Redskins Training camp opens next week, and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope.
Between now and the start of camp, we will look at every position, compare the group to the rest of the NFL, see if the position has been upgraded or downgraded from last year, and take out the crystal ball to see what might unfold.
Additions: Alex Smith (trade), Kevin Hogan (trade)
Departures: Kirk Cousins (free agent)
Other roster locks: McCoy
On the bubble: Hogan
How the quarterbacks compare
To the rest of the NFL: Smith was an MVP candidate for much of last year. Even though he didn’t finish as strongly as he started, he still finished in the top three in the NFL in completion percentage, interception percentage, passer rating, and adjusted net yards per pass attempt. However, those were career-best numbers for him and we don’t know if he can repeat them, especially going into a new offense. It’s fair to say that he is in the top 12, perhaps in the lower part. Nobody gets excited about McCoy, but he is a solid backup. Overall the Redskins are in the top 10 to 12 at the quarterback position compared to the rest of the league.
To the 2017 Redskins: Many fans were delighted to see Kirk Cousins head north to join the Vikings. Others believe letting Cousins go spells doom. The thing is, both sides have valid points to bolster their arguments. But it’s academic now; he is gone and Smith, who is four years older with a much longer track record, is here. If he an upgrade or a downgrade from Cousins. Again, there is solid data to support both viewpoints. I tend to think that Smith will be slightly more effective in 2018 than Cousins was last year, given that it was easily the worst season of the three in which he has been the starter.
2018 quarterback outlook
Biggest upside: It’s difficult to talk about much in the way of upside when both of the quarterbacks who are likely to make the roster are well over the age of 30. Hogan is on the bubble and if he does make the team he could be interesting to watch. He’s 26 and he does have eight NFL games with the Browns under his belt including one start. With Smith locked into Washington for at least the next three years, nobody is looking at Hogan as starter material. However, if he impresses in camp he could get himself into a position to take over for McCoy as the primary backup in 2019.
Most to prove: Smith has been around a long time and has made the Pro Bowl three times and he has yet to play in the Super Bowl. While a single player does not win a Super Bowl or, for that matter, lose a playoff game, many view a title as the best way to validate their careers. Smith himself mentioned this in his introductory press conference in March. This may or may not be the organization to do it with but he has a few years left to give it a run.
Rookie watch: There are no rookie quarterbacks on the roster.
Bottom line: Jay Gruden was able to get a lot out of Kirk Cousins after he made him the starter in 2015. Cousins threw for over 4,000 yards in each of his three seasons as the starter. The Redskins needed him to play well in order to win. When Cousins had a passer rating of 90 or better in a game, the Redskins were 20-6; when his rating was below 90, they went 4-17. While they may have improved defensively this year, they still will need Smith to play well for the Redskins to win. And since Smith’s contract essentially makes it impossible to move on from him before he’s played here three years, the one whose job is on the line is Gruden’s.
Gruden on Smith: "He still has got to learn the terminology, so you have got to be careful. Sometimes you assume you’ve been in the league a long time and he went to Utah – he’s very, very smart – you throw too much at him. We still want to control our pace but there’s really not a lot we can throw at him that he has not seen."
2018 Redskins Position Outlook Series
- Defensive line
- Outside Linebackers
- Running backs
- Interior offensive line
- Offensive tackle
- Tight end
- Wide receiver