2016 NFL Offseason: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (Last Year: 9-7)

2016 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
TE Vernon Davis, DE/DT Kendall Reyes, CB Josh Norman, CB Greg Toler, S David Bruton.
Early Draft Picks:
WR Josh Doctson, S/LB Su’a Cravens, CB Kendall Fuller. Redskins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Robert Griffin, RB Alfred Morris, DE/DT Jason Hatcher, ILB Keenan Robinson, CB Chris Culliver, S Dashon Goldson, S Trenton Robinson.

2016 Washington Redskins Offense:
“You like that?” Those infamous three words helped turned Washington’s season around. It was Week 7, and the Buccaneers were thrashing the Redskins on their own home turf. Trailing 24-7 at halftime, Washington was in danger of dropping to a 2-5 record, but Cousins led a great comeback, which was followed by his epic post-game tirade. From then on, the Redskins won six of their final nine games to claim the NFC East.

Cousins maintained an unbelievable completion percentage of 69.8 as well as a strong touchdown-to-interception ratio of 29:11. His YPA was also decent at 7.7. All of these figures were markedly superior to those he possessed in 2014 when he performed well at first, but then struggled so much that he was benched in favor of Colt McCoy. Cousins might be able to match those numbers in 2016, but that could be difficult. Cousins, after all, was able to torch a myriad of horrid defenses down the stretch, and when he finally battled a good one in Green Bay’s, he fell short in the opening round of the playoffs.

That said, Cousins almost certainly won’t be as bad as he was the year before, so an above-average season should be expected. Cousins will have a new weapon at his disposal in first-round rookie Josh Doctson, whom Cousins has declared to be a potential great red-zone weapon. More importantly, Doctson will be able to hold down the fort when DeSean Jackson inevitably suffers an injury. Jackson, who played nine games last year, has barely participated in OTAs, so it appears as though he’s not taking what is probably his final year in Washington very seriously. While healthy, Jackson will continue to start across from Pierre Garcon, who has never taken to Jay Gruden’s system.

Cousins’ best aerial threat is tight end Jordan Reed. Thanks to a new workout regimen and a better diet, Reed was finally able to play more than three quarters of the season last year. Reed dominated with 87 receptions, 952 yards and 11 touchdowns in 14 games. As an unbelievably athletic tight end, Reed is a matchup nightmare, so it’ll be important for him to stay in the lineup again. Niles Paul, who missed all of 2015, will be able to step in and be effective in the wake of an injury to Reed.

The Redskins were expected to address the offensive line to improve Cousins’ pass protection, but that never happened. The center spot was a big problem last year, but the team will have to try Kory Lichtensteiger there again. That probably won’t work out, as Lichtensteiger was absolutely atrocious in 2015. He’ll be flanked by a couple of guards who weren’t all that great last year. Spencer Long and Brandon Scherff weren’t horrible by any means, but there’s a lot of room for improvement. Scherff at least has plenty of potential, given that he was the fifth-overall choice in the 2015 NFL Draft. Long may have to hold off Shawn Lauvao, but Lauvao may not be ready for training camp because he’s coming off a season-ending ankle injury.

The tackle situation is much better. Trent Williams is one of the top blind-side protectors in the NFL, while right tackle Morgan Moses has made some great strides after struggling earlier in his career. The 2014 third-rounder is still young enough to improve his game even more.

Cousins obviously isn’t the only one who was undoubtedly upset that the front office didn’t bolster the trenches. Matt Jones was almost certainly hoping for this as well. Jones has shown flashes that he’s a very talented running back, but the blocking sometimes wasn’t there last year. Jones mustered just 3.4 yards per carry as a rookie, but he’s better than that. He’ll handle the full workload with Alfred Morris now in Dallas.

2016 Washington Redskins Defense:
Washington’s defense was absolutely atrocious in 2014, surrendering 27.4 points per game and allowing big play after big play. The 2015 version was better, yielding an entire field goal less per contest. But as with Cousins’ numbers, these stats could’ve been affected by the easy schedule, so upgrades definitely had to be made.

