2018 NFL Offseason: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (Last Year: 7-9)

2018 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Alex Smith, QB Kevin Hogan, WR Paul Richardson, DE/OLB Pernell McPhee, CB Orlando Scandrick.
Early Draft Picks:
NT Da’Ron Payne, RB Derrius Guice, OT Geron Christian, S Troy Apke, CB Adonis Alexander. Redskins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
QB Kirk Cousins, WR Terrelle Pryor, WR Ryan Grant, TE Niles Paul, C Spencer Long, DT Terrell McClain, DE/OLB Trent Murphy, DE/OLB Junior Galette, ILB Su’a Cravens, ILB Will Compton, CB Kendall Fuller, CB Bashaud Breeland, S DeAngelo Hall.

2018 Washington Redskins Offense:
It’s easy to forget how potent the Redskin scoring attack was in the early stages of the 2017 season. They scored 24 or more points in four of their initial six games, including a 27-point outing versus the Rams’ stout defense in Week 2. Despite this, they finished at 21.4 points per contest because of countless injuries.

Many of the injuries occurred on the offensive line. There were some weeks when the Redskins had trouble fielding an entire starting quintet. The three best blockers on the front, left tackle Trent Williams, right guard Brandon Scherff and right tackle Morgan Moses, all were hurt at some point during the latter half of the 2017 campaign. Williams, one of the elite blind-side protectors in the NFL, missed six contests. Scherff, a stout protector, was out for a couple of games. Moses, who is also usually very good, managed to start every week but had severe injury problems and wasn’t nearly as effective as usual.

Williams, Scherff and Moses figure to all be healthy by the 2018 opener, which is great news for the Redskins’ outlook. The other two starting linemen – left guard Shawn Lauvao (who also missed time in 2017) and center Chase Roullier – aren’t nearly as good, but Washington will have so much more success blocking this upcoming season. That’s great news for the newly acquired Alex Smith, whose mobility will be useful in the event of more injuries to the front. Smith, by the way, is definitely not a downgrade from Kirk Cousins for the short term. Cousins would be preferable for five years or so because he’s younger, but for one season, they’re virtually the same in overall talent.

Smith will have some different weapons to work with than Cousins did in 2017. The backfield was given an injection of talent when the Redskins spent a second-round pick on Derruis Guice. It might have been possible for Guice to be a top-25 selection had it not been for some off-the-field issues. Guice should be an upgrade over either Robert Kelley or Samaje Perine, both of whom are pretty pedestrian. Chris Thompson, meanwhile, will return as a potent receiving threat out of the backfield.

As for the receiving corps, Paul Richardson was added in free agency. It doesn’t seem like Richardson is a great fit for the Redskins because he’s a deep threat, and Smith doesn’t like to throw downfield very often. Still, Richardson should be an upgrade over Terrelle Pryor, who was a bust signing last season. Richardson will play alongside fellow receivers the solid Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson, who needs to finally live up to expectations. Jordan Reed, meanwhile, must stay healthy for a change after playing in just six games last year.

2018 Washington Redskins Defense:
The Redskins had numerous injuries on offense, and the same could have been said about their defense as well. Most of their top players missed some action, primarily their first-round pick from the 2017 NFL Draft, Jonathan Allen.

Allen was enjoying a nice rookie campaign, but was lost after five games. The Redskins really struggled to stop the run as a result, especially in the couple of contests the other starting 3-4 end, Matt Ioannidis, was out. Having them both back will help the team put some interior pressure on opposing passers and clamp down on the rush. The Redskins should be much better in the latter aspect, thanks to the addition of 13th-overall pick Da’Ron Payne. The Alabama product is a monstrous run-stuffer who has some nice pass-rushing moves, so Washington’s defensive front figures to be much better as a whole in 2018.

The Redskins were also without one of their top edge rushers last year, missing Trent Murphy for the entire 2017 campaign. Murphy is gone, but has been replaced by former Bear Pernell McPhee, who was signed in free agency. McPhee has injury woes himself, but has been effective when he’s been on the field. He’ll compete with Preston Smith, who collected eight sacks in 2017, to start across from the extremely talented Ryan Kerrigan, who tallied 13 sacks this past season. Ryan Anderson, chosen in the second round of the 2017 NFL Draft, will also be in the mix.

