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Offseason questions: What are realistic expectations for Josh Doctson in 2017?

Offseason questions: What are realistic expectations for Josh Doctson in 2017?

The good news for the 2016 Redskins was that they didn’t collapse after winning the division the previous season as has been their pattern in the past. The bad news was that they didn’t take the next step and improve from a franchise that can compete to make the playoffs into one that is playing multiple postseason games year in and year out. That work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.

In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Rich Tandler and JP Finlay will examine the biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.

What are reasonable expectations for Josh Doctson in 2017?

Tandler: If you’re reading this you likely are well familiar with the trials and tribulations of the rookie year of the Redskins’ top 2016 draft pick. The bottom line was two games, 31 snaps, and two receptions for 66 yards before being shut down with the mysterious and lingering Achilles issue that kept him on the PUP list during training camp and the preseason.

Despite his minimal practice time and game experience, Doctson goes into 2017 better off than a raw rookie. He had some on-field experience during OTAs (although that also was limited by the Achilles), hours of valuable time in meetings, and a year to observe firsthand how veterans like Pierre Garçon prepare.

So, what can we look for from Doctson in 2017? Looking at recent history, the worst-case scenario is Kevin White, the No. 7 overall pick by the Bears in 2016. He missed his entire rookie year with a stress fracture in his left leg. White was playing well four games into last season but it ended when he suffered another fracture to the same leg plus a severe ankle sprain. In two years, he has 19 receptions for 187 yards.

There is no perfect analogy for Doctson on the positive side during the last few years but perhaps looking at the experience of Davante Parker of the Dolphins could be a good guide. He played in 15 games in 2015 as a rookie but he did almost nothing the first nine games of the season, catching just four passes. He then caught on, catching 22 passes in six games. Last year he caught 56 passes for 744 yards and four touchdowns.

Parker had 87 targets last year, second on the team. Assuming Garçon and/or DeSean Jackson depart via free agency Doctson should get over 100 targets. I think 65 receptions for 850 yards is about right. Doctson should be a prime red zone target and I think that eight touchdowns is a reasonable goal.

Finlay: The only way to anwer this question is to assume Doctson won't deal with the lingering Achilles pain in 2017. Should the Achilles' issues remain, expectations remain modest. But they shouldn't. As Doctson said during the Redskins locker clean out in January, he expects to be ready to go.

A big part of his statistical projections come from what happens with DeSean and Pierre, though it increasingly looks like neither player might be back in Washington. That could change, one or the other might return, perhaps even both, but the odds are shrinking. The other thing that makes projecting Doctson's sophomore season is the question at quarterback. It would be a big surprise if Kirk Cousins wasn't back at least for the 2017 season, but surprises happen in the NFL. 

Take all of that - Doctson's health, pending free agency for Garçon, Jackson and Cousins - and roll it up to get an idea of numbers for the former TCU stud. Granted these are college stats from the pass-happy Big 12 conference, but Doctson posted more than 2,300 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns his final two seasons for the Horned Frogs. He has the size and speed to compete in the NFL, and could be the big receiver the 'Skins have lacked for some time. 

Only one rookie receiver cracked the 1,000 yard mark in 2016 - New Orleans' Michael Thomas - so it's hard to expect that from Doctson in what will essentially be a rookie year. Giants wideout Sterling Sheppard might be a good comp for Doctson. Shepard grabbed 65 passes for 683 yards and eight TDs as a rookie with New York. He wasn't the first option for Eli Manning, that obviously goes to Odell Beckham, but he had a strong rookie year. 

Doctson could post bigger stats if neither Jackson or Garçon come back, but if he is paired with a veteran wideout, something similar to Shepard looks like an appropriate expectation. No matter what happens with the free agents, the Redskins offense will still feature slot WR Jamison Crowder and tight end Jordan Reed, two players that can be expected to grab somewhere in the neighborhood of 140 passes combined. 

My guess for Doctson: 68 catches, 703 yards, 9 TDs.

<<<LOOKING AT REDSKINS DRAFT PROSPECTS>>>

Want more Redskins? Check out @JPFinlayCSN and @Rich_TandlerCSN for live updates or click here for the #RedskinsTalk Podcast on iTunes, here for Google Play or press play below. Don't forget to subscribe!

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Report: Brandon Scherff and Redskins 'far apart' on contract negotiations

Report: Brandon Scherff and Redskins 'far apart' on contract negotiations

Besides the quarterback competition between Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, one of the biggest storylines from Redskins training camp will be whether the team and Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Scherff can agree on a contract extension before the start of the 2019 season.

On Monday, a report came out from 106.7 The Fan's Erin Hawksworth that Scherff has been offered multiple contract extensions from the Redskins, but "the two sides are far apart."

Scherff is entering the 2019 season on the last year of his rookie deal and set to be an unrestricted free agent at season's end. 

The fifth-year guard will make a base salary of $12.5 million in 2019 after the Redskins picked up his fifth-year option a year ago as part of his rookie deal.

Should Scherff hit the open market, he will be a hot commodity. 

He may not receive a contract as big as Cowboys' guard Zack Martin did, but expect him to command close to top-market money. Martin received a six-year, $84 million deal in 2018 with $40 million guaranteed. A contract extension for Scherff could look something like the five-year, $66.5 million deal Jaguars' guard Andrew Norwell signed in 2018. 

Besides tackle Trent Williams, Scherff is without a doubt the most important piece to the Redskins offensive line. With Williams currently holding out, Scherff's presence on the offensive line is even more important.

Scherff missed eight games a season ago with a torn pectoral muscle, and his absence was very visible.

