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Do the Redskins need to upgrade at wide receiver?

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Do the Redskins need to upgrade at wide receiver?

I was listening to the radio last weekend and the topic of the Redskins’ team needs for this offseason came up. One of the hosts said that wide receiver must be a need because the Redskins didn’t have any receivers break 650 yards receiving (Pierre Garçon led the team with 633) or 50 catches (Josh Morgan led with 48).

But if you just look at the raw numbers you get a distorted picture of the productivity of the team’s group of receivers. You have to consider the fact that only NFL two teams attempted fewer passes than the 442 the Redskins threw in 2012. The NFL average for attempts was 556, about 25 percent more than the number the Redskins threw.

While there are always dangers in playing “what if” with numbers because things can get distorted, let’s look and see what numbers the Redskins’ wide receivers might have put up if the team had thrown more passes.

Here are the Redskins’ four leading wide receivers’ actual numbers and a simple projection of their stats had the team thrown the NFL average of 556 passes:



Even when you look at the projected numbers, no one receiver stands out (we’ll get to that in a minute). But under this hypothetical set of circumstances the Redskins’ quartet would have been one of the most productive wide receiver corps in the NFL.

Looking at the projections, all four of the Redskins’ receivers would have had at least 600 yards receiving. In 2012, no NFL team had four wide receivers gain over 600 yards. Three teams, the Packers (558 pass attempts), Eagles (618), and Saints (671) had four pass catchers go over 600 yards but in each case one of them was a tight end.

Although the projections are hypotheticals, it is fair to say that the productivity of the Redskins’ wide receivers is distorted due to the fact that the Redskins just didn’t throw much.

But what about the lack of a No. 1 receiver? Even if you project Pierre Garçon’s actual numbers over 16 games (he missed six games with an injured toe), you get 70 catches and barely 1000 yards. Those are not No. 1 receiver numbers.

So should the Redskins try to get a 1? Do they need a 1?

The supply of true No. 1 receivers, players who keep defensive coordinators up late at night, change coverages, and put up big numbers despite getting extra attention from the defense, is pretty low. Anybody’s list is going to include Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald (his poor 2012 numbers can be excused by the fact that his team didn’t have a competent NFL QB), Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, A. J. Green, and Julio Jones. Vincent Jackson could be considered to be one, Dez Bryant is on the verge, and Reggie Wayne has been one for most of his career, as has Steve Smith.

So that’s six who are surely 1’s and four more who could be called 1’s. If you want to stretch the definition some more, add Hakeem Nicks, who has No. 1 traits when he’s healthy, and Roddy White, who was a 1 before Jones came into his own and would still be one on many other rosters. Put in a few more of your favorites and you have 15 or so, or enough for about half of the teams in the NFL.

You might note that none of the 1’s played in the Super Bowl. Of the 12 playoff teams only four had a 1. Having a 1 does not lead to success nor is having a 1 necessary for success.

If the sample size here is too small, let’s go back to 2011. Five of the 12 playoff teams had a 1. In 2010 and 2009 it was 2 of 12.

If you can get by without a 1, your capologist will thank you for it. Andre Johnson’s 2013 cap hit is north of $14.6 million, Calvin Johnson consumes $12.2 million of the Lion’s cap, Fitzgerald eats up $10.25 million of the Cardinals’. Others like Green, Nicks, Jones, and Bryant are still on their rookie contracts and will command deals that eat up eight figures annually when they become free agents.

It’s not that the Redskins’ receiver corps can’t be improved. This will probably be Moss’ last year and it is unclear if Aldrick Robinson can replace him in the slot. I’m a little bit higher on Leonard Hankerson than some but he needs to develop consistency in his third season or a replacement will have to be located for him. Morgan needs to step up and he might if the ankle he broke in 2011 is fully healed. In any case, the rest of his contract voids after this season.

But that doesn’t mean that the Redskins have to spend a high draft pick (they don’t have a first) or go out after a high-priced free agent (they are working under an $18 million salary cap penalty).

If a wide receiver is the best player on the board when the Redskins draft, they should take him. If one is available in free agency who fits the offense and is there at an affordable price, sign him.  