The Redskins certainly found a huge upgrade in their secondary. After the Panthers shockingly cut Josh Norman as a result of a contract impasse, Washington quickly pounced on him. This was a great move, as Norman is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. The defensive backfield has been a big problem area for the team over the years, but that doesn’t appear to be the case anymore. Norman will start across from Bashaud Breeland, who enjoyed a solid 2015 campaign. At nickel, third-round rookie Kendall Fuller could be the favorite if he’s 100 percent coming off microfracture surgery. This is no laughing matter, however, and it’s a reason why Fuller, a first-round talent, fell to the third frame. If he can play, he’ll likely be another huge addition to the Washington secondary.

As for the safety spot, that’s still a concern. DeAngelo Hall moved to the position last year, and while he wasn’t a major liability, he wasn’t very good. He’ll likely start next to Duke Ihenacho, who missed most of 2015 with a broken wrist. Ihenacho isn’t great in coverage, but he’s at least solid versus the run.

Rookie Su’a Cravens will see some action at safety, but will mostly be stationed at linebacker as one of those new hybrid-type players. Inside linebacker was a big need for the Redskins heading into the offseason, so it appears to be a good thing they spent a second-round choice on the USC product. Washington tried many players at the position last year, and they all failed. Mason Foster, Keenan Robinson, Perry Riley and Will Compton all performed poorly.

The linebacking corps and secondary are better, but they could still use help from the pass rush, which produced a mediocre 38 sacks. That could happen if Ryan Kerrigan remains healthy for the entire year. Kerrigan was on the field for all 16 contests last season, but wasn’t quite himself because he was dealing with a broken hand. Kerrigan will start across from second-year Preston Smith unless Junior Galette is ready to go after tearing his Achilles. Galette is an extremely talented player who produced double-digit sacks with the Saints, but has a dubious off-the-field track record. Smith, meanwhile, was a second-round pick in 2015 who showed some flashes a rookie, but didn’t play all that well overall.

Trent Murphy, the team’s second-rounder from 2014, hasn’t exactly panned out as an edge rusher, so he’ll be asked to move to defensive end. That position was in dire need of an upgrade, especially in the wake of Jason Hatcher’s retirement, and Murphy seems like he would be more effective in this new spot. Murphy will start along with the solid Chris Baker and nose tackle Kedric Golston, who will replace the New England-bound Terrance Knighton. It was curious that the Redskins didn’t either re-sign Knighton or find a proper replacement for him; Golston struggled mightily in limited action last year.

2016 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Redskins have an awesome fan base, which makes it strange that they are just 23-35 as hosts the past seven years. They were 6-3 in 2015, however, so perhaps things are changing.

Washington’s special teams were quite mixed. The team outgained its opponents by a wide margin, scoring twice in the process. However, the punt team was beaten by just as much, surrendering a touchdown.

Punter Tress Way was about average, ranking 18th in net yardage.

The Redskins had a new kicker last year in Dustin Hopkins, who did a great job. He went 25-of-28, with two of the three misses coming from beyond 50. He missed just one of his 40 extra points.

Washington plays in a soft division, but what about the other 10 games? There are some tough matchups, unlike last year. The Redskins have to battle the Steelers, Ravens (road), Bengals, Vikings, Packers, Cardinals and Cowboys.

2016 Washington Redskins Rookies:
Go here for the Redskins Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2016 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2016 Washington Redskins Analysis: The Redskins caught fire last year, but part of that was their ridiculously easy schedule. Things will be much more challenging in 2016, and they won’t catch any opponents by surprise. A repeat of a divisional crown is certainly possible, especially with Josh Norman now on the roster, but another team could definitely steal the NFC East.

