New Redskins GM Scot McCloughan aimed to improve nearly every position through the draft or via free agency. How has he done? Over the next couple of weeks, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine and rate each group on the team. The ratings will be based on the quality of the players as compared to the rest of the league and, in particular, the division.
We’ll use a scale of 1 to 10. To receive a 10, a position group would need Pro-Bowl caliber starters and solid backups. A rating of 1 means the starters are aging and ineffective and there are no promising reserves in the pipeline.
Starters: DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon.
Reserves: Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, Jamison Crowder, Evan Spencer
El-Bashir: On paper, the Redskins possess one of the stronger groups of wide receivers in the NFL. The question in 2015—same as it was in 2014—is whether they'll have anyone who can get them the ball consistently. Quarterback play, however, will be covered later in this series, so back to the receivers. Jackson, 28, led the NFL in average yards per catch with 20.9 yards—three more than second place Michael Floyd of the Cardinals—and was 10th in yards after the catch among wide receivers, according to ProFootballFocus.com. Garçon’s stats nosedived in ’14 due to the arrival of Jackson and the revolving door under center, but the 28-year-old still led the team in receptions with 68 and was on the field more than any other skilled position player (906 snaps). Roberts had a disappointing first season in Washington. Roberts could find himself battling with Jamison Crowder for playing time in the slot, assuming an investigation into the rookie’s off-the-field issues do not impact his season. Grant, meantime, is intriguing. He didn’t play much as a rookie, but if his performances during recent OTA sessions are any indication, he’ll get to show his sharp-route running skills and reliable hands in a more meaningful role in '15. Again, this is a group with impressive high-end talent and a couple of promising youngsters in Crowder and Grant. In fact, it could be argued that this is the Redskins' best position group—on either side of the ball. Rating: 7.
Tandler: I think that the potential is there for this to be a very good group of wide receivers, perhaps among the top half dozen or so in the league. But I need to see it before I can give the unit a strong rating. Jackson is one of several players in the league who are a legitimate threat to score at any time from anywhere on the field. Garçon is not as likely to make a big play but he is the reliable target that a team with a shaky quarterback situation needs. But the rest of the group consists of question marks running around in burgundy and gold. Roberts caught 36 passes, an almost pathetically low total for a player who was targeted 73 times. Add in the seven passes he dropped and you have to wonder why he played over 700 snaps. As Tarik noted he could get pushed by Crowder but we’ll see if there are legitimate reasons to get excited about the fourth-round pick when the games start counting. Grant works hard and we’ll have to see if that will earn him some significant playing time. And Spencer will almost certainly make the team due to his special teams play but this is a guy who caught 15 passes in 15 games for the Buckeyes last year. Perhaps by the time November rolls around Crowder will be making some big plays and Grant and Spencer will be contributing. But I’ve seen too many highly-touted receivers such as Taylor Jacobs, Malcolm Kelly, and Devin Thomas fail to deliver. I’m going to hold off on rating them as better than an average group of NFL receivers right now. Rating: 5