Counting on the Redskins to be good in 2020 may be too much to ask for — requesting mere decency after a 3-13 season feels more appropriate — but it's safe to say that Washington is going to be a lot more versatile.
Throughout the offseason, Ron Rivera consistently mentioned how he wanted to build a roster of players who can do multiple things on a football field. Well, now that the main portion of free agency has wrapped up and the draft is over, too, Rivera can consider that item on his list accomplished.
Really, absolutely, completely accomplished.
Take a look at all of the position-flexible guys Rivera and VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith have added to the Burgundy and Gold over the past five weeks or so. Seeing them listed together, one after the other, really illustrates how much the organization valued that quality in both NFL veterans and incoming rookies:
- Kendall Fuller: Can play slot corner, outside corner and even a little safety
- Wes Schweitzer: Has been a starter at both right and left guard
- Sean Davis: Will be a free safety here but played strong safety in Pittsburgh and corner at Maryland
- Cornelius Lucas: Can play both left and right tackle
- JD McKissic: A running back with a deep wide receiver background
- Antonio Gibson: Had 38 catches and 33 carries last year at Memphis
- Saahdiq Charles: Played both tackle spots at LSU and even some guard
- Keith Ismael: Played guard and center at San Diego State
- Khaleke Hudson: Popped up everywhere on Michigan's defense, including linebacker, safety and edge rusher
- Kamren Curl: Started as a corner before moving to safety at Arkansas
Four offensive linemen, three defensive backs, two offensive players and one hybrid linebacker make up that group. That means Rivera, Jack Del Rio and Scott Turner will have a lot of new, movable parts for their first year together, not to mention the ones already in town like Steven Sims and Ryan Anderson.
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Now, skeptics will question whether this approach for roster construction will lead to winning, which is understandable. Do some of them line up at multiple places because they aren't reliable enough or talented enough to thrive in one?
Rivera, though, obviously looks at it differently.
"They’re not pigeon-holed into one position and one position only," he said this past weekend. "There’s an opportunity for us to find ways to use them, to get them on the field."
At the very least, the 2020 Redskins should be much more creative and dynamic than the 2019 version, and for anyone who watched the 2019 version, that'll be a more than welcome sight.
Take Gibson and McKissic, for example, both of whom should make the offense less predictable. When they're in the backfield, they can take handoffs or feast on slower defenders on quick-hitting routes. Opposing coordinators will have to devote resources in order to stop one type of play, then the Redskins can attack with the other.
On defense, meanwhile, Fuller and Davis can combine with Landon Collins to do various things on the back end. Sure, they're best-suited for a specific role, but for a few snaps every game, Fuller can shift around at corner while the two safeties can interchange. The less static and stale they are, the more that the QBs they're facing will have to think.
On top of those strategic concepts, Washington should be more prepared to handle in-game and long-term injuries as well. No one reading this story needs to be reminded of how valuable that could prove to be.
Again, whether this strong commitment to versatility eventually equates to be a better record remains to be seen. However, it does indicate that the Redskins have a clear idea of how they want to build their team — which hasn't always appeared to be the case — and it should put them in more advantageous situations on both sides of the ball. That alone is promising.
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