Projection: 9-7 (2nd in NFC East)

NFL Draft Team Grade: A- Grade

Goals Entering the 2016 NFL Draft: The Redskins seem to have figured out their quarterback situation, so they can now focus on improving the defense. Help is needed on all three levels, particularly the defensive line and secondary. Multiple early selections should be used to bolster those areas.

2016 NFL Draft Accomplishments: I actually wrote the above goals prior to the Josh Norman trade. The Redskins were set to pick William Jackson at No. 21 prior to the deal (after they deemed Kendall Fuller too injured to be the choice there), but obviously shifted gears. And rightfully so.

With a huge hole filled, Washington was able to focus on other ares of the roster. The team was able to move down a spot and select Josh Doctson. While the TCU product doesn’t fill an immediate need, he’ll likely be a starter in 2017 and beyond, as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are entering contract seasons. It could be argued that Doctson was the best player available, so the pick was a good one.

The Redskins’ second day was even better. Su’a Cravens was a solid choice, but the pick I want to focus on is Fuller at No. 84. Washington once deemed Fuller to be good enough (and yes, tall enough) to be chosen at No. 21, but his medical situation changed that. Still, Fuller was outstanding value in the third round, and it won’t be any sort of surprise if he’s an effective starter one day.

Overall, Washington scored worse than a “B” with only one pick, and that was a B- for Nate Sudfeld in the sixth frame. The Redskins had a great draft, though if I had one qualm, it’s that there wasn’t enough focus on the defensive line.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

22. Josh Doctson, WR, TCU B+ Grade
The wide receivers in this class were pretty much like ice cream flavors. Everyone seemed to have a favorite one. Laquon Treadwell was No. 1 according to the media, but some teams had Corey Coleman, or William Fuller, or Josh Doctson atop their positional rankings. Doctson may not be a logical choice in terms of need for the Redskins, given that they have DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, but the former happens to be an impending free agent following the 2016 campaign. Doctson will likely be Washington’s top receiver in 2017, so I have a feeling this pick will pan out.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

53. Su’a Cravens, S/LB, USC B+ Grade
It’ll be interesting to see where the Redskins use Su’a Cravens. He can fill both of their voids at safety and linebacker, and I’m sure the Redskins won’t be scared to use Cravens in both roles as a hybrid safety-linebacker to cover tight ends. I had Cravens in the first round of my mock a couple of months ago (I since moved him down to No. 62), so I think the range is right to take him at this spot.

84. Kendall Fuller, CB, Virginia Tech A+ Grade
I’m about seven picks behind in my grades as of this writing, as the NFL once again has not learned how to air the NFL Draft correctly. I’ll delve into how it can fix this problem later, but I’ve been eager to get to this grade. That’s because there’s an absolute idiot troll who calls himself “Walter is Still a Moron” on the comment boards who gave me so much crap for repeatedly mocking Kendall Fuller to his Redskins, constantly citing that I was stupid for giving Washington a “small” corner (even though Fuller is 6-0). We actually heard that the Redskins liked Fuller a lot and were going to consider him in Round 2 before the Josh Norman signing. Washington still liked him enough to pass on him at this juncture, though. The team is making a great pick, as Fuller would’ve been a first-round choice if it wasn’t for his injury concerns.

152. Matt Ioannidis, DE/DT, Temple B Grade
It took a while for the Redskins to address their defensive line, as they considered doing so in the first round. They’re getting a solid player in Matt Ioannidis who was productive at Temple. He tested poorly at the Combine, but he should emerge as a quality rotational lineman for Washington.

187. Nate Sudfeld, QB, Indiana B- Grade
Vernon Adams probably would’ve been a better option, but I don’t hate this pick. Nate Sudfeld has the size (6-6, 234) to perhaps give him a chance to be a No. 2 at some point, but accuracy and inconsistency issues are things he’ll have to overcome.

