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The Burgundy and Gold Report focuses on the Washington Redskins, NFL Draft, Small School Prospect Evaluations and much, much more.

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The 2020 Linebackers Could Surprise

NFL Training Camps will reportedly start on time, even though the league has already scrapped the first two pre-season games. The NFLPA also voted to forgo the entire pre-season, so it will be a storyline to keep an eye on. This will make it even more of a challenge now for UDFA’s and late round rookies to prove themselves and get opportunities to make the team. The competition at linebacker should be one of the most intense battles to watch for the Redskins.

Veterans will be ready to go, but one linebacker has yet to take a regular season snap and his status is still in question. That player is 4th year linebacker Reuben Foster. Redskins fans are well aware of the damage that Foster did to his knee in a non-contact drill during OTA’s in 2019. Reports have stated that nerve damage was also a result of Foster’s knee injury and the linebacker has recently regained feeling in his foot due to nerve damage. Foster’s future with the Redskins is in doubt, but if he shows no signs of his previous form, he could be out of the league. Foster has said all the right things about returning in time for camp, but the severity of his injury shouldn’t be overlooked.

Key Contributors

Although Foster is one of the bigger names in the linebacking group, the Redskins have a few under-the-radar linebackers that could have a big year. It’s understandable that the Alabama pedigree excites fans, but Foster could be a candidate for the PUP to start the season. The Middle Linebacker is a vital piece to new DC Jack Del Rio‘s scheme, but who’s in line to take the job? Foster’s former Tide teammate Shaun Dion Hamilton has shown he can be durable and his high football IQ make him a logical choice to start at MLB. In fact, SDH has played in 32 straight games as a starter or reserve with two passes defended and 37 solo tackles as a reserve in 2019. This team has lacked a true coverage linebacker so Dion Hamilton should prove to be a valuable asset as a starter or reserve.

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Second year linebacker Cole Holcomb is a player the Burgundy and Gold Report spotlighted last season in The Tar Heel Steal.  Although Holcomb had his share of hiccups, the rookie showed growth throughout the year, finishing second on the team with 105 comb tackles, 6 TFL, 1 sack, 3 FF and 1 PD. The consensus is that Holcomb will be in competition for the starting WLB, but depending on his maturation, playing MLB shouldn’t be out of the question. In ’19 Holcomb too often reacted to the play, rather than anticipate.

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On a few occasions Holcomb showed the type of anticipation and instincts that could lead to a bright future. New defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio has a soft spot for quick, instinctive linebackers and pass rushers in his defenses. Cole Holcomb has the tools and instincts to be the All Pro linebacker that Del Rio is looking for. Holcomb will get every opportunity to succeed while playing behind a stout line that features Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, John Allen and Tim Settle.  Wherever coaches decide to play the second-year linebacker, utilizing Holcomb’s speed & instincts will be key. Locking down the starting WLB could be in Holcomb’s future.

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It was all but certain that new HC Ron Rivera would bring in some of his former staff and players, so it came as no surprise when Thomas Davis was signed. Davis fits the mold of the veteran leader Rivera wants in his locker room. The 16-year vet should be a candidate to start at SLB. At worst Davis provides depth and experience to help along the other young linebackers. Davis should be a valuable contributor to this defense, but expectations should be tempered. The former Panther/Charger linebacker is unlikely to be in Washington past 2020 considering he’ll turn 37 after the season, but will get every opportunity in camp to start.

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The Strong Side Linebacker will have competition, but Ryan Anderson’s name has gained steam as a situational pass rusher who could also contribute on the strong side. Recent reports have surfaced that multiple teams have inquired about Anderson, but a late round pick seems to be the best offer Washington would get. Utilizing Anderson’s ability to attack the quarterback paid off in ‘19 leading to a career year for Anderson who registered with 30 solo tackles, 4 sacks, 9 QB hits, 5 FF , 1 recovery and 1 PD. Although Anderson was active in all 16 games, he only started 4. So, one would wonder if coaches will give Anderson the chance for extended playing time at SLB and/or the opportunity to be a situational pass rusher. Anderson will be a free agent in 2021 and has everything in the world to play for and as always, a chip on his shoulder. Unlike Thomas Davis, Anderson’s career is just getting started and if Anderson continues to build off of last year, he could be in Rivera and JDR’s long-term plans.

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The Competition

The new staff decided to bring back Jon Bostic and some in the local media have mentioned he could have the inside track to start at MLB. Although Bostic flashed in his first year with Washington last season, his ability in coverage was suspect and playing a reserve role at WLB/MLB could arguably be the best spot for him. Having Bostic in a reserve role immediately upgrades the depth at the position compared to years past.

Another newly signed linebacker that could open eyes is Kevin Pierre-Louis. The former Chicago Bear linebacker was used primarily as a reserve and on special teams, but did start 4 games. Washington will be his 5th team since 2014, but he could be a valuable contributor. Del Rio has mentioned him a few times during Zoom interviews stating

“KPL did some good things in Chicago and we were happy to sign him.” 

Fourth year linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons could also be in the mix for a roster spot, but he’ll have competition from rookie hybrid LB Khaleke Hudson. Although Hudson is undersized at 5’11” 224 lbs the talent is there and the former Wolverine could be in position for more snaps in ‘21 if he bulks up and continues to improve. Developing and keeping young talent could be part of the new culture with Rivera calling the shots.

Washington will likely continue to look at the free agent and UDFA market, but they have compiled a promising nucleus at linebacker with Cole HolcombShaun Dion Hamilton, Ryan Anderson, Thomas Davis with Reuben Foster being the wildcard if healthy. The Redskins invested a ton of early round draft capital on their D-line; now the linebackers could reap the benefits this year and beyond. Competition will be fierce at linebacker with Rivera and Del Rio demanding discipline, so fans should look forward to a significantly improved overall defense.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitterer @TheBandGreport and on Facebook at ‪https://m.facebook.com/groups/344619956055227‬

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Hail Rookie Special Edition Q&A with James Smith-Williams ‪

Hail Rookie Spotlight with Antonio Gibson

Small School Spotlight; Washington’s Need at Cornerback and Cassius Grady’s Fit 

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

ool Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

 

 

 

Hail Rookie Special Edition Q&A with James Smith-Williams ‪

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The Redskins 229th Overall 2020 Draft Selection

We are back for a second installment of “Hail Rookie, with one of the newest and brightest Redskins rookies. The Burgundy and Gold Report picked the brain of recently drafted, Redskins rookie, James Smith-Williams during an exclusive Q&A session. In previous Q&A’s, NFL draft hopefuls from the small school level have been the subject matter, so having the opportunity to go 1 on 1 with a current player was a privilege.

The NC State defensive end wasn’t on many Redskins fans’ radar, especially after Washington’s selection of Chase Young. Smith-Williams’ 2018 season was his best, registering 37 tackles, 9.5 TFLs, and 6 sacks. Missing over 50% of games he was eligible to play in from ‘15-’19 due to various injuries, led to a draft day fall for Smith-Williams. Some said he would go as early as the fourth round, if not for his injury red flags. One thing is certain; the Wolfpack defensive end showed growth as a pass rusher every season at NC State and proved to be a stalwart in the trenches.

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Washington’s defensive philosophy switch to the 4-3 has made the additions of Sweat, Young and now James Smith-Williams, moves that will improve a pass rush that has been lacking for decades. Ryan Kerrigan has become a forgotten man with some fans after the selection of Young, but he’ll be another cog in Rivera’s defense.

Various Washington media outlets have focused on the Wolfpack defensive ends stats, limited production and injury red flags in their post draft write ups, rather than focus on his potential and ceiling in an already robust rotation. This article is more about JSW discussing what he needs to do to excel as a pro, in addition to his possible role this season and beyond.

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Getting to Know the New Skins Defensive End

During the Q&A session with The Burgundy and Gold ReportJames Smith-Williams discussed some concerns that reportedly led to him falling in the draft. He was asked if he’s currently dealing with any lingering issues and what will he’ll do different to preserve his body on the next level:

“No, I’m lucky that I only required one surgery and outside of that I’ve been pretty healthy. I think the injury narrative was blown out of proportion. I had one nagging injury this past year but it did lead to me having a much more regimented routine in terms of what I eat, a ton of prehab and yoga”.

Smith-Williams’ best attributes are his speed and burst off the snap. The defensive end was asked what he felt he needed to work on most to be an effective every down defensive end in the NFL:

“I think for me I’ve identified hand usage as one of the areas I’d like to improve on that I think will really take my game to the next level”.

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We also discussed a few current and former players that James-Williams followed growing up and which ones he modeled his game after

“Currently I’m a big Khalil Mack fan, he has violent hands and plays with a ton of intensity. Former player I’d have to say Julius Peppers”.

We wrapped up the discussion talking about what he felt he improved on most from his freshman year to his final year at NC State

“I think for me, gaining the weight and learning how to play with it/use it was my biggest improvement”.

Role in Washington

If the Redskins want to stay competitive, being aggressive on defense will be key. In order to have success, utilizing the depth they have stockpiled on the defensive line will be a point of emphasis. New Defensive Coordinator, Jack Del Rio, has displayed the ability to take bottom ranked defenses and catapult them to top ten status. Utilizing a frequent rotation with healthy bodies along the defensive line has been the foundation of Del Rio’s success. Player’s like Chase YoungMontez SweatJohn AllenDaron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Ryan Kerrigan will form the nucleus and strength of this defense. Reserves Tim Settle, Jordan Brailford, Nate Orchard, Caleb Brantley will be in the mix for roster spots and in constant competition for playing time, so where does that leave James Smith-Williams?

