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Senior Bowl: potential Redskins' prospects on offense


Senior Bowl: potential Redskins' prospects on offense

MOBILE, Ala.—During my trip to the Senior Bowl this week, I spent some time with NBC Sports’ draft expert Josh Norris to get his thoughts on 12 prospects that could/should be on the Redskins’ radar, given the team’s needs in this year’s draft. Yesterday, we covered the defensive prospects. Today, we're discussing the players on offense that Norris believes could be a fit in Washington:

Wide receivers

Braxton Miller (6-1, 204), Ohio State

2015 stats: 261 yards rushing on 43 carries (6.1 yards per) and 25 catches for 340 yards, 4 combined touchdowns.

Norris’ take: “From the first game of the season, I saw a natural receiver in Braxton Miller. ...He’s just a slot guy early on [in the NFL], unless he shows the ability to stay out in two-receiver sets. I think the Redskins already have that type of player there [Jamison Crowder]. But do I think his ceiling could be a No. 2 receiver that’s on the outside? Yeah. I just think we need to see him consistently win on the outside and we don’t have enough information. So I think it’s going to be a leap of faith, but I bet he goes in the top-64 based on how on-another-planet he looks.”

Sterling Shepard (5-10, 191), Oklahoma

2015 stats: 86 receptions, 1288 yards, 11 touchdowns, 7.8 yards per punt return.

Norris’ take: “Wide receivers can win in two different ways; they can win in the small game, which is burst and separation and route running and running after the catch, or they can win in the big game, which is physicality and contested catches. Sterling Shepard has shown the potential to win in both areas. …He can make catches when he’s not open. In a class that has a good amount of wide receiver talent at the top, I think he’s among the top-5.”

Charone Peake (6-2, 205), Clemson

2015 stats: 50 receptions, 716 yards, 5 touchdowns.

Norris’ take: “I don’t know if he plays like he’s 6-2, but he moves well. And we know Clemson has been a factory for putting out receivers. He’ll absolutely get a shot, but he’s more of a later-round type.”


Jack Allen (6-2, 296), Michigan State

2015 stats: First team All-American (Associated Press, CBS Sports, Started 12 games at center, recorded 77 knockdowns during regular season.

Norris’ take: “He’s a good anchor player and he’s played guard and center. That utility is great, even as a backup because you can only dress probably two backup offensive linemen [on game days]. …I think every single center here is going start in the NFL at some point.” Norris also mentioned Nick Martin (Notre Dame), Graham Glasgow (Michigan) and Evan Boehm (Missouri) as center prospects to watch.

Running backs

Kenneth Dixon (5-10, 212), Louisiana Tech

2015 stats: 1,073 yards rushing on 198 carries, 464 yards receiving, 26 total touchdowns.

Norris’ take: “With running backs, at the very least you want someone who can pick up the yards that are blocked for them. But the ones that separate themselves are the ones that can create on their own, either with yards after contact or evading defenders. I think a lot of people are going to get caught up seeing Ken Dixon as well-rounded guy. But to me, I see him anticipate angles and cut back. He can also win with contact or without it, and he’s a really good receiver. So if a team needs him to play on all three downs, he can do that.”  

Kenyan Drake (6-1, 210), Alabama

2015 stats: 408 yards rushing on 77 carries, 276 yards receiving, 26.6 yards per kickoff return.

Norris’ take: “He can be electric [as a returner]. He’s also a very good receiver. He was kind of the lightning to [Heisman Trophy winner] Derrick Henry’s thunder. The thing is a lot of times his vision isn’t fantastic. You’ll see where the play where the play was supposed to go, but he’ll elect to bounce it outside. But as a returner, he’s going to [produce]. He played special teams outside of that, as well. I would say he’s a fourth or fifth rounder.”

Tyler Ervin (5-10, 192), San Jose State

2015 stats: 1,601 yards rushing on 294 carries, 334 yards receiving, 16 total touchdowns, 23.9 yards per kickoff return.