With Washington expected to put more pressure on opposing quarterbacks, the secondary will certainly benefit and could play better even though prolific nickel cornerback Kendall Fuller was dealt in the Alex Smith trade. Josh Norman is still on the roster, however, and he should upgrade his play this upcoming season after dealing with some injuries last year. Norman, when completely healthy, is one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL, and he won’t be 31 until December, so he should continue to perform well. He’ll start across from Quinton Dunbar, who covered well last year, but had some tackling issues. Dunbar was rewarded with a 3-year, $10.5 million contract this offseason. The nickel role, meanwhile, will be occupied by Orlando Scandrick, who hasn’t been healthy in quite some time. Adonis Alexander was obtained in the sixth round of the supplemental draft. He’ll compete for playing time.

The Redskins have a solid pair of safeties to go along with Norman and the other cornerbacks. D.J. Swearinger and Montae Nicholson performed well last year. Nicholson has some big-time upside. He had a strong rookie campaign despite being a fourth-round pick, and he could make big strides in his sophomore season.

Rounding out the defense, the Redskins will have Mason Foster back after playing just five games in 2017. His return will provide a big boost, as he’ll start next to the solid Zach Brown at inside linebacker.

2018 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Redskins have an awesome fan base, which makes it strange that they are just 32-42 as hosts the past nine years.

Washington’s special teams were quite mixed. The team outgained its opponents on kickoff returns by a sim margin. They were crushed on punt returns, however.

Punter Tress Way ranked 28th in net average, which is far from ideal.

Dustin Hopkins was 14-of-17 on field goals last year, but whiffed on both tries from 50-plus.

Washington has a mixed schedule, as the Packers, Panthers, Saints, Falcons and Texans provide tough non-divisional matchups. However, the Redskins have some easy games as well.

2018 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.

2018 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2018 Washington Redskins Analysis: The Redskins were very competitive early last year. They nearly beat the Eagles in Week 1; they defeated the Rams in Los Angeles the following weekend; they then crushed the Raiders before Derek Carr got hurt; and they would’ve beaten the Chiefs on Monday Night Football had Josh Doctson not dropped a touchdown at the end. The Redskins fell apart late in the year, but only because of countless injuries that were discussed earlier. If the Redskins have better luck, they should be able to challenge for a playoff spot.

Projection: 10-6 (2nd in NFC East)

2017 Projection: 8-8. 2017 Actual Result: 7-9.
2016 Projection: 9-7. 2016 Actual Result: 8-7-1.

NFL Draft Team Grade: B Grade

Goals Entering the 2018 NFL Draft: The Redskins will be competitive with Alex Smith if they address some of their glaring needs. Among those are nose tackle, guard and running back. Otherwise, filling out the roster with the best players available makes sense.

2018 NFL Draft Accomplishments: General manager Bruce Allen addressed his needs, taking a nose tackle, running back and offensive lineman with his initial three picks. Da’Ron Payne was first, and while he was a solid choice, he wasn’t what Washington wanted; the team was hoping for Vita Vea, as was widely reported. Still, Payne wasn’t a bad consolation prize, as he’ll help the team’s woes in run defense.

Guice, meanwhile, offered better value at No. 59. The Redskins traded down and were still able to obtain him, which was a great move. Guice fell because of character concerns, but he’s a very talented runner who should bolster Washington’s ground attack. Geron Christian, meanwhile, was a somewhat questionable choice, but definitely not a bad one, as he’ll provide some much needed depth on the offensive line.

I really liked what the Redskins did on Day 3. They secured some steals then, getting Tim Settle, Shaun Dion Hamilton and Trey Quinn as incredible values. Settle will be a nice backup for Payne, ensuring that Washington will be better versus the run. Hamilton will challenge for playing time in the linebacking corps, while Quinn, despite being the final pick in the draft, could eventually become a contributing slot receiver.

I gave the Redskins one grade below a B-, which was the 109th pick of Troy Apke, a slight reach. Washington had a solid draft overall, and the team should be competitive in 2018 as a result.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

13. Da’Ron Payne, NT, Alabama B Grade
The Buccaneers broke the Redskins’ hearts by selecting Vita Vea oen pick before them. Fortunately, there’s one other stud nose tackle in this class, and Washington was able to obtain him.

Payne is a solid choice for the Redskins, as he reunites with Jonathan Allen on the defensive line. The Redskins were woeful versus the run late last year, and Payne will definitely be able to help in that regard.