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JSW’s boasts impressive 4.6 speed for a man his size (6’4” 265 lbs) and impressed onlookers at the NFL Combine. Smith-Williams downplayed the durability concerns during the Q&A and believes his dedication to weight lifting and his overall all fitness will greatly benefit him on the next level. If the rookie can stay healthy through August, he’ll have a legit shot at making the roster and will no doubt impress coaches with his tireless work ethic and overall intelligence. Some believe the practice squad might be the likely destination for the 7th rounder, based on where he was selected and the current depth along the defensive line. Regardless, the rookie defensive end will add another high ceiling developmental-prospect to a defense that has fans salivating in anticipation.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Give James Smith-Williams a follow on Twitter @jacsw3 ‬ 

Follow on Twitterer @TheBandGreport and on Facebook at ‪https://m.facebook.com/groups/344619956055227‬

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Hail Rookie Spotlight with Antonio Gibson

Small School Spotlight; Washington’s Need at Cornerback and Cassius Grady’s Fit 

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

ool Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

 

 

 

‪@jacsw

Hail Rookie Spotlight with Antonio Gibson

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The Redskins 66th Overall 2020 Draft Selection

The 2020 NFL Draft was viewed by many fans as a big success. Redskins’ fans were ecstatic when the drafts best defensive prospect, Chase Young, was selected by Washington, finally putting the debate for the #2 overall to rest. In a new segment “Hail Rookie” The Burgundy and Gold Report will go in-depth with each draft pick, including their undrafted rookies. Most fans know Washington’s 1st rounder inside and out, so in this feature the focus will be on a lesser known rookie with the 66th overall selection, Antonio Gibson.

The Redskins surprised many by selecting the 6’0” 228 lbs RB/WR hybrid from Memphis University with, arguably, higher rated prospects still on the board in the 3rd round. Gibson opened some eyes at the NFL Combine, running a 4.39 sec forty-yard dash time and posting a 35” vertical. In order to get a better understanding of why Washington selected Gibson, it’s important to understand what he does well and what his potential role will be in Washington’s new offense.

Production & Versatility

Prior to enrolling at Memphis for the 2018 season, Antonio Gibson was enrolled at East Central Community College for two years, registering 50 receptions for 871 receiving yards with 13 touchdowns, 27 kick returns, 554 kick-return yards and 249 rushing yards. Gibson was recruited by Memphis in 2018 with little fanfare, only playing in 5 games. In 2019, however, Gibson had his coming out party displaying the ability to be a homerun hitter. Although his numbers during his final season at Memphis could be viewed as pedestrian by some (38 rec for 735 8 TD’s and 33 rushes for 369 yards 4 TD’s), he was among the best in the nation with a 19.3 average per reception and 11.2 yards per rush. Gibson also displayed his ability to be a threat as a kick returner averaging 28.0 yards per return (23 ret 645 yards 1 TD). Additionally, Gibson scored nearly 1 in every 9 touches. Gibson finished his career at Memphis with a 27.0 per kick return average.

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Gibson’s explosiveness is evident, even as a small sample size during his final year at Memphis. Although recruited as a wide receiver, during a two-year span Gibson morphed into much more. Between 2018-2019 the Memphis coaching staff asked him to play a variety of positions including; RB, WR, TE, H-Back and kick returner.

Gibson’s game versus SMU on November 2, 2019 polarized the type of playmaker he could be on the next level (scored as a runner, receiver and KR).

Some evaluators dropped Gibson down their boards calling him a prospect without a true position. The Burgundy and Gold Report viewed his versatility a huge plus during the pre-draft evaluation phase. Gibson’s elusiveness makes him difficult to bring down in the open field. However, one aspect he’ll need to refine on the next level will be his route running, as he often rounds his routes off, rather than taking sharp angles. Lowering his center of gravity will also be key since he runs a bit upright at times. As a pass catcher, his ability to run wheel routes, screens and choice routes will be a great way to utilize his skill set when lining up in the backfield. Regardless of where Gibson lines up, his shiftiness and ability to break tackles should lead to early success as a returner, runner and pass catcher.

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Fit in Washington

Redskins HC Ron Rivera mentioned during his post-draft zoom meeting with reporters that he views Antonio Gibson as a running back, who also has impressive receiving ability, but also stated that OC Scott Tuner really liked him during the evaluation process and has plans to use him in a myriad of ways.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein reported during the NFL Draft;

“Only one team viewed the versatile Gibson as a wideout. It was apparently the Redskins. Gibson was underutilized at Memphis but was arguably the most efficient player in the entire country.”

The Redskins backfield is loaded with Adrian PetersonDerrius GuiceBryce LoveJ.D. McKissic, Peyton BarberJosh Ferguson and now Antonio Gibson. It remains to be seen how many backs Rivera will keep on the roster, but AP, Guice, Love and Gibson seem to be locks. Considering how the new Redskins OC likes to use his running backs in the passing game, McKissic seems likely to make the roster as well, based on his skill set as a pass catcher. Keeping 5 backs seems unlikely,  but Guice’s health will be something to monitor as will Love, who has yet to take an NFL snap, since his 2018 ACL tear at Stanford. Gibson abilities could at depth at multiple positions though.

During a discussion on the Kevin Sheehan Show, former Redskins tight end, Chris Cooley, viewed Gibson in a particular role.

“He’s your tight end, he’s your H-Back…. He’s not a running back and he’s not a wide receiver, he’s an H-Back.”I love him, I love Antonio Gibson, amazing pick!”

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Although Cooley’s comments regarding Gibson being a tight end/H-Back might come as a surprise to many who’ve evaluated his film, he might be onto something. The fact that Washington passed on selecting a tight end in the draft might give some legs to the aforementioned comment. Rivera often used a fullback in his time in Carolina and although Gibson isn’t viewed as a serviceable blocker, he could be used in a hybrid role.

Redskins fans who grew up during the glory days of the Redskins’ Super Bowl runs are well aware of how impactful an H-Back can be. Although the Redskins signed Thaddeus Moss as an undrafted free agent, it’s believed that having multiple running backs in the game simultaneously, rather than multiple tight end sets,  will be a staple of their new offense.

There has been some misunderstanding among fans about exactly what an H-Back is. The H-back lines up similarly to a tight end, but is set back from the line of scrimmage, and is thus counted as one of the four backs in the offensive formation. The H-back, while similar in name, should not be confused with halfback or running back, which are used to denote a separate, primary ball-carrying backfield position. The position was made notable in the NFL by the Washington Redskins under head coach Joe Gibbs, who ran a two tight end system. The position was named F-back when used later in Norv Turner’s offensive system.

Gibson’s role will be up for discussion among fans. Regardless of whether he’s used at RB, WR or H-Back, his ability as a big play threat will help the Redskins offense. Redskins’ quarterback Dwayne Haskins received some help in the draft, but Gibson might have the biggest impact early on. The Memphis Swiss Army knife seems to be their primary option at KR and could very well be thrust into action early on. The Burgundy Gold Report envisions Gibson getting significant snaps and contributing in a variety of roles as the offense defines their identity. But one thing seems certain, Gibson should give opposing teams headaches with his elusiveness and breakaway speed.

Stay tuned for another installment of “Hail Rookie” as The Burgundy and Gold Report continues to spotlight all the new additions in Washington.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and on Facebook at ‪https://m.facebook.com/groups/344619956055227‬

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Small School Spotlight; Washington’s Need at Cornerback and Cassius Grady’s Fit 

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

ool Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

 

Pre-Draft Redskins Top 25 Big Board

The 2020 NFL Draft is finally here! At times the fan debate on social media has gotten ugly, but the consensus pick for Washington has been Ohio State defensive end Chase Young. The fact is that trades are a reality in the NFL draft. Will the Redskins trade back from the #2 overall pick? It could happen if a “Godfather” type offer comes along, but the odds are slim.

The list below mentions some possible Redskins’ options, not only in the 1st round, but prospects in the Top 100 that could be selected. Positions such as: quarterback, running back, defensive tackle, interior offensive lineman and defensive end (except for C.Young) and outside linebacker won’t be included on this list based on the unlikelihood of those positions being addressed within the first three to four rounds. Although new Redskins’ HC Ron Rivera has been adamant that the they’ll consider the BPA during the draft, many names on the list could fit a need and also could be available with their second pick of the draft at #66.