If neither of those situations arises, the Redskins will be fine if they stand pat at receiver in 2013. The Redskins won 10 games and the NFC East title with them and Robert Griffin III was among the league leaders in passer rating and yards per pass attempt throwing to this group. It would be a mistake to forego other needs and reach in the draft and spend precious cap dollars to improve a position that is functional. 

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Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

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USA Today Sports Images

Vernon Davis pulls off memorable proposal in Ocean City

Vernon Davis has long been a fan favorite in the D.C. area since his University of Maryland days. The 34-year-old is almost always well-dressed and respectful to the media. 

More recently, he has been outspoken about his interest in acting after his football career. A true renaissance man who just so happens to be a force in the National Football League. 

In April, NBC Sports Washington ran into Davis at the Team USA Awards where he was serving as guest speaker. 

He took his smooth nature to a whole new level Tuesday while vacationing in Ocean City, Md. with his girlfriend Kayla. 

Dressed in all white on the beach, Davis proposed in an epic way. 

The best motivation I ever had. #shesmyrock

A post shared by Vernon Davis (@vernondavis85) on

Check out the whole video produced below. We won't spoil it for you, but there were skydivers involved. Take a look: 

Davis will suit up for his third season with the Redskins when training camp opens July 26 in Richmond. 

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Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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Bob Youngentob for NBC Sports Washington

Redskins 2018 position outlook: Inside linebacker

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.

Inside linebackers

Additions: Shaun Dion Hamilton (drafted in the fifth round)

Departures: Will Compton (free agent)

Starters: Zach Brown, Mason Foster

Other roster locks: Josh Harvey-Clemons

On the bubble: Hamilton, Zach Vigil, Martrell Spaight

How the inside linebackers compare

To the rest of the NFL: This is a difficult comparison to make since only about half of the teams use the 3-4 with two inside linebackers and there are many variations when they go out of their base defense. Brown certainly is in the upper tier of players at his position. Foster’s skill set may not be coveted by many teams around the league, but he is a perfect fit in the Redskins’ defense in many ways. The player who could differentiate this group from others around the league is Harvey-Clemons. If he turns into a top-notch nickel LB the inside linebackers will be a great asset. 

To the 2017 Redskins:  This is about health. In 2017, Foster missed 11 games, Brown was hampered by a variety of injuries before sitting out the last three games. Compton was the top backup to both players and he went to injured reserve after just three starts. They did re-sign Vigil, who had spent training camp with the team, and he played pretty well near the end of the season. If the front-line players can stay on the field for most of the season this should be a much better group than the one that was partially responsible for the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing defense. 

2018 Inside linebacker outlook

Biggest upside: The 2017 season was supposed to be a redshirt year for Harvey-Clemons as he transitions from college safety to NFL linebacker. He played a lot in the base defense during the offseason practices and that indicates that they are considering him for a bigger role beyond just playing nickel. You have to wonder how his size (6-4, 230) will affect his ability to get off of blocks. 

Most to prove: Spaight was a fifth-round pick in 2015 and he has yet to establish a regular role in the defense. It was telling that when they needed someone to start in the latter part of last year they brought back and started Vigil and mostly kept Spaight is going into the last year of his contract, but it would not be surprising to see Vigil beat him out for the last roster spot.  

Rookie watch: The Redskins traded up in the sixth round to get Hamilton. It wasn’t a blockbuster deal but the fact that they thought enough of him to move up says something. Gruden has said that he thinks Hamilton could be a starter at some point. He was one of the leaders on a strong Alabama defense before injuries struck. Hamilton is not going to start this year barring multiple injuries, but he should develop a role as the season goes on and be ready to compete in 2019.

Bottom line: The Redskins have not invested much in terms of free agent dollars or draft capital in the inside linebacker position in recent seasons. That changed somewhat this offseason as they made sure to spend to retain Brown and Foster. Neither commanded a huge contract but they did make a commitment and that is important. Last year Brown gave the defense a sideline-to-sideline dimension it hasn’t had in quite some time and retaining him was critical. Inside linebacker may not be a major strength for the defense this year but it should be able to get the job done. 

2018 Redskins position outlook series