232. Steven Daniels, ILB, Boston College B Grade
Steven Daniels makes sense at this juncture, and it wouldn’t have been the worst idea had a team picked him a round earlier. Daniels was very productive at Boston College, but dropped because of a severe lack of athleticism. However, Daniels can be a two-down run-stuffer, and the Redskins needed depth in the middle of their defense.

242. Keith Marshall, RB, Georgia B+ Grade
I’m all for picking players with immense upside in the seventh round, and that certainly happens to be the case with Keith Marshall. The Georgia product began his collegiate career with a bang, but he never recovered from a torn ACL he sustained a couple of years ago. Marshall, however, possesses quality talent, so perhaps he’ll eventually become 100 percent and contribute for the Redskins, who needed running back depth in the wake of Alfred Morris’ departure.

Season Summary:
The Redskins were a nice story in 2015, but the only reason they made the playoffs was because they were the best team in one of the two worst divisions in football. They were impressive against bad NFC East competition down the stretch, but they were exposed against a superior opponent in the postseason. Still, the foundation is there, and the Redskins have plenty of room for growth.

Offseason Moves:
  • Redskins cut CB Chris Culliver
  • Redskins sign CB Josh Norman
  • Redskins announce retirement of DE/DT Jason Hatcher
  • Redskins sign CB Greg Toler
  • Redskins sign TE Vernon Davis
  • Redskins re-sign C/G Josh LeRibeus
  • Redskins sign S David Bruton
  • Redskins re-sign DE/OLB Junior Galette
  • Redskins re-sign TE Logan Paulsen
  • Redskins sign DE/DT Kendall Reyes
  • Redskins re-sign S Duke Ihenacho
  • Redskins re-sign QB Colt McCoy
  • Redskins re-sign DT Kedric Golston
  • Redskins cut S Dashon Goldson
  • Redskins cut S Jeron Johnson
  • Redskins cut DE/DT Jason Hatcher
  • Redskins cut QB Robert Griffin
  • Redskins re-sign QB Kirk Cousins

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Inside Linebackers: The Redskins used four inside linebackers extensively in 2015 – Perry Riley, Keenan Robinson, Will Compton, Mason Foster – but all of them struggled. The middle of the defense absolutely must be improved, and it can start with the 21st-overall pick in the NFL Draft.

    2. Cornerback: Washington had some terrific play from Bashaud Breeland this past season, but the other corners were underwhelming at best. A solid No. 2 across from Breeland is needed. Signed Josh Norman

    3. Safety: More secondary help. DeAngelo Hall was tried at safety, but he was just mediocre there. That can also describe everyone else they used at the position. A second-day choice could be used on an upgrade. Signed David Bruton

    4. Center: The Redskins had atrocious play from their centers. They were the primary reason the running game was so inconsistent. Using a mid-round pick on a center is a must.

    5. Defensive End: With Jason Hatcher gone, Washington has to address its defensive line. Signed Kendall Reyes

    6. Quarterback: Re-signing Kirk Cousins is a no-brainer. He has to be brought back. Franchised Kirk Cousins

    7. Nose Tackle: Terrance Knighton signed a 1-year “prove it” deal last offseason. He was just OK, but the Redskins will probably want to re-sign him anyway.

    8. Running Back Depth: Alfred Morris is hitting free agency, so the Redskins need to find some depth behind Matt Jones and Chris Thompson.

    9. Fullback: Darrel Young is another impending free agent.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2016 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Josh Norman, CB, Panthers. Age: 28.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $75 million)

      Josh Norman gets a ton of hype as one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. There’s no denying that he’s great, as he’s excellent in coverage, but he has some tackling issues. Having said that, Deion Sanders also struggled to tackle, so it’s not the worst weakness for a corner to have. Update: The Panthers have rescinded Norman’s contract, making him an unrestricted free agent.

    2. Kendall Reyes, DE/DT, Chargers. Age: 26.
      Signed with Redskins (1 year, $2.5 million)

      Kendall Reyes was a second-round pick back in 2012. The Chargers have been waiting for him to have a break-out campaign, but it has never happened. Perhaps he’ll do it elsewhere. He’s only 26, so he still has time.

