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Is Malik McDowell emerging as a likely Redskins first-round target?

Is Malik McDowell emerging as a likely Redskins first-round target?

The Redskins offensive rebuild has been centered around a Michigan State product the past two years. Will their defensive rebuild follow a similar path?

So far, CSNmidatlantic.com's Ben Standig has released two mock drafts, and in both of those mock drafts, he has projected MSU defensive end Malik McDowell to be the Redskins' first round pick. Here's what he had to say in his most recent edition about the 20-year-old:

Stop us if you've heard this before, but the Redskins need defensive line help above and beyond everything else, especially with Su'a Cravens headed to safety in 2017. The 280-pound McDowell isn't a nose tackle, but the athletic presence could be a force as a 3-4 end or inside in 4-3 looks. He recorded 34 tackles -- seven for loss -- and 1.5 sacks in nine games before missing the last three games with an ankle injury.

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Many NFL Draft pundits had McDowell near the top of their prospect lists before this past college football season, but due to some injury issues and concerns about his effort, he's fallen down boards slightly. In December, ESPN's Mel Kiper Jr. said his technique needs polishing, as does his consistency on each play. 

Kiper did speak to McDowell's strengths, too, though, and it's easy to see why the Redskins would be intrigued by a player with the following description.

"The talent is there," he said. "You see it. When he’s all out and he’s doing the right thing technically and he gets the leverage he needs and he’s using his hands, he can really do a job for you. And you’ve got versatility with him too. You can move him around and bring him from different areas. He’s gonna have that scheme versatility a lot of defensive line coaches want."

Plenty of time still stands between now and the draft, and McDowell's stock could rise again or dip some more after his performances at events like the NFL Combine and his pro day. Nevertheless, for a team with glaring needs on its defensive front, it would make sense that the Redskins would target him come late April, so don't be surprised if more experts continue to link him and Washington.

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Jonathan Allen wants Jim Tomsula back - but he understands if he puts his family first

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Jonathan Allen wants Jim Tomsula back - but he understands if he puts his family first

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the Redskins offseason thus far comes from the lack of change. Bruce Allen, Jay Gruden, Greg Manusky are all coming back. 

One name that is less certain, and is widely loved, is defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. 

For Tomsula, there is no pressure on him to perform better. His work in developing Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle probably ranks as the most impressive on the team. 

"Jim [Tomsula] is definitely my favorite coach I've ever had," Redskins defensive tackle Jonathan Allen said this week. "I don’t really count [University of Alabama] Coach [Nick] Saban because he wasn’t my position coach, but as a position coach, love Jim Tom."

The Alabama product's comments came during a charity even at National Children's Hospital, and they came during an interesting time for the Redskins defense. The organization spoke with a number of highly sought after defensive coordinator candidates in the last few weeks, but stuck with Manusky at the position. The team claimed, through an unnamed source in a Washington Post article, that the meetings were just to gain different perspectives. Interesting. 

Now that Manuksy is back, however, the future for Tomsula becomes one of the biggest questions for the club. 

It sounds like Allen is prepared for any outcome. 

"I don’t know if he will be back. I would love to have him back but he has a family, definitely he’s a big family guy and his family is in Florida," Allen said. "I can completely understand his reasons for not coming back."

Any conversation with Tomsula always centers around family. He's one of the few coaches that remembers reporters' kids' ages and often asks about them. It's a genuine thing for Tomsula, and it's impressive. 

He is also close friends with Manuksy, and the coordinator's return could help in keeping the fiery D-line coach. If Tomsula does leave Ashburn, he's already made a significant impact for players like Allen.

"Regardless what happens I wish him nothing but the best and I’m just glad I got to spend two years with him."

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Would pursuing Antonio Brown be worth it for the Redskins considering their QB situation?

Would pursuing Antonio Brown be worth it for the Redskins considering their QB situation?

The Redskins need a stud wide receiver. Badly.

Antonio Brown is a stud wide receiver. Undoubtedly.

So, Washington should pick up the phone, call Pittsburgh and figure out a way to work out a trade for Brown, right? 

It's not that easy.

There are plenty of obstacles between Brown becoming a member of the Redskins, as Washington would have to clear out quite a bit of salary to make room for him and also weigh whether he'll fit into their locker room.

Another thing worth considering, too: What's the point of acquiring Antonio Brown without a QB to maximize his talents?

There are serious questions about whether Alex Smith will play next season, or ever again. That means, barring a drastic move, the Redskins will go into 2019 with someone like Colt McCoy or an unproven youngster starting under center.

Sure, you could argue that Brown would make that passer's life a lot easier. He would, to an extent. But ask someone like Odell Beckham or Larry Fitzgerald what life is like on the outside, even as an elite talent, when the guy getting you the ball isn't properly equipped to do so.

Brown is one of the best pass catchers of his generation and will likely end up as one of the best of any era. Whatever offense he's lining up for next season will be better thanks to his presence.

However, this is a guy who's grown frustrated in a franchise that's made the postseason four of the past five years and is unhappy in a place where he's paired with a top-tier signal-caller. 

The Redskins, on the other hand, have neither the track record of success or a settled situation at QB, so it's fair to be very skeptical of how he'd handle a move to D.C.

Now, for this organization to break out of football's middle class, an area they're stuck in, going after a star and taking a risk is absolutely worth trying.

Unfortunately, the quarterback depth chart will affect every potential move. And when that potential move involves heavily investing in a premier wideout, the quarterback depth chart should probably dissuade anyone from ultimately making that move.   

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