One thing is for certain: if the Redskins are not willing to pay Scherff top-market money, barring something unexpected, he will certainly get it somewhere else. And no Redskins fan wants that.

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Five takeaways from the Redskins' Madden 20 ratings

Five takeaways from the Redskins' Madden 20 ratings

With the release of EA Sports' Madden NFL 20 just a few weeks away, the game released their individual player ratings on Monday.

Madden ratings are usually a controversy-provoking topic. Each year, there are a lot more players disappointed with their initial Madden rating than those pleased with theirs.

This year was no different. Some players, such as Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen, have said they will boycott the game after being so upset with their rating.

The game unleashed a new rating system this year, which is intended to reward star players and have them feel different than just an above average player.

So how did Madden rate the Redskins?

The Burgundy and Gold come in at the 16th best overall team in the game, despite only having one individual player rated 90 overall or higher.

Two of the Redskins' NFC East foes, the Philadelphia Cowboys and Dallas Cowboys, were the No. 1 and No. 2 overall rated teams in the game, respectively. The Eagles boast a rating of 89, and the Cowboys come in at an 88 overall.

The New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers were all the next highest with an 87 overall.

Here are five takeaways from the Redskins' Madden NFL 20 ratings.

1. Left tackle Trent Williams was rated a 95 overall, the second-highest rated left tackle in the game.

Williams' rating of a 95 is very deserved. He's consistently been the best player on the Redskins from year-to-year, and one of the best offensive lineman in the league. Madden has recognized Williams' importance to the Redskins as well as his overall skill; only the Packers' David Bakhtiari (97) had a higher rating at his position.

The Redskins' Silverback was the third-highest rated offensive lineman in the game, with Bakhtiari and Cowboys' guard Zack Martin ahead of him. He's the only Redskins player to receive an overall rating of a 90 or higher.

Williams has been a key offseason storyline for the Redskins, as he was absent from Redskins' mandatory mini-camp in June. His absence was at first rumored to him wanting a new contract, but reports came out later that he was upset with the team's handling of his medical situation from a season ago. It is unclear whether Williams will report to training camp, which begins July 25.

If the Madden ratings are any indication, Williams is as important to the Redskins as anyone. The Redskins need him on the field.

2. Case Keenum and Dwayne Haskins have been rated just one number apart.

The main storyline throughout Redskins' training camp and the preseason will be the quarterback competition between veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins. If the Madden ratings prove to be true, it's going to be a very close battle.

Keenum's initial Madden rating comes in at a 73 overall, while Haskins is a 72. In terms of specific ratings, Keenum slightly edges Haskins out in awareness (80 to 75) and speed (79 to 75), but Haskins has the edge in acceleration (83 to 82), agility (83 to 73) and strength (70 to 51). 

Of course, Keenum's ratings are based off his performance last season with the Denver Broncos, while Haskins' ratings are a rough estimate because he's a rookie. It's likely that both players could have a very different rating at the end of the season than they do now.

3. The Redskins have three defensive linemen all rated around the same number. 

The defensive line unit is probably the strongest position group on the Redskins and the Madden ratings agree with that.

Defensive lineman Matt Ioannidis and Daron Payne received an 83 overall rating, while Jonathan Allen received an 82 overall grade.

While all three had productive seasons in 2018, it is worth wondering how Allen is not the highest rated of the three.

In his second season, Allen finished second on the team in sacks (8.0) and tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (11). Out of the three, Allen had the most overall tackles, sacks, tackles for loss and quarterback hits.

While the Redskins expect Allen, Ioannidis and Payne all to have a major impact in 2019, don't be surprised if Allen has the highest overall rating of the three at the end of the year.

4. The Redskins' big free agent signing, safety Landon Collins, was rated a low 83 overall.

This number at first glance seems very low. In his four seasons in the NFL, Collins has made the Pro Bowl three times and first-team All-Pro once. 

But Madden has a whopping 10 free safeties rated higher than him. Recently acquired New York Giants safety Jabrill Peppers has a higher rating than Collins, and anyone who's watched the two players over the past couple years knows that's questionable. 

A season ago, Collins was rated an 88 overall. Missing four games with a shoulder injury could be a partial reason for his dip, but the 25-year-old is still one of the elite safeties in the league. An 83 overall does not reflect that.

5. Haskins is the second-highest rated rookie QB in the game, while Giants' Daniel Jones is, uh, low.

While a 72 overall rating would not be flattering to anyone, Haskins has to be pleased being the second-highest rated rookie quarterback, only behind No.1 overall pick and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray.

Overall, the rookie ratings are a lot lower in Madden 20 than they were in Madden 19. A year ago, five rookie quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson and Josh Allen) started with a higher rating than Murray, who enters the game as a 73 overall.

When looking at the rookie quarterback class, perhaps the most surprising ranking has to be the Giants' Daniel Jones, who enters the game at a 63 overall.

In years past, a 63 overall would be given to a fringe roster player, not a top-ten first-round pick. For reference, Redskins' seventh-round pick Jimmy Moreland enters the game at a 64 overall. 

To put it into perspective, the next lowest top-ten pick was Denver's Devin Bush, who checked in at a 72. The Giants have seven rookies with a higher Madden rating.

Jones' low rating is in unprecedented territory for a top-ten pick, let alone a first-round pick.

The beauty of Madden ratings is that they change. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes was a 77 entering the 2019 season.

A year later, he's a 97 overall, and arguably the biggest snub from the 99 overall club. While many players may be upset with their rating, they have the ability to let their play do the talking.

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