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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Wide receiver

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Wide receiver

Training camp opens in about five weeks and we have a break here, giving us time to put the depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming couple of weeks, 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.

Wide receivers

Additions: Paul Richardson (FA), Trey Quinn (Draft-7), Cam Sims (UDFA)
Departures: Ryan Grant, Terrelle Pryor

Starters: Richardson, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Other roster locks: None
On the bubble: Robert Davis, Brian Quick, Quinn, Maurice Harris, Sims

How the wide receivers compare

To the rest of the NFL: Except for Crowder, who has been a proven, productive slot receiver in his three seasons in the NFL, this group is filled with question marks. Doctson was inconsistent last year after missing his first year with an injury, Richardson gained 700 in his career year last year, and the backups have had only flashes here and there. As a group, they are below average when compared to the rest of the NFL.

To the 2017 Redskins: Going into last season, things were looking up with Pryor, who was coming off of a 1,000-yard season with the Browns, set to line up with Doctson and Crowder. But even before an ankle injury ended his season after nine games, he was a disappointment with only 20 receptions for 240 yards. It shouldn’t be hard for Richardson to top that. They will, however, have to make up for the departure of Grant, who gained 573 yards receiving last year. I think one of the backups will step up, Doctson's numbers will improve across the board, and the group will be somewhat more productive this year compared to 2017. 

2018 outlook

Biggest upside: Richardson has great speed, an element that was missing from the offense last year. He should mesh well with Alex Smith, who was the NFL’s best deep-ball passer last year. If there is a 1,000-yard receiver in this group, it’s probably Richardson.

Most to prove: Doctson did produce some big plays last year, but this will be a big year for the 2016 first-round pick. He will have to improve on last year’s production if the Redskins are going to pick up the fifth-year option on his contract, a decision that must be made next May. 

Rookie watch: Quinn was the last pick of the draft, but Jay Gruden lobbied for the team to take him earlier. It’s starting to look like Gruden was on to something. Quinn certainly looked like he belongs during offseason practices. There may not be room for Sims on the final 53 but if what he was able to do during the offseason program is an indication he will make it a tough decision. 

Bottom line: Things could really go either way with this group. As noted, Richardson could be a 1,000-yard receiver, but he also could fall short of last year’s 700 yards if he doesn’t mesh with Smith. If the Redskins can figure out how to maximize Doctson’s abilities in the red zone he could threaten the Redskins’ single-season touchdown receptions record (12, accomplished 4 times, last by Ricky Sanders in 1988). He also could be the same guy he was in 2017. A player or two could break out from the group of backups or they all could have the organization looking for replacements next year. How well the group performs will have a considerable impact on the team’s win total. 

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Trey Quinn:

Trey has come in here, and I haven’t heard him talk a whole lot. He’s very quiet. He’s a quiet assassin and he just goes out there and is very detailed in his routes. Ike has done a great job with him, and Trey, when the ball’s in the area, he’s got strong hands. Very quarterback-friendly target. 

More 2018 Redskins

- 53-man roster: Roster projection--Offense
- 53-man roster: Best players 25 or younger

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Redskins 2017 position outlook: Wide receiver

Redskins 2017 position outlook: Wide receiver

With the season opener fast approaching, it’s time to put the Redskins’ depth chart under the microscope. Over the coming days 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.

Wide receivers

Starters: Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder (slot)
Other roster locks: Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris.
On the bubble: Robert Davis, Brian Quick

How the wide receivers compare:

To the rest of the NFL: This is an unproven group, with Pryor in his second year playing the position and Doctson coming off a lost rookie season. You don’t have to look far to find receiving groups with more proven production. The Giants have added Brandon Marshall to Odell Beckham Jr. and Sterling Shepard to form one of the top groups in the NFL. It’s arguable that the Cowboys have a better corps. But Pryor has produced a 1,000-yard season, Crowder improved from his rookie year to last year and Doctson is a recognized talent. They’re outside of the top 10 but not too far down the list, somewhere in the teens.

RELATED: 5 TAKEAWAYS FROM REDSKINS' LOSS TO PACKERS

To the 2016 Redskins: The Redskins became the first team to lose two 1,000-yard receivers in a single offseason when both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon left in free agency. They managed to recover about as well as could be expected by signing Pryor and having Doctson in the wings. And maybe the backups could be better than they were last year. Ryan Grant has been catching everything thrown near him in practice and Maurice Harris will have his rookie year out of the way. But the harsh reality is that you don’t easily replace receivers like Garçon and, especially, the speedy Jackson easily. This group must be considered a downgrade until we see production on the field that indicates otherwise.