1. Chase Young 6’6″ 265 lbs Edge OSU

Florida Atlantic v Ohio State

  • After the selection of Montez Sweat in the previous draft, Edge Rusher isn’t an immediate need for the Redskins. The Buckeye defensive end was a Heisman finalist and was equally dynamic against the run as he was versus the pass. Although he’s been typecast as a DE, he shows the athletic ability to play anywhere on the front line and that’s exactly how an innovative defensive coordinator should use Young on the next level. Young’s muscular frame adds to the intrigue with his instilled work ethic and dedication to improving his cardiovascular ability prior to the 2019 season. What’s intriguing about Young is that he seems to be just scratching the surface of his ability and has the ceiling of an All Pro pass rusher. Washington has more pressing needs at LT, CB, TE and WR, but passing up on Young could be a decision that haunts the Redskins for decades.
2. Isaiah Simmons 6’4″ 230 lbs LB Clemson

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  • Isaiah Simmons was built to face modern day NFL offenses who are increasingly adopting more NFL schemes. A team facing a dual threat signal caller such as Ravens’ QB Lamar Jackson, would be wise to invest a high pick on the Clemson linebacker. In addition to playing linebacker, Simmons also lined up at safety and nickel corner. If that wasn’t enough, he was also deployed off the edge as a pass rusher making him the type of hybrid defender that never has to come off the field. Simmons’ ability to transition in his back pedal and open up his hips in coverage make him one of the most athletic defenders in this year’s class. Some might believe that selecting a linebacker might be a luxury for Washington, but his versatility to rush the passer, be deployed as a spy and drop into coverage make him an intriguing prospect on the next level.
3. Jeffrey Okudah 6’1″ 200 lbs CB OSU

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  • Make no mistake, Jeffrey Okudah is the next shutdown NFL corner and could be the best OSU defensive back over the last decade. He is proficient in man coverage but is also scheme versatile and should be covering the offense’s best receiver on every snap. He understands route concepts and knows how to knock receivers off their routes without get handsy and drawing penalties. This will pay off in the NFL with the flag happy refs. The best attribute for the Buckeye might just be his range. In addition, he has the ability to gather himself while using his speed to recover if out of position. If not for Young garnering national attention, Okudah might have drawn more attention and praise amongst evaluators.
4.Jerry Jeudy 6’1″ 192 lbs WR Alabama 

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  • As far as this year’s deep receiver class goes, it’s Jerry Jeudy and the rest. By his own account, he is one of the best route runners ever to play for HC Nick Saban. Jeudy’s ability to get in and out of his breaks using pure speed is impressive. His double move is the best I’ve evaluated and will give NFL defensive backs headaches trying to game plan for. Jeudy shows soft hands, rarely body catching, and should draw double coverage even as a rookie.
5. CeeDee Lamb 6’2″ 189 lbs WR Oklahoma

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  • If Jeudy is the draft’s top receiver, CeeDee Lamb is 1B. The Sooner’s ability to avoid jams at the line give him a leg up when transitioning to the NFL. Lamb’s innate ability to come down with the ball in traffic make him a receiver that can be moved all over the field. What excites scouts is his willingness and ability to block in space, which isn’t emphasized by most college programs. Lamb will be a highly coveted prospect on draft night and it’s likely he doesn’t last past the top 15.
6. Tristan Wirfs 6’5″ 322 lbs OT Iowa

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  • Tristan Wirfs played RT for most of his time at Iowa, but that shouldn’t limit his upside as a potential Top 10 talent in this year’s class. The Iowa tackle is the most athletic offensive lineman in this year’s draft. And it’s not close. His ability to block in space and pull are the best in the class. He understands technique and leverage when facing speed rushers with effective counter moves. He has the strength and length to be effective in the run game as well, but needs to work on his hand usage at times when going downhill. Although Wirfs could start his NFL career on the right side, I envision the Hawkeye eventually making the switch to the left side and becoming a franchise left tackle for years to come.
7. Henry Ruggs III 6’0″ 190 lbs WR Alabama

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  • Jeudy’s partner in crime, Henry Ruggs III, is the speedy receiver teams covet. The Tide receiver blew onlookers away with a 4.27 second, forty yard dash and an equally impressive 42″ vertical during the combine. Many talent evaluators believe he’ll have an immediate impact on the next level as a deep threat. A concern among scouts is his lack of ability to beat press coverage and he is viewed as a “1 trick pony” as far as route running goes. Refining his route tree ability should be Ruggs’ pre-draft priority. His film shows an explosive receiver that might not be a WR#1 on the next level, but still has the ability to be a game changer from the slot and likely comes off the board in round 1.
8. Jedrick Wills 6’5″ 320 lbs OT Alabama

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  • Jedrick Willis is a mauler and his strength pops on his film. The Alabama lineman looks like an absolute monster when blocking in space. The film shows a talented lineman who could project better inside, as opposed to tackle in the NFL. His run blocking ability is undeniable, but his ceiling in pass pro is a legitimate question if you’re a team looking for a bookend franchise tackle. The right side could be where Willis ends up, but his ability to slide inside make him an intriguing prospect
9. Andrew Thomas 6’5″ 320 lbs OT UGA

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  • The Bulldog blind side protector is a force in the run and pass game. Although, at times, Andrew Thomas struggles with smaller speed rushers, his ability to recover and knock pass rushers off the ball with an effective punch is second to none. He displays a fluid kick-slide and knows how to use his hands without grabbing. Although Thomas needs more coaching on the next level with recognizing angles and pulling in the run game, his ability to correct issues were on display from his freshman season to his last. The power run game is where Thomas shines, but he should be able to have a seamless transition to zone blocking schemes as well.
10. C.J. Henderson 6’1″ 202 lbs CB Florida

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  • CJ Henderson is still raw in a few areas, but makes up for it with long arms and soft hands. The Gator corner was often used in blitz packages, but it’s clear Florida didn’t spend enough time refining his technique. Henderson is a willing tackler and is at his best when playing off coverage. The quick twitch defensive back has a ton of ability and could just be scratching the surface as a cover-corner. As a run defender, he’s willing to mix it up and can be an asset in an aggressive scheme.
11. Mekhi Becton 6’7″ 369 lbs OT Louisville

Virginia Louisville Football

  • Mekhi Becton projects as a day 1 starter at LT in the NFL. What jumps out with Becton is his imposing size and strength. He also shows the bend and athleticism to be a dominant tackle. He still has some technique issues to clean up, but isn’t overwhelmed by speed rushers. In the end, Becton could be the best tackle in this class 5 years from now with his combination of elite size and flexibility.
12.Xavier McKinney 6’1″ 200 lbs Safety Alabama

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  • The Draft Network believes Xavier McKinney is this year’s version of former Alabama standout and current Pittsburgh Steelers defensive back Minkah Fitzpatrick. That’s high praise for McKinney, but the attributes are there with his ability to play corner and safety. He might not have elite speed, but his knowledge of angles and ability to jump routes could make him an ideal FS in the NFL. McKinney is an effective blitzer off the edge and could be used in a variety of ways by NFL coordinators.
13. Laviska Shenault Jr. 6’2″ 220 lbs WR Colorado

Laviska Shenault Jr.

  • The Colorado receiver is the prototypical “do it all” offensive weapon who’s even lined up as an H-Back and QB from the Wildcat in some of the Buffalo’s offensive sets. In ’18 Shenault led the nation in catches per game as well as yards from scrimmage. What stands out is his NFL ready frame and his unwillingness to go down after initial contact. Many scouts have other receivers ahead of Laviska Shenault Jr based on durability concerns, but his ability to contribute in multiple run and pass packages make it hard to take him off the field.
14. Patrick Queen 6’0″ 227 lbs LB LSU img_8449img_0042
  • The LSU linebacker is a  bit undersized for the position and could benefit from adding 10-15 pounds. In saying that, Patrick Queen is a prototypical coverage linebacker and showed incredible range covering tight ends on the highest level, playing in the SEC. He also displays tremendous ability against the run, forcing teams to account for him on every play. Queen is an every down linebacker and the WLB looks to be his best fit on the next level.
15. Justin Jefferson 6’3″ 192 lbs WR LSU img_8449img_8470
  • Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow didn’t achieve success on his own and LSU’s Justin Jefferson has gone a bit under-the-radar for some talent evaluators. With 14 TD’s and a 13.7 ypc average, the Tiger receiver has displayed the ability to be a playmaker on the next level. Jefferson excels at finding openings in zone coverage and utilizes an effective juke move to beat coverage. Although he needs refinement with his overall route running and technique on the next level, he offers an intriguing size/athleticism combination to have success on the next level.
16. Josh Jones 6’5″ 311 lbs OT  Houston

NCAA Football: Texas Kickoff-Oklahoma vs Houston

  • Blocking in the open field might just be Jones’ best attribute. The Houston tackle is still raw, but that is mainly attributed to sub-par coaching. Josh Jones will rely on his athleticism early on, but refining his technique will be paramount for his maturation. He’s a nimble blocker with impressive ability to flip his hips. At this point the Houston OL is better in pass pro, but can still be effective versus the run. Working on his footwork should be priority #1, but the talent is there to be an anchor at LT within a year or two.
17. Grant Delpit 6’3″ 201 lbs Safety LSU img_8449
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  • Delpit is a versatile safety with impressive size and athleticism. The LSU safety excels in zone coverage and displays impressive range. Although he’s is still a work in progress, Grant Delpit‘s ability to make game changing plays is undeniable. Some have questioned his tackling ability, but his willingness is evident. Delpit has dropped on some draft boards from an early first rounder to a potential late 1st-2nd rounder, but regardless he projects to be a day 1 starter at FS.
18. Jalen Reagor 5’11” 206 lbs WR TCU

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  • Jalen Reagor displays elite ability to create in space and is at his best in the open field. The TCU receiver won’t out-muscle defensive backs, but is a lethal vertical threat and a big play waiting to happen. Some were surprised with his forty time at the combine (4.47 seconds); Many expected Reagor to run in the 4.30 sec range. That shouldn’t be a concern due to his elite change of direction ability and route tree knowledge, which is what separate him from other receivers with similar measurables in this class. Reagor should have a long career on the next level and although there are concerns with dropped passes, he’s a sure bet to be selected within the top 70.
19. Adam Trautman 6’5″ 251 lbs TE Dayton img_9968

