State of the Franchise: Washington Redskins
The Redskins’ 2019 season finished as much as the decade has, they finished at the bottom of the NFC East division. The Reskins have only won the division twice in the past decade, and outside of those two seasons they have finished in 3rd or 4th every year since 2005. Continuing this trend, they won 3 games this season and have secured themselves the 2nd pick in the draft and a prime position to take a franchise-changing talent. Despite the franchise’s shortcoming, as we move into a new decade, there is more hope and optimism amongst the fans than there has been since RGIII’s rookie year. The Redskins hope they have their franchise quarterback in Dwayne Haskins and they’ve just brought in a highly respected head coach in Ron Rivera. The most important move that has happened this offseason is the decision by Dan Snyder to finally move on from president Bruce Allen, who has long been the punching bag of Redskins fans for his horrible contract decisions as well as numerous highly drafted busts. But now they have hope that they can build around a young core of players, the likes of Haskins, Terry McLaurin, and Derrius Guice. Now guided by a veteran head coach there is a reason to look forward to the start of training camp for the first time in years. For a team that has, at times, been the most devoid of talent in the league they now have young core pieces in multiple different positions as well as the previously mentioned 2nd overall pick.
Players 25 and Under: “The Future”:
As with any rebuilding team, the ideal scenario is to have a roster chock full of young, high-upside guys. Landing these high-upside young players is maybe the most important factor in rebuilding a franchise, well outside of landing a franchise quarterback but we’ll get to that later. I will begin by saying that yes, Terry McLaurin, has shown a lot of potential in his rookie year. But I will not be focusing on him today because the NFL seems to be entering an era where every team has a good, not great wideout. So, with that being said the first player I will look at is safety Landon Collins. Is Collins the same player who was an All-Pro after his sophomore season? Probably not. Did the Redskins overpay him in free agency last winter? Probably. But that being said, Collins continues to show his style of play works, especially with better corners than the Redskins provided this season. His coverage has never been his strong point as he’s almost a linebacker playing safety. It remains to be seen is Collins can replicate his peak seasons of 2016/2017, but on a good team, he should strike fear in the hearts of wide receivers coming across the middle of the field.
My 2nd player we’ll take a look at is defensive tackle, Jonathan Allen. The Redskins’ first-round pick in 2017, Allen has shown very good potential each of the past two seasons after his rookie season was essentially lost to injury. Allen has been able to get after the QB, with 14 combined sacks over the last 2 years, as well as put in work as a solid run stuffer. I’m sure the ‘Skins’ are having dreams at night of Allen and a, for now, unnamed edge rusher from Ohio State manning the defensive line for the next decade.
The 3rd young player for the Redskins is the man who has been lining up next to Allen for most of the season, that is DT Matt Ioannidis. He has been almost at the same level of production as Allen over the past few seasons but doesn’t get the same amount of credit. This might have something to do with his being a 5th round pick a year before Allen was a 1st rounder at the same position. But Ioannidis has actually put up a little more production than Allen over the past two seasons. He has sacked the QB 16 times over the last two seasons, and he even racked up 16 QB hits in 2019 alone. This alone with the fact that he has almost doubled his tackle totals each season, shows he has more room to grow along with Allen but hopefully he will not be overshadowed by Allen hype and potential.
Speaking of 5th round picks, 2019 fifth rounder and inside linebacker Cole Holcomb has been a solid contributor for the Skins this season, especially for being a rookie. His playing time fluctuated throughout the season ranging anywhere from playing 90% of defensive snaps to 35%. But even this did not stop him from putting up a productive season, he started 15 games and managed 101 combined tackles. He managed 3 forced fumbles as well. All of this points to a player that has the potential to grow into a stud for the Redskins linebacking core.
And finally, the last player we will highlight in this section is QB Dwyane Haskins. He has suffered through an up and down first season in the NFL, but he showed the Redskins enough to have them continue with him under center. It also helps when it can probably be assumed that Rivera most likely would not have taken the job if he did not see his quarterback of the future in Haskins. He started 7 games this season and produced some up and down results which are reflected in his end of the year stats. He threw for 1,365 yards and 7 touchdowns, but he also threw 7 picks. But even more promising, in just his 6th and 7th starts of his career, he put in the best games yet. So, as Haskins and the Redskins move into this new era of football, they hope Haskins will continue to improve and lead them into the Ron Rivera era.
2019 Draft Review:
Here we’ll take a look back on the 2019 draft and how the players selected have done in their first season in the Redskins organization.
1.15 QB, Ohio State, Dwyane Haskins. The Redskins were ecstatic to land Haskins at 15 overall, and generally, the pick was lauded as a very good one. This might have just been in comparison to the public reaction to the Daniel Jones pick, but there was excitement from the Redskins fanbase. Even if most knew that Haskins would not be ready to play full time at the start of the season, they also knew this was the right route to take because this team was not going to be sniffing the playoff hunt. So, when he was rushed into starting anything that wasn’t a complete mess was able to be seen as encouraging. His stats don’t jump off the page, but I think he showed enough to back up the faith the Redskins and, now, Rivera have in him.
