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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 Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

Timeline  

Days until:

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

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