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Need to Know: Five running backs who could be on the Redskins' radar post-combine

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Need to Know: Five running backs who could be on the Redskins' radar post-combine

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, March 4, 11 days before NFL free agency starts.  

Five running back draft targets for the Redskins

Doug Williams didn’t just tip the Redskins’ hand when talking to the media at the NFL Combine last week; he practically laid the cards on the table when it came to upgrading the team’s running back position.

He didn’t completely rule out signing a veteran free agent back but the focus clearly is on the draft. Williams talked about how deep the draft is at the position.

“With this draft and what you already have, you get one in second, fourth round, third round, that’s a pretty good running back to go with what you already have,” he said.

While you have to take what is said at the combine with a giant grain of salt, let’s take Williams at his word and look for some good running backs who might be available in rounds 2-4. Although the Redskins don’t have a third-round pick they could acquire one in a trade.

Sony Michel, Georgia—The four-year player did not create much buzz with his 4.54 time in the 40; that placed ninth among running backs. However, he has never relied on speed, averaging 7.9 yards per carry as a senior with his power, shiftiness, and being able to pick the best path.

Rashaad Penny, San Diego St.—You may not have seen much of Penny if you live on the East coast as the Aztecs were not part of the Saturday afternoon or prime time TV fare. But you should learn more about him. Penny led the nation in rushing with 2,248 yards and he has the ideal size (5-11, 220) to be an every-down back at the next level. His 4.46 in the 40 was fourth among running backs at the combine.

Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—The SEC offensive player of the year will wait and run the 40 at his pro day. He did do most of the other drills including an impressive 40-inch vertical jump. Johnson is good a shifting gears and he can deliver punishment to his tacklers. I’ve seen him rated as anywhere from a first to a fourth-round pick so we will have to see when he is available.

Ronald Jones, USC—He doesn’t have ideal size (5-11, 200) but he could be the key player in the “by committee” approach at running back that Williams talked about. He has excellent running instincts, with a natural ability to skirt the line and then burst forward when the finds an opening. His 4.65 time in the 40 was well back in the pack but he plays plenty fast enough.

Derrius Guice, LSU—You might expect Guice and Jones to be gone by the time the Redskins’ second-round pick comes up. But the depth of the running back group just might keep these late-first round talents around until the Redskins’ second-round pick goes on the clock since teams know that if they miss out on one of these guys there are others to be had later. Guice is a good blend of speed (4.49 in the 40) and sheer running ability.

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.


Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 43
—NFL Draft (4/26) 53
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 189

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Redskins365 Episode 2: This Is Where I Wanted To Be

Redskins365 Episode 2: This Is Where I Wanted To Be

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season.

In Episode 2 titled "This Is Where I Wanted To Be" the focus in on the players, both new and old.

When free agency opened up during the 2019 offseason the biggest splash the Redskins made was the acquisition of safety Landon Collins. Heading over from a divisional rival, Collins as well as other members of the organization break down the signing and his fit within the team. The safety also shares his story about receiving a Sean Taylor jersey and what it means to join the team his idol played on.

The episode also touches on other free agent signings Ereck Flowers and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie as well as the trade for quarterback Case Keenum. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on the newest member of the QB room and explains how he'll fit in with Colt McCoy.

Speaking of McCoy, the show then takes a detour to Austin, Texas. There, McCoy reflects on his time at the University of Texas as well as his up and down NFL career that included a season-ending injury just a season ago.

From one Big 12 star to another, the episode concludes with a spotlight on Adrian Peterson. After a whirlwind first season in Washington, AP is back for more. The always-dependable runner shares his thoughts on his first season and explains how he deals with expectations.


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    Why the Redskins release of Mason Foster makes sense, and what happens next at ILB

    Why the Redskins release of Mason Foster makes sense, and what happens next at ILB

    The Redskins released Mason Foster just one day before the start of training camp, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Washington, and while the move makes sense on the field the timing seems weird. 

    Let's start with explaining why the move makes sense:

    After Reuben Foster blew out his knee during offseason workouts, the team signed veteran linebacker Jon Bostic. In a few weeks, Bostic proved the ability to call plays in the huddle and looked like a strong fit for Washington in their run defense. 

    With Bostic in the fold, and a slew of younger linebackers on the roster in Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Cole Holcomb, Mason Foster's game became expendable in the eyes of the Redskins front office. After all, Foster had previously been the linebacker to call plays in the huddle and his strength was piling up tackles in the run game.

    Add in the fact that releasing Foster clears $4 million in salary cap space, and Bostic counts less than $2 million, and the business side makes sense, too. 

    Why release Mason Foster now?

    The timing on this seems a little odd. The Redskins surely knew that Foster cost more than Bostic a month ago, and they knew about the other young linebackers on the roster. A release after minicamp might have allowed Foster to sign elsewhere already. The good news for Foster is that he won't have to play through training camp in Richmond, and risk injury, before maybe catching on with another team. He can now sign anywhere else. 

    Looking beyond the immediate impact to Foster, the Redskins could be freeing cap space for a subsequent move. Maybe there's a player available in free agency now that they want to make a run at, or they expect a player to become available.

    It's also entirely possible the money from releasing Foster could be used to get more cash to contract holdout Trent Williams or towards a Brandon Scherff extension. Keep in mind, however, that releasing Foster is only about a 2 percent difference on the overall salary cap. His release is not making or breaking any deal. 

    What's next for Redskins?

    Foster was the team's leading tackler last season and in two of the past three seasons. His absence will be missed, but the Washington brain trust must believe that production can be replaced. Expect Bostic and Hamilton to start when training camp opens, and Harvey-Clemons to work as the nickel linebacker. This also could mean a much greater opportunity for the rookie Holcomb.