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Redskins pass catchers land very low in national rank, but how much higher should they be?

Redskins pass catchers land very low in national rank, but how much higher should they be?

The Redskins lost a lot in the offseason at the receiver position.

DeSean Jackson took his vertical speed and 1,000 yards receiving to Tampa Bay via free agency. Pierre Garçon took his toughness, play making and his 1,000 receiving yards to San Francisco

It became clear the Redskins were moving on from both players early in free agency, and neither exit was a surprise.

To offset the loss the Redskins brass signed Terrelle Pryor away from Cleveland. Pryor, playing with a collection of bad passers in 2016, still put up 1,000 receiving yards last season and could have a breakout in 2017 playing with Kirk Cousins.

All of this leads to a series of rankings published by Bleacher Report. Including tight ends, every NFL team's pass-catching group was ranked, and the Redskins landed quite low on the list. 

NFL POWER RANKINGS: WHO GOT BETTER AFTER THE DRAFT?

How low? 26th out of 32 teams. The author Doug Farrar explained:

Losing DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon in free agency? Those were two major hits to a Washington offense that came together well in 2016, including quarterback Kirk Cousins’ best season by far. But contractual drama with Cousins left little on the table for his best offensive weapons, and with those two top targets out the door, Cousins—who relies on his receivers to make plays—could be severely impacted.​

Farrar went on to explain that Pryor should help the offense, as well as Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. Reed, however, is too injury prone for Farrar, as well as 2016 first-round pick Josh Doctson. 

Here's the thing: Farrar isn't wrong about much specifically, except he's wrong about the overall ranking. 

Jamison Crowder is an established slot man that could very well post 1,000 yards this season. Barring injury, Pryor seems certain to go over 1,000. The tight end position, between Reed and Davis, will go for another 1,000, just like it did last year.

Jay Gruden has made clear the Redskins offense runs through Reed, so with better health in 2017, he could again approach his 2015 totals of 87 catches, 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

Doctson remains a question, certainly. Missing the team portion of OTAs last week will do little to calm Redskins' fans fears about the second-year pro out of TCU. Still, he has a ton of talent if he can get on the field, something he and Gruden are confident will happen this fall.

Further down the Washington roster at wideout, while there is potential, there is hardly any production. The staff likes Mo Harris and Ryan Grant, and took a flier on 2012 second-round pick Brian Quick in free agency and drafted Robert Davis in the 6th round. But those options won't make defensive coordinators lose any sleep, and might even lay the groundwork for the team to check out recently released free agent Jeremy Maclin.

But, regardless of the Redskins inexperience in their fourth and fifth WR spots, this ranking is still too low. 

ROSTER BATTLES: Left guard | Tight end Nickel cornerback  | Inside linebacker | Running back

Reed is arguably the best tight end in football, and is certainly no worse than third at the position. Pryor could be great this fall, and will very likely be good. Crowder's receiving totals improved by nearly 250 yards from his rookie season in 2016 to last year. Another similar improvement would land him with more than 1,000 yards and double digit TDs. 

Just based on those three players, the Redskins probably belong in the Top 20. And that's before Doctson's unique situation even gets considered. 

It's cherry picking, yes, but Farrar ranked the Buffalo Bills receiving group five spots ahead of the Redskins. The Bills top three pass catchers, per Farrar, are Sammy Watkins, rookie Zay Jones and tight end Charles Clay.

Watkins, despite spending his whole career at WR and being a Top 10 pick, has the same amount of 1,000 yard seasons as Pryor. One. Jones (ed. note: a rookie I really like) and Clay have done nothing close to the production of Crowder and Reed. 

Want another example?

The Vikings receiving group ranked 18th on this list, eight spots ahead of Washington. 

Their top three pass catchers, not necessarily in order, would likely be Stefon Diggs, Adam Thielen and Kyle Rudolph. Show me the personnel man that would take that group over Pryor, Reed and Crowder. 

These rankings are a hypothetical list, done for speculation and ultimately a fun way to compare things for fans. The Redskins seem far too low, but that doesn't mean the group belongs in the Top 10 either.

Beyond Pryor and Crowder, there is no established player in the Redskins receiving group. Gruden and company seem quite confident in their young pass catchers. This season they will get the chance to prove if they're right. 

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports Images

Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

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USA Today Sports

Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually. 

The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.

Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate. 

Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed. 

The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost. 

Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond. 

Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium. 

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