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Ohio State WR K.J. Hill says it would 'be great' to play with Dwayne Haskins again

Ohio State WR K.J. Hill says it would 'be great' to play with Dwayne Haskins again

INDIANAPOLIS - The Redskins hit it big last year taking Ohio State wide receiver Terry McLaurin in the third round of the NFL Draft, and it seems possible another Buckeye wideout could head to Washington this year. 

K.J. Hill, 6-foot, 195 lb., just finished his senior season in Columbus as the Buckeyes all-time leading receiver. That's a major accomplishment, but more importantly for Redskins fans, Hill considers Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins one of his best friends. On top of that, Hill has already met with Redskins officials twice in this year's pre-draft process, both at the Senior Bowl and this week at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Both McLaurin and Haskins reached out to Hill last year, where interestingly his numbers dipped a bit from the 2018 season when all three were played together. As a junior that year paired up with Haskins, Hill posted 70 catches for 885 yards and six touchdowns - he actually outproduced McLaurin by nearly 200 yards. In 2019, with Haskins in the NFL and the more running-focused Justin Fields at quarterback for Ohio State, Hill's numbers dipped to 57 catches for 636 yards with 10 TDs. 

It's hard to know what will happen in the NFL Draft, very hard, but in some ways, Hill draws striking similarities to McLaurin last year. At Ohio State, there are so many good players that the numbers don't stand out. Both players pride themselves on route running and special teams. And just like last season when McLaurin lasted to the third round, projections are similar for Hill this year. 

Of course, McLaurin exploded on the scene for the Redskins last year, going for more than 900 yards and seven touchdowns in 14 games as a rookie. Going into 2020, he's locked in the Redskins WR1 spot and fellow 2019 rookie Steven Sims looks to have the slot WR role locked up. Another 2019 rookie, Kelvin Harmon, could be the guy opposite McLaurin but the Redskins still need to add talent at the wideout spot. 

As cool as the Haskins/McLaurin/Hill reunion story seems, the Redskins will meet with more than a dozen potential receiver draft picks between the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine. It does say something that Washington met with Hill at both events, but there are lots and lots of good prospects. 

Some will debate what Hill's role will be in the NFL if he is just a slot player or can make it on the outside. Whatever happens and where ever Hill lands, just remember some experts said the same thing about McLaurin this time last year. 

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Kyle Allen was 'surprised' by trade to Redskins but thrilled to reunite with Ron Rivera

Kyle Allen was 'surprised' by trade to Redskins but thrilled to reunite with Ron Rivera

Kyle Allen was in his car on Monday, driving home from a workout when his phone started to ring.

The 24-year-old quarterback answered, and just moments later, found out he had been traded from the Carolina Panthers to the Washington Redskins. Allen, who started 12 games for Carolina a season ago, was not expecting the move at all, despite seeing the Panthers sign quarterbacks Teddy Bridgewater and P.J. Walker in free agency.

"It's a shock. I wasn't expecting it," Allen told Redskins Nation. "I signed a contract with Carolina two weeks ago. But I know contracts don't really mean anything."

Over the 24 hours that followed after the trade, Allen started to process it all. He quickly realized how much sense the move made, and the situation he would be walking into in Redskins Park was something he was plenty familiar with.

Allen reunited with head coach Ron Rivera and offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who were both in Carolina the past two seasons. With the NFL offseason full of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic, Allen has a ton of familiarity with Turner's offensive system. Although Rivera told a radio interview on Wednesday that the team plans to enter training camp with second-year passer Dwayne Haskins as the starter, Allen was brought in to compete with him, too.

"I got to think about it a lot the past 24 hours, and I'm excited to be back with coach Rivera and coach Turner," Allen said.  "The more I sat down and thought about it after the call, the more it makes complete sense. I think the continuity of the system, being with them before, the coaches, the need for that spot on the team, I think it's perfect. The more I think about it, the more I get excited about it."

The third-year passer has had plenty of twists and turns during his football career. As a true freshman at Texas A&M, Allen started 10 games for the school. But as a sophomore, the passer was forced to split time with another talented quarterback, current Arizona Cardinals QB Kyler Murray. Allen transferred to Houston following the 2015 season (Murray would transfer as well), and was forced to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules. Allen started just four games for Houston in 2017 before being benched. Unhappy with his situation, Allen forewent his final year of eligibility and declared for the 2018 Draft.

Unsurprisingly, Allen went undrafted. But it was Rivera who gave him a chance to compete, bringing him into Carolina as an undrafted free agent. After injuries to both Cam Newton and Taylor Heinicke, Allen made his first career start in December of 2018, leading the Panthers to victory. After another Newton injury early last season, Allen emerged as the team's starter. Just a year and a half after going undrafted, Allen started 12 games for Rivera's club.