    3. Vernon Davis, TE, Broncos. Age: 32.
      Signed with Redskins

      John Elway traded for Vernon Davis, and all Davis did to repay him was drop countless passes. Davis still has athletic ability, but his head isn’t in the game for some reason.

    4. Greg Toler, CB, Colts. Age: 31. — Signed with Redskins
    5. David Bruton, S, Broncos. Age: 29. — Signed with Redskins (3 years)

    Washington Redskins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)

      I never imagined I’d be ranking Kirk Cousins as a 3.5-star free agent, but he was on an absolute tear down the stretch. He ultimately finished the regular season with a 69.8 completion percentage on a 7.7 YPA. Granted, he beat up on a soft schedule, but he still looks very promising.

    2. Alfred Morris, RB, Redskins. Age: 27.
      Signed with Cowboys (2 years, $3.5 million)

      Alfred Morris is an overrated player, thanks to fantasy football and Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme. Morris averaged just 3.7 YPC in 2015. That figure would’ve been better had the Redskins not dealt with injuries up front, but Morris is not the great running back most think he is.

    3. Terrance Knighton, NT, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Signed with Patriots (1 year)

      Terrance Knighton signed a 1-year “prove it” deal last offseason, but he didn’t exactly prove anything. He stuffed the run somewhat well, but that was it. Knighton was on the field for about a third of the snaps to close out the season.

    4. Robert Griffin, QB, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Browns (2 years)

      It would’ve been impossible to believe three years ago that Robert Griffin would turn out to be a bust, but here we are. Griffin had an amazing rookie year, but numerous injuries, a prima donna attitude and lethargy overcame him. Griffin is still worth taking a shot on because of his high talent level, but he always gets hurt, and he’d rather be a star than a football player, as evidenced by his unwillingness to master the mental part of the position.

    5. Jason Hatcher, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 34.
      Announced retirement

      Jason Hatcher used to be very talented; he recorded 11 sacks in 2013. However, he slowed down last season, struggling to put pressure on the quarterback. He can still play though, as he was solid in run support.

    6. Junior Galette, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)

      Junior Galette is an extremely talented pass-rusher who would probably be a 4.5-star free agent if he didn’t have any glaring off-the-field issues. Unfortunately, Galette is a horrible person who only makes teams worse.

    7. Chris Culliver, CB, Redskins. Age: 28.
      Chris Culliver has played in only 20 games the past three seasons, thanks to multiple ACL tears. He signed a 4-year, $32 million contract with Washington last spring, but he’ll now have to travel elsewhere. Fortunately for him, he’s only 28, so he still has a future in this league.

    8. Dashon Goldson, S, Redskins. Age: 31.
      Dashon Goldson was a somewhat decent, but overrated safety when he was with the 49ers earlier in his career. The Buccaneers and Redskins clearly didn’t watch his tape because they spent major resources keeping him on the roster. Goldson predictably disappointed. Now 31, Goldson isn’t much more than a spot starter/quality backup.

    9. Josh LeRibeus, C/G, Redskins. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Redskins
    10. Keenan Robinson, ILB, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Giants
    11. Duke Ihenacho (RFA), S, Redskins. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)
    12. Trenton Robinson, S, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Panthers
    13. Pierre Thomas, RB, Redskins. Age: 31.
    14. Darrel Young, FB, Redskins. Age: 29.
    15. Kedric Golston, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 33. — Re-signed with Redskins
    16. Logan Paulsen, TE, Redskins. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)
    17. Colt McCoy, QB, Redskins. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Redskins (3 years)
    18. Jeron Johnson, S, Redskins. Age: 28.
    19. Desmond Bishop, ILB, Redskins. Age: 32.
    20. Jerrell Powe, NT, Redskins. Age: 29.
    21. Alex Smith, TE, Redskins. Age: 34.

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