1.26 Edge, Mississippi State, Montez Sweat. The more impressive of the Redskins two 2019 first-round pick was Sweat. He has fit in perfectly along this young dynamic DL that the Redskins is starting to form. Sweat, Allen, Ioannidis, and more draft talent all being on this DL and all being 25 and under should scare the rest of the NFC East. Montez Sweat got after the QB as a rookie this season, hitting the QB 13 times and bringing him down for a sack on 7 of those occasions. As a 23-year-old who started every game this season there is clearly already faith in his ability and there is hope he can continue to build on this success to become an elite pass rusher. Worst case scenario it feels like Sweat is a very good situational pass rusher, which is very valuable for the right team.
3.12 WR, Ohio State, Terry McLaurin. We started Sweat’s section by saying he was the most impressive first-round pick, but who was the most impressive rookie on the team? That honor belongs to McLaurin. He showed out almost immediately and there were questions about whether he could continue this play once Haskins took over. He never should’ve worried. He productive never really dipped all season as he finished with 919 yards and 7 TDs. Very good for a rookie WR, especially one with a rookie QB. Of course, there is still a lot of room for continued improvement, but if McLaurin comes out next season and shows no signs of slowing down? The Skins could have an elite WR on their hands.
4.10 RB, Stanford, Bryce Love. Bryce Love was an elite RB as Stanford and was an early-season Heisman favorite during his final year there as finishing 2nd his Junior season. An injury during December cut his senior season short and he never recovered this season. In fact, he, unfortunately, went in for a 2nd surgery in October of this year. He still holds the potential that made him the elite runner he was out of Stanford. Washington just has to hope he can stay healthy.
4.29 OG, Indiana, Wes Martin. He was seen as a solid backup type when he was drafted and that’s exactly what he provided in 2019. He did manage to start 5 games and when he did play, he was decent. At this point in the draft, you hope to hit on high upside player of guys you know will be a role player for years, and Martin looks to be on his way to filling that spot as a role player.
5.15 C, Alabama, Ross Pierschbacher. He was drafted to fill a similar role as Martin. Pierschbacher was a 4-year player from Alabama who could fill multiple positions across the OL. He was never able to break into the rotation on a consistent basis though, as he only saw playing time in 5 different games. He spent most of the season as a 3rd string backup.
5.35 LB, UNC, Cole Holcomb. He was seen as a bit of a reach, even in the fifth round. So, Holcomb has already provided more to the Redskins than most people thought he was going to. A 5th round rookie coming in and getting 100+ tackles, the Redskins will take that every time. Now going into this 2nd season there will still be questions about his athletic ability and how much that will hold him back. But if he comes into camp next year looking like he’s continued to improve, and hasn’t peaked, then the Redskins might have a later round gem on their hands.
6.34 WR, NC State, Kelvin Harmon. There were certain draft experts, who will remain nameless, he thought Harmon would have the better year than McLaurin. But after his rookie year, it seems as if the Redskins, and the rest of the league, had him drafted perfectly. And though he still possesses the talent that had many people high on him, a 365-yard 0 TD season is not exactly encouraging. He did begin to see a lot more playing time at the end of the season which hopefully means the Redskins have not given up on him as there is still an ideal world where Haskins is throwing passes to Harmon and McLaurin for years to come.
7.13 DB, JMU, Jimmy Moreland. The Redskins went with a local product in Moreland. A smaller CB but showed good ball skills. For a 7th round pick, Moreland has seen a substantial amount of playing time. He’s played in 14 games and even started 5 of them. Though he was not able to snag any picks he did manage to break up 4 passes, showing some of the ballhawk skills that got him drafted.
7.39 Edge, Oklahoma State, Jordan Brailford. He was a bit of a sack artist at Oklahoma State, especially during his senior season when he was first in the Big 12 with 10. But unfortunately, was never able to show that even during the preseason. He suffered an injury during camp and was sent to the PUP list. Hopefully, he’ll be healthy for camp this coming season and will be able to show the pass-rushing ability that got him drafted.
Potential Free Agents/Cuts:
The Redskins have a fairly good amount of cap space going into this offseason. But we will still take a look at 3 different players who could potentially be cut at zero cost to the team. The first player is OLB Ryan Kerrigan, who at his best has been a pro bowl linebacker. But this is a player who is 31 and is coming off his worst season in the NFL. He only played 12 games this year after getting injured. Kerrigan is slated to make 11.6 million in 2020 and by cutting him the Skins could move almost 57 million in open cap space. Yes, he is the heart and soul of this Redskins defense, so this move is not likely, but there is an argument to be made especially with all the young players Washington has on their DL.
Next, we have Tress Way the punter on the team. Once again this move probably falls under the more than likely won’t happen side of things. Way is coming off his first pro bowl season and has been one of the best punters in the league. But for 1.8 million in 2020 there is a world where the Redskins decide to spend that money elsewhere and sign a punter off the street.