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  • Trautman is a former quarterback and an impressive athlete. His stock has risen throughout the draft process and he had one of the most impressive Senior Bowl week’s of any prospect. Adam Trautman answered some questions regarding his blocking ability during the week at Mobile, showing he’s functional in that area. He also displayed impressive acceleration with the ability to beat press coverage, routinely shaking defensive backs out of their shoes. In no way is Trautman a finished product, but he could be the first tight end to hear his name called on draft night. At one time, the Dayton tight end was viewed as a 4th-5th round prospect, but likely won’t last much farther than the Redskins pick at #66 overall.
20. Cole Kmet 6’4″ 235 lbs TE Notre Dame

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  • Kmet has been viewed as the top tight end on many big boards, but comes in as TE#2 on this big board. Cole Kmet also played baseball during his time at Notre Dame. The Irish tight end had limited production during his first two years, between 2017-2018, without registering a touchdown. But in ’19 the tight end showed he could be a decent blocker and a good pass catcher. In saying that, Kmet let too many balls into his chest and needs to become a hands catcher. Although still raw in some areas he shows an effective release and is improving in his route running.
21.Hunter Bryant 6’2″ 239 lbs TE Washington

Jeffrey Allison, Hunter Bryant

  • Some talent evaluators are put off by Hunter Bryant‘s lack of size for an NFL tight end, but this kid is electrifying with the ball in his hands. The Huskie tight end understands how to beat zone coverage and works convincingly as a decoy in the passing game. He shows the ability to to beat man coverage, which he’ll see less of on the next level as a flex tight end. Getting to top speed quickly might be what gets him drafted by creative OCs who utilize pass-heavy schemes. Working on his hands need to be his priority during the pre-draft process, as he lets the ball get into his body too often. In saying that, Bryant is an absolute force with 50/50 balls and could compliment what the new Redskins’ HC wants to implement with Dwayne Haskins.
22. Denzel Mims 6’3″ 207 lbs WR Baylor

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  • Mims is another prospect that saw his stock rise during the Senior Bowl. The Baylor receiver showed scouts that his blocking ability could be the best in the class and knows how to utilize his long arms when blocking in space. Denzel Mims is an aggressive pass catcher that shows strong hands when high pointing 50/50 balls and boxes out like a power forward. His 4.38 second, forty time surprised many talent evaluators at the combine and added to his value. Once believed to be a 4th-5th round prospect, Mims will likely hear his name called no later than the 2nd round in this year’s draft.
23. Bryan Edwards 6’3″ 212 lbs WR South Carolina

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  • Edwards is an absolute load to bring down and was used frequently on gadget run plays during his time at S.Carolina. He’s extremely shifty and doesn’t often get jammed at the line. Although he needs work on his route tree concepts, he knows how to create separation. Bryan Edwards was a second-team All SEC in ’19 and led the Gamecocks with 71 rec for 816 yards (11.5 per rec) and six touchdowns (also seven punt returns for 125 yards with a 17.9 average). Edwards broke his foot in February during his preparation for the NFL Scouting Combine. It’s believed that Edwards would have run in the sub 4.5 second range if he had been able to participate in combine drills. The injury has dropped him down many boards, but the receiver represents exceptional value, if available, in the 3rd round.
24. Kenneth Murray 6’2″ 241 LB Oklahoma

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  • The Sooner linebacker has incredible range with the speed and ability to cover in space. Although Kenneth Murray wasn’t often used as a coverage linebacker, he’s willing and able. Murray is at his best when playing downhill and projects as a high ceiling SAM linebacker. Although many view Murray as a 1st round talent, he does have limitations and needs to refine his technique. System fit will be key for the Sooner LB on the next level, but his talent is undeniable.
25.Michael Pittman Jr. 6’4″ 223 lbs

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  • Michael Pittman Jr. was amongst the best receivers in college football registering 101 receptions for 1,275 yards (12.6 average) and 11 scores in 13 starts duing his final season at USC. The Trojan receiver was a Biletnikoff Award finalist, second-team Associated Press All-American, and first-team All-Pac-12. His father was a running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for 11 seasons. Pittman Jr. opened eyes during the NFL Combine posting a 4.52 sec forty, which is impressive for his size. Although his timed speed is impressive, he struggles at times to create separation in coverage. On the next level, utilizing his strength to beat press coverage and ability to block in space make him an intriguing prospect. With draft projections ranging from 2nd-4th round, Pittman Jr. could be a steal late in this rich, wide receiver class.

 

Just Missed the Cut

Tee Higgins 6’4″ 216 lbs WR Clemson

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  • The Clemson receiver has been productive with 2,103 rec yards and 25 touchdowns over the last two seasons. The primary knock on Tee Higgins has been his ability to beat press coverage, but this can be refined on the next level. Many evaluators have him rated higher, but this list factors in team fit and I have receivers with higher grades, which keep him on the outside looking in on this big board.
Chase Claypool 6’4″ 238 lbs WR Notre Dame

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  • Chase Claypool is a prospect that has gained steam over the last two months. Granted, there are other recievers that might have higher grades, but the Notre Dame pass catcher projects to be a better receiver in the pros than he was in college. During the combine he was asked to participate in tight end drills and has the potential to be a hybrid on the next level. The receiver’s combine numbers certainly helped him ascend on many draft boards with a 4.42 forty and 40.5″ vertical. Claypool is a former basketball player who once scored 51 points in a HS game. His kind of versatility doesn’t come around often for a prospect with his size/speed combination and although raw in some areas, he certainly has the ceiling to become a dominant pass catcher on the next level.
Kyle Dugger 6’1″ 217 lbs Safety/LB Lenoir-Rhyne img_8389

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  • It’s been well documented how The Burgundy and Gold Report feels about Kyle Dugger after a previous Q&A session with the budding defensive back. The small school superstar offers the full package with an elite combination of size, speed and range that NFL teams covet. Scouts were reportedly enamored with Dugger’s performance at the NFL Combine where he registered a 4.49 sec forty time and 42″ vertical leap. Although typecast as a hybrid S/LB, Dugger’s numbers and film display his ability to be a ballhawk on the next level. Adding to his value is the fact that he is a special teams dynamo that is a threat to score any time he gets his hands on the ball. Dugger led the D-II ranks averaging nearly 26.0 yards per punt return.  Although the Lenoir-Rhyne safety just missed the top 25, look for him to continue to rise and come off the board between rounds 2-3.
Austin Jackson 6’6″ 310 lbs OT USC

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  • What stood out when evaluating Austin Jackson was his fluid kick slide, his ability to pull and how fast he gets out in space. Watching him in the screen game is a thing of beauty and could be essential in an age of innovative NFL offenses, which are employing more college concepts. In saying that, Jackson needs a lot of work with his technique and stance, which could push him down some draft boards.
Jeff Gladney 5’10” 191 lbs CB TCU

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  • Gladney displays fluid hips and shows impressive anticipation with the ball in the air. He’s at his best when used in press coverage, but is more than serviceable if asked to play zone. Fans shouldn’t get too caught up with the TCU corner’s lack of size. Jeff Gladney is more than willing to mix it up in the run game and displays a mean streak. His long arms and superb tackling ability make him an ideal starting corner on the next level.
Antonio Gandy-Golden 6’4″ 223 lbs  WR Liberty
  • Antonio Andy-Golden registered 9 passes for 1,396 yards with 10 touchdowns during his final season with an impressive 17.7 yards per catch. The Liberty receiver was ranked in the top ten in the nation in multiple categories and displayed his dominance on the small school level. Many hoped he’d run in the 4.5 range at the NFL Combine, but his 4.6 sec time and 36″ inch vertical leap are nothing to sneeze at. Gandy-Golden is a load to bring down and at his best when ball tracking, while utilizing his strong hands to pluck the ball out of the air. Some have questioned his toughness going over the middle and his route tree knowledge, which will certainly help him in the late 3rd-5th round range. Regardless of the knocks on the small school receiver, his ceiling to be a big play receiver on the next level is undeniable.
Kristian Fulton 6’0″ 200 lbs CB, LSU img_8449

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  • During the 2017-2018 season Kristian Fulton was suspended for 19 months after reportedly using a friends urine sample. When he returned from suspension in 2018 he dealt with a foot injury similar to former Cowboys WR Dez Bryant that required screws. He was once viewed as the top HS recruit in the state of Louisiana, but never quite lived up to the hype. He is at his best in man coverage and displays a fluid backpedal. He has the size to be effective on the next level, but does come with limitations and using him in the right scheme is key.
Albert Okwuegbunam 6’5″ 258 lbs TE, Missouri

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  • Albert Okwuegbunam opened eyes at the NFL combine when he posted a 4.49 sec forty yard dash time. The Missouri tight end doesn’t play as fast on film, but pure speed can’t be taught and is ideal on the next level when facing athletic NFL coverage linebackers. In 2018 Albert O was at his best when current Broncos quarterback Drew Lock was throwing him passes. Okwuegbunam is still raw as a blocker and route runner, but can be an excellent safety blanket in the passing game in time.
Harrison Bryant 6’5″ 243 lbs TE Florida Atlantic img_0062