2017 outlook:

Biggest upside: Doctson was off to a great start in training camp before he suffered a hamstring injury. His talent for high-pointing the ball could make him a favorite red zone and third down target.

Most to prove: Ryan Grant has been a favorite of the coaches since he was a fifth-round pick in 2014. But he had only nine receptions in 16 games last year. If he wants an NFL future here or elsewhere, he needs to catch passes.

MORE REDSKINS: REDSKINS-PACKERS MUST-SEE PHOTOS

Rookie watch: Sixth-round pick Robert Davis has been targeted 11 times in two preseason games and he has 20- and 31-yard receptions. He is going to have to fight off Quick to remain on the roster but he appears to be ahead in that battle. Davis is helping his case by working as a gunner on the punt team.

Bottom line: There is no doubt that the team will miss the ability of Jackson to go deep, opening things up underneath. But it also is clear that the bigger, more physical receivers will help move the chains and increase red zone productivity. The size does not necessarily compensate for the loss of speed but Kirk Cousins still should find quality targets.

Quote-unquote

Jay Gruden on Ryan Grant:

He’s really strong, he’s in great shape, and he’s Mr. Consistent. Everything we ask him to do he does, and he does it right. No matter where he lines up, no matter what we ask him to do – he can come in the core and block the safety, whatever we want him to do, he can run whatever route from whatever positon and he runs at the right depth, perfect angles coming out of them. He’s just ‘Steady Eddie,’ and that’s why I like him. I like consistent, smart players and that’s what Ryan is.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Safeties

Redskins 2017 depth chart preview: Safeties

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble?

Up today…

Position: Safety

On the roster: Su’a Cravens, D. J. Swearinger, Will Blackmon, DeAngelo Hall, Montae Nicholson, Deshazor Everett, Josh Evans, Earl Wolff, Fish Smithson.

The numbers: Have nine, will keep five or six.

Last year they carried five safeties on the Week 1 roster. They may carry an extra this year and position Blackmon as a swing cornerback/safety.  

Locks: Cravens, Swearinger, Nicholson, Everett

Cravens moves from nickel linebacker to strong safety in a move that was decided late last year with a different defensive coordinator and secondary coach in charge. This move likely was planned from the moment he was drafted. He should be fine at his new position if he can make up for his pedestrian straight-line speed (4.69 in the 40) with athleticism and anticipation.

It’s not often that a 25-year-old player gets the “journeyman” label but it fits Swearinger as he joins his fourth different team for his fifth NFL season. His teammates have praised him as the intimidator they have lacked on the back end of the defense. He will have to move from being primarily a strong safety to playing primarily free and we will have to see how that transition goes.

Nicholson struggled at times at Michigan State, to the point where many analysts believed that he would go undrafted. On top of that, he missed the offseason program with a shoulder injury. Those normally don’t add up to a player being a roster lock but the Redskins like his athleticism and it’s hard to see them immediately moving on from a fourth-round pick. He may make the 53-man roster but end up inactive on most game days.

Perhaps Everett is not one of the four best safeties on the roster but his value on special teams makes him a must-keep player. He could get some more run at safety this year; he played well when given a chance late last year, making a key interception in the win over the Eagles.

On the bubble: Blackmon, Hall, Evans

This is the numbers game in action. If they keep five safeties it's likely that two of these three will be gone.

Blackmon has the advantage of being able to play either safety or any cornerback spot. They like Hall’s veteran presence but he has missed 31 games due to injuries in the last three years. Evans is the dark horse even though he is only 26 and he has 36 starts at safety, more at the position than any other player on the roster.

Long shots: Wolff, Smithson

Wolff started seven games for the Eagles after they drafted him in the fifth round in 2013 but he has hasn’t played a regular-season snap since 2014. Smithson is an intriguing undrafted rookie who may be a fan favorite in the preseason and end up on the practice squad.

Redskins 2017 depth chart previews: Offensive tackle | Wide receiver | Interior O-line | Defensive line | Outside linebacker | Tight end  | Running back  | Inside linebacker  | Quarterback  | Cornerback

Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.