And finally, we come to the tough case that is Reuben Foster. He is an uber-talented 2017 first-round pick by the 49ers. But never-ending off the field issues as well as an injury has kept Foster on the sidelines for 36 of a potential 48 games played. He lasted 2 years in San Francisco before he was waived and claimed by the Redskins, a move that was questioned by many. During his first practice with the Skins, he suffered a torn ACL ending his 2019 season. While Foster is unquestionably talented there is definitely the question of is this potential worth the off the field problem and injury risk and all for 1.6 million next seasons.
Next, we have a few players who are going to be free agents and what the Redskins should want to do. The biggest FA is Brandon Scherff who was a 1st round pick in 2015 and has played himself into being one of the top guards in the league. He was selected to his 3rd pro bowl this season and has been a perfect player for the Redskins OL that has been surprisingly good. But Scherff was the best of the bunch so with Derrius Guice and, potentially still, Adrian Peterson an elite guard will be needed. I imagine Washington will do everything they can to retain his services. Speaking of Adrian Peterson who is a free agent as well, he was productive during his age 34 season. He managed 898 yards and 5 TDs, so he filled in nicely as Guice’s injuries have kept him off the field for much of his first two seasons. I think the Redskins will attempt to bring back Peterson as he won’t damage too much money on the open market and Guice is plenty of question marks. Lastly, we have two veteran players who I think could still play a role for the Redskins in 2020, but given their injuries and age, it’s questionable whether they will be playing next season. But, as a vet in the locker room to coach up younger players and any production being, I wouldn’t hate Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Vernon Davis being brought back for 2020. DRC only played 2 games this season and has not had an interception since 2016 but if he’s willing to play for cheap, I think he would still be a solid backup CB. Davis has found a bit of a home with Washington, playing as a backup TE but starting many of the games with Jordan Reed’s injury problems. If he’s able to come back from his own injury next season he could provide a solid presence for Haskins next season.
The 2020 Draft:
Now that the season has ended the Redskins have secured their spot at #2 in the draft. With the Bengals most likely taking Joe Burrow, and the Redskins already having their QB there is one player who seems to be the obvious pick. As alluded to earlier in the post this player is Chase Young an Edge player out of Ohio State. Though there have been some rumblings of questions about Young over the last few games of the year, the majority sees a potentially franchise-changing talent on the defensive side of the ball. As stated in the Bengals Article Young has finished his college career averaging over a sack a game with 40.5 in 34 games. This is the player the Redskins will likely take, but we will take a look at two more players who could be considered. This player may depend on if Washington is able to bring back Scherff, this player is Andrew Thomas the OT out of Georgia. Though it would be a good idea to bolster the OL alongside Scherff this pick will come down to the player the Redskins think is the best on the board, not so much positional need. Finally, another highly talented SEC player in Jerry Jeudy, it could be a very pretty sight, seeing McLaurin and Jeudy streaking down the sidelines for years to come. The idea behind this pick would be putting as much talent around Haskins as possible. Considering these three different possibilities I think the Redskins end up going with Young.
Look back on the 2009 Draft
One of my favorite things to do is take a look back at the franchise 10 years ago and see how the ‘09 draft class played out.
1.13 DE, Texas, Brian Orakpo. This was a very good pick by Washington. Orakpo played 6 years in Washington and 10 years overall. He made the pro bowl 4 times and had his best year with the Redskins in 2010. He had 56 tackles, 8.5 sacks and hit the QB 17 times. He retired in December 2018 with 66 sacks, his most during his rookie year with 11, over his ten-year career with the Redskins and Titans. Though he may not end up in the Hall of Fame if you know a player is going to give you team this level of production you take that every time.
3.15 CB, Maryland, Kevin Barnes. Without a 2nd round pick on ‘09 the second player the Redskins took was Barnes. Unfortunately for the Redskins Barnes never provided much as far as production goes. He played 3 years in Washington getting 3 starts but he did manage to pick off 3 passes during that time. He was traded to the Lions after the 2011 season where he was cut after the 2012 season. He spent some time with the Brown during the 2013 offseason and has not been rostered since.
5.21 LB, Nebraska, Cody Glenn. This pick was also a disappointing one Washington. Glenn was caught up in off the field problems when the Redskins drafted him, and he would never play a snap for the Redskins. They waived him the same year they drafted him, but then Glenn was picked up by the Colts where he played for 2 years, never making an impact.
6.12 LB, TCU, Robert Henson. If Glenn never made much of an impact than Henson made zero impact. He was with Washington for just one year, 2009, during which he recorded 3 tackles. And that was his entire contribution to the Redskins and the NFL.
7.11 RB, Idaho, Eddie Williams. Williams falls under the same category as Henson. Williams spent his first year bouncing between being cut and on the practice squad. He was cut by Washington after the season after this he bounced around the league to the likes of the Bears, Seahawks, and Browns(x2). He recorded 2 touches in his career for a total of 2 yards.
7.33 WR, Nevada, Marko Mitchell. Outside of Orakpo, this draft was a complete bust for the Redskins as Mitchell continued the trend of little to no production. He played one season for Washington catching 4 passes for 32 yards. He was waived after the ‘09 season spending time with the Lions and Vikings, but he never appeared in a regular-season game again.