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  • Harrison Bryant isn’t the type of tight end you rely on as a blocker, at this point that is. The Florida Atlantic pass catcher is at his best when flexed out or used in motion. He displays excellent hands for the position and is impressive pulling down the contested catch. Bryant will need time to acclimate to the pro game, as many rookie tight ends do, but definitely has the ceiling to have similar success to NFL veteran Jimmy Graham.
Antoine Winfield Jr.5’9″ 203 lbs Safety Minnesota

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  • Winfield Jr definitely has the pedigree with his father having a successful career in the NFL. The Golden Gopher FS just misses the cut, but his talent is undeniable even with durability questions. Antoine Winfield Jr is a sure tackler and is surprisingly effective versus the run. The safety is a ballhawk, but his lack of size and length could be an issue on the next level. In the end, Winfield Jr projects as a high ceiling prospect if he can stay healthy and refines his technique and range in deep coverage.
K.J. Hamler 5’9″ 178 lbs WR Penn State

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  • K.J. Hamler has slowly risen up many draft boards with ESPN analyst Louis Riddick even comparing him to DeSean Jackson with his sub 4.30 speed. The Penn State receiver’s lack of size will, without a doubt, have him rated lower on some boards, but his big play ability is hard to ignore.
Brandon Aiyuk 6’1″201 lbs WR Arizona State
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  • There is no doubting Brandon Aiyuk‘s talent and athleticism, but his inconsistent hands and route tree knowledge are a concern. He has the ceiling to be a WR#2, but there are questions if he’ll ever reach his potential as a go-to receiving option on the next level. The Sun Devil’s ability as a big play threat as a returner will create intrigue and that’s where he’ll earn his stripes early on in the NFL.

 

 

It’s a sure bet that many on this list will be available when the Redskins make their selection in round 3 and an outside chance a few could be available in round 4. The order the draft prospects are listed on this big board is certainly up for debate but one thing is certain; Any combination of the players listed will be instant upgrades for Washington.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Be sure to Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport for tonight’s Pre-Draft Show 

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More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Small School Spotlight; Earnest Edwards IV

Small School Spotlight; Washington’s Need at Cornerback and Cassius Grady’s Fit 

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

ool Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

Small School Spotlight; Earnest Edwards IV

Reinforcements for Haskins

With the NFL Draft weeks away and sporadic pro-days taking place around the nation due to the COVID-19 epidemic, small school prospects will be scrambling to get their film out to NFL decision makers. This year’s WR class is viewed by many talent evaluators as the deepest in recent memory.

The blue-chip receivers that are commonly mentioned in the Top 50 discussion in this year’s draft are: Jerry JeudyCeeDee LambHenry Ruggs III, Justin JeffersonLaviska Shenault Jr and Tee Higgins but what about the late round talent that doesn’t get the same exposure coming from the small school level?

The NFL invited a few receivers from the small school level to this year’s NFL Combine with Liberty University’s Antonio Gandy-Golden and Arkansas State’s Omar Bayless being the headliners. Although both receivers have the talent to have success on the next level, another small schooler has the potential and versatility to be dynamic in the right situation. That prospect is Maine University receiver Ernest Edwards IV. Edwards was a late bloomer registering 1,273 receiving yards with 15 total TD’s (2 rushing and 1 thrown) during his first three seasons at Maine, but dominated the Colonial Athletic Conference during his senior season.

Edwards led the nation in 2019 with an eye popping 28.5 yard per KR average. In his own words, “If not for coach limiting my special teams’ snaps, I would have likely put up comparable punt return stats as well”. Last season was also his best year statistically as a receiver, registering 1097 rec yards, 11 td ‘s with a 19.0 per rec. Edwards accounted for 42 career TD’s during his time at Maine (27 rec, 6 KR, 5 passing TD’s and 3 rushing).

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Best Attributes

Versatility– Edwards was one of the most versatile offensive weapons on the small school level in 2019 as a returner and receiver. Similar to Colorado’s WR Laviska Shenault Jr, Edwards’ ability to line up in the backfield as a runner or in multiple occasions as a passer, led to defenses having to account for him on every snap. Add in the fact that the Maine receiver is also one of the most dangerous KR in the country and that makes him a valuable commodity in this year’s class.

Football IQ– As previously mentioned, Edwards has the ability to line up all over the field, but his ability to read defenses pre-snap separate him from many receivers in this class. His route tree knowledge is NFL ready and if not for playing on the small school level, he’d be in the conversation with other Top 20 pass catchers in this year’s draft

Acceleration– The Maine receiver displays an impressive second gear, especially when he hits the open field. Edwards has the ability to take it to the house every time he gets his hands on the ball. He displays the same type of elusiveness and shiftiness at receiver, as he does in the return game.

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Getting to Know Edwards

During our Q&A sessions Edwards was asked about his thoughts on how he was utlized in Maine’s passing game. He was frequently used as the primary motion receiver while lining up in the slot, but his film also showed him lining up in the backfield. He was asked what he believed his best fit on the next level would be.

“I believe I can do a lot of things at the next level. I can play inside as a slot and get those matchups against linebackers or I can be placed on the outside and battle with the corners. It honestly doesn’t matter; whatever team gives me a chance and they ask me to play a certain position I believe I will excel at it. That’s just the confidence I have for myself since I was young. Once I’m on that field I’m a whole new person, I believe I can do anything”.  

Prior to Edwards’ March 27th Pro Day, we discussed what he believed NFL talent evaluators would take away from his workout and what stigmas he wanted to shut down regarding his versatility.

“Once pro day comes around, I’m looking to open a lot of eyes. I think scouts just see me as a return specialist who does a good job at receiver also. That’s not true, like I said in many interviews, I am a receiver first then a return specialist. So, I cannot wait to show everyone my route running ability and prove to them that I’m up there with the best when it comes to route running. Also, I’ve been getting a lot of question about how fast I truly am. So, once it’s 40 time I cannot wait to surprise a lot of people with how fast I am”. 

Edwards was named a unanimous All-CAA 1st Team Kick Returner. The question was posed as to what he felt separated him from other returners in the upcoming NFL Draft.

“I am different when the football is in my hands. I know how to make something out of nothing and my ability to make people miss is unmatched. My vision is also part of the reason why I’ve been so good at the return game because I can see things before they happen. I’ve been excelling at the return game in high school and came into college my freshman year doing the same thing all the way until my senior year. I don’t think nothing is going to change at the highest level, I believe it’s in my blood at this point. I cannot wait to show and prove everyone wrong who still doubts me”. 

We wrapped up the Q&A session discussing what aspect of his game he felt he needed to focus on, in addition to what he believed would be the biggest hurdle coming from the small school ranks,

“Everyone has something they can improve on with their game and if someone ever says they are the perfect football player then it’s a lie. My biggest goal has always been getting my hands stronger and catching the ball with my hands more. Yes I can catch, and yes I catch with my hands but like a lot of receivers, I also have a tendency to catch with my body at times. It’s been working, I get the job done and make plays when needed to be made but if I really want to separate myself from the rest I must do things differently. Everything just looks a lot better and coaches are more confident when you are using your hands about 90% of the time. Also, I’m looking forward towards the hype about going against the best of the best. I come from FCS where people don’t believe there’s a lot of talent that’s comes out so once I prove to everyone that I can play ball with anyone, I’ll be fine”. 

 

Fit in Washington 

The Redskins situation at receiver has been a topic for debate all offseason. Second year WR Terry McLaurin is the unquestioned leader of the group with projected slot receiver Steven Sims Jr viewed as a player on the rise. Fellow second year receiver Kelvin Harmon definitely has upside, but more big play ability is needed from a WR#2. The depth after that isn’t much to speak of with Trey QuinnCam SimsDarvin Kidsy and recently signed Cody Latimer.

One thing is clear in Washington; QB Dwayne Haskins needs more weapons after the Redskins failed to land a blue-chip receiver in free agency. It’s been well documented that HC Ron Rivera was all in for signing Amari Cooper, but the receiver ultimately decided to return to Dallas. So where does that leave Washington? They’ll no doubt invest a top 100 pick on a WR in the draft, but adding another pass catcher late on Day 3 is likely. Ernest Edwards IV would be a plug and play KR as a rookie for the Redskins with the potential to make a bid for playing time at receiver. The Maine receiver is a high character prospect and an elite kick returner, with tremendous upside to immediately be an effective role player for Washington if selected late on Day 3 or as an UDFA.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Earnest Edwards IV ‪@EdwardsEarnest ‬ 

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Small School Spotlight; Washington’s Need at Cornerback and Cassius Grady’s Fit 

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

ool Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

 

 

Small School Spotlight; Washington’s Need at Cornerback and Cassius Grady’s Fit 

As the NFL Draft approaches prospects are scrambling to prepare for their individual pro days. Those prospects who didn’t get an NFL Combine invite realize that this could be their last shot to wow NFL talent evaluators. Unfortunately, with many large crowd events, such as pro days, canceled or postponed due to the pandemic, this will surely have negative ramifications for many NFL draft hopefuls.

Cornerback needy teams will zero in on top prospects such as OSU’s Jeffrey Okudah or Florida’s C.J. Henderson, but one small school prospect has gone under the radar. That prospect is University of Texas San Antonio’s Cassius Grady. The 5’9 1/]\” 185 lb. firecracker from Arlington, TX may lack size for a cornerback, but more than makes up for it with his feistiness and ability to attack the ball. Grady boasts 33″ arms 9’7-8” hands and UTSA coaches clocked him at 4.5 seconds in the forty-yard dash with an impressive 40″ vertical leap.

