BY PETER HAILEY
With training camp now only days away, soon, those watching the Redskins will have real, on-field developments to talk about instead of lists, rankings, and surveys.
With that being said, while most of the offseason fodder has been unkind to the Burgundy and Gold, one article that was published on July 22 heaped some significant praise on two of the most talented Redskins, making it stick out from much of the negative discussion surrounding the team during the summer months.
Bill Barnwell, who does a lot of NFL analysis for Grantland.com, published a list last week of who he thinks are the NFL's top 100 players. When making his decisions, Barnwell acted as if he were "ranking players in the order in which they might be drafted in a single-season leaguewide draft for the upcoming 2015 season." And after looking at his work, it's obvious that he holds both Ryan Kerrigan and Trent Williams in high regard.
The Skins' best defender and standout left tackle each found themselves in part two of Barnwell's rankings: Kerrigan checked in at No. 54, while Williams was slotted in at No. 30.
When discussing Kerrigan, Barnwell was very complimentary of #91.
"Look past the 13.5 sacks in 2014 and you see a well-rounded, hyper-valuable defensive weapon," Barnwell wrote. "Kerrigan was sixth in the league in tackles for loss (18) and forced a league-high five fumbles. That can be fluky for some players, but it’s been a consistent skill for Kerrigan."
Barnwell provided the stats to back up that claim, too.
"Since he joined the league in 2011, the only player who has managed to force more fumbles than Washington’s star linebacker (15) is Peanut Tillman (17). If you’re almost as good at anything as Charles Tillman is at forcing fumbles, you’re doing something right."
As for Williams, who was the fourth highest ranked offensive tackle, Barnwell acknowledged that last year's version of #71 wasn't the best one, but understands the skill is still there.
"Williams wasn’t quite his usual self last season, given that he played through a partially dislocated kneecap (Week 4), a sprained MCL (Week 11), and a shoulder injury (Week 15) before suffering a high ankle sprain during Week 17," Barnwell wrote. "He missed only one game all season; I know Washington fans who faked injuries to skip watching more games than that by the end of the year. His penalty total spiked to a career-high 10, but Williams should be back to his usual self this season."
He also weighed in on Williams' contract situation; as of now, the 27-year-old is scheduled to hit the open market next year.
"Scot McCloughan’s too smart to let him hit free agency after 2015; if anything, now would be a good time to try to buy low on Washington’s star left tackle."
While an argument could be made for DeSean Jackson being included on the list, it's hard to ask for more Redskins representatives when the franchise has won just seven games in the past two years. Overall, the organization's fans can take pride in the fact that two of their building blocks are still individually respected around the league despite a lack of total team success.