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Redskins draft countdown: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

Redskins draft countdown: Florida State RB Dalvin Cook

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 10 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players the Redskins 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 they might fit in Washington.

I am not a scout but I will pass along my observations from watching some game tape of each of the players profiled here.

Dalvin Cook

Running back
Florida State

Height: 5-10
Weight: 210
40-yard dash: 4.49

Projected draft round: 1

What they’re saying

Explosive lower body and coordinated feet to start, stop and redirect quickly. Elusive athlete and can make defenders miss in a phone booth, showing exceptional body control and instincts in his jump cuts. Senses his surroundings well and anticipates spacing in his runs. Quick to read blocks and sets up his moves with patience and feel. Runs balanced with a low center to escape tackle attempts. Runs with better-than-expected toughness between the tackles

Dane Brugler, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: Rob Kelley is a great story and he’ll gain some yards for the Redskins. But he’s not a great running back and that’s what Dalvin Cook can be.

He averaged 6.5 yards per carry and 11.8 yards per pass reception in his three seasons at Florida State and he scored 48 total touchdowns. Last year Cook rushed for 140 or more yards in seven of the 13 games he played.

The Redskins could be in their last year with Kirk Cousins as their quarterback. If he is gone in 2018 they could struggle to move the ball through the air. A running back like Cook, who has the potential to score from anywhere on the field from anywhere every time he touches the ball, could help a new quarterback get adjusted.

Film review (2016 unless indicated): vs. Miami, vs. Michigan (Orange Bowl)

Cook ran out of a variety of formations in FSU’s pro-style offense. He took handoffs out of a single-back set, the I-formation, on either side of the quarterback in the shotgun and from the pistol.

His blend of vision and acceleration is impressive. On one play against Miami he saw a crack in the middle of a pack of blockers and defenders. He burst through it, found open ground and turned a five-yard play into a long gain.

Cook will need some work with pass protection. A lot of the time his tendency was to lean into a blitzer rather than setting his feet and delivering a block. He seemed tentative at times, perhaps because, like most star college backs, he didn’t work on it a whole lot. That will change when he gets into the NFL.

He’s not a big back but some of his more impressive runs are to the inside, where he finds some space and makes four yards when zero yards seem to be there.

In the Orange Bowl against Michigan he lined up wide left and ran a go pattern. He got a step on the defender and made the catch for a 45-yard gain. Lining up wide likely would be more of an occasional wrinkle than a regular alignment but he could give the defense something to think about.

If a defender who wants to bring Cook down, using proper tackling form is strongly suggested. He slips through arm tackle attempts with relative ease.  

Potential issues: There are a few potential red flags. One is injuries. He has had shoulder surgery three times, one on his left shoulder and two on his right. While none of them was serious, the fact that he has had three of them is a concern.

So has the fact that he has been arrested three times. Charges were dropped twice, once for robbery and once for possessing and discharging a weapon on school property. Those incidents took place when he was in high school. In 2015 he was charged with misdemeanor battery outside of a bar and he was found not guilty.

A guy can be in the wrong place at the wrong time and run afoul of the law once or twice. When it happens a third time you must at least question his judgement.

Finally, ball security was a major problem for Cook. He fumbled once every 63.8 offensive touches. To compare, Leonard Fournette of LSU lost the handle at a rate of 82.1. On the other end of the scale was Christian McCaffrey of Stanford, who coughed up the ball just once every 243.7 touches. A fumble rate of about once every 100 touches is acceptable in the NFL so Cook will have to work hard on hold on to the ball.

Bottom line: Sure, the Redskins might want a defensive lineman who is stout against the run and capable of rushing the passer to be available with pick No. 17. Maybe a stud inside linebacker would help. But there is a good chance that there won’t be one of those on the board worth the 17th pick.

So if you can’t help your defense with the first-round pick maybe the next-best thing is to help your running game. Cook could keep the chains moving and keep the defense off of their field. If the Redskins decide that the red flags are worth the talent there might not be another move that they can make that will help their defense more than drafting a back like Cook.

In his own words:

On working on ball security:

You’ve got to take care of the ball as a running back. It’s something that I watch a lot of tape on and it’s always the man you don’t see. When you’re fighting for those extra yards you’ve got to take care of that football and chinning the ball is something I worked on and I feel like I improved on it.”

Previously in 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/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

 

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Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins getting thin at receiver with two more injured wideouts out on Sunday

In August, Redskins fans would freak out if they heard Jordan Reed and Terrelle Pryor would both miss a November game.

In November, that news doesn’t carry much worry.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced that Reed and Pryor, along with center Spencer Long, won’t play Sunday against the Saints.

RELATED: KEYS TO VICTORY AGAINST THE SAINTS

Reed hasn’t played in a few weeks as he is dealing with a hamstring injury. It seemed he might have returned last week before a setback slowed down his progress.

In his place, Vernon Davis has proved to be a sturdy backup capable of some big games.

Long injured his knee and while he played last week, he did not practice this week.

Not having Pryor is a bit of a surprise. His ankle injury popped up this week and he will see a specialist next week to examine the joint. In the middle of a disappointing season, the Redskins offense won’t lose much with his absence.

Elsewhere on the injury list, a number of players will be questionable for Sunday’s contest against the 7-2 Saints.

Perhaps most important, Trent Williams is questionable but will probably play.

MORE ON THE REDSKINS: FIVE PLAYERS UNDER PRESSURE

Receivers Ryan Grant and Brian Quick are expected to play after undergoing concussion protocol, but that will leave the Redskins with only three fully healthy wideouts: Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Maurice Harris.

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Redskins' Josh Norman earns Week 10 NFLPA community MVP

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USA TODAY Sports

Redskins' Josh Norman earns Week 10 NFLPA community MVP

Redskins' Josh Norman is using his platform as a professional football player to help those in need, and this week it earned him NFLPA's community MVP.

The cornerback has been raising funds for youth enrichment programs in the D.C. area, as well as starting a campaign to help those affected in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria. 

Norman's foundation, Starz24, provides backpacks and school supplies for children in need and creates initiatives for students at Jefferson Middle School Academy in D.C.. He recently raised almost $100,000 for Starz24's Imagination Team Rooms, a STEM-based "makerspaces" that will be placed in several inner city middle and high schools. 

Then, when Puerto Rico was devastated by Hurricane Maria back in September, Norman started a social media campaign to help those affected. The campaign brought in $150,000. Norman also donated $100,000 of his own with part of the money going to the Boys & Girls clubs in Puerto Rico.

I look at it as I’m on this earth to help people and help them be the best that they can be,” Norman said. “I have the means to do so. I’m going to do that.

Every week during the regular season, the NFLPA selects a NFL player who is making a difference in their community. They are going to be making a $10,000 contribution to his foundation or a charity of his choice in addition to an in-kind donation on behalf of their supporting partner, Delta Private Jets.

I am so honored to be recognized by the NFLPA for my work in the community,” Norman said. “All of this work is bigger than football. I want to make an impact in the lives of children who need it most and to help develop those children to help change the future.