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Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller could be a playmaker for the Redskins

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Virginia Tech CB Kendall Fuller could be a playmaker for the Redskins

Redskins draft countdown

The NFL draft is 69 days away and there is plenty of speculation as to what players Scot McCloughan 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 he might fit in Washington.

Kendall Fuller
Cornerback
Virginia Tech

Height: 6-0
Weight: 196

What they’re saying
The playmaking production didn't happen by accident. Fuller has the twitch and the anticipation to challenge throws on the NFL level and come away with his fair share of interceptions, but scouts are very leery of the chances he is willing to take as they have concerns about his ability to carry long speed. With the way Fuller plays the ball in front of him combined with his tackling prowess, his home could be with a Tampa 2-oriented defense that values physical, zone corners over speed.
Lance Zierlein, NFL.com

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins’ cornerback unit consists of Bashaud Breeland, who could be very good but is still learning, Chris Culliver, who may or may not be recovered from a serious knee injury by the time the season starts, and some assorted players they either promoted off of the practice squad or signed off of the street. In short, it’s shaky.

Fuller is a playmaker who could contribute as a rookie and probably slide into a starting role as the slot corner in 2017. He reacts to the ball well, a trait that showed up as he picked off eight passes and defensed 34 in 2013 and 2014.

Fuller is not afraid to mix it up as a tackler in run support. And while I'm not real big on "legacy" type items, it should be noted that he is the youngest of four brothers who played defensive back for the Hokies including Kyle, who was a first-round pick of the Bears in 2014. The Redskins have done well with DB's who went to school in Blacksburg with DeAngelo Hall and Kyshoen Jarrett.

Potential issues: At 6-0 Fuller isn’t a small corner by any stretch but Scot McCloughan might want a cornerback he drafts early to be an inch or two taller. That doesn’t rule out Fuller but McCloughan will need to be impressed with his other traits to pull the trigger on him in the early going.

Fuller only played two season plus a few games at Virginia Tech and he has plenty of learning to do; scouting reports have noted he particularly has trouble with double moves. His career as a Hokie was cut short by a torn meniscus. He tried to play through it in 2015 but after three games he decided to have the injury repaired with surgery.

Bottom line: Although there isn’t a lot of concern over lingering effects from the injury to Fuller’s meniscus, the knee will still be thoroughly poked and prodded at the NFL Combine next week. If it passes muster he could emerge with a second-round grade. If there are still issues he could slide to the third.

Fuller could represent an opportunity for McCloughan to land a first-round talent later in the draft. He will need to be coached up but the Redskins could do that while having Culliver and Breeland start. The master plan for 2017 then may be to move on from Culliver and the $8 million in salary remaining on each of the final two years of his contract and go with Breeland and Fuller at cornerback.

Previously in Combine 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!