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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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Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

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Associated Press

Need to Know: Redskins training camp preview—Defense

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 23, three days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

Training camp preview—defense 

Here are some of the big topics surrounding the defense at Redskins training camp along with some of the things I’ll be observing closely when training camp gets underway on Thursday. I looked at the topics on offense yesterday

Lining up the line

Will Phil Taylor, who seems to be a long shot to make the team after they drafted two nose tackles, get some run with the first and second teams? Also, this is a young group and Jim Tomsula will have a lot of opportunities to teach. Watching him interacting with his line and going over the details of line play is fun to watch.

Spaight vs. Vigil

The two starting inside linebacker starters are safe and the team is intrigued enough by the potential of both Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaun Dion Hamilton to make them likely bets to make the 53-man roster. That leaves Zach Vigil and Martrell Spaight competing for the last ILB roster spot. 

Spaight is a known quantity who has been a mainstay on special teams since he was drafted in the fifth round in 2015. They kept him over Vigil in the cut to 53 a year ago. But last year when injuries hit, Vigil started over Spaight. In a way, this is Round 3 between the two. 

Ryan Anderson

We know what outside linebacker starters Ryan Kerrigan and Preston Smith can do. Pernell McPhee will be good for four or five sacks and perhaps a forced fumble or two. Anderson, who was the team’s second-round pick last year, is a big question mark. He played 193 snaps in 14 games, but he barely dented the stat sheet with no sacks and just 11 tackles. Anderson is a hard worker and they need him to produce.

The pieces of the cornerback puzzle

This is discussed in some detail here by JP Finlay and I’ll look at it later this week. To pick out one detail, I want to see what the rotation in the slot is. Right now the guess is that Orlando Scandrick is the starter but who will be behind him? That’s important because Scandrick has missed 25 games in the last three seasons due to injuries. 

Apke’s progress

Fourth-round safety Troy Apke displayed impressive makeup speed during offseason practices and that let him make some plays on the ball. But he needed that speed too often as he had issues in coverage. You need to be more than just fast to play in the NFL. If Apke is going to be an alternative if injury problems strike Montae Nicholson again, he needs to start making some progress while he is in Richmond. 

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

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Timeline 

Days until:

—Training camp starts (7/26) 3
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 17
—Roster cut to 53 (9/1) 40

The Redskins last played a game 204 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 48 days. 

In case you missed it

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10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

10 Questions for 10 Days: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

With Redskins Training Camp set to begin July 26th, JP Finlay takes a look at 10 of the most pressing questions for the Burgundy and Gold before the team heads to Richmond. 

No. 10: Major questions at linebacker on Redskins depth chart 

No. 9: What is Kevin O’Connell's new role in Redskins offense?

No. 8: More investments on D-Line, but who goes where?

No. 7: Do the Redskins have a 1,000-yard WR?

No. 6: Is Shawn Lauvao the concern, or is the issue bigger on the O-Line?

No. 5: What can the Redskins expect from Derrius Guice?

No. 4: After Josh Norman, what's the plan at cornerback?

In a way, the Redskins are quite lucky. Not every team in the NFL has an unequivocal No. 1 corner. Washington has that in Josh Norman

His interception numbers in 2017 did not get the job done, but he still played quite well. Norman got targeted significantly less than the league average, which means NFL quarterbacks actively chose not to mess with former All Pro. 

Still, Norman needs more interceptions than last year. He grabbed none, and he will admit that he must create more turnovers. 

Regardless, Norman is not the Redskins question mark at cornerback. What happens after Norman is the question. 

Washington moved quick this offseason to lock up Quinton Dunbar off restricted free agency. Dunbar has size and range, and has looked quite capable, in spots. He doesn't have a ton of experience, however, and will be asked to start this fall. The team also signed veteran Orlando Scandrick - from the Cowboys - as a likely nickel/slot corner. 

Second-year man Fabian Moreau will be expected to take a significant step forward this fall. The Redskins would like very much to be able to primarily rely on Norman, Moreau and Dunbar while asking less of Scandrick. 

Don't forget Washington lost Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason. Fuller got moved to Kansas City as part of the Alex Smith trade, and Breeland remains a free agent.

Redskins coaches won't tell the exact truth, but the the team would love for Moreau to emerge opposite Norman and let Dunbar play in the slot. Or maybe let Moreau emerge in the slot, like Fuller did in 2017, and Dunbar opposite Norman. Scandrick hasn't played a full season since 2013, and the 'Skins brass can't expect that in 2018 for the 31-year-old corner. 

Josh Holsey, Adonis Alexander and Greg Stroman will provide depth at the bottom of the roster. That's two seventh-round picks and a supplemental sixth round pick. While each player provides reasons for optimism, it's hard to think any of the three young players will provide immediate help. They're better focused fighting for a roster spot than a starting spot. 

In 2017, cornerback ranked as a strength for the Redskins. 

In 2018, it's a big question. Elite play from Norman could change much of that equation. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS:

— Contract years: Redskins face 5 tough decisions 

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

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