Norris’ take: “He’s kind of a gadget player. He’ll be someone’s Chris Thompson. He reminds me a lot of [Cardinals running back] Andre Ellington because his speed is awesome. When he gets a crease, it's like ‘Boom’, he shoots through it. If you give him the second level, he can take it 60 yards in a flash. And he’s a good receiver, so you can motion him out and let him do Chris Thompson-type stuff. But whenever you see him have to get the tough yards…he’ll get two yards but he’ll just go down. To me, running backs that fall forward on final contact to pick up those extra one-and-a-half yards, that’s becoming more and more of a bigger thing. He doesn’t do that. But if you’re not going to rely on him as an every down, I think Tyler Ervin can be a good piece.”  


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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

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Eagles' Michael Bennett allegedly injured elderly worker; arrest warrant issued

Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.

Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.

A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.

The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her. 

The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.


Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.

The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.

The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy. 


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Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown: WR James Washington's numbers don't impress but he could be a solution for the Redskins

Redskins Draft Countdown

James Washington

Wide receiver
Oklahoma State

Oklahoma State wide receiver James Washington measured at 5 feet 11 inches at the combine and his 40 time was a pedestrian 4.54.

But forget about the numbers. His catch radius is larger than his height would indicate, and he plays much faster than the stopwatch says he does.

His route tree needs to be cleaned up but his ability to get open deep, make receptions on back shoulder throws and, yes, Redskins fans, fade patterns will make him a productive receiver while he learns.

Height: 5-11
Weight: 213
40-yard dash: 4.54

Projected draft round: 1-2

What they’re saying

He doesn't look like a receiver and he doesn't run routes like a receiver, but then you see him get open deep and make all those explosive plays, and you know exactly what he does for an offense.

—A Big 12 assistant coach via

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins needed a wide receiver to line up opposite Josh Doctson after Terrelle Pryor fizzled out last year. They went out and signed Paul Richardson to a free agent contract, solving the immediate need.

But in the NFL, you should always be looking for your next receiver. It takes most of them at least a season to develop so if you wait until you really need a pass catcher it’s too late to draft one. Washington has the capability to contribute early and develop from there.  

Film review: vs. Pitt, vs. TCU, vs. Oklahoma

—Like most coaches, Jay Gruden wants his wide receivers to block and Washington certainly gives it the effort. He helped backs gain extra yards on stretch plays with hustling blocks downfield. His technique may need some work—a long touchdown run against Oklahoma was called back when he was hit for holding—but the effort is there.

—Against the Sooners, Washington got by a cornerback who was in off coverage and beat him for a long gain. Later in the game, the corner was in press coverage and Washington made one move and beat the defender on a post for a touchdown. We can insert the usual cautions about Big 12 defenses here, but it still was impressive to watch.

—Speed is important but so is how fast a receiver can stop to catch a pass. On one underthrown fade pattern, Washington was able to slam on the brakes while the cornerback kept on running, making the catch for a nice gain out of the end zone an easy one.

—Against TCU he split two defenders on a deep pass. He caught the ball in stride and then he found a second gear and easily outraced the defensive backs to the end zone to complete the 86-yard play. This is a good example of Washington playing faster than his 40 time.

Potential issues: Washington is not a good enough prospect to warrant the No. 13 pick, but he could easily be gone by the time the time their second-round pick is on the clock. As noted above, the quality of the defenses he faced in compiling 74 receptions for 1,549 yards (20.9 per catch) and 13 touchdowns has to be considered.

Bottom line: If I’m the Redskins, I have a talk with Jamison Crowder’s agent before the draft to gauge what his client would want in order to sign an extension prior to the 2018 season. If it’s something the Redskins consider reasonable, they should look elsewhere in the second round. But if a 2019 Crowder departure seems likely,  they should look at Washington if he’s there in the second round. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.