The busy portion of free agency is completed. The draft is history. Rookie minicamp is in the rearview. The 90-man offseason roster is full, as well. Now comes the difficult part for second-year head coach Jay Gruden: putting it all together. With OTAs set to begin next Tuesday, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going examine the top items on Gruden’s to-do list as he prepares the Redskins for training camp in Richmond later this summer.
Up today: Wide receivers and tight ends
Tandler: Unlike many other positions, the Redskins have some degree of roster certainty and stability among the pass catchers. It seems certain that tight ends Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, and Logan Paulsen will form the tight end trio for the third year in a row. Rookies Jamison Crowder and Evan Spencer will join holdovers Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and Ryan Grant in the wide receiver corps. They won’t be competing for jobs but there could be some movement on the depth chart if Crowder lives up the billing the coaches have given him. The big fundamental emphasis will not be pass catching as much as it will be run blocking as the Redskins push towards an emphasis on a power running attack.
El-Bashir: I’m not so sure the Skins' corps of pass catchers is as set as it appears. Remember, GM Scot McCloughan didn't pick the overwhelming majority of them. Let’s start with the tight ends. Reed and Paul figure to be the first and second options. Paulsen? In addition to taking the third most penalties (9) on the team in 2014, his stats declined significantly (he had only 78 yards receiving) and was used a lot less in Jay Gruden's first year. He is, however, a solid blocker. But I suspect Paulsen will be looking over his shoulder this offseason. Fortunately for him, the tight ends behind him on the depth chart have little experience. As for the wide receivers, the players I’ll have my eyes on during OTAs and minicamp are Grant and Crowder. The departure of Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss has opened the door for a fourth player to step in and seize some significant snaps. Can Grant push for playing time in 2015? Coaches like him but he’s still a bit of an unknown quantity after seeing only 187 snaps as a rookie. He needs to show he's ready. Can Crowder replace Roberts as the punt returner? Can the pint-sized playmaker push for significant playing time on offense, too? We’ll have a good idea of where these two youngsters stand after June's minicamp.