59. Derrius Guice, RB, LSU B+ Grade
One of the NFL Network guys said there would be some breaking news about Derrius Guice that would embarrass him and the team that selected him, so hopefully it’s not too bad. Guice is a steal for his talent level, but he has character concerns. He and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman actually got into a heated exchange leading up to the draft. If Guice is clean, this will be an A+ pick, as he could be the best runner on the roster right now by a wide margin. However, I’m worried about some impending problems, so I’ll keep this as a B+.

74. Geron Christian, OT, Louisville B- Grade
There were grades all over for Geron Christian. Some teams thought he could be a second-round prospect, while others had him on Day 3. Christian has great upside and could develop into a left tackle one day. He doesn’t fill a need for the Redskins right now, so a tackle probably should have been addressed a bit later.

109. Troy Apke, S, Penn State C Grade
I don’t hate this pick, but it doesn’t seem like a very good one. Troy Apke is a very athletic safety who thrived at the combine. This obviously put him on the radar, but I thought he would be more of a sixth-round selection. He’ll at least be a solid special-teams player.

163. Tim Settle, NT, Virginia Tech A Grade
The Redskins already selected a nose tackle, but they might as well add another one, given how much they’ve struggled against the run. Settle is a force versus the rush, but he can also apply some pressure on the quarterback.

197. Shaun Dion Hamilton, LB, Alabama A- Grade
Shaun Dion Hamilton would have gone much earlier than this if he didn’t have severe injury concerns. It always seemed like he was injured at Alabama. It’s a shame, as he’s a smart linebacker who could have emerged as a starter in the pros. He still has a shot though, so I like the Redskins taking a chance on him in the sixth round.

241. Greg Stroman, CB, Virginia Tech B Grade
Greg Stroman was highly productive at Virginia Tech, but fell to the seventh round because teams don’t like cornerbacks who are both small and slow. Stroman was one of the worst testers in pre-draft workouts, but I could see him proving evaluators wrong.

256. Trey Quinn, WR, SMU A- Grade
Trey Quinn might be one of the better Mr. Irrelevants we’ve seen in a while. He was an extremely productive receiver for SMU this past season. He’s quick and sure-handed, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he emerged as a quality slot receiver in the NFL. Well done by Bruce Allen at the very end of the 2018 NFL Draft!

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Redskins looked like they were going to make some noise as a potential playoff contender, but a tough schedule and numerous injuries capsized them. Now, they’ll finally have to figure out what they want to do with Kirk Cousins.

Offseason Moves:
  • Redskins re-sign G Shawn Lauvao
  • Redskins sign DE/OLB Pernell McPhee
  • Redskins sign WR Paul Richardson
  • Redskins trade for QB Alex Smith

    Team Needs:
    1. Nose Tackle: Washington really struggled against the run, especially late in the year. Part of the reason was Jonathan Allen’s injury, while another reason was very poor play at nose tackle. There will be two options – Da’Ron Payne, Vita Vea – in the opening round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    2. Center: Regardless of whether or not the Redskins re-sign Kirk Cousins, they’ll need to bolster their offensive line. Spencer Long has been a pedestrian center over the years, and he happens to be a free agent this spring anyway.

    3. Running Back: Robert Kelley and Samaje Perine are just mediocre running backs. Fortunately for the Redskins, there will be tons of running back prospects available in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft.

    4. Wide Receiver: Terrelle Pryor was a massive bust as a free-agent signing. Luckily, he was brought on for just one year. Washington needs a new No. 1 receiver. Signed Paul Richardson

    5. Guard: Here’s another problem area on the offensive line. Shawn Lauvao, like Long, is an impending free agent, but he hasn’t played well anyway. Re-signed Shawn Lauvao

    6. Cornerback: It’s unclear why the Redskins traded Kendall Fuller to downgrade their quarterbacking situation, but that’s what happened. Fuller will need to be replaced. Signed Orlando Scandrick

    7. Quarterback: The Redskins need to pay Kirk Cousins with a long-term contract. They could franchise him or trade him. Either way, they need to figure out what to do with him. Update: The Redskins traded for Alex Smith, but still need a young quarterback because Smith turns 34 in May. Traded for Alex Smith

    8. Kicker: The Redskins have endured kicking issues for the past several seasons. Re-signed Dustin Hopkins

    9. Punter: Tress Way has been at the bottom of net punting in the past couple of years.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2018 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Orlando Scandrick, CB, Cowboys. Age: 31.
      Signed with Redskins (2 years)

      Orlando Scandrick was once one of the better cornerbacks in the NFL, but injuries have derailed his career. He hasn’t played a full season since 2013. He’s now 31, so there’s a good chance he may never be the same again, which is a shame. That said, Scandrick could bounce back with one or two more strong years if he manages to stay healthy for a change, so he should be given a 1-year “prove it” deal.

