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2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Wide receiver

2017 Redskins depth chart preview: Wide receiver

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.

This series started on defense and you can see all those posts here. Last week it was the tight ends and today the focus turns to the wide receivers.

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.

RELATED: NFL Mock Draft Version 8.0

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.

MORE REDSKINS: Team announces preseason opponents

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.)

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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10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

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USA TODAY Sports

10 Questions in 10 days: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

The Redskins had to improve the defensive line this offseason. The defense ranked dead last against the run in 2017, and without improvement up front defensively, the playoffs would again be out of reach in 2018. 

And for the second straight season, Washington tried. 

The team selected Daron Payne out of Alabama with their first-round pick and Tim Settle out of Virginia Tech in the fifth round. The front office also waived under-performing Terrell McClain in the offseason and moved on from veteran A.J. Francis.

Perhaps most important, the team should have 2017 first-rounder Jonathan Allen completely healthy this fall. He and Matt Ioannidis looked like a strong front in 2017 before a foot injury shut down Allen for the year in Week 5. Add in Anthony Lanier, who flashed big-time sack potential, and the Redskins have a strong, young nucleus.  

But how does it all work?

In the base 3-4 scheme, Payne might have the strength to play nose tackle. Settle definitely has the size for the nose. Both are rookies, however, and will need to learn a lot, and fast, to start Week 1. Veteran Stacy McGee, coming off groin surgery, might be able to hold off the rookies if he is fully healthy. When a nose is on the field, expect Allen and Ioannidis to line up at the defensive tackle spots. If he's not playing nose, Payne will rotate in at tackle as well. Another veteran, Ziggy Hood, will provide depth at tackle, if he makes the team. 

In the nickel package, which the team deploys more than half of their snaps, expect to see a healthy rotation of Allen, Payne, Ioannidis and Lanier. Keeping those players fresh should allow interior pocket pressure, and that could be great news for Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith

With Payne and Allen the headliners, and Ioannidis and Lanier valuable, and Settle capable at the nose, the Redskins have five D-line roster spots about locked down. 

Last year, the team kept six defensive linemen coming out of camp. If McGee is healthy, that spot will be his. If he's not, Hood likely hangs on. It's also possible the team keeps seven D-linemen, particularly as they monitor McGee's groin injury. 

The good news is last year, due to injuries and the talent on the roster, a number of players were forced into spots they didn't truly belong. Hood doesn't have the true size to play nose, but he was forced into the position. Lanier is best served as an interior pass rusher, but was forced to be a run stuffer. 

With more investments on the line, and better luck in the training room, the 2018 Redskins D-line should have more people playing where they belong. And that could go a long way. 

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

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Need to Know: The best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, July 18, eight days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

The five best running backs the Redskins will face in 2018

This week we’ll be looking at the best of what the Redskins will face during the 2018 season. Today the running backs are up. They are roughly ranked 2017 rushing yards, although I did some juggling based on offseason moves and other factors. Prior to this, we looked at the best teamsreceivers, and quarterbacks

Ezekiel Elliott, Cowboys—He actually finished 10thin the league in rushing yards behind two backs who will face the Redskins. Elliott gets boosted up the list because he was suspended for six games last year. He averaged 98 yards per game played, and had he been able to play in 16 games, he would have led the league in rushing yards with over 300 yards to spare. In three games against the Redskins, he has averaged 110 yards per game and he has five touchdowns. The Redskins’ revamped rushing defense will be tested twice.

Mark Ingram, Saints—He will be coming off of a four-game suspension for Redskins vs. Saints in Week 5. Will he be rested or rusty? If he’s in any kind of form, the Redskins defense will have to be on its game. Last year against Washington in the Superdome, Ingram rushed for 134 yards and a touchdown on just 11 carries. 

Leonard Fournette, Jaguars—The rookie did surpass the thousand-yard mark, posting 1,040. Some pointed out that it wasn’t a consistent effort as he gained 310 yards, almost 30 percent of his total, in two back-to-back games in Weeks 5 and 6. That’s fine but he still is a difficult opponent with his combination of size and speed. I look for him to have a big breakout this year. 

Dion Lewis/Derrick Henry, Titans—Lewis averaged 5.0 yards per carry with the Patriots last year and Henry gained 744 yards while sharing time with the now-retired DeMarco Murray. Lewis will play a lot of third downs and will spell Henry sometimes early in games. That will leave the 6-3, 247-pound Henry fresh to grind up the clock if the Titans have a late lead. 

Jay Ajayi, Eagles—Nobody has quite figured out why the Dolphins dealt him to the Eagles in midseason, but Philly was more than happy to add him to the offense. Ajayi became a workhorse in the postseason with 42 rushing attempts and six receptions in three games. 

I do need to mention Giants rookie Saquan Barkley here. I have to think that the second overall pick of the draft will rank somewhere on this list, but without seeing him in an NFL uniform yet it’s hard to rank him. He will be dangerous, no doubt. 

David Johnson of the Cardinals also will be tough to handle. After he missed all of last year with a hand injury it's difficult to rank him, too. If he is in his 2016 form in Week 1 the Redskins will face a tough task. 

Best of the rest: Lamar Miller, Texans, Alvin Kamara, Saints, Ronald Jones, Bucs

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  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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Timeline 

Former Redskins offensive tackle Geroge Starke, one of the original Hogs, was born on this date in 1948.

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 8
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 22
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 45

The Redskins last played a game 199 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 53 days. 

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