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With all the worries about the Redskins WRs, Jay Gruden still thinks Paul Richardson has the wow factor

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USA Today Sports

With all the worries about the Redskins WRs, Jay Gruden still thinks Paul Richardson has the wow factor

No Redskins receiver ranked in the top 40 of the NFL in yards-per-reception last year, and frankly outside of a few long runs from veteran Adrian Peterson, the Washington offense drastically lacked big plays.

The single player that was supposed to provide that true deep threat for Jay Gruden's team was Paul Richardson, but injuries significantly limited his first season in Washington. Richardson, a six-year pro out of Colorado, signed with the Redskins in 2018 as a free agent after starting his career with the Seahawks. In Seattle, he emerged as a big play target for Russell Wilson, highlighted by more than 700 yards and six touchdowns in 2017, when he averaged 16 yards-per-catch.

The Redskins need a down field threat like they did when DeSean Jackson roamed the sidelines for the Burgundy and Gold. Richardson isn't DeSean, nobody is, but both play a similar game. 

Last season, Richardson hurt his shoulder in training camp and never fully improved. A knee injury later ended his year after just seven games. His stats were paltry, 20 catches for 262 yards with two touchdowns. 

Still, Gruden believes in Richardson's potential.

"He showed glimpses in training camp of ‘wow, this guy can run.’ He’s got great hands, but I think he was beat up a little bit," the coach said of Richardson back in March. "I know he’s got it in him, I know he wants that back and he’s going to ask for a lot more opportunities to make plays on the ball this year  and he will get it if he’s healthy."

During the Redskins offseason work, Richardson did not work in team drill but was present at minicamp. He spoke with reporters and seemed to be in good spirits. That is hardly important though.

What's important is speed, top speed, and a trio of quarterbacks that seem more likely to take chances vertically than last year's starter Alex Smith. 

If Richardson can stay healthy, which is no sure thing given his track record in the NFL and even in college, he could get more chances deep. Both Colt McCoy and Case Keenum have shown tendencies to look for big plays - with the turnovers that follow - and that could help Richardson. It's unclear yet what rookie Dwayne Haskins will look like on an NFL field, but he certainly has the arm strength for 9 routes. 

Looking at the 2018 Redskins offense, veteran tight end Vernon Davis led the team with a 14.7 YPC average. Davis has elite speed for a tight end, and an ability to get past linebackers. Still, Gruden doesn't want a 35-year-old tight end leading his team in YPC. The coach wants Richardson in that role. 

"Having that luxury of having a guy that can really run fast, put the pressure on the defense, get on the toes of the corner, or the safety, to make them get the heck out of there, is important," Gruden said.

The Redskins defense looks well built for the 2019 season while the offense has a number of question marks, at almost every position group. 

If Richardson can stay on the field, that could be one answer. 

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Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

Redskins cut edge rusher Noah Spence, promote Carroll Phillips from practice squad

The Redskins cut former Buccaneers second-round pick Noah Spence Tuesday and promoted Carroll Phillips from the practice squad, according to Ian Rapoport

Washington signed Spence in mid-September after the Bucs cut him at the end of training camp.

Hopes were high for Spence in Tampa after he recorded 5.5 sacks in his rookie season, but has only recorded two sacks in the three seasons following 2016. 

Phillips joined the Redskins practice squad in Week 9 after playing in limited snaps with the Jaguars and Colts as an undrafted free agent in 2017. 

The Illinois product figures to be the fourth man in the Redskins pass rush rotation behind Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat and Ryan Anderson. 

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Will the Redskins go best player available at No. 2?

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2020 NFL Mock Draft 5.0: Will the Redskins go best player available at No. 2?

After Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season, only the Cincinnati Bengals have a higher likelihood of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft than the Washington Redskins. 

Washington is 1-9, and it's hard to identify which, if any, games remaining on their schedule are winnable. In all likelihood, even if the Burgundy and Gold tally another win or two on the season, Washington will be selecting a player in the top five of the 2020 NFL Draft.

So how do the Redskins turn it around? It starts with the draft

In our latest Mock Draft 5.0, the Redskins have the No. 2 overall pick. With the team needing help in a variety of areas, what do they do with the pick?

<<CHECK OUT OUR 2020 NFL MOCK DRAFT 5.0 HERE>>

Here are a few options.

Chase Young, Ohio State, EDGE: In a draft full of offensive talent, Young has been widely considered the best player available. The OSU product would make an immediate impact on a team that has struggled to get to the quarterback in 2019. Our mock draft has Washington taking Young.

Jerry Jeudy, Alabama, WR: Jeudy is arguably the best wide receiver prospect since Odell Beckham Jr. in 2014. He's lethal with the ball in his hands and is the best route runner in college football. Outside of Terry McLaurin, Washington's wide receiving corps have little promise. Selecting Jeudy would give young QB Dwayne Haskins a go-to target.

Jeffrey Okudah, Ohio State, CB: Quinton Dunbar has had a solid season for the Burgundy and Gold, but both Josh Norman and Fabian Moreau have been liabilities in the secondary. With Norman's contract, Washington will likely release him in the offseason. Okudah is the best cornerback in the draft and has elite man-to-man and ball skills.

Andrew Thomas, Georgia, LT: Donald Penn has proven to be a serviceable fill in, but at 36 years old, he has little future in Washington. Trent Williams has vowed to never be a Redskin again, meaning this position becomes a necessity for the Redskins. Thomas is the best offensive lineman in the class and would be a Day 1 starter for Washington.

Trade Back: The No. 2 overall pick could be used as a trade asset for the Burgundy and Gold before or on draft day. With quarterbacks Joe Burrow, Justin Herbert, and potentially Tua Tagovailoa slated to go in the top five of the draft, any QB-needy team could offer the Redskins a package they cannot refuse for the No. 2 pick. The Redskins have holes across the board, and the best way to address them could be stockpiling draft picks, similarly to how the Raiders did in 2019.

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