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Redskins pass catchers land very low in national rank, but how much higher should they be?

Redskins pass catchers land very low in national rank, but how much higher should they be?

The Redskins lost a lot in the offseason at the receiver position.

DeSean Jackson took his vertical speed and 1,000 yards receiving to Tampa Bay via free agency. Pierre Garçon took his toughness, play making and his 1,000 receiving yards to San Francisco

It became clear the Redskins were moving on from both players early in free agency, and neither exit was a surprise.

To offset the loss the Redskins brass signed Terrelle Pryor away from Cleveland. Pryor, playing with a collection of bad passers in 2016, still put up 1,000 receiving yards last season and could have a breakout in 2017 playing with Kirk Cousins.

All of this leads to a series of rankings published by Bleacher Report. Including tight ends, every NFL team's pass-catching group was ranked, and the Redskins landed quite low on the list. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

How low? 26th out of 32 teams. The author Doug Farrar explained:

Losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency? Those were two major hits to a Washington offense that came together well in 2016, including quarterback Kirk Cousins’ best season by far. But contractual drama with Cousins left little on the table for his best offensive weapons, and with those two top targets out the door, Cousins—who relies on his receivers to make plays—could be severely impacted.​

Farrar went on to explain that Pryor should help the offense, as well as Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Reed, however, is too injury prone for Farrar, as well as 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson. 

Here's the thing: Farrar isn't wrong about much specifically, except he's wrong about the overall ranking. 

Jamison Crowder is an established slot man that could very well post 1,000 yards this season. Barring injury, Pryor seems certain to go over 1,000. The tight end position, between Reed and Davis, will go for another 1,000, just like it did last year.

Jay Gruden has made clear the Redskins offense runs through Reed, so with better health in 2017, he could again approach his 2015 totals of 87 catches, 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

Doctson remains a question, certainly. Missing the team portion of OTAs last week will do little to calm Redskins' fans fears about the second-year pro out of TCU. Still, he has a ton of talent if he can get on the field, something he and Gruden are confident will happen this fall.

Further down the Washington roster at wideout, while there is potential, there is hardly any production. The staff likes Mo Harris and Ryan Grant, and took a flier on 2012 second-round pick Brian Quick in free agency and drafted Robert Davis in the 6th round. But those options won't make defensive coordinators lose any sleep, and might even lay the groundwork for the team to check out recently released free agent Jeremy Maclin.

But, regardless of the Redskins inexperience in their fourth and fifth WR spots, this ranking is still too low. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Reed is arguably the best tight end in football, and is certainly no worse than third at the position. Pryor could be great this fall, and will very likely be good. Crowder's receiving totals improved by nearly 250 yards from his rookie season in 2016 to last year. Another similar improvement would land him with more than 1,000 yards and double digit TDs. 

Just based on those three players, the Redskins probably belong in the Top 20. And that's before Doctson's unique situation even gets considered. 

It's cherry picking, yes, but Farrar ranked the Buffalo Bills receiving group five spots ahead of the Redskins. The Bills top three pass catchers, per Farrar, are Sammy Watkins, rookie Zay Jones and tight end Charles Clay.

Watkins, despite spending his whole career at WR and being a Top 10 pick, has the same amount of 1,000 yard seasons as Pryor. One. Jones (ed. note: a rookie I really like) and Clay have done nothing close to the production of Crowder and Reed. 

Want another example?

The Vikings receiving group ranked 18th on this list, eight spots ahead of Washington. 

Their top three pass catchers, not necessarily in order, would likely be Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. Show me the personnel man that would take that group over Pryor, Reed and Crowder. 

These rankings are a hypothetical list, done for speculation and ultimately a fun way to compare things for fans. The Redskins seem far too low, but that doesn't mean the group belongs in the Top 10 either.

Beyond Pryor and Crowder, there is no established player in the Redskins receiving group. Gruden and company seem quite confident in their young pass catchers. This season they will get the chance to prove if they're right. 

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The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

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USA Today Sports Images

The NFL fills in the blanks on the Redskins' schedule tonight

Since the 2017 regular ended we’ve known who the Redskins will play this coming season and we have known where the games will be played. Tonight we find out the when. 

