have enough value to warrant such a high pick. And at 6-0, 228 he isn’t the Kam Chancellor-sized safety that McCloughan might prefer. But if McCloughan believes that Collins can be taught to be better in coverage, if he is a player who will stay late in the film room learning his craft, the Redskins dire need at the position (need is part of the grade that determines “best available player”), he could pull the trigger on him.

Timeline

—It’s been 57 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be about 202 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL free agency starts 15; Redskins offseason workouts start 56; 2015 NFL Draft 66

If you have any questions about what's going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I'm always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back
Georgia

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

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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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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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.