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Position Group Rankings: Where are the Redskins weakest and where are they strongest?

Position Group Rankings: Where are the Redskins weakest and where are they strongest?

Over the next handful of days, JP Finlay and Pete Hailey will analyze each Redskins' position group, starting with the ones they feel are the most thin and working their way up to the ones that appear to be the most talented.

Before doing that, though, they're each giving their complete worst-to-best rankings here, so you can see where they agree and disagree. Find their thoughts below, then be sure to check back all week and weekend for their more in-depth stories on each spot. 

JP's list

10) Tight end
9) Cornerback
8) Offensive Line
7) Quarterback
6) Wide receiver
5) Linebacker
4) Safety
3) Running back 
2) Defensive end
1) Defensive line

Notes: 

*The hardest thing to balance looking at the Redskins' 2020 roster comes from existing production or future potential. Ron Rivera's new team doesn't have a lot of highly productive players on the roster, but there are lots of players with significant potential. At the top of the list is a prime example: Chase Young has the most potential of any player on the Redskins roster. He has a very real chance to become a Hall of Fame player. 

*But, Young hasn't logged a single NFL sack yet. The defensive line, however, has three highly productive players (Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis, Jonathan Allen) and a fourth with significant potential (Tim Settle). The defensive end group has Young and 2018 first-round pick Montez Sweat — two players that could prove elite pass rushers — not to mention veteran Ryan Kerrigan. Of those three players, however, only Kerrigan has proven production. 

*I'm higher on the linebackers than some might think, and much of that comes from the addition of veteran Thomas Davis. He's a three-time Pro Bowler that logged more than 100 tackles last year for the Chargers. His best success came with Rivera in Charlotte, and Davis will lead this group off the field and in the locker room. Combine that with Cole Holcomb — who has elite lateral speed and real potential to go with actual production from his rookie season — and the Redskins could have strong linebacking play from both outside spots. Lastly, being high on the linebackers also has a lot to do with Rivera and Jack Del Rio. Those dudes are linebackers. They will make the linebackers better. 

*Offensive line is a question. What's going to happen on the left side? People assume Saahdiq Charles can start right away, but can he? No offseason workout program will prove tough for the rookie that missed a number of games last year at LSU due to suspension. Will Wes Martin win the left guard gig? Ereck Flowers played well last year. He's gone. 

*The cornerback group might be keeping Del Rio up at night. Kendall Fuller can play, obviously, and he got paid accordingly. After that, though, there are lots of questions. Outside of the trenches, depth at corner might be the most important position group on a football team. Offenses can roll out four wideout sets and if a defense doesn't have four decent corners there is an immediate advantage to the quarterback. After Fuller, the Redskins have nothing but questions in players like Ronald Darby and Fabian Moreau. Jimmy Moreland is a playmaker, but he seems best suited to play the nickel corner role. But isn't Fuller a premier nickel corner? And then what is the depth? Who are the fifth and sixth corners? It's a good thing Washington looks poised to have a fierce pass rush because the secondary will need the help. 

*In general for this exercise I focus on depth at the position. Think about it, we're grading position groups, not players, and if Redskins fans know anything it's that injuries can and will happen. Depth is crucial. All of that said, quarterback is the position where a grade can come from the top (2018 season excluded). I like Dwayne Haskins. I think he's poised for a breakout sophomore season. He looked great in his last two starts of 2019 and has been impressive throughout the 2020 offseason. Still, it's potential vs. production. Right now with Haskins, it's 90-percent potential. We gotta see it this fall, and next year's ranks could look very different. 

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Pete's list

10) Tight end
9) Linebacker
8) Cornerback
7) Quarterback
6) Offensive line 
5) Wide receiver 
4) Safety
3) Running back
2) Defensive line
1) Defensive end

Notes:

*There are so many ways to attack this kind of exercise, but I did it by asking myself, "How confident would I feel in the (insert position here) to help the Redskins win a game this weekend?" Tight end easily gave me the least confidence — maybe even a negative amount — while the QBs, CBs, LBs, OL and WRs all brought various levels of meh-to-mild confidence. Safety and running back is where I feel relatively good, meanwhile, and the defensive line and ends are where I (finally) start feeling saucy. If punter was included, it'd obviously be right up there with the guys who make up Jack Del Rio's front.

*The reason I went with the DEs over the DL is because I'm starting to warm up more and more to the idea that Chase Young is going to be the single best player on defense, and he's going to reach that level quite soon. I also think that people are snoozing a bit on what Montez Sweat is going to do in his second pro campaign. I also also think those two young pieces are going to do wonders for Ryan Kerrigan, which JP recently wrote about. So, to me, that trio beats out the (also quite skilled) crew of Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, Matt Ioannidis and Tim Settle.

RELATED ARTICLE: REDSKINS JERSEY MOCKUPS FROM BEST TO WORST

*The bunch that I think has the potential to make the biggest jump up from where they are on my list to where they'll be when JP and I do this after the season (as Tandler always taught us, there's NO SUCH THING as too many position group blogs/rankings/evaluations/slideshows) is quarterback. If Dwayne Haskins builds on the way he finished 2019 and becomes someone that Washington wins because of instead of in spite of or along with, then QB could vault all the way up to third.