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During 2015 Grady was a redshirt freshman at Northern Illinois University. The young cornerback had issues keeping his grades up while balancing the transition to school life and the obligations of football, as is the case with many student athletes. Later that year he left school moving back home, but kept in football shape by working out with his twin brother. After a hiatus from playing football, in 2017 Cassius Grady enrolled at Trinity Valley Community College located in his home state of Texas. During his lone season at Trinity Valley, Grady recorded ints with 11 pass break ups.

The following season Grady was offered a spot on the University of Texas San Antonio’s football team and went onto to have a stellar two years registering 81 total tackles 69 solo 7.5 tackles for a loss 6 ints 12 passes defended and 1 sack. 

Student of the Game

Grady is a student of the game and his UTSA coaches have made it known how much of a film junkie he is. Oftentimes he’s been seen in the UTSA student cafeteria watching film and game tape on his phone. His willingness to sharpen his ability is key. However, he also understands the value he can add on special teams which is just as important during his transition to the NFL. Grady’s film affirms The Burgundy and Gold Report’s assertion that the UTSA CB will be a valuable asset in an NFL defensive back room who offers leadership, but more importantly the ability to contribute immediately on the next level.

Read on for a list of the intangibles that make Grady a must have as a potential Draft Day prospect:

 

  • Ability in Coverage– Displays tremendous instinct to shadow receivers with an effortless back pedal. Understands the nuances of the route tree and when to jump the route/when to let it develop. May not have pro-typical size, but knows when to open up his hips in coverage. Isn’t afraid to mix it up and get physical with receivers.
  • Acceleration– Gets from point A to point B with little wasted movement. Shows very good recovery speed if beaten off the line to make up ground in a hurry.
  • Hands– Displays excellent concentration when high pointing 50/50 balls as was evident with his 6 ints between 2018-2019. Many of his interceptions were contested passes against bigger receivers.
  • Tackling– Rarely will miss an open field tackle and has a vast understanding of tackling angles, particularly on screens. Displays textbook tackling ability. Lack of size doesn’t seem to be a determinate and understands the importance of tackling technique.

 

Getting to know Cassius Grady

During a recent Burgundy and Gold Report Q&A session with Cassius Grady, we discussed what led to his decision to leave Northern Illinois during his freshman season in 2015, prior to arriving to UTSA in 2018.

“What lead to my departure from NIU was me being in my own way, letting my grades get the best of me. I actually got caught trying to cheat on a test. It was a wakeup call for me, it taught me to always do the right thing even when you don’t want to. Nothing good comes from doing stuff the wrong way.” 

FBC - UTSA vs Rice
UTSA defensive back Cassius Grady (28) warms-up before a college football game at Rice Stadium on Saturday, Oct 6, 2018, in Houston.

We went on to discuss Grady’s favorite aspect of playing cornerback, as well as his thoughts on what he believes separates him from other draft hopefuls, in which he’ll be going up against to make an NFL roster.

“My favorite aspect of corner is being a student of the game. Which means watching film, looking at every detail from the WR stance, from the way he comes off the ball, his tempo in the routes. Breaking down a WR’s game is my favorite aspect and what I believe is going to separate me is my instincts & the fact that I literally play big! I’m 5’9″ 1/2, 185 that can do anything you would want from a 6’1″ corner & I’m a team first type of player, I’m on time, I’m prompt & I’m confident. Those are the things that I feel will separate me from a lot.”

We wrapped up, discussing Grady’s film and how his ability to run stride-for-stride with receivers looks to be his biggest strength. The Roadrunner receiver understands that he’s not a finished product though. In addition, we discussed what part of his game he would he prioritize, in regards to improving and refining during the pre-draft process.

“During this training process I’ll be focusing on speed & the agility part of my game to prepare me for my pro day.”

The UTSA defensive back understands that, like most NFL hopefuls, his dedication to film study and his attention to detail will be closely analyzed by NFL teams. His ability to contribute on special teams, will no doubt give him an opportunity to make a team’s final 53-man roster. Regardless if the corner gets drafted or goes undrafted, his journey and work ethic should appeal to cornerback needy teams.

 

Fit in Washington 

The Redskins release of Josh Norman and recent trade of Quentin Dunbar have created void at cornerback. Although Washington added fan favorite Kendall Fuller back into the fold, Fabian Moreau and second year CB Jimmy Moreland are the only other corners that can be expected to have meaningful contributions in 2020. The signing of Ronald Darby last week, no doubt ads competition, but similar to Dunbar health is a question mark. Depth at cornerback for new DC Jack Del Rio’s defense is a major issue. There is no doubt Washington could still sign another corner in free agency or add one in the draft. In fact, unearthing late round gems has been an area of success for Kyle Smith and the Skins scouting department. Grady fits the profile of a small school prospect that has the work ethic and ability to make an NFL roster. The UTSA corner would bring speed and discipline to a special team’s unit that needs an upgrade. Rivera covets prospects who will strengthen his special teams unit, but also add big play ability to the defense. With the draft only weeks away, Grady would be an ideal late round selection with the Redskins holding multiple selections in the 7th round. Cornerback is just one position of need for Washington, but adding a high IQ prospect like Grady would go a long way in improving the overall depth and ability of the defense.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Cassius Grady ‪@therealcassius5 ‬

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

ool Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

 

Washington Begins the Week with Two Big Moves

Out with the Old and in with the New 

After a relatively quiet and conservative first week of free agency, which was highlighted by the signing of veteran LB Thomas Davis and CB Kendall Fuller, the Redskins woke up fans with their latest moves on Monday.  

First, new HC Ron Rivera acquired his former quarterback from Carolina and no, to the dismay of some fans in Washington, it wasn’t Cam Newton. Third year QB Kyle Allen will be the presumptive backup to Dwayne Haskins, only 13 days after his former team re-signed their exclusive rights free agent to a 1-year deal. With Newton struggling to return to the field due to injury, Allen started thirteen games in Carolina, finishing with a 6-7 record and posting 3,588 PY 17 TD’s and 16 ints during his 13 starts.  

Although Rivera made it clear that Haskins wouldn’t just be handed the starting job, make no mistake, Allen is in Washington to help with the implementation of new OC Scott Turner’s offense and backup Haskins. Many fans believed that the compensation of a 5th round was too rich for a quarterback that might not even make the final Panthers roster and made their frustrations know on social media. In the end it’s become increasingly evident that Alex Smith is not a legitimate option and adding a competent backup was an offseason priority.  

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The second move of the day was one that really ruffled some fans’ feathers. Only a few hours after the trade for Allen, Quinton Dunbar was traded to the Seattle Seahawks and the compensation just happened to be. . .you guessed it. . .a 5th round pick. Dunbar’s constant complaining on social media about feeling disrespected by the new regime and desire to be released/traded finally came to a head. Dunbar made statements to JP Finlay of NBC Sports Washington and Rick “Doc” Walker of The Team 980 that his desire was to be traded or released, only to walk back those comments and say he simply wanted to meet with members of the Redskins’ officials to discuss his future in Washington.

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Once again fans voiced their displeasure on social media pointing to the fact that Dunbar was listed as one of the highest rated cornerbacks in ’19 by PFF. Unfortunately, a fact that can’t be ignored is the 14 games he missed over the last two seasons. Dunbar’s desire to be paid in the $8-$10 million-dollar range, annually, was the writing on the wall for this relationship and it was obviously time to move on.  

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As far as compensation goes, it was as if Washington traded Dunbar for Allen. The Skins parted with their 5th round draft pick to Carolina for Allen, while getting back a 5th round selection in return for Dunbar from Seattle.  

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Washington’s offseason transactions will, no doubt, continue with the Trent Williams situation still up in the air as well as the likelihood that a cornerback will be added, with the loss of Josh Norman and now Dunbar. Many fans are hoping, similar to Fuller, Bashaud Breeland will make his return to Washington.  So, Monday’s transactions should be a signal for more to come in the days and weeks leading up to the draft. 

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Matt Burrell @MattBurrell51

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

 

 

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

The Haskins-Burrell Bond

In the second installment of the Burgundy and Gold Report interview with Matt Burrell, the former OSU lineman goes in depth regarding his observations of the Haskins vs Burrow battle at Ohio State, his friendship with Haskins, the hurdles the Redskins quarterback faced and more.

**click here to read Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1**

Although Burrell transferred to Sam Houston State University from Ohio State, he developed a lifelong bond with Redskins’ second year quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Burrell also seems to “get” the often-misunderstood Haskins on a personal level and sees a high ceiling for the quarterback in Washington. The former Buckeye lineman would like nothing more than to join his friend and former teammate in Washington.

The question of what he saw from Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow during their competition to be the Buckeye starting quarterback, was posed to Burrell. We discussed his thoughts on their potential success on the next level as well.

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“Joe did what he could with what he had. He’d make the pocket extend or make these passes that were like oh my gosh! Nobody ever said, hey Joe you’re gonna be the greatest quarterback in college football. He never got his respect, but we knew, we felt it. We all lived down the hall [in OSU dorms]. Whether it was getting to a workout on time or getting treatments on time, Joe was that much of a professional. When it came down to who to pick in that 2017-2018 season, it was such a battle. Dwayne didn’t necessarily make it personal, but he took it as a chip on his shoulder.”

