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Redskins draft countdown: Versatile DB Minkah Fitzpatrick could be too talented to leave on the board

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Redskins draft countdown: Versatile DB Minkah Fitzpatrick could be too talented to leave on the board

Redskins draft countdown

Minkah Fitzpatrick

Cornerback
Alabama

Does your team need a safety? Minkah Fitzpatrick can drop back deep and direct the defense from there.

How about an outside corner? He can stick with any wide receiver step for step.

Someone in the slot? Fitzpatrick can handle that, too.

Do you need an edge rusher? You don’t want to line Fitzpatrick up there every snap, but he can get to the quarterback.

On the field, he is a Jack of all trades and a master of many of them. 

Height: 6-1
Weight: 201
40-yard dash:4.46

Projected draft round:1

How he fits the Redskins: The Redskins could go into the season with the secondary starters they have now but that doesn’t mean that there isn't a need there. Safety Montae Nicholson could only play in six games last year due to injuries. The slot corner position is up in the air. It’s possible that Josh Norman will be a salary cap casualty in 2019. But even if they were loaded in the secondary, they could use a versatile talent like Fitzpatrick. 

Film review: vs. Tennessee, vs. Clemson, vs. Georgia

—In the first eight minutes of the Tennessee game, he lined up in press man coverage, off man, at slot corner, outside corner and edge rusher. Later in the game, he was the single deep safety. 

—Anyone who plays in the Redskins secondary needs to be part of the solution to fixing the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. Fitzpatrick was a bit inconsistent here. From cornerback, he fought off a blocker and made the tackle in textbook style. Another time he had a bead on a runner on a sweep but he overran the tackle. And against Georgia, he started to jog after it looked like Sony Michel was going out of bounds and Michel turned upfield for an additional 10 yards. 

—Fitzpatrick was a rare true freshman starter on the Alabama defense and his experience shows. He reads plays well and follows his assignments. Once as the quarterback started to scramble he stayed disciplined and stuck in his zone in a situation where many corners rush up to tackle the quarterback, allowing a receiver to run free. 

—He has great speed off the edge rushing the quarterback. Fitzpatrick also shows great hustle, keeping after the QB if he can’t get the sack. That allows other defenders to make the play. 

—Fitzpatrick is very sticky in man coverage, starting with his receiver step for step down the field. 

Potential issues: His interception numbers are hard to sort out. He had eight in his first two seasons with the Crimson Tide - including a school record four returns for touchdowns - but in 2017 he had just one interception. It should be noted that teams mostly threw away from him in the games I watched, so perhaps he did not have many opportunities. Still, it’s something a team should be wary of when spending a high first-round pick. 

There are some analysts who are dubious of Fitzpatrick’s ability to play corner full time in the NFL. That could make the Redskins think twice about drafting him with the idea of having him replace Norman in 2019. 

Bottom line: There is plenty of chatter out there that the Redskins will not hesitate to draft Fitzpatrick if he is on the board at No. 13. That could be true or it could be a smokescreen. Take your pick. 

The Redskins may not have to make the decision, of course. A team could well take him somewhere between the fifth and tenth picks. But the wild card is the likelihood that four or possibly five quarterbacks will go off the board before the Redskins pick. That could push a talented player like Fitzpatrick right into their laps. The Redskins will then have to decide between Fitzpatrick and a few others who would be a top-10 player in most drafts.  

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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Terry McLaurin's disappointing 82 overall highlights Washington's leaked Madden 21 ratings

Terry McLaurin's disappointing 82 overall highlights Washington's leaked Madden 21 ratings

EA Sports is slowly unveiling its player ratings for Madden NFL 21 this week. While the game has yet to formally announced many of them thus far, each team's 10 highest-rated players were leaked to Madden School on Monday.

Washington had no players rated an 88 overall or higher, and for a team that's coming off a 3-13 season, that makes sense. However, a few of the ratings will certainly upset some Washington fans.

Standout wide receiver Terry McLaurin, who finished the 2019 season just nine yards short of breaking the franchise's rookie receiving record, comes in at an 82 overall. For a player who accomplished plenty a year ago with little help around him -- not to mention playing with three different quarterbacks -- that rating appears to be quite low.

For comparison, McLaurin's 82 rating is lower than Buffalo's Cole Beasley (83), Cincinnati's Tyler Boyd (83), Philadelphia's Alshon Jeffery (84), New York's Golden Tate (84) and Pittsburgh's JuJu Smith-Schuster (86).

