Over the next few weeks, Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will take another position-by-position look at the Redskins’ 2016 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. This much, however, is not in question: A player is not on the 53-man roster until it's finalized in early September. So who’s in? And who’s in trouble?
Position: Wide receiver
On the roster: Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross, Reggie Diggs, Maurice Harris, Valdez Showers, Jarvis Turner
Likely to make the 53: Garçon, Jackson, Crowder, Doctson, Grant, Ross
This has been called the best receiving group in the NFL, or at least in the top three or four. We won’t know that until we get into playing some actual games but they look good on the proverbial preseason paper.
Garçon led the Redskins wide receivers in receptions and yards last year with a steady effort. He didn’t have more than seven catches in any game and his top performance in receiving yards was 80 in Week 16 in Philadelphia. The Redskins will look for the same consistency this year, although they might want to see his average per catch tick up a few notches. Garçon averaged 10.8 yards per reception last year, the lowest since his rookie season. He turns 30 next month.
Jackson was anything but consistent but that is to be expected from a home run hitter like him. The coaches will be happy if he can play in 16 games this year, or even 14 or so, after missing all but about a quarter of the first seven games last year with a hamstring injury. The offense was markedly better when he was in the lineup and there is no reason to believe that will change in 2016.
Crowder has quite a debut season, catching 59 passes to set the Redskins rookie record. He doesn’t possess blinding speed but he runs his routes well and he has a knack for being able to catch just about anything thrown into his ZIP code.
The expectation is that Doctson will play a reserve role this year and then step into prominence in 2017. He should get plenty of snaps and targets, however, with many of them coming on third down and in the red zone to take advantage of his length and his big catch radius.
The emergence of Crowder and the selection of Doctson in the first round pushed Grant and Ross down the depth chart. The two receivers have very different issues in trying to earn more consistent playing time. Grant runs his routes precisely but he doesn’t have the speed to separate from defenders. Ross has speed to burn but he has yet to master the intricacies of the position. Unless one of the undrafted rookies breaks through in a big they both should get the 2016 season to try to establish themselves as viable receivers.
Battling for a job: Diggs, Harris, Showers, Turner
These four undrafted rookies have something in common—height. Diggs is the tallest at 6-4, Harris is 6-2, Turner stands 6-1, and Showers is the relative shortest at 6-0. They are all long shots to make the 53 barring an injury but there likely are two WR spots available on the practice squad and they will be competing for those.