Redskins

Quick Links

Redskins depth chart preview: Wide receiver

Redskins depth chart preview: Wide receiver

Over the next few weeks, Rich Tandler will take a position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2017 depth chart as the team enjoys some R&R ahead of training camp. Some positions are easy to handicap. Others have moving parts and, thus, are more complex. So, who’s in? And who’s in trouble? 

Up today…

Position: Wide receiver

On the roster: Terrelle Pryor, Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder, Maurice Harris, Ryan Grant, Robert Davis, Brian Quick, Kendal Thompson, James Quick, Matt Hazel, Levern Jacobs, Zach Pascal

Locks: Pryor, Crowder, Harris, Doctson

A year ago, the wide receiver group was being touted as one of the best, if not the best, in the NFL. This year, after the free agency departures of Pierre Garçon and DeSean Jackson, not so much.

Pryor will be the nominal No. 1, although it’s hard to call a guy who has one season as a receiver and just barely over 1,000 yards (1,007 to be exact) on his stat sheet a true No. 1. But that is what he wants to be and the Redskins will give him the opportunity to do so.

RELATED: True or false: Kelly Redskins leading rusher

We all know the trials and tribulations of Doctson’s rookie year. Should expectations for him be like those for a rookie? Few receivers start out of the gate quickly as it is a difficult position to learn. Or should more be expected out of him since he did spend a year attending meetings and getting in some practice time and some snaps in games? For his part, he is staying quiet and working hard, a good approach in his situation. He didn’t make any spectacular plays in offseason practices but he also didn’t have any major errors.

Crowder will stay in the slot for the most part, although he will occasionally move outside when Pryor and/or Doctson aren’t in the game. Along with tight end Jordan Reed, Crowder could benefit from being the familiar face that Kirk Cousins has to throw to. It would surprise nobody if Crowder ended up being the team’s leader in receptions and receiving yards.

We will find out this year if Harris is an undrafted free agent find or a failed project. He looked the part in his very limited opportunities (12 targets, 8 receptions) in 2016. But more opportunities do not always lead to more productivity. Harris dealt fine with low expectations as a rookie after he was promoted from the practice squad in Week 7. Now he has a shot at being the No. 4 receiver, the first one off the bench if someone gets injured. That’s a different world and the Redskins hope he is able to handle it.

On the bubble: B. Quick, Grant, Davis

The Redskins signed Quick hoping that he could be an experienced, inexpensive guy down the depth chart. He was disappointing in offseason practices and he will need a strong training camp to stay around.

MORE REDSKINS: Redskins 53-man roster projection, defense

Grant is a favorite of Jay Gruden’s. The coach constantly praises his work ethic and versatility. On the other hand, his production — nine receptions in 16 games last year — doesn’t get mentioned much.

Davis was a sixth-round pick out of Georgia State. He has a huge learning curve and it showed in offseason practices. If he makes the team he likely will spend many weeks as the inactive sixth receiver.

Long shots: Thompson, J. Quick, Hazel, Jacobs, Pascal

Of this group, Jacobs looked the best in OTAs and he might have an opportunity as there really isn’t a natural backup for Jamison Crowder as the slot receiver. But the realistic goal for any of these players is the practice squad.

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.

Quick Links

Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

smith-allen_otas_usat.png
USA Today Sports Images

Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that hit the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side but since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact, there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball, but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat, the whole offense will be harder to defend.

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

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

Tandler on Twitter

My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:

Timeline  

Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

In case you missed it

Quick Links

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

— Dead Money: Trades, misses and mistakes hurt Redskins salary cap

#REDSKINSTALK PODCAST

Don't forget to subscribe to the #RedskinsTalk podcast, hosted by JP Finlay.

Click here for the #RedskinsTalk on Apple Podcastshere for Google Play or press play below.