Of all those pass-catchers, only Boyd had more yards than McLaurin last season. He did so on nearly 50 more targets. McLaurin's seven receiving touchdowns were the highest of the bunch, too.

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On the other hand, running back Derrius Guice received a generous 81 overall rating, despite only playing in five games last season. Guice has displayed his tremendous talent when he's been on the field, but the running back has missed 27 of a possible 32 games over his first two NFL seasons and has had three separate knee surgeries.

Madden appears to have an affinity for the third-year running back, who also appeared in the game's promotional trailer last month.

With Trent Williams no longer in Washington, guard Brandon Scherff now has the crown for Washington's reported highest-rated player. The three-time Pro Bowler was rated an 87 overall, a one-point decrease from where he finished the 2019 season.

RELATED: SCHERFF, WASHINGTON WON'T DISCUSS LONG-TERM DEAL UNTIL AFTER 2020

Other notable ratings include defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis' 86 overall mark, the best rating of anyone along Washington's defensive front. Ryan Kerrigan (84), Daron Payne (83) and Jonathan Allen (82) follow. No. 2 overall pick Chase Young is reportedly an 80 overall, the highest rating of any rookie in the game.

Here are Washington's reported 10 highest-rated players in Madden NFL 21:

OG Brandon Scherff – 87
DL Matt Ioannidis – 86
CB Kendall Fuller - 86
DE/LB Ryan Kerrigan – 84
DL Daron Payne – 83
P Tress Way – 82
DL Jonathan Allen – 82
WR Terry McLaurin – 82
RB Derrius Guice – 81
S Landon Collins – 81

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Name change dominates, but other major questions remain for Washington football team

Name change dominates, but other major questions remain for Washington football team

After more than 80 years of Redskins football the Washington football club announced Monday that the team will retire the nickname. It's a massive story. It's a global story. 

But as the name story dominates the conversation around the Washington club, there are still other huge stories floating around the organization, all of which will make a more significant impact to the actual football field.

RELATED: NAME CHANGE EXPECTED TO BE BUTTONED UP BY TRAINING CAMP, PER REPORT

How about a refresher?

  • Ownership changes - Forty percent of the Washington team is available for sale. That's a huge, huge story, and in any other year it would be the biggest story in the NFL. Who will buy that portion of the team? Why do the current minority owners want out? What's the valuation of the team? It's not that uncommon for limited partners to sell; those types of transactions happen. But this feels different and there have been reports of other issues at play. Again, this is a HUGE story.
  • Executives fired - Washington fired two pro personnel executives over the weekend, and there's been almost no discussion about the moves and no reason given for the moves. Front office changes usually happen one of two times: after the season or after the draft. Not in early July a few weeks before training camp. If this happened to the Eagles or the Browns or the Seahawks, it would be a major story.
  • Franchise tag - It's understandable if Washington's fans never want to hear about the franchise tag again after the Kirk Cousins saga/fiasco that encapsulated the franchise for multiple seasons. But, here we are. Brandon Scherff, the 2015 first-round pick, will play the 2020 year on the tag after neither side got close to a long-term deal. With the COVID-19 pandemic taking over the world and NFL revenues for 2020 in question, it makes sense the team didn't offer a mega contract to the three-time Pro Bowl right guard. There could be more here, however, as Scherff has dealt with injuries in each of the past three seasons and there is some debate around the league how much interior linemen should make. The deadline for a new deal for Scherff expires on Wednesday, and don't expect anything to happen. In a normal offseason, this would be the team's biggest story, but in 2020, this is barely a blip on the radar.

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  • That wide receiver that got arrested - Remember Cody Lattimer, the receiver the Redskins signed as a free agent to provide depth and maybe compete to start opposite Terry McLaurin? Remember he was arrested in May on multiple charges that included assault and weapons? Amid the name change and the ownership changes, the Lattimer story has gone completely forgotten. At some point, it will need to be addressed.
  • A million injuries - This might seem hard to remember but there was a time when Redskins reporters wrote stories about football. It used to happen. Washington has a number of players coming back from injuries, and some are potential stars. How is Derrius Guice's repaired knee? Can Reuben Foster play this year? Bryce Love? Alex Smith? If the Redskins actually get to training camp, those questions will need answers. 
  • So much more - The Redskins have a new head coach, new offensive and defensive coordinators and an almost entirely new coaching staff. Normally, that's the story of the offseason. In 2020, it seems like Ron Rivera has been in charge of Washington for five years. In fact, it's been about six months. 
  • Don't forget - There's a global pandemic and who knows if football actually gets played. 

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