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Redskins draft countdown: If they draft S Derwin James, the Redskins will have to alter their defense

Redskins draft countdown: If they draft S Derwin James, the Redskins will have to alter their defense

Redskins draft countdown

Derwin James

Safety
Florida State

He lines up deep, pressed up against the line of scrimmage, and everywhere else in between. Derwin James not only sets the tone for games defensively, he changes outcomes. Just line him up wherever you need him. He will find the ball. James can quickly become a major presence in an NFL locker room. 

Height: 6-2
Weight: 215
40-yard dash:4.47

Projected draft round:1

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins have their two starting safeties in D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson. But Nicholson’s ability to stay on the field for the entire season is in question. James would be high-quality depth. 

On a broader level, the Redskins lack impact players, especially on defense. A lineman like Da’Ron Payne or Vita Vea would fill a more urgent need in a specific spot. But would either player be able to lift the whole defense and give the opposing offense a player they have to account for on every snap? James has that potential and that could fill a greater need than more beef on the D-line. 

Film review: vs. Florida, vs. Clemson

—James does line up everywhere. He lined up as the deep single safety, as one of two deep safeties, at inside linebacker and pressed up against the line in the middle and on the edge. 

 —His mobility is tremendous. A few times he was backing up out of the picture before the snap and then he shot to the line to help make a run stop or assist on the tackle after a short pass.

—James has great anticipation, but he doesn’t always make the play. Against Florida, he was able to sniff out a swing pass but after he flew to the receiver he missed the tackle in the backfield. 

—That play was one of few where James seemed to be out of control. On most plays when he was lined up at safety he took his responsibility as the last line of defense seriously. He doesn’t go for the big hit; he makes sure the ball carrier gets to the ground. Sometimes this makes him appear to be overly cautious but it’s better than overrunning and allowing the big play. 

—If you want to find the ball, find James. If you want to find James, find the ball. 

—The Redskins want to improve their rushing defense. Adding a lineman isn’t the only way to do that. Against Clemson, the defensive front was tiring in the fourth quarter and James made tackle after tackle on running plays. 

Potential issues: Despite his presence around the ball, James did not make many big plays. In 26 games with the Seminoles, he had just three interceptions and two forced fumbles. Teams generally look for more takeaways from highly-drafted safeties. Eric Berry, to whom James has been compared, picked off 14 passes in three years at Tennessee. 

James suffered a torn meniscus in his sophomore year that ended his season after two games. Such injuries don’t tend to have lingering problems but it’s certainly something to check out. 

Bottom line: The team that drafts James won’t have to completely revamp its defense but the coordinator will have to be creative to make him worth a top-15 pick. Just lining him up at free safety will get you a good player but not an impact player. 

If James is still on the board along with Payne and/or Vea, the Redskins will need to make the classic choice between filling a need and taking the best available player. The organization will need to decide how to utilize James if they are going to take him. If they just want him to “fit in” they should pass and take the lineman. If they are willing to make him a centerpiece in their defense and use him in an active, attacking “robber” role from Day One, they should go ahead and take him. 

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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2020 NFL Mock Draft 12.0: Who needs to standout in Indianapolis?

2020 NFL Mock Draft 12.0: Who needs to standout in Indianapolis?

The NFL Scouting Combine begins next week, and there are several NFL Draft prospects looking to raise their stock.

Our latest mock draft takes a look at which players could use a solid performance at the scouting combine.

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST MOCK DRAFT>>

After being a frequent top-5 pick in our early mock drafts, Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy's stock has slid a little. Could a solid performance in Indianapolis reestablish the wideout as this year's best in the class, and maybe warrant a top-5 pick?

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa likely will not participate at the combine as he continues to recover from his dislocated hip. Could Oregon's Justin Herbert take advantage of Tagovailoa's absence and catapult himself into the debate of the best signal-caller in the draft alongside LSU's Joe Burrow?

Ohio State edge rusher Chase Young, who many expect the Redskins to use the No. 2 pick on, will put his incredible athletic ability on display. Could the 20-year-old make the Bengals rethink their decision of using the No. 1 pick on a QB?

<<CLICK HERE FOR OUR LATEST MOCK DRAFT>>

Every year, we see several prospects who come out of nowhere during the combine and establish themselves as first-round picks. We saw it last year with Montez Sweat, Juan Thornhill, and Justice Hill.

But remember, a great combine doesn't always equate to being a first-rounder. Seahawks receiver D.K. Metcalf stole the show a year ago at the combine but fell to the end of the second round of the draft.

Next week's scouting combine is the first major event of the offseason as the NFL shifts focus to free agency and the draft.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Jordan Reed is still in concussion protocol six months after the injury, per report

Jordan Reed is still in concussion protocol six months after the injury, per report

The seventh documented concussion of Jordan Reed's football career is still affecting him six months later.

According to a report from The Athletic CharlotteReed is still in concussion protocol from a helmet-to-helmet collision that occurred during a preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons in August. 

Reed did not play a snap in 2019, as the team placed him on injured reserve in October.

The tight end is under contract through 2020, as Reed enters the final year of a five-year, $46 million extension he signed with the team in 2015.

But whether he's on the roster or not is uncertain, as NBC Sports Washington's JP Finlay reported that Reed's tenure is likely over in Washington. NBC Sports Washington's Julie Donaldson reported Monday that she doesn't expect Reed to return to Washington, either.

"Do we have our tight end? Probably not," Redskins head coach Ron Rivera said on Redskins Nation on Feb. 4. "That’s a big question mark." 

According to Finlay, the Redskins can still release Reed, even if he remains in protocol.

In his six NFL seasons, Reed has never played more than 14 games in one year. Following his breakout season in 2015, Reed never was able to replicate that success.

To address their need at tight end, the Redskins are one of three teams vying for the services of tight end Greg Olsen, who was released by the Carolina Panthers a few weeks ago. Rivera coached Olsen in Carolina for eight seasons.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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