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Position Battles: Dwayne Haskins isn't the only rookie pushing for a starting job

Position Battles: Dwayne Haskins isn't the only rookie pushing for a starting job

Many starting jobs will get decided in training camp, but for a number of Redskins rookies, May and June provide an opportunity to make a case for playing time and practice reps later in the summer.

The most high profile situation is obviously Dwayne Haskins. The 15th overall pick out of Ohio State has a real chance to start for Washington this fall, and his every throw, touchdown and interception will be dissected from now until the 'Skins open the 2019 season in Philadelphia. 

Beyond Haskins, there are plenty of rookies that will push for starting jobs. Montez Sweat leads that list on defense, but offensively, the list is longer. 

The biggest push will be on the offensive line. 

Fourth rounder Wes Martin out of Indiana looks to be in a strong position to push for the open left guard spot. His biggest competition appears to be Ereck Flowers, a bust at tackle for the Giants that is trying to restart his career as a guard. Could Flowers be better on the interior of the offensive line? Maybe, and being coached by Bill Callahan could certainly help. And Flowers has talent - he was a Top 10 pick in 2015 by New York. 

Chris Cooley declared Martin the starter at left guard on his podcast, and there is some belief inside the building that the rookie could emerge in 2019 like Chase Roullier did in 2017. Both are very strong and versatile but with less fanfare around their game after playing college ball at non-football schools. 

Beyond Martin, there will be some major push from two wide receivers taken in the draft this year in Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon. Part of that will be that the two rookies are young and talented, but part of that will also be the lack of production from the established wideouts on the Redskins roster. 

Last month, Washington decided not to exercise the fifth-year option on Josh Doctson's contract. That makes his hold on a starting job as tenuous as ever. Paul Richardson is working back from injury and seems unlikely to practice until at least training camp. If McLaurin and/or Harmon can impress now, they can move up the depth chart. 

There is another offensive rookie in center/guard Ross Piersbacher. The former Alabama starter doesn't project as a starter, but more of a depth player with versatility on the interior of the offensive line. Considering the injuries the Redskins have sustained in the middle of their O-line the last few seasons, odds would suggest Piersbacher will get a chance to start before the year ends. 

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The Redskins intend to be ready for 'every scenario' when the 2020 NFL Draft begins

The Redskins intend to be ready for 'every scenario' when the 2020 NFL Draft begins

Kyle Smith began his media session at the Combine Tuesday by thanking Dan Snyder and Ron Rivera for giving him his new role of Vice President of Player Personnel, others in the front office for helping him in the past and even the hosts of the NFL's offseason staple for putting on such a well-run event.

It was an impressive way for the young executive to open up his presser and hinted at how detail-oriented he is. So, it should be no surprise that Smith intends to be beyond prepared for whatever the 2020 NFL Draft may throw at him and his franchise.

"Trade scenarios, we'll talk through all that stuff. That's part of those three, four, five days leading up to the draft. We'll go through every scenario," he told reporters in Indianapolis. "We will go through every scenario of how far back would we go if that scenario came or what if this team called and what do they have available? We'll go through all those scenarios so that draft night, when those opportunities come, we'll be ready to roll."

Every Redskins fan on the planet — as well as Redskins fans on other planets, if they exist (which is something this story won't examine further, sorry) — know that the key decision facing Washington these days is what to do with the No. 2 pick. And while Smith was open with his praise of Chase Young's potential, he made sure to mention that this year's class features plenty of other strong prospects.

As for the kinds of players Smith and Rivera will target, the two leaders are already unified in what they value, according to Smith.

"Sitting down from the very first conversation we had at Mr. Snyder's house, we talked through our process and what we've been doing with the draft and the type of players we've been looking for," he said. "And he talked about his process and... we kind of meshed it together. And we'll move forward together."

In explaining how the Redskins will assemble their draft board — by the way, hardcore fans will love his full breakdown on this episode of the Redskins Talk podcast — Smith explained that he's going to run those meetings. Eventually, Smith and the personnel folks will huddle with the coaches and pass over names of soon-to-be-pros the coaches need to review.

Then, by April, the two staffs will meet once more and finalize everything. Only then will the answer to Washington's major offseason question finally reveal itself, and Young or a couple of other of top selections will join the Redskins.

Regardless of that answer, Smith expects the organization to reach it in a shared fashion.

"It's a collaborative deal," he said. "We believe in our process. We're going to talk through everything... Once the coaches come in in April, we will sit in there and literally go through each thing, each scenario and set it together so everybody's on the same page and everybody's working together."

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Redskins VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith on Dwayne Haskins: 'He needs his time'

Redskins VP of Player Personnel Kyle Smith on Dwayne Haskins: 'He needs his time'

Dwayne Haskins knows that the Redskins starting quarterback job will not be given to him; he must earn it. Ron Rivera has made that clear multiple times since taking over as the team's head coach.

Rivera has mentioned he's excited about Haskins' future, too, but the new head coach could also be looking for the second-year quarterback to use this offseason to go above and beyond and truly take command and ownership of the job. Doug Williams, the Redskins senior vice president of development, said as much earlier this week.

Redskins vice president of player personnel Kyle Smith believes thus far, Haskins has done exactly that.

"He's ready to do everything he possibly can," Smith said to local media on Tuesday in Indianapolis, speaking for the first time since being promoted to his current role in January. "The other day he told me he's bringing the guys down to Florida to throw with them and do the things he can do. He's doing all the extra stuff that we expect of him and he's got a bright future."

Working out with teammates at an off-site location during the offseason is not uncommon for NFL players. The league has placed multiple rules and regulations on NFL teams that restrict the amount of hands-on access coaches can have with players. It's up to the players to go about it themselves and coordinate times to work out together.

In addition to reaching out to his wideouts to schedule offseason work, Haskins has remained in the building since the season ended and continued to work on his craft. That's something Smith has noticed.

"He's smiling walking around the building," Smith said. "He's excited, he's energized."

The 22-year-old is still raw when it comes to experience; he only started one year at Ohio State and seven games a year ago as a rookie. Smith recognizes this and believes time will serve Haskins extremely well.

"He also needs his time. He's a young kid, man," Smith said. "He's got the right stuff. He's a good kid, he works hard. We're all excited about Dwayne."

Haskins had more than his fair share of growing pains as a rookie, but the Ohio State product really started to catch his stride towards the end of the season. Through the final six quarters of Haskins' season, he threw for 394 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions.

Haskins' progression towards the end of the 2019 campaign has excited many in the building, Smith included.

"I'm really excited about Dwayne," Smith said. "Obviously, as everybody has seen, he kind of ascended as the season went on. He played in [seven] games, he kept improving. I just had a conversation with him the other day. I'm excited, man."

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