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With Reuben Foster out for the year, how much help can Jon Bostic be?

With Reuben Foster out for the year, how much help can Jon Bostic be?

The Redskins lost a first-round talent when linebacker Reuben Foster went down for the season with a knee injury last month during non-contact drills in OTAs. A few days later, Washington signed Jon Bostic, a former second-round pick with plenty of NFL starts. 

Like a simple math equation, losing a first-round pick with baggage like Foster for a second-round pick with an experience like Bostic might not be that big of a loss. But don't trust the math. 

Bostic had an impressive four-year run at the University of Florida, proving to be a big hitter and capable tackler, particularly against the run. In the NFL, however, the results haven't been astounding. 

Chicago took Bostic with the 50th overall pick in 2013, and things went reasonably well. He started nine games of his rookie season. In 2014, Bostic picked up where he left off as a rookie, starting eight games and logging 83 tackles. 

The Bears made a coaching change after the 2014 season, and new Chicago coach John Fox traded Bostic to the Patriots for a sixth-round pick. Yes, it's good that Bill Belichick targeted Bostic, but, one year later, New England traded Bostic to the Lions for a conditional seventh-round pick. After a training camp injury landed him on the injured reserve, Bostic never played a snap for Detroit.

In 2017, things improved. Bostic signed with the Colts as a free agent, started 14 games and nearly posted a 100-tackle season. Last year, he signed with the Steelers as a free agent, started 14 games and had 73 tackles. 

At this point, there is enough to form an opinion about Bostic. 

He can help the Redskins. He's a good tackling inside linebacker in a 3-4 scheme. Washington can use that. Bostic will not replicate the speed or athleticism of Reuben Foster, or present even a similar amount of potential the former Alabama star held in the middle of the Redskins defense. 

Bostic will help the Redskins depth at inside linebacker and should provide insurance for injuries to either Mason Foster or Shaun Dion Hamilton. Remarkably, he's already been calling the defensive sets in certain practice situations with the Burgundy and Gold. It can't hurt either that Bostic's father was an NFL player, as he understands the seriousness and grind of the game. 

Pro Football Focus has rated Bostic's last two seasons as the best of his six-year career, but neither graded out at more than +1. Of the Redskins returning linebackers, Bostic did have the best grade for 2018 with a -0.4. Foster landed at -11.1, the worst grade on the team, and Hamilton was -1.3. Josh Harvey-Clemons graded at -4.9. Plenty of NFL players and coaches dismiss the PFF grades entirely, but they are a metric that is reportedly applied evenly across players. 

Washington also has rookie Cole Holcomb playing inside linebacker now, and with his speed, he will get more of an opportunity this fall with Reuben Foster out. 

Looking at the 'Skins LB unit, it's hard to see Bostic as anything but middle of the pack. Mason Foster and Hamilton project as the starters, Harvey-Clemons should play in his nickel role, and Holcomb and Bostic will compete for other snaps. 

Add all of that up, and the whole does not equal the sum of its parts when Foster was involved. 

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Alex Smith at Redskins practice working with Dwayne Haskins (VIDEO)

Alex Smith at Redskins practice working with Dwayne Haskins (VIDEO)

Monday marked the one-year anniversary of Alex Smith's greusome leg injury, and in the 12 months since, the veteran quarterback has made tremendous strides. He's also become a helpful force for rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins.

On Wednesday, Haskins explained that he meets with Smith nearly every day and that he's "been a really great voice" as the rookie tries to learn how to handle the on-field and off-field demands of life in the NFL.

"I realy appreciate since him since he's been here with me trying to help me," Haskins said of Smith. 

When the Redskins players got on the practice field Wednesday, some of that relationship was on display. Smith worked with Haskins, and the other Redskins quarterbacks Colt McCoy and Case Keenum, going through individual drills.

It's important to note that next season Haskins and Smith are the only quarterbacks under contract with the Redskins. While it's far from a certainty Smith can get back on the field, he's obviously working hard towards that goal. It's a good thing both players are close, because next summer, they also could be competing. 

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Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Rushing to judgment on Dwayne Haskins? Maybe these numbers will change your mind

Dwayne Haskins has thrown 57 passes in his first two NFL starts, and while everyone — from Dwayne to his coaches to his teammates to Redskins fans — would've liked those attempts to have generated more production and success, it's necessary to keep that number in mind.

Again: He's thrown just 57 passes as a starter in the NFL.

Despite that miniscule amount, some are rushing to judgment about the rookie's long-term future in the league. It's more than fine to look at what he's done through two starts and closely analyze it and even criticize some of it, but it's far too early to say definitively what he will become as a pro.

(Note: His appearances against the Giants and Vikings aren't being taken into consideration in this story, due to him coming into both contests while trailing and without a full week of reps with the first-stringers. He struggled in New York and Minnesota, but he was put in spots where struggles were almost certain.)

To put it simply: His past two efforts, while discouraging, don't mean he's a completely doomed passer who should start considering other careers. And to emphasize that fact, here's an exercise.

Let's put the stat lines from a few quarterbacks' first two starts next to each other, but withhold their names. For example, check out what this pair of signal callers did in their first and second times out as the No. 1 option: 

  • QB A - 34-of-52 (65.3-percent completion rate), 466 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs
  • QB B - 34-of-67 (50.7-percent completion rate), 357 yards, 1 TD, 5 INTs

QB A is a baller while QB B is a scrub, right? Not exactly. QB A is Marcus Mariota. QB B is Matthew Stafford. Mariota is currently sitting behind Ryan Tannehill and almost surely won't be a Titan in 2020, while Stafford has been entrenched in Detroit since 2009.

Here's another comparsion: 

  • QB A - 45-of-66 (68.1-percent completion rate), 446 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT
  • QB B - 22-of-46 (47.8-percent completion rate), 319 yards, 1 TD, 2 INTs

Look at that 20-plus percent difference in completion percentage between QB A and QB B, plus the large edge the former has over the latter in yardage. Well, QB A is EJ Manuel and QB B is Matt Ryan. Yep.

The point of this story is setting in by now, but here's one more side-by-side: 

  • QB A - 34-of-57 (59.6-percent completion rate), 358 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT 
  • QB B - 43-of-76 (56.6-percent completion rate), 533 yards, 3 TDs, 3 INTs 

QB A doesn't come close to matching QB B's yardage output, but he does have a slightly better (though still not ideal) completion percentage and two fewer picks. Turns out, QB A is actually Dwayne Haskins while QB B is Andrew Luck. If there were any folks in Indy ready to call Luck a bust through two starts, they surely now realize how foolish they were being then.

Of course, there have been young players — like Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes — who looked like stars the minute they took over. Unfortunately, Haskins doesn't find himself on that immediate path.

Also, while it'd be unfair for the Redskins to make a decision on whether Haskins is the answer after he's started twice, the reality is he may only get six more chances. Washington is going to have a premium draft pick next April and could choose another highly touted arm. It doesn't need to settle on how it feels about Haskins yet, but that date could be coming somewhat soon, meaning he must improve quickly.

Regardless, those who want to grade Haskins and evaluate him right now absolutely can, but those who want to call it one way or the other need to stop. As the above numbers show, if two starts was the be-all and end-all for pro passers, Marcus Mariota would be a legend while Matt Ryan would be selling insurance.

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