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Redskins draft countdown: West Virginia WR Kevin White

kevin-white-head.png

Redskins draft countdown: West Virginia WR Kevin White

The NFL Draft is just over six weeks away and I’ll continue researching draft prospects. 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.

Kevin White
Wide receiver
West Virginia

Height: 6-3
Weight: 215
40 time: 4.35 sec.

What they’re saying:
Strengths: Has desired NFL frame for the position. Goes and gets the ball with consistency. Had issues with drops in 2013 after transferring in from JUCO, but caught everything in sight in 2014. High points the ball. Asked to run more types of routes in 2014 and delivered with increased productivity.

Weaknesses: Pigeon-toed and runs heel to toe. Allowed to play in space and must learn to get off line of scrimmage against press coverage. Must answer questions abound about his top-end speed.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: I know that many of you are going to scream that wide receiver is not a need and the team can’t waste the No. 5 pick on a pass catcher. The first thing I would say to that is that you’re not paying any attention to McCloughan, who says that he will take the best player available. I’ve also said that need often does factor into the grade that determines the best available. But in this case that doesn’t matter because the team does have a need to draft a wide receiver.

You have to keep in mind that a draft is more about seasons 2-4 years from now than it is about the coming season. Even that high in the draft, the emphasis is on the future. Let’s look at the current top of the depth chart at wide receiver. Pierre Garçon will be 30 by the start of the 2016 season and DeSean Jackson will be 30 by the end of it. Their salary cap costs combined will come in at a little under $20 million. It will be time to replace at least one of them.

Once you establish the need the rest is easy. He’s the big, fast, physical receiver the team hasn’t had in, well, forever.

Potential issues: He’s only had one big year at the collegiate level. After starting out at a junior college he transferred to West Virginia. In 2013 he had just 35 receptions for 507 yards and five TD’s. Then in 2014 he exploded with 109 catches for 1,447 yards and 10 touchdowns. It’s fair to have concerns that he was a one-year wonder.

Bottom line: The conventional wisdom is that the Redskins will take an edge rusher at five and you can count me in as a fan of both Randy Gregory (Countdown profile here) and Dante Fowler Jr. (profile here). But I don’t necessarily see McCloughan going what the Mel Kipers and Mike Mayocks of the world think he will do.

It will be hard for McCloughan to resist White’s upside. I’d rate it as a mild surprise but not a complete shock, if he pulled the trigger on the big, fast wideout.

In his own words:

On what was behind his jump in production from his junior to senior years:
Motivation. My junior year I put bad film out there. That's not the kind of receiver, the kind of player I am. Going into my senior year, I just put everything on the line and do what I had to do . . . Like I've been telling teams. It finally clicked. I'm going to do what I have to do. I'm going to work hard and do anything and everything possible that I can.
Previously in Draft Countdown:

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No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

No tension between Jay Gruden and Kirk Cousins, but the coach wants improvement 

MOBILE -- Jay Gruden is making jokes about Kirk Cousins again, and that's good news for Redskins fans that worried about a fracture between coach and quarterback. 

It all started in the weeks following the Redskins dreadful Week 17 loss to the Giants as Gruden and Cousins seemed to be throwing slight jabs at one another.

Gruden, in his end of year press conference, explained that while Cousins "showed flashes" in 2017, when the team goes 7-9, the coach can't say any player was outstanding: 

You know when you’re 7-9, you know it’s hard to say, ‘Wow, this guy really was outstanding.’ You know there’s a few guys obviously that jump out, Pro Bowlers like Ryan Kerrigan had a solid year. Obviously Trent when he played was Pro Bowl type, Brandon when he was healthy was Pro Bowl type guy. Kirk had his flashes where he was really good. From a consistent standpoint, over the course of 16 games, you know we’re 7-9. He did some great things, threw for over 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns I believe. So, I think he’s a very, very good quarterback without a doubt, but as far as getting us over the hump from 7-9 to winning a division with all the injuries that we had, I think he competed and did some good things.

Cousins, in his year-end radio appearance with 106.7 the Fan, explained that he wants the team to do better but doesn't think the 7-9 record should fall on his shoulders alone. (Quote via Washington Post)

What I gathered from the comment was 7-9 and the quarterback play are causally related and that quarterback play is 7-9, 7-9 is the quarterback play. I saw that and I thought, ‘I think it’s slightly more complicated than that.’ I think there’s a few more dynamics in play as to what your final record is. … At the same time, his job is to evaluate. That’s a big part of his role and his position. In that comment, he’s just doing his job, he’s evaluating the position and he has the right to say what he wants to say.

Both comments were fairly innocuous, but also clearly at odds. Combine that dialogue with the undercurrent of another offseason contract negotiation, and it seemed things between coach and quarterback weren't quite right. 

On Tuesday, speaking at the Senior Bowl, Gruden cleared the air. Asked directly about tension between he and Cousins, the coach was blunt. 

"No." 

Gruden went on to explain his answer about Cousins 2017 play, the now infamous 7-9 line.

"When I say 7-9, if I say one player played great that means I'm saying everybody else was not very good," the coach explained (full video above). "I think we all have to stick together, we all have to improve from a 7-9 season, coaches, players, everybody."

Cousins was good in 2017, throwing for more than 4,000 passing yards for the third straight season. He also showed that he can produce offensively without a great supporting cast, as injuries robbed the Redskins of many of their best passing game threats and seriously damaged the offensive line. 

The quarterback did play two terrible games in the last month of the season, however, including a three interception stinker in the Week 17 finale.

It's possible that Gruden had that fresh in his mind when he spoke in early January, and with the benefit of a little time, his assessment mellowed by late January. 

Either way, Gruden joked about Cousins deserving a vacation, and even said the QB needs a tan. Gruden often uses humor to defuse touchy situations with Redskins players, and maybe he just did it again. 

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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Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins have begun contract talks with Zach Brown, but free agency looms

Redskins fans want Zach Brown back. Bad. And for weeks there had been no news about contract talks between Washington and Brown. 

Now that's changed.

"We've been talking to his agent," Redskins head coach Jay Gruden said on Tuesday. 

Gruden, speaking from the Senior Bowl, explained that the team would like Brown back in 2018 but Washington also understands that the linebacker might want to explore the free agent market. 

"It’s a process," Gruden said (full video above). "These guys have a chance to be a free agent, they had a good year and they want to check what the market is sometimes. If we can get them before they get to free agency, great, but if not, the bidding wars will begin."

For Brown, free agency will look different in 2018 than it did last season when he signed a one-year. bargain deal with the Redskins. 

Prior to injuries forcing him to miss the final three games of the season, Brown led the NFL in tackles. For two straight years, 2016 in Buffalo and 2017 in Washington, Brown has proved to be a tackling machine and arguably the fastest linebacker in the NFL. Brown also signed new representation last offseason, Jason and Michael Katz of CSE Football, and should Brown hit the free agent market the Katz brothers will aggresively market their client. 

Washington Senior Vice President of Football Operations Eric Schaeffer will handle the contract discussions for Washington, and is known as a shrewd negotiator. 

Like many business deals, this will come down to money. Brown established himself as a fit in Washington, both on the field and in the locker room. Interior linebackers do not command top dollar like pass rushers do, but Brown will still expect to be compensated appropriately. 

Further complicating matters for Washington, the Redskins only have Josh Harvery-Clemmons, Zach Vigil and Martrell Speight under contract for 2018. 

It's too early to predict what "it's a process" means from Jay Gruden, but Redskins fans should draw some encouragement that talks have begun with Brown. 

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!