Burrell emphasized that competition was fierce between Haskins and Burrow and that either quarterback had tremendous upside. One thing that stood out was the lack of mention of the Burrow hand injury that supposedly cost him the job. From Burrell’s perspective, Haskins was the clear-cut winner by the OSU coaches. It’s also worth noting that like Haskins, Burrow continued to improve his awareness during the process, but Ohio State coaches felt more comfortable with Haskins leading the offense. Some might point to the rise of Burrow on his way to leading LSU to the National Championship in a dominating fashion. However,  Haskins fared well putting up one of the most historical seasons, statistically speaking, for an OSU quarterback posting 4,831 passing yards for 50 touchdowns with only 8 ints during the 2018 season.

As the conversation continued with Burrell, we discussed the Haskins college commitment process and the bond they formed during his visit to Ohio State as a Bullis High School Senior. Haskins reportedly was very close to officially committing to Maryland University and Burrell confirmed that much. After meeting Burrell and experiencing life in Columbus, Haskins’ choice became clear.

“During his visit to OSU he [Dwayne Haskins] took a knee at the 50-yard line and he chucked the ball from the O [midfield OSU stadium] to the back of the endzone and I was like wow! I’m like, dude please come here. I’ll be your center. We’ll knock this out. I think this could happen and he bought in [committed to OSU over Maryland]. Once he got here, he faced adversity; the same thing that I felt. You’re no longer the star player and you’re no longer the focal point. Everyone knows Dwayne’s charisma glows, his energy glows. He’s a leader, very vocal, he’s passionate. But he also has that x-factor and you’re like wow he does some things you’ve never seen before and does some amazing things. That’s the thing about both of them [Haskins and Burrow]. You couldn’t go wrong. I’m the center so in my opinion you can’t go wrong with either of them.”

Burrell followed Burrow’s journey to LSU closely after the soon-to-be #1 overall pick’s departure from Columbus.

“During my recruiting I was silently committed to LSU, l loved their atmosphere. Once I learned Joe was going there, I knew he would soak it all up and he did. Dude blew up.”

Burrell saw the talent and ability in both quarterbacks. He also formed an unbreakable bond with Haskins during their time together at OSU.

“I knew Dwayne, I thought Dwayne was the Heisman winner. All the records he broke. He is the Heisman winner in my eyes. I mean, in comparison I’ve never had anybody that was better than either of them. They fought and they’re both gonna face adversities in these next few years as Dwayne is facing now, but he’s un-wavered. We have the same tattoo actually of Simba on our arm. We say it to each other you know, Remember Who You Are, just like they said in the movie, even if we just text each other and just say remember.” 

Burrell has an in-depth understanding of some of the trials and tribulations that Haskins has faced and has followed those hiccups closely since his friend joined the Redskins. Burrell was adamant that the adversity Haskins is facing will only enhance the chip on his shoulder and ultimately make him a better quarterback.

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“You lose your left tackle and you have a makeshift O-line with your best guy being Brandon Scherff. Terry [McLaurin] comes and saves the day. Terry always saves the day, he’s always been the guy to depend on. Terry takes the little things so serious and when he gets out there, he makes it look effortless. If it wasn’t for Terry who knows, not to say Dwayne wasn’t able to, but I don’t think they put the confidence in Dwayne if Terry isn’t factored in. Any man needs confidence and sometimes confidence has to come from coaches instilling confidence… that wasn’t happening with him [under Jay Gruden]. He deserved it, being a 1st round pick. Not to say he wasn’t ready, those X’s and O’s and all that stuff, you know what I mean. What more do you need, just let him sling it!  He’s gonna make mistakes, but you need him to. Lamar Jackson wasn’t Lamar his first year. He just wasn’t. Sometimes it takes longer with other people and that’s the story with me.”

As the discussion continued, the question of what it would mean to be selected by the Washington Redskin in the upcoming NFL Draft as a former 4 Star HS Recruit, growing up in Virginia. The topic was something Burrell didn’t take lightly. In fact, he revealed that it was a subject that was something he has thought about often during the pre-draft process.

“Sorry if I get emotional. I grew up watching Mark Brunell, I grew up watching Jason Campbell, I grew up when Joe Gibbs came back and thought we were back! I screamed when Trent Williams was picked from OU. I wanted to be that. I want that because D.C. is that. I’m from Virginia, 703 is tattooed on my left shoulder dude. It would mean a lot. The fact that my best friend is the quarterback… it’s personal to me. It’s so personal that I feel like I’m alive for it. I feel God saved me for that. I feel like I made it through this for that. It’s not a coincidence that Dwayne is there, Chase [Young] might go, Terry’s already there. I played with Timmy [Settle] in middle school on the same AAU travel team. Timmy played RB and I played RT and we’d run a toss and I was the lead blocker. Timmy Settle and I was go time. We grew up together from middle school to now. Me and Greg Stroman were rivals in high school. I also played with Guice in the Army High School game. I went to an FBS school and the narrative was given for me that I left and it wasn’t about talent. I don’t want anything to be given to me, I want to be slept on. I’d rather come from behind any day.”

As Washington continues to build their O-line and depth, questions loom with the Trent Williams trade rumors as well as the pending Scherff and Flowers contract negotiations. Matt Burrell is a unique under the radar small school prospect, who competed against top level competition while at Ohio State. The bond Burrell and Haskins formed could go a long way for the maturation of the Redskins quarterback by adding another familiar face to the fold, as the rebuild in Washington continues. As mentioned in The Burgundy and Gold Report Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part I, Burrell’s athletic ability allow him the be the type of utility lineman that is valuable in today’s NFL. His football IQ and the ability to maul pass rushers, separate him from other late round developmental draft prospects.  The Sam Houston State lineman could be sitting there in the later stages on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. Washington would be wise to take a flier on the talented former Buckeye lineman.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Matt Burrell @MattBurrell51

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part 1

 

The Transition  

Welcome back to another installment of The Burgundy and Gold Report Small School Spotlight. The offseason has featured Q&A’s with some of the brightest small school, up and comers in the nation. The latest interview, however, might be the most intriguing to date. This Q&A was so jam packed that a two-part series was warranted. It features a 1 on 1 interview with Ohio State transfer C/G Matt Burrell of Sam Houston State University. Burrell has developed lifelong relationships during his playing career with current Redskins players Tim SettleTerry McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins, which will be discussed in depth in Part 2 of the Burrell interview. Today the focus is on Burrell’s maturation process as an offensive lineman.

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Burrell transferred to Sam Houston State for the 2018-2019 season as a redshirt junior. He had previously been enrolled at OSU as a four-star recruit in the 2015 class. The 6’3” 306 lb. lineman from Woodbridge, VA appeared in 12 games during his time as a Buckeye. Burrell was part of an intense battle for the starting right guard spot at Ohio State in 2017 which ultimately was awarded to Branden Bowen. In spite of that, Burrell provided valuable depth along the Buckeye offensive line before ultimately deciding to transfer.

In Part 1 of the Burrell interview with The Burgundy and Gold Report, he revealed:

  • what he learned during his journey at OSU
  • his versatility and ability to adjust on the fly
  • what he needs to work on in the next phase of his football career.

B&G Report– What led to your decision to leave Ohio State and what are some of the lessons you learned during your time in Columbus?

“I saw myself coming into the Ohio State playing a certain role, so rotating and playing with the two’s was a new experience. At Ohio State, if you don’t do anything to put yourself a step ahead, then there’s gonna be a step made for you and that’s where it kind of went stagnant. There was a point and time I didn’t really understand what my value was to the team, however, I was still having a positive impact and I was still seeing improvements in my game. It was very frustrating and very hard to kind of let time do its own grace. 

I went through a lot of things. My parents got a divorce and I dealt with financial struggles. There was a lot of adversity provided for me that I wasn’t ready to handle. A lot came from my insecurities, questioning myself, questioning my foundation, questioning my overall purpose in life, period. And I dealt with mental health issues. I feel like my adversity mentally and physically has put an armor on me that I wouldn’t have been able to develop any other way. My transition was entirely a personal decision. I didn’t necessarily care about playing tier one and playing at the top level. I wanted to quiet the noise and wanted to see exactly if this is what I loved and if I loved it, I’d save it. That’s what I did. It wasn’t easy [transferring from OSU]. I’m blessed the lord had mercy on me because he gave me another shot, so I can provide a better image of myself because I wasn’t myself at OSU. My passion has always been my positive and my negative. I love football and I love OSU, those guys are my brothers.”

****More in The Burgundy and Gold Report Interview with Matt Burrell-Part 2 about his relationships at OSU***

 

B&G Report- Your tenacity and fire as a mauler is evident on your film, but do you believe you have the ability to play other positions on the O-line?

At the time when I was at Ohio State, I didn’t think that I was [as confident], now that I know, I have a stigma about me that I can’t be stopped and I don’t think it will ever go anywhere. My Junior year I started at left tackle and played RT and the end of that season [2017-2018 season]. This past season I played RG and then played Center in the first half of the season. I had a deal with my hand and had to switch to the guard, but you can even put me at tight end. I feel like I can do anything and that comes from my basketball background. I played basketball my whole life. I always like to think I can play point guard, center, shooting guard you name it. I was 340 lbs. at one point in high school, then I was 320 before, I’ve been 270 before, I’ve been 290 before it all depends on what you want me to be.”

