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Redskins Draft Countdown: LSU OT La'el Collins

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Redskins Draft Countdown: LSU OT La'el Collins

The NFL Draft is just  five 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.

La’el Collins
Offensive Tackle
LSU

Height: 6-4
Weight: 305
40 time: 5.12 sec.

What they’re saying:
Strengths: Thick through chest and displays upper-body strength. Has strong hands and will snatch and control less active defenders. He takes defenders for a ride once he's engaged on the move. Loves to mash and intimidate opponents. Mean player.

Weaknesses: Fails to consistently bring hips and feet with him through contact in the running game, causing him to fall forward and lose balance. Hand usage is a major concern. Hands will start too low in pass pro at times and has to work hard to redirect. Change of direction is slow for a tackle. Relies on lunging rather than foot movement to counter inside moves.

Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: If the Redskins trade back in the first round and end up with their top pick somewhere in the teens, they could decide that it’s time to upgrade at right tackle. The position has been in turmoil ever since Jon Jansen’s ability started to go downhill about 10 years ago. Collins could fill the bill on the right side of the line for the next eight to 10 years.

There are two right tackles in Washington now but the fact that the position is still up in the air speaks volumes about how they are viewed. Tom Compton started the last half of the 2014 season and Morgan Moses was a third-round draft pick last year. But the organization was still hot on the trails of right tackles Doug Free, Jermey Parnell, and Bryan Bulaga in the early phases of free agency. The bidding for each of them got too high for the Redskins’ budget but the fact that they were looking is a strong indication that they won’t hesitate to take a tackle if he’s the best available player if they are on the clock with, say, the 12th pick.

Potential issues: He’s a bit on the light side; Scot McCloughan might prefer a tackle that weighs about 20 pounds more. It’s easy to say that Collins could add some weight but he’s already pretty thick in his upper body and those pounds could come at the cost of some quickness.

Collins also doesn’t seem to have the athletic ability to play left tackle. That isn’t relevant right now. But Trent Williams is going into the last year of his contract. While it’s clear that the Redskins would like to have him for the long term, things don’t always work out. If the team is going to spend a top-20 pick on a tackle they may want to get one who can move to the left side if needed. Collins is more likely to move to guard than he is to left tackle.

Bottom line: With talk that the Redskins are very open to trading back from the fifth pick buzzing around at the owners meeting earlier this week, the possibility that their first pick will be back in the teens, maybe even further back, has to be considered. That puts players at positions such as right tackle squarely in play.

Collins will be in the mix with a few other tackles who will be under consideration in the middle of the first round, players like Brandon Scherff of Iowa and Andrus Peat of Stanford. They all have their plusses and minuses and McCloughan’s pick, if he does go in this direction, may come down to factors like the background check and which one never missed a workout.

In his own words:

Collins on his personality and versatility:
“A guy who is extremely confident in his play and ability and ready to come into the NFL and be coached at a very high level. A guy who wants to be the best at the next level and is ready to compete. That’s why I’m looking forward to being here doing all the drills and a couple weeks ago at the Senior Bowl . . . When I started playing football, I started playing defense and made the transition to playing offense in high school. I’ve always had a mentality of a defensive lineman, and I was able to bring that over to the offense, but also bring intelligence over to play offensive line. For me to go out there with that mentality and just get after it is something I bring to the table.”
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]

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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.