    2. Pernell McPhee, DE/OLB, Bears. Age: 29.
      Signed with Redskins

      Pernell McPhee is productive when he gets to play – 14 sacks for the Bears over the past three seasons – but he’s had trouble staying healthy. McPhee has missed 12 games in that span, and given that he turns 30 in December, his durability likely won’t get any better.

    3. Paul Richardson, WR, Seahawks. Age: 26.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $40 million)

      Paul Richardson turns only 26 in April. He has lots of potential – he caught 44 passes for 703 yards and six touchdowns in 2017 – and it’ll be interesting to see what he can do in an explosive offense.

    Washington Redskins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Kirk Cousins, QB, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Signed with Vikings (3 years)

      Kirk Cousins is very difficult to grade. Sometimes he plays like a 4.5-star player; over the past three years, he has thrown for 81 touchdowns and just 36 interceptions, completing 67 percent of his passes in the process. However, Cousins occasionally performs like a street free agent, melting down at the worst times possible. Still, Cousins has consistently been around 12th in the NFL Quarterback Power Rankings, so the Redskins need to pay him, as he’s their best quarterback since Joe Theismann.

    2. Mason Foster, ILB, Redskins. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Redskins (2 years, $7 million)

      Mason Foster was excellent in 2016, but saw a decline in play this past season because he was playing through a torn labrum. The Redskins finally sat him down at the end of October. Foster should be able to bounce back next season.

    3. Trent Murphy, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 27.
      Signed with Bills

      The Redskins really missed Trent Murphy this past season. He recorded nine sacks in 2016, but missed all of 2017 because of a torn ACL and MCL. He suffered the injury in August, so he should be ready for 2018 training camp.

    4. Junior Galette, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 30.
      Junior Galette missed two consecutive seasons with Achilles injuries, but had a solid return in 2017 with a few sacks. Perhaps he’ll be better in his second year back from injury, but he’ll be turning 30 in March. He also comes with some off-the-field issues.

    5. Terrelle Pryor, WR, Redskins. Age: 29.
      Signed with Jets

      What happened to Terrelle Pryor? He eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier in Cleveland despite playing with poor quarterbacks. Charles Woodson predicted Pryor would reach 1,800 yards, but Pryor couldn’t even get to 300 in Washington, failing to establish any sort of chemistry with Terrelle Pryor. Perhaps he can rebound elsewhere next year.

    6. Ty Nsekhe (RFA), OT, Redskins. Age: 32.
      Tendered by Redskins (2nd round)

      Ty Nsekhe has done a good job as Washington’s swing tackle over the past couple of seasons, playing well whenever Trent Williams went down. Unfortunately, he turns 33 in October.

    7. Bashaud Breeland, CB, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Bashaud Breeland has been incredibly inconsistent throughout his career thus far. He was atrocious in 2016, but while his tackling still was poor this past season, his coverage skills were better.

    8. Spencer Long, C, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Jets
    9. Will Compton, ILB, Redskins. Age: 28. — Signed with Titans
    10. Ryan Grant, WR, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Colts
    11. Shawn Lauvao, G, Redskins. Age: 30. — Re-signed with Redskins
    12. Niles Paul, TE, Redskins. Age: 29. — Signed with Jaguars
    13. Terrell McClain, DT, Redskins. Age: 30.
    14. DeAngelo Hall, S, Redskins. Age: 34.
    15. Dustin Hopkins, K, Redskins. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Redskins
    16. Kapri Bibbs (RFA), RB, Redskins. Age: 25.
    17. Tony Bergstrom, G/C, Redskins. Age: 32.
    18. Chris Carter, OLB, Redskins. Age: 29.
    19. Brian Quick, WR, Redskins. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Redskins
    20. Orlando Franklin, G, Redskins. Age: 30.

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