On the list of words that one could use to describe the season had by the 2015 Washington Redskins, "unexpected" is at or near the top. The team finished with an unexpected 9-7 record, picked up an unexpected division title, and received contributions from many unexpected sources. But it's the third item on that list — the fact that the Burgundy and Gold had contributors from all sorts of places — that's inspiring this post.
Prior to training camp, our CSN Redskins Insiders ranked the 53 players who were supposed to make up Washington's roster from worst to first, in order of expected impact. However, due to the hectic, injury-filled natured of the campaign that was just completed, many of the guys near the bottom of the list stepped up and totally blew away their anticipated performances. They were the players who were very underrated prior to the year's start.
Of course, on the flip side of that discussion, there were also some names who didn't match up with the hype they were given early on. For whatever reason, whether it be someone else taking away their spot, missing games because they were hurt, etc., these were the players who were overrated and proved to not be as important as initially thought.
So, since the book has recently been shut on the 2015 'Skins, it's time to review our rankings and admit where we went wrong and where our estimations were a bit off, starting with the offense.
Who did we underrate on offense?
- Keep in mind that, when the rankings were created, things were different on this side of the ball: Instead of leading franchise record-setting comebacks and notching 300-yard games on a weekly basis, Kirk Cousins (No. 25) was still the backup. Obviously, he's now somewhere in the top five of the most important players on the team, and will likely be cashing out thanks to his breakout year quite soon.
- Jordan Reed (No. 20) also looks criminally underrated on the list, but can you blame the Insiders? Before the season, he was a skilled tight end that was about as reliable as cell phone service in the mountains. We now know, though, he's a linebacker-destroying, corner-shaking pass receiver who is about as valuable as it gets.
- Putting Morgan Moses at No. 42 made a lot of sense then, but now, the thought-to-be project is actually the starting right tackle for the foreseeable future after developing at a much quicker rate than anyone thought he could.
Who did we overrate on offense?
- Let's keep it simple. Robert Griffin III was No. 3 on the list. After not playing a single snap in all of 2015, he probably could be put at No. 53 if we did the same thing today.
- Alfred Morris (No. 7) just kept declining, even though it looked like running behind a bolstered offensive line being coached by Bill Callahan would help spark his production. Now, it looks like both he and Griffin, the two jewels from the 2012 draft class, will be on the move.
- Interestingly enough, Niles Paul (No. 17) actually checked in three spots ahead of Reed. His season-ending injury in the preseason prevented him from showing whether that was an appropriate ranking or not (remember, he was in line to be the starter ahead of #86 before going down), but it is hard imagining him coming close to the numbers Reed posted this year.
Who did we underrate on defense?
- Kyshoen Jarrett (No. 48) probably deserves an apology. The sixth-round selection out of Virginia Tech was thought to be — at best — a solid special teams option. Yet, he soon inserted himself into nickel situations, and eventually lined up just about everywhere for Joe Barry's unit. An argument could be made for him being a top-15 choice now.
- Like Jarrett, Chris Baker (No. 34) ended at least 25 spots too low looking back on things. The charismatic defensive lineman set a career-high with six sacks, and was in the opponent's backfield so often it felt like he was a member of the opposite team's offense.
- Will Compton (No. 31) showed in 2015 he is more than just a depth-provider, after finishing the year as a starter at inside linebacker. He's always been fun to watch on social media, but now we know he can do some things between the lines, too. Preston Smith (No. 22) also didn't get as much respect as he should have.
Who did we overrate on defense?
- David Amerson (No. 23) lasted one regular season contest before being cut by Washington. He went on to bounce back with Oakland, but for someone who was supposed to solidify the secondary, not even making it to Week 2 means he was very overrated.
- Stephen Paea (No. 12) and Chris Culliver (No. 8) were two pricey free agent acquisitions that were paid to be stars on this year's defense. Both, however, struggled with injuries and with doing their job, and now need much better 2016's to justify their contracts.
- Those other guys pale in comparison, though, to Keenan Robinson (No. 6) who didn't really make a single impactful play during the season and was eventually benched in favor of more productive options. He may not be here by Week 1 of 2016, a sharp drop for the talented but underwhelming linebacker.
As you can see, trying to project who's going to come up big and who will play a minor role during the course of an NFL season is tough. In a sport where so many injuries occur and players are constantly moving up and down the depth chart, hindsight almost always proves to be 20/20.