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.
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
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.
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:
- Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey
- Wisconsin OLB T.J. Watt
- Alabama ILB Reuben Foster
- Temple LB Haason Reddick
- Vanderbilt LB Zach Cunningham
- Washington S Budda Baker
- Michigan State LB Malik McDowell
- Miami QB Brad Kaaya
- Virginia Tech WR Isaiah Ford