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Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown: Georgia RB Sony Michel

Redskins draft countdown

Sony Michel

Running back
Georgia

Sony Michel is a solid north-south runner who also can bounce outside and pick up yardage. He shared playing time with Nick Chubb last year and still ran for 1,277 yards, averaging 7.9 yards per carry, and scored 16 touchdowns against SEC competition. Michel also showed his bona fides in the passing game, catching 64 career passes and showing that he can handle pass protection. 

Height: 5-11
Weight: 220
40-yard dash:4.54

Projected draft round:2

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have made no secret of their desire to draft an upgrade at running back. They would prefer one who can catch passes out of the backfield and gain yardage between the tackles. Sony Michel can do both as well as pop for yardage on the outside. There is a good chance that he will be on the board when the Redskins draft in the second round. Since they don’t have a third-round pick, this may be the last chance to get an upgrade in this draft. 

Film review: vs. Notre Dame, vs. Alabama

—The first thing to say here is that the Bulldogs had a quality run-blocking offensive line. Michel frequently had big holes to run through. For his part, Michel maximized his gains when he had a big opening, hitting it quickly and working north-south. 

—He also can pick up yards through just a small crease, again by hitting it with urgency and gaining momentum to drive for the final few yards. 

—Michel didn’t do a whole lot of pass protection in the plays I watched, but he was solid when he did. On one play against Notre Dame, he put a blitzing defensive back on the ground. Against Alabama, he got in the way of likely first-round pick Da’Ron Payne long enough to allow the quarterback to get off a deep pass. To be sure, he didn’t blow Payne away but his block was effective.

—Besides the O-line, Michel also got quality blocking from his receivers. Again, he took advantage, reading the blocks and maximizing the gain. 

—He also can get it done without much help. On third and 20 against the vaunted Alabama defense, he headed up the middle and quickly went outside when he saw no running room. He headed to the sideline with four Alabama defenders and no blockers in sight. Michel found another gear and accelerated down the sideline to convert the third and long.  

—He later converted a third and 10 on a draw play, quickly getting up to speed and zipping through traffic to move the sticks. 

Potential issues: Although he has decent speed, he’s not the home run threat you might want in a back taken in the second round. And Michel isn’t really a power back either, although he can fight for extra yards. 

Despite his limitations, there is chatter that Michel might be drafted early in the second round or perhaps even late in the first. It’s hard to separate the smoke and speculation from reality as we sit a week before the draft starts. But he’s a talented back and if Derrius Guice goes off the board earlier than most expect, a run on runners could include Michel. 

Bottom line: Saquon Barkley is the obvious top running back and he surely will be gone when the Redskins pick in the first round. After that, the Redskins have plenty of options. They like Guice but 13 may be too high for him and he is likely to be gone when their pick in the second is on the clock. Michel is one of a few possibilities there, a group that also would include Michel’s former teammate Nick Chubb, Ronald Jones of USC and others. Without a peek at the draft board in Ashburn, we will just have to wait and see. 

Redskins draft countdown

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

 

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3 critical takeaways from Jack Del Rio's first media session as Redskins defensive coordinator

3 critical takeaways from Jack Del Rio's first media session as Redskins defensive coordinator

Jack Del Rio spoke to the Washington media on Wednesday, his first public session with reporters since being named Redskins defensive coordinator on Jan. 2.

While the conference call came more than two weeks after the team's announcement, it was certainly worth the wait.

Here are the three most critical takeaways from what Del Rio discussed.

1) He has no interest in discussing potential

At one point in the call, Del Rio was given the chance to set expectations for his group and explain what kind of potential he sees. It was the kind of question he could've easily answered, using glowing adjectives and praising many players.

But he didn't go that route. In fact, he went the opposite direction of that route

"It’s interesting to me that so much is made this time of year with thoughts on potential," Del Rio said. "Potential really doesn’t matter. It doesn’t really amount to much. To me, it’s more about what we can get done and the work that we’re willing to put in and the idea that, ‘Look, we’re going to become a respected unit, OK?’"

That might've been the most compelling response from the longtime coach, and it's a mindset that people like Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne and Landon Collins will surely appreciate.  

2) Teaching matters quite a bit to him

During one explanation, Del Rio brought up current Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard. Why? To illustrate how someone can grow and improve with the proper coaching.

Woodyard was with the Broncos when Del Rio took over as defensive coordinator, and according to Del Rio, people told him not to worry too much about the linebacker. Woodyard was merely a special teamer who "wasn't going to amount to much."