The NFL schedule will be released tonight at 8 p.m. The NFL will fill in the blanks beside all of the prime time games, the Thanksgiving Day games and the Sunday doubleheader and night games. 

Last year, the Redskins were coming off of an 8-7-1 season where they just missed making a second straight playoff appearance. Kirk Cousins was becoming one of the more recognizable names in the NFL and the schedule makers thought they would be enough of a draw to warrant five prime time slots. They were scheduled for a Sunday night, two Monday nights, and two Thursday nights, including a first-ever home game on Thanksgiving. 

The Redskins may not be as attractive a prime time candidate this year. They went 7-9 and Cousins is gone, although replacement Alex Smith is fairly well-known. It’s nearly a given that two NFC East games will be on prime time. That has been the case every year but one since 2012. We will see what will happen beyond that. 

The prime-time games that the Redskins do have will start a bit earlier than they have in the past. The league announced yesterday that Monday night games will move up from 8:30 p.m. ET to 8:15 p.m. ET and Thursdays will move from an 8:25 p.m. start to 8:20 p.m. Sunday night games move up from 8:30 p.m. to 8:20 p.m.

There has been speculation that the Redskins will play on Thanksgiving, perhaps at Dallas or against another opponent in the night game. That would make three years in a row on Thanksgiving for them. That is not without precedent although it would be unusual. Besides the Lions and Cowboys, who host Thanksgiving games annually, only two teams played in three straight Thanksgiving games. The Bears played every Thanksgiving from 1979-1981. The Cardinals also played three straight, but there is an asterisk there since they hosted the game instead of the Cowboys in 1975 and 1977. In between they played at Dallas on Thanksgiving. 

The availability of FedEx Field should not cause any schedule alterations. There are some events scheduled for the venue but concerts by Taylor Swift and Beyonce & Jay-Z, an international soccer game, and the Maryland-Texas college game are all going to be done before the start of the NFL season. 

Here are the Redskins regular season opponents. 

Road

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Cardinals
  • Saints
  • Jaguars
  • Titans
  • Bucs

Home

  • Cowboys 
  • Giants
  • Eagles
  • Packers
  • Panthers
  • Colts
  • Falcons
  • Texans

The preseason opponents were announced earlier this month.

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

 

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Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Need to Know: Five players who are wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, April 19, seven days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five wild cards for the 2018 Redskins

We know what to expect out of many members of the Redskins. Ryan Kerrigan will register between 10 and 13 sacks. Zach Brown will be among the league leaders in tackles. Jamison Crowder will compile about 800 yards receiving. But we really don’t know what to expect out of a lot of the players expected to play key roles. Here are five of them.

S Montae Nicholson—Although most of the uncertainty surrounding Nicholson is about his health, we really don’t know what he can do over a full season. Sure, he looked good in the six games he played last year but opposing offenses did not have much of a chance to probe his weaknesses. If he stays healthy, his ability to adjust to what the offenses are doing against him will be the next phase of his development. 

CB Fabian Moreau—As a rookie, he was impressive as a punt team gunner, but he got very limited playing time on defense (59 snaps, only seven after Week 5). The Redskins will be counting on him stepping into a bigger role after the departures of Bashaud Breeland and Kendall Fuller. He has the tools but we won’t know how well he can handle the job until he gets extended playing time. 

WR Maurice Harris—Last year he went from spectacular to invisible in a hurry. He made a sensational catch for 36 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings the first time he was targeted. In five games after that, he had just three receptions for 26 yards. Should he have had more playing time (76 snaps)? Or did he just not earn more targets? The real Maurice Harris should come to the forefront in 2018.

NT Phil Taylor—You know the story here. He was looking great in training camp until a quad injury sidelined him for the season. Taylor is healthy enough for the Redskins to give him another chance but this is a player who has not taken the field since November of 2014. We simply don’t know what to expect out of him even if he does make into Week 1 in good health. 

RB Samaje Perine—His play improved as the year went on but he wasn’t good enough to keep both Jay Gruden and Doug Williams from saying that running back is a draft need. Ideally, he shares carries with the probable draft pick with a few going to Chris Thompson and they combine to rush for 1,800 yards. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 33
—Training camp starts (7/26) 98
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 143

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