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Redskins Draft Countdown: Connecticut DB Byron Jones

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Redskins Draft Countdown: Connecticut DB Byron Jones

The NFL Draft is just over weeks away and I’ll continue researching the prospects throughout the lead-up to the draft. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.

Byron Jones
Defensive back
Connecticut

What they’re saying:
Strengths: Extremely smart and instinctive on the field. Shows above-average anticipation of routes. Is able to sniff out rub routes and works to avoid them. Flashes recovery speed downfield and gets head around to find ball and make a play on it. Uses instincts and adequate closing burst to disrupt the catch.

Weaknesses: Plays with high center of gravity. Has difficulty gearing down quickly and changing directions. Doesn't always play with feet under him. Will lose balance and footing too often. Not a quick-twitch athlete. Feet show noticeable stall before firing forward out of backpedal. Willing to tackle but not a physical player.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: As far as anyone can tell, Jones set a world record by posting a standing broad jump of 12 feet, 3 inches at the combine. The standing broad jump has not been an Olympic sport since 1912 so the official records are spotty, but nobody has been able to find a longer jump.

But the jump that created so much media buzz in Indianapolis in and of itself won’t draw the interest of Scot McCloughan. His instincts, speed (4.4 in the 40 at his pro day), and leadership are what the Redskins will consider when they look at Jones.

They also might pull out some old tape and watch him play in 2011 and 2012 when he started at safety for the Huskies. If the Redskins do end up taking Jones it could be with the idea of converting him to a free safety. The plan would be giving him a season as Dashon Goldson’s backup and getting him some snaps in nickel and dime situation and then have him ready to start in 2016.

[Related: Byron Jones to Redskins in Standig's Mock Draft 5.0]

Potential issues: It’s hard to sort out the “jump up the draft boards” media analyst hype over his broad jump from his actual standing among NFL teams. After the combine some mock drafts have had him going in the latter stages of the first round, which would put him out of reach of the Redskins.

However, NFL.com gives Jones a grade of 5.5, which translates to “chance of being an NFL starter”. Jones is graded behind some 75 other players, which translates into being a third-round choice.

There also is an injury concern with Jones. He missed the last five games of last season with a torn labrum. However, he was a durable player prior to that, playing in 43 straight games prior to the shoulder injury.

Is he physical enough to play safety if that’s where a team wants him to do? That is what McCloughan will have to sort out on tape and during other investigation.

Bottom line: He may not be a target for the Redskins with their second-round pick (No. 38) but if they should pick up a later pick in that round via a trade he could be on their radar. If Jones is still there when the Redskins are on the clock in the third round (No. 69) there could be some serious consideration.

Previously in Draft Countdown:

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

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Kirk Cousins breaks down the terribleness of FedEx Field grass

For years, the Redskins struggle with their home field as the fall turns to winter. It's been happening so long it's become an expected passing of the seasons, like the transition from Halloween jack-o-lanterns to Christmas lights dotting people's front yards. 

Well, on Thanksgiving night, the turf at FedEx Field again showed how bad it can be. On a second half interception returned for a New York Giants touchdown, replay showed that Kirk Cousins' foot got stuck on the dirt, and it played a role in his sailing a ball to the sideline. The bad turf was not the only reason for the interception, but it was definitely a reason. 

Beyond the pick, the field was just ugly. Twitter blew up making fun of the Redskins home grass, and the national broadcast showed just how unsightly the long brown patch between the hash marks looked. 

On Friday, the normally diplomatic Cousins opened up about the grass.

"It probably doesn't look like a professional NFL field should," the quarterback said on 106.7 the Fan (full audio here). "If you think the field is rough now on Thanksgiving, we've got two more home games in mid-to-late December. That's probably going to be a bigger challenge."

Asked about the field's impact on the interception on Thursday night, Cousins ignored it. But plenty of other players have suggested the field is a known problem in the second half, and something they just must deal with. 

"I don't know why it is that way or what causes it," Cousins said. "I've kind of learned to accept it and understand it's part of the deal. Playing here on the field has never been that great in the second half of the season for whatever the reason."

[h/t @BenStandig for the Cousins quotes]

Want more Redskins? Click here to follow JP on Facebook and check out @JPFinlayNBCS for live updates via Twitter! Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

 

 

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When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

When Samaje Perine got going, so did the Redskins' offense

At halftime of the Redskins’ Thanksgiving night game against the Giants, Samaje Perine had three yards rushing and his team had three points. Washington had racked up all of 113 yards.

Coincidence? Not entirely. Although the Redskins are primarily a passing team they need to run the ball to pass effectively.

“We had to get the running game going,” said Jay Gruden after the game.

In the second half, Perine and the offense did get it going. Perine ran for 97 yards and Redskins put up 210 yards and 17 points. It’s safe to say that it wasn’t a coincidence.

The Redskins didn’t make any halftime adjustments to get the ground game in gear.

“We just had to stay the course,” said Perine. “We knew they were going to come out fired up, they just came off a big win. We just had to stay the course and then things started going our way.”

MORE REDSKINS: MUST-SEE PHOTOS OF THE WIN

Perine was more steady than spectacular. His longest run was 16 yards. He came out of the locker room and ran for six and 10 yards on his first two carries. Later in the third quarter the Redskins were backed up at their own 10. Perine ran four straight plays for 39 yards and the Redskins were near midfield.

Although they didn’t score on that drive they did change field position. That was part of the Redskins’ strategy playing with an injury-depleted offense.

“If you had to punt in a game like this and play field position, it’s not the end of the world because our defense was playing so good,” said Gruden.

Not only did the running game flip the field, it flipped the time of possession. In the first half, the Giants had the ball for 17:40 compared to 12:20 for the Redskins.

“We had to get on the field and control some of the clock,” said tackle Morgan Moses. “We had to give our defense a rest. Samaje put his foot in the ground and got extra yards when needed and we were able to move the chains.”

Moses wasn’t the only one enjoying seeing Perine pile up some yards.

“As a defensive player, you want to see that,” said safety D.J. Swearinger. “We say, keep running it. Keep running him. Let him keep getting those carries, put a dent in the defense. It was a good sight to see.”

RELATED: FIVE KEY MOMENTS IN RESKINS VS GIANTS

Swearinger got to watch a lot of Perine. The Redskins piled up 22:17 in possession in the second half, while Swearinger and his defensive mates had to defend for just 7:43.

Last night was the second time in four days that Perine has rushed for 100 yards or more; he had 117 in New Orleans on Sunday. No Redskin has rushed for 100 yards in consecutive games since Alfred Morris did it in November of 2013.

He will have a chance to extend that streak to three on Thursday against the Cowboys, who are ranked 17th in rushing defense. That would put him in some elite company in Redskins history, including Larry Brown (twice) and Stephen Davis.  A steak of three straight 100-yard games was last done by Morris in 2012.

It may be a little early to look forward, but the Redskins record is five straight 100-yard games, held by Clinton Portis (twice) and Ladell Betts.  

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.