The Redskins are part of the way through the process of retooling their 2017 roster. While the major part of free agency is over, they still can add a few veterans all the way through training camp. They have 10 picks in the draft that starts April 27. In this series, we’re going to take a look at what has changed on the Redskins roster since the season ended and what they need to add to remain competitive in the revived NFC East.
2016 final game starters: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder
This year was as steady and consistent as the wide receiver group has been in quite some time. Crowder and Garçon both played in all 16 games and Jackson missed just one.
Departures: Garçon (UFA, 49ers), Jackson (UFA, Bucs)
I think that the Redskins went with the theory that it is better to let a player go a year too early than to do it a year too late. Garçon will turn 31 early in training camp and Jackson hits 31 on December 1. Neither was going to sign a one-year contract so the reasoning was that while they might have been better off having them around this year, their deals will start to look a lot worse in 2018 and 2019 as the receivers age.
Projected 2017 starters: Crowder, Josh Doctson, Terrelle Pryor
Doctson and Pryor don’t have the NFL resumes that Garçon and Jackson do but it’s not unreasonable to think that there won’t be a huge drop off at this position.
In his first full season as an NFL receiver after spending three years trying to get a foothold as a quarterback, Pryor caught 77 passes for 1,007 yards and four touchdowns. He did this although the Browns started three different quarterbacks and a total of five attempted 10 passes or more.
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Doctson was the team’s first-round pick in 2016 and his injury problems are well documented and he played in just two games. His ability to bounce back and live up to his potential is one of the make or break factors in this year’s Redskins offense.
Crowder led the team in touchdown receptions last year and he will be good for 60-70 receptions for 800 yards.
2017 reserves: Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Brian Quick
Grant has had his chances to get a foothold on the field in his three seasons but he just hasn’t been able to. In three seasons, he has played almost an thousand snaps and he has 39 receptions for 412 yards and two touchdowns. Grant stays around because he works hard and is willing to do the dirty work like run blocking.
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The team will be very interested in seeing what the 6-4 Harris can do. Last year he was in the crowd of undrafted free agents just trying to make the team. This year he will get some prime reps with the first-team offense in OTAs and in training camp.
Quick was a disappointment with the Rams, who took him in the second round in 2012. At 6-4 he fits right in with the Redskins' new look at receiver and perhaps he can keep the momentum going from last year, when he posted career highs in receptions with 41 and receiving yards with 564.
Where can the wide receivers find improvement?
This year the Redskins became the first team in NFL history to lose two 1,000-yard receivers as free agents in the same offseason. In 2016, the wide receivers gained a combined 3,100 yards and scored 14 touchdowns. Improvement will be hard to come by. If they can meet that level of production, or even come close to it, they will be happy.
Much will be expected of Doctson. His ability to use his height and high-point the ball to make impossible catches made him a first-round pick. If he can get 50-60 receptions for 700 yards or so in what essentially will be his rookie season the team should be happy.
Harris should be able to take the next step and get 40-50 targets as the fourth receiver. That would translate into 25-30 receptions, more than they got from him and Grant combined last year.
With 10 draft picks there is a good chance that one of them will be a wide receiver. It seems likely that any receiver taken will be a more of a late-round project so don’t look for immediate impact from the draft.
Locks and bubble players
Pryor, Crowder, and Doctson are locks. Harris land Quick probably are, too. That will leave Grant on the bubble, possibly competing with a draft pick for the final roster spot.
(Note: An earlier version of this post omitted Quick.)