Del Rio dismissed that advice, instead focusing on bettering Woodyard's fundamentals, which in turn would help his confidence spike. That former Denver special teamer was recently on the field for Tennessee's playoff win in Baltimore and is now one victory away from a Super Bowl.

That's just one example that sticks out to Del Rio and proves how necessary it is to assist in the continuous enhancement of a pro's skills.

"For us, we are going to look to teach and develop," he said. "To me, we have players here that are maybe considered in a specific light and they will have the chance to change that."

3) He absolutely wants Ron Rivera's input

Del Rio and Rivera are both former NFL linebackers who seem to share a lot of the same ideologies about what they want in a scheme and in their guys. For that reason, he is more than willing to get input from Rivera on the 2020 defense's plan.

"It’s an inclusive process," Del Rio said. "[Rivera] wanted to be sure that I knew, ‘Hey look, you’re going to call it. It’s your defense’. I said, ‘Hey coach, I’d love to have you in there any time you have to be in there with us.’ It’s our staff. We’re going to work together. The first thing I said to the defensive staff at our very first meeting, ‘This is not me. It’s not about what I want. It’s about what we are, what we’re going to become.’"

Between Del Rio and Rivera, the franchise now has two leaders who each can point to plenty of past successes in building defenses. The thought of that pair working together and applying what they know in Washington should have fans feeling very pleased.

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3 critical takeaways from Scott Turner's first media session as Redskins offensive coordinator

3 critical takeaways from Scott Turner's first media session as Redskins offensive coordinator

It takes most Americans decades in the workforce before they find happiness in their job. Scott Turner turned 37 years old last August and landed his dream job last week. No wonder he's so excited. 

Redskins head coach Ron Rivera tabbed Turner as offensive coordinator and on Wednesday he spoke with reporters for the first time. His excitement for the new gig was palpable. 

"To be able to come here and be the offensive coordinator for this franchise is really awesome and something that I'm really excited about. So, on a personal level it is pretty cool," Turner said. 

Remember, Turner's father Norv was head coach of the Redskins during much of the 1990s, and Scott Turner lived in Northern Virginia from the age of 11 until he graduated high school. Those are his formative years, spent with the Redskins organization, and now he's the offensive coordinator. Most people would be excited. 

"It is really a dream come true to be back," Turner said. "It is pretty surreal, to be honest with you."

The homecoming story is great. It really is. But those good feelings are not going to score any points for Washington this fall. Coming home again won't gain a single first down. 

For Redskins fans that want to know the critical information provided from Turner in his first media session, dig in below:

1. Ready for Dwayne - Scott Turner made no secret that he's high on quarterback Dwayne Haskins' potential. Turner said he liked Haskins as a prospect coming out of Ohio State last year and he progressed well as a rookie, particularly late in the year with more opportunity. The new offensive coordinator also wasn't shy to tell Haskins he needs him to be the "most committed guy on the team" and that expectations will be high for the second-year signal-caller. Where Rivera gave relatively lukewarm praise to Haskins, Turner sounded all in on his presumed quarterback. 

2. Hold the linebackers - Turner talked about some similarities with his dad's offense, but things also evolve in pro football. The young coordinator said he intends to "use a lot of play-action pass" as a means to maximize Haskins' ability and generate chunk plays in the offense. The Redskins have playmakers too in Terry McLaurin and Stephen Sims. In 2019, Washington ranked 32nd in points scored and 31st in yards. There are only 32 teams. Turner must make this offense better, immediately, and watch Norv or Scott's offense in the past and know that play-action will be a huge component. Passing to the running backs likely will as well. 

3. Play to your strengths - For far too long the Redskins have tried to force players out of their comfort zones and into the Redskins strategy. That's not Turner's plan. "Right now, as a coaching staff we're really trying to get to know these guys. We have a little experience with some of them as far as like I was saying, evaluating Dwayne coming out of the draft. But, just really trying to figure out the pieces that we have on offense and then fit our scheme to our personnel and what they do well and not ask them to do stuff they don't do well. Now obviously we're going to push them and develop them to improve the things that they don't do quite as well, but we really want to develop our scheme around the strength of our players. So like Dwayne, you obviously see the big, strong guy who can stand in the pocket and really push the ball down the field." That sure sounds encouraging. 

Bonus - For years Jay Gruden and Bill Callahan seemed at odds over the Redskins run game. The play-action didn't work that well because the blocking scheme in the run game didn't mesh well with the run-fake looks. Now, with Turner and new offensive line coach John Matsko coming from the same principled staff in Carolina, expect much more cohesion between the pass and run game. That could help Haskins a ton. 

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