Once again back with Rivera, Allen could not be happier.

"It's awesome. It's incredible to play for Ron Rivera," Allen said. "I've told a lot of people, he's my favorite head coach I've ever played for, and I've played for my fair share."

Allen then went into detail about his respect for the Redskins head coach, and how Rivera gave him an opportunity when no one else did.

"He's always there for you. He's a player's coach," Allen said. "Wins or losses, he was always at my locker after the game, talking me through it, helping me through it. He always had that confidence in me, he always believed in me, and he gave me such a great opportunity. I was undrafted two years ago, and he saw something in me. Even after they cut me, he brought me back and gave me the opportunity to make a name for myself. Can't ask for anything more from him, he's been an incredible coach every time I've been with him."

Coincidentally, Allen's final game working with Rivera was against the Redskins, a Washington victory this past December. Rivera was let go by Carolina two days later. Now, they're back together.

"I'm not too fond of that memory, to be honest with you," Allen joked. "I'm glad I'm on the other side now."

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Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': Young Redskins will get their chances under Ron Rivera

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Amazon Prime

Rewatching 'All Or Nothing': Young Redskins will get their chances under Ron Rivera

Pete Hailey is rewatching Amazon's All Or Nothing, a behind-the-scenes look at the 2018 Panthers, to learn about Ron Rivera and other key people who are now a part of the Redskins. Here's his review of episode four, "Look Good Play, Good."

After he was fired by the Panthers and before he decided to take over the Redskins, Ron Rivera studied a handful of Washington games to evaluate the team's roster. While doing so, one aspect jumped out at him in particular.

"For the most part, the way they play, the way they fought, some of these young guys didn’t know any better," the coach explained during his first presser back in January. "They showed up and they played hard. That was impressive to me."

Rivera has since reiterated that the Burgundy and Gold's collection of young and hungry talent was a key reason he chose to land with the Redskins. When you check out their depth chart, it's easy to see what he means.

Currently, the following players are all between 22 and 26 years old: Dwayne Haskins, Daron Payne, Derrius Guice, Tim Settle, Steven Sims, Kelvin Harmon, Cole Holcomb, Montez Sweat, Terry McLaurin, Jonathan Allen, Fabian Moreau, Ryan Anderson, Landon Collins, Matt Ioannidis and Chase Roullier. 

Every name on that list figures to factor in to whether Rivera is able to right the Redskins. They better be prepared for that effort, too, because he's likely going to lean on them often, even through their mistakes. 

In episode four of Amazon's 2018 All Or Nothing show, which followed Rivera's Panthers, DJ Moore has a very forgettable afternoon (ironically, in a game at FedEx Field). The then-rookie fumbles twice, once on a punt and once after a catch, and those turnovers lead to 10 points for the hosts. In the end, Carolina falls to Washington, 23-17. 

Afterward, a reporter asked Rivera how he balances showing a struggling, unseasoned pro he's still on his side versus punishing that pro when he continues to slip up.

"This is all about building confidence," he answered. "DJ is going to be a part of what we do for a long time and we’ll stick with him."

It was a simple answer and one that hinted at a simple philosophy: If you're suiting up for Rivera, he's going to trust you to contribute and also stand by you if those contributions don't come right away, because he knows that could make the difference in the long-term future.

That should most excite those who want to see Dwayne Haskins succeed. A quarterback with little NFL experience such as Haskins is going to have days where the interceptions stack up and the yards don't. It sounds like Rivera will ride out those days in order to see the ones where Haskins breaks out.

It's a mindset that'll apply everywhere else, too. Whatever draft picks the Redskins end up with in April, some of the free agents he's already acquired and the rest of the 26-and-under group outlined above should be in line for lots of snaps and lots of chances to grow. The goal is that the majority of them will improve in that action and form the core Rivera so badly wants.

Of course, even a leader with as much time as Rivera has to correct a franchise will run out of patience. Plus, he's made a point to keep veterans like Adrian Peterson and bring in others like Thomas Davis to ensure there's a crew of established options to call on in 2020 — a season he'd no doubt like to end with a trip to the playoffs.

But realistically, the Redskins will enter 2020 coming off of a 3-13 campaign, meaning expectations should be modest at best. One thing fans can expect, though? Seeing young Redskins on the field in main roles every weekend.

Look for Rivera to prioritize building their confidence immediately in hopes of building a winner eventually. Year 1 could be a slog because of that, but the years that follow could very much be worth it.

Links to past reviews:

Episode 1: Rivera doesn't flinch after adversity hits

Episode 2: Rivera shows his feelings on distractions

Episode 3: Special teams truly mean something to Ron