*To some, putting the wideouts ahead of the offensive line may stick out. After all, the pass catchers are far less proven than the men up front. But I'm completely in on all things Terry McLaurin and am only sort of joking when I say FedEx Field should start making room in its Ring of Honor for him already, love the tools that Steven Sims has and am intrigued by what Antonio Gandy-Golden and Antonio Gibson can add. As for the O-line, Morgan Moses needs to rebound at right tackle in a major way, Brandon Scherff needs to stay healthy, and left guard and left tackle are complete mysteries yet again. So that's how I ended up with those two slotted where they are.

*I'm far more worried about linebacker than my pal above is. Am I usually more worried about things than JP? Yes. When traveling, for example, he likes to leave for the airport as late as possible and get to the gate right as his boarding number is called, while I prefer to arrive like three flights before mine just to be safe. You never know what could happen!! I could probably relax in that part of life, but when it comes to Washington's linebackers, I think it's justified. I very much believe in what Thomas Davis will be able to do culture-wise, but on-field wise, I'm skeptical. After him, Cole Holcomb is really the only person I have any real hopes for. I understand that their jobs in the middle should be made a lot easier by the beasts they're lining up behind, but at some point, Davis, Holcomb, Jon Bostic and others will have to make plays in the running game and contribute in coverage, and I'm just not sure they're athletic enough as a unit to do those things well.

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'Washington Rexes' name suggestion creates a stir on Twitter

'Washington Rexes' name suggestion creates a stir on Twitter

As the Washington Football Team searches for a permanent new moniker, it's no surprise that some rather unique names have been suggested. Take the Washington UFOs or Washington Wanderers as examples.

The newest member of that group is the Washington Rexes, a name highlighted by the team as part of the fan recommendations initiative it's taking. The name was recommended by a fan named Carl, and the reasoning behind it certainly unique.

"Washington Rexes. I know this seems strange, but hear me out. Washington is home to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, which houses an impressive collection of dinosaur skeletons, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, one of the largest and most terrifying predators in history," Carl wrote. "Rexes would be an impressive nickname, implying strength, power, and ferocity. The mascot would be amazing. Plus, who doesn't love dinosaurs?" 

As wild as it may seem, Carl does kind of bring up some good points. The dinosaur is a very strong and scary animal, so it checks the intimidation box. The Smithsonian gives it the local connection and naming the stadium "Jurrasic Park" or something of that nature actually works. Wait, is Washington Rexes genuinely a good idea?

Well, for the most part, Twitter did not think so.

If dinosaurs weren't their thing, some suggested picturing it as an homage to former Washington quarterback Rex Grossman. 

Washington Rexes probably won't be the eventual name of the team. But, Carl deserves an A+ for creativity. 

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Washington punter Tress Way says he owes Ron Rivera a thank you for removing ping pong table

Washington punter Tress Way says he owes Ron Rivera a thank you for removing ping pong table

In an offseason of change in Washington, one small move that did have an impact on the locker room was Ron Rivera's removal of the wildly-popular ping pong table.

The new head coach's decision to eliminate table tennis was just another example of his desire to establish a new, more serious culture within the organization. Though it turned some fans' heads, it was something that avid players like long snapper Nick Sundberg respected.

Punter Tress Way, another dedicated ping pong player, was also understanding of the decision by Rivera. In fact, while he'll miss working on his craft with the paddle, he says he actually needs to thank Ron Rivera.

"I think I even need to do a hand-written letter or just a person-to-person conversation," Way said during a Washington Football Team virtual happy hour. "I owe him a thank you.”

Why exactly is Way so thankful? Well, it turns out that prior to the removal of the table, he was in jeopardy of losing his title as the best ping pong player on the roster.

After dominating other players day in and day out, Way has turned his passion into a skill that put him at the top of the locker room rankings.

“As a specialist, I punt and work out, play some ping pong after practice with the guys," Way said. "When the table was removed I was number one in the locker room.”

RELATED: SUNDBERG RESPECTS RIVERA'S DECISION WITH PING PONG TABLE

But, toward the end, Way became nervous that others were coming for his crown. Tired of losing to him, the punter explained that some talented individuals were preparing to take him down when they returned for the 2020 season.

"Some of the best athletes I’ve ever seen in my life decided at the end of last year that they were going to start playing some ping pong," Way said.

Then, Rivera swooped in and allowed Way to retire on top.

“I think coach may have bailed me out," Way said. "I think because he removed it I get to walk out number one and so I think I owe him a sincere thank you.”

Not having ping pong will surely be an adjustment for Way. As a punter, getting in some reps on the table was part of his daily routine, and he was clearly very good at it. He still has one at his home, and is willing to have challengers come take him on in a socially distant manner.

But, when it comes to the locker room in Ashburn, Va., he gets to be remembered as one of the best to pick up the paddle. That makes the loss a little less tough.

“I’m immortalized as the number one ping pong player in Washington," Way said. "So I don’t mind it.”

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