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B&G Report– The Burgundy and Gold Report projected you as a C/G as well as a Swing Tackle, on the next level, with the ability to line up a tight end in sub-packages. What aspects of your game do you believe you need to work on in order to have success on the next level?

“When I’m engaged, I believe if I win that chess battle 20 times out 20, I’m gonna win that block. With that being said, I have to do a more consistent job of winning that chess battle [referring to the mental aspect of blocking] and there’s times that could happen because I’m not that heavy, that if I do lose, I’ll lose my second step. However, I’m quick enough to recover. So, I think overall my strength will help my grip.

 “I think that I need to improve on everything as far as my game. Continuing to sharpen up my sets, whether it’s a 45 degree or jump set or bail set. I have a plethora of ideas when it comes to working on my game. I work on it in different ways, I use different bands, whether its resistance or weights. I’ve learned from the best of the best when it comes to preparing your body to play offensive line. With that being said, I watch a lot of film, videos of my steps over and over and zoom it in. So, when you ask me what I should work on I’m gonna tell you everything. I’m not remotely close to what I think I can be, but I also know I’m a late bloomer and I felt that in my body you know. I can jump higher than I ever have now and I can run faster than I ever have now. Mechanics have slowed down for me and it just took me time. I kind of made it longer for myself, but I think it was God’s way of showing me that sometimes your time is the only time that matters.”

 

Fit in Washington

Burrell was one of the most engaging and upfront prospects to interview with The Burgundy and Gold Report. In saying that, his talent is undeniable and his ability to create a clean pocket and running lanes is impressive. The Redskins current O-line situation is a bit murky with Brandon Scherff’s contract status up in the air, the Trent Williams debacle and whether the over-achieving Ereck Flowers will be brought back for the vacant LG slot. Starting Center Chase Roullier and Morgan Moses seem to be the only sure things as far as returning starters go on the O-line. Although the Redskins invested 2019 Draft selections in Wes Martin and Ross Pierschbacher they are viewed as depth at this juncture. Martin showed promise filling in for Scherff, but after Martin the Redskins have little depth along the line. Enter Matt Burrell into the equation.

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The former Buckeyes dominance was on display while at Sam Houston State. But make no mistake, unlike other small school prospects, Burrell’s experience at OSU should go a long way during the draft evaluation process. As previously mentioned during the interview, his experience and ability to play every position on the line should make Burrell an asset as a late round option in this year’s draft. Retaining Scherff and Williams beyond this season could be a tall task, but adding a versatile lineman with the ability to play multiple positions is something to keep an eye on for Redskins’ fans.

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A question often asked to NFL hopefuls by team scouts, coaches and GM’s is “What’s your why?” In Burrell’s case, his newborn son changed his perspective and values and his new found love of the game was enhanced after he left the bright lights of Columbus to join the Sam Houston football program.

Stay tuned for The Burgundy and Gold Report’s Interview with Matt Burrell-Part 2, as we go in depth about his close relationship with Redskins’ quarterback Dwayne Haskins and his thoughts about potentially reuniting with his former college and middle school teammates in Washington (Terry McLaurin and Tim Settle).

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Matt Burrell @MattBurrell51

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

*Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2020/02/19/small-school-spotlight-joseph-mcwilliams-the-grambling-grinder-and-his-fit-in-washington/

*The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/the-top-small-school-ilb-in-the-nation-javahn-fergurson-is-a-fit-in-washington/

*Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/way-too-early-redskins-top-25-big-board/

*Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2019/11/24/getting-to-know-kyle-dugger-the-player-that-should-be-on-washingtons-radar/

*Small School Spotlight: Finding Reed’s Replacement in Tight End Charlie Taumoepeau

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2019/11/16/small-school-spotlight-finding-reeds-replacement-in-tight-end-charlie-taumoepeau/

 

 

Small School Spotlight Joseph McWilliams; The Grambling Grinder and His Fit in Washington

Welcome to another Burgundy and Gold Report report small school spotlight Q&A.

While looking for the next hidden, small-school gem, I might have unearthed the most productive Grambling State University standout since former Redskins quarterback and current VP of Player Development, Doug Williams. That draft prospect is cornerback Joseph McWilliams. The 5’11” 175 lbs. defensive back from Baton Rouge, LA is eager to make the jump to the NFL. The Grambling defensive back, if selected would be the 2nd player from the SWAC division to make the Redskins’ roster since Southern University CB Danny Johnson, who was signed after going undrafted in 2018. In fact, according to McWilliams, the two are good friends.img_9345

Williams has fond memories during his time at Grambling and remembers the visits Doug Williams paid to the football team during his motivational speaking engagements. After Williams’ playing career concluded, he returned to his alma mater in 1997 to serve as the head coach, succeeding the legendary Eddie Robinson. The former Redskins signal caller finished with a career coaching record of 62-33 and makes frequent visits back to Grambling to talk to the staff and football team.

Although McWilliams has gone under the radar during the draft evaluation process, his ability and impressive statistics are undeniable. In three seasons, McWilliams (ineligible sophomore year) recorded 10 blocked kicks with 1 returned for 2 points, 11 ints with 5 returned for touchdowns, 2 forced fumbles and 15 passes broken up. These are impressive numbers regardless of the level of competition. McWilliams displays the attributes to be effective on the next level.

 

Attributes 

Pursuit & Instincts– McWilliams displays exceptional mental processing with his pursuit angles and has a knack for getting his hands on the ball, which was evident with his 11 ints in three seasons while at Grambling. McWilliams shows very good recovery speed and impresses with his ability to keep the play in front of him while taking solid angles after the reception.

Tackling– Fearless hitter who displays solid technique when bringing down ball-carriers/receivers which shows competitive toughness play in and play out. Understands leverage and angles when attacking the run game. Once he gets a hand on a ball-carrier, rarely does he give up YAC.

Speed– McWilliams displays an impressive jump off the snap, most notably on special teams, which he showed while leading the SWAC with 10 blocked kicks during his time at Grambling. Draft evaluators will be hard pressed to find a defensive back with those types of numbers in only three years. The corner displays the ability to effectively mirror receivers’ stride-for-stride while not getting handsy in coverage. When McWilliams gets his hands on the ball, he displays the ability to take it to the house every time with impressive acceleration and elusiveness.

In Coverage– Will not back down from bigger receivers. In fact, McWilliams seems to play better when faced with the challenge. Many smaller corners feel more comfortable playing off or bail coverage, but the Grambling corner uses an effective jam at the line with the ability to play in press coverage or zones schemes.

Getting to Know McWilliams- The Burgundy and Gold Report’s Exclusive Q&A Session with Joseph McWilliams

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B&G Report- What do you consider your best attribute and what do you think you need to improve on during the pre-draft evaluation process?

“I think my best attribute would be play recognition it’s almost second nature when something isn’t right and I’m able to see it all in slow motion sometimes. I think I need to become faster and stronger for the most part no doubt about it.”

 

B&G Report- What were some of your biggest challenges thus far and how do you think it helped you become a better football player?

“My biggest challenges had to be protecting my side of the field at all cost especially when a play is to be made. It helped me because I’ve always learned about making the plays when they come to you.”

 

B&G Report- As a smaller defensive back, what do you believe separates you from other players at your position that will be vying for an NFL spot?

“Being smaller gives us a chance to stick to with smaller receivers that sometimes be getting that little space on bigger guys. Sometimes we can go accounted for and be the ones making plays on special team like blocking kicks.”

 

Fit in Washington

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The latest reports that Quinton Dunbar might want out of Washington and the release of Josh Norman only fuels the need for more corners. Free Agency will, no doubt, be one avenue to address the position, but with little depth behind Fabian MoreauJimmy Moreland and the aforementioned Danny Johnson the Redskins would be wise to draft a corner with the ability to excel on special teams. Some evaluators have McWilliams as a late-round prospect who could go undrafted. Not getting an NFL Combine invite certainly stacks the cards against the Grambling corner who’ll be forced to display his talent at his pro day, but he’ll be up to the challenge.

With Washington’s cornerback situation in question, adding depth will be imperative. The Redskins have a number of needs to fill and cornerback is arguably one of their biggest. McWilliams displays the moxie to take the lead as a special teams’ demon. As the Redskins continue the youth movement and roster rebuild under Ron Rivera, investing a late round pick on a prospect like McWilliams could give a boost to the teams’ overall depth while also adding a potential special teams’ leader. The Grambling Grinder could be the next small school gem to make an impact on the next level and would be a welcomed addition in Washington.

By Adam Aniba

#HTTR🏹🏈 

Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Joseph McWilliams @Dsg_babyjoe

More from the Burgundy and Gold Report….

*The Top Small School ILB in the Nation; Javahn Fergurson is a Fit in Washington 

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/the-top-small-school-ilb-in-the-nation-javahn-fergurson-is-a-fit-in-washington/

*Way Too Early Redskins Top 25 Big Board

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2019/12/27/way-too-early-redskins-top-25-big-board/

*Getting to Know Kyle Dugger; The Player That Should Be on Washington’s Radar

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2019/11/24/getting-to-know-kyle-dugger-the-player-that-should-be-on-washingtons-radar/

*Small School Spotlight: Finding Reed’s Replacement in Tight End Charlie Taumoepeau

https://burgundyandgoldreport.wordpress.com/2019/11/16/small-school-spotlight-finding-reeds-replacement-in-tight-end-charlie-taumoepeau/