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When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

When talent is there, Bruce Allen has looked past red flags in 1st round of NFL Draft

A four-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champ, Aqib Talib has a long and checkered past, which includes multiple arrests and failed PED and drug tests. The problems aren't new either, the talented cornerback was first arrested as a high school student. In college at Kansas, Talib was suspended multiple times and had multiple positive tests for marijuana use. 

Why does this matter for Redskins fans on the eve of the NFL Draft?

Despite all the trouble, Bruce Allen drafted Talib 20th overall in 2008 when the current Redskins general manager was in the same role for Tampa. While Talib's legal troubles and suspensions continued in the NFL, he also proved to be a highly capable cornerback in the pro game. 

The lesson for those trying to determine the Redskins draft board: Allen might be willing to look past red flags if a player presents good value. Talib did in 2008, and there could be opportunities for Washington in 2017.

Reuben Foster jumps to mind, as the talented Alabama linebacker will enter the league in the substance abuse program. While Foster's issues pale in comparison to other allegations about some draft prospects, players like Joe Mixon, Gareon Conley and Caleb Brantley will also present unique circumstances for NFL teams to evaluate. 

GMs are thrust into the unenviable task of determining a player's character, often in short periods of time. As 'Skins director of college scouting Scott Campbell explained, the team grades every player for their football skills first, and only later adds in character information. From Campbell's comments:

When you start to evaluate guys in the beginning, you don’t factor in the character. You don’t grade character, you grade talent. So you don’t throw away somebody early that may have some redeeming quality, or there’s a side to the story you don’t know about. You grade football players as football players first on talent, and then when it comes closer to the draft, you start weeding all that, getting more information, deciding, ‘OK, this guy’s not our kind of guy, this guy’s not a Redskin, this guy could be drafted, but good luck to him.

Thursday night the Redskins will be forced to make a determination on the right player for the team. That decision could include judging a player's character, and that could mean balancing legal or substance abuse troubles with talent and ability.

Talib is only one pick in Allen's long personnel career, but it's one worth noting. 

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

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10 Training Camp Questions: Trent Williams, holdouts, and distractions

10 Training Camp Questions: Trent Williams, holdouts, and distractions

After three straight seasons missing the playoffs and two consecutive years finishing 7-9, the Redskins need laser focus during their training camp time. On the current pace, that isn't going to happen. 

The team's best player, left tackle Trent Williams, won't be with the Redskins in Richmond as he's holding out for either a new contract or some sort of armistice with the team's medical staff.

Unquestionably, the Williams contract holdout has become a major distraction for this Redskins team. 

Don't think so? Think about these situations:

  • Every day when he speaks at the podium, head coach Jay Gruden will be peppered with questions about Williams' status and if there are any updates about the situation.
  • When veteran QB Case Keenum speaks at the podium, not having Trent Williams will be among the first questions he's asked. 
  • When rookie QB Dwayne Haskins speaks at the podium, not having Trent Williams will be among the first questions he's asked. 
  • Every offensive lineman will be asked about practicing without Williams. 
  • Every defensive lineman will be asked about practicing without Williams.

Get the picture? The Williams sideshow will take over training camp, in a way that even a QB battle cannot supersede. That's perhaps the craziest part about this Redskins camp in Richmond - all eyes should be on Dwayne Haskins battling it out against Case Keenum. Instead, for Redskins fans, one eye will remain on Instagram for the latest subtle update from the Williams' camp. 

Can it end? Will it end? Only Williams knows those answers. Maybe Bruce Allen too. Allen did explain that he knows the truth of the situation when asked about the Williams holdout last month. 

If Williams demands major changes to the Redskins medical staff, that seems unlikely. If Williams demands major changes to his existing contract, that has two years and nearly $30 million remaining, that seems unlikely. 

But could a deal be worked out? Washington fans should hope so.

Maybe the team can increase the guaranteed portion of cash in 2020, when his salary is high but the guarantees are minimal. Additionally, maybe team owner Dan Snyder can broker some sort of clear-the-air meeting between Williams and the medical side. Snyder is close with Williams and this could be a spot to positively wield his influence. 

It's entirely possible Williams is back before Week 1 in Philadelphia, maybe even likely, But that game isn't for more than six weeks. Williams knows all this, knows this is his best spot for leverage. The Redskins are thin at tackle depth and have nobody close to replacing his level of play. This holdout could certainly stretch into the middle of the preseason, and perhaps longer. 

Whatever happens know this: Williams' holding out of training camp is a big deal, and it will be a distraction. 

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Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Redskins365 Episode 1: The Future Starts Now

Over the 2019 offseason, the Washington Redskins periodically released episodes to a new series called "Redskins 365". Here, viewers can get an all-access look into all the important moments leading up to the 2019-20 season. In episode 1 titled "The Future Starts Now" the Redskins begin their journey toward improvement following the conclusion of the 2018-19 campaign.

The episode begins immediately following the disappointing end to Washington's season as players participated in locker cleanout day. A somewhat somber atmosphere, the likes of Shaun Dion Hamilton, Adrian Peterson, Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams reflect on the season and look ahead to 2019.

Following that, it's on to the additions and changes on the coaching staff. Head coach Jay Gruden gives his thoughts on new defensive staff hirings Ray Horton and Rob Ryan as well as Kevin O'Connell's jump to offensive coordinator. Ryan and O'Connell also explain their excitement for next season in their respective roles.

With the coaching staff puzzle becoming clear, the episode transitions to the NFL Combine. Gruden along with Senior Vice President of Player Personnel Doug Williams, President Bruce Allen and Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith take you through the Combine process. Discussions about the interview process and what the Redskins are looking for in players give insight into how evaluations are done. 

The Combine portion has a heavy focus on players Kyler Murray, D.K. Metcalf and Montez Sweat among others. Released on March 20, one can see and hear from Sweat before the idea of him becoming a Redskin came to fruition and listen to Metcalf's thoughts on Jay Gruden.

Head Strength and Conditioning Coach Chad Englehart also makes an appearance, discussing his viral moment with Ed Oliver at the combine and the fraternity-type bond conditioning coaches in the NFL share.

Washington's journey toward success in 2019 began the moment the clock ran out on the 2018 season. Episode 1 of "Redskins365" picks up right in that preliminary stage.

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