2019 NFL Offseason: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (Last Year: 7-9)

2019 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
QB Case Keenum, OT Ereck Flowers, CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, S Landon Collins.
Early Draft Picks:
QB Dwayne Haskins, DE/OLB Montez Sweat, WR Terry McLaurin, RB Bryce Love, G Wes Martin, C/G Ross Pierschbacher. Redskins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
WR Jamison Crowder, WR Maurice Harris, OT Ty Nsekhe, DE/DT Stacy McGee, DE/OLB Preston Smith, LB Zach Brown, LB Mason Foster, S Ha Ha Clinton-Dix.

2019 Washington Redskins Offense:
It’s easy to forget that the Redskins were 6-2 at one point last year. They looked like the favorites to win the NFC East when they entered their ninth game of the season. Everything quickly changed in that contest, however, as Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury that could prevent him from ever playing again. The Redskins won just one more game after that, as they endured some horrific quarterbacking from Colt McCoy.

The Redskins signed Case Keenum to be an upgrade over McCoy, but he was not a great option to replace Smith. Keenum led the Vikings to the NFC Championship, but played with two stellar receivers, which the Redskins don’t have. Keenum was not a viable option if the Redskins wanted to compete for the division in the present and future, so it wasn’t a surprise that the front office used the 15th-overall pick on Dwayne Haskins. Contrary to popular belief, Haskins is not a scrambling quarterback. He has some great passing ability, but is raw. He’s probably not ready to start, but could be given the nod anyway if he looks good in the preseason.

It wouldn’t hurt to have Haskins start right away because he’ll be protected well, with one caveat. Washington has three outstanding offensive linemen: tackles Trent Williams and Morgan Moses, and guard Brandon Scherff. As with Alex Smith, all three players missed action in 2018, helping to cause the collapse from the promising 6-2 start. Moses, in particular, has had trouble staying healthy, but if he remains injury-free, Haskins will have plenty of time to find his targets downfield. The caveat is that Williams has announced that he won’t report to the team. If Williams stays true to his word, Washington’s offensive line will take a massive hit.

If, however, Williams changes his mind, only left guard and center are problematic for Washington, as Ereck Flowers and Chase Roullier will likely be liabilities. Flowers is interesting, as the 25-year-old could benefit from moving inside after struggling on the edge. Robert Gallery had similar success doing so last decade.

As previously mentioned, the Redskins don’t have a pair of dynamic wide receivers. They don’t even have one. In fact, their pedestrian wideout group lost its best member, Jamison Crowder, to free agency. Washington will move forward with third-round rookie Terry McLaurin and overpriced Paul Richardson at the position. Trey Quinn will likely see a large number of targets in the slot. At tight end, Jordan Reed returns, but it’s unknown how many games the very injury-prone tight end will be able to play.

While receiver is a major weakness, the Redskins’ offensive strength is at running back. Derrius Guice, chosen in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, looked like he was going to have a shot at winning Offensive Rookie of the Year when he had some brilliant performances in the preseason. He then tore his ACL, however, prompting the Redskins to sign Adrian Peterson. Though Peterson struggled in 2017, he rebounded well this past season. He re-signed with the team, so he and Guice should form a great duo in the backfield.

2019 Washington Redskins Defense:
While the Redskins will endure some growing pains offensively 2018, the defense will be able to get plenty of stops to give Dwayne Haskins more opportunities. Washington figures to have one of the best defenses in the NFL this upcoming season.

The Redskins have a tremendous defensive line. In fact, it has its own nickname, “the Alabama Wall.” Two of Washington’s defensive linemen played for the Crimson Tide, Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne. Both are young and have immense upside. Both are stout versus the run and can also generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks, especially Allen. The third member of the group, Matt Ioannidis – he went to Temple – is better at creating havoc in the backfield to rattle opposing passers.

Washington can also get after the quarterback on the edge, thanks to Ryan Kerrigan. The long-time Redskin turns 31 in August, but he’s coming off a 13-sack campaign. He should be able to play on a very high level for another year or two. Kerrigan will start across from first-round rookie Montez Sweat. The No. 26 overall pick was projected as a top-10 prospect, but fell because he was flagged for a troubling heart condition at the combine. However, it was later revealed that Sweat may have been misdiagnosed, so there might not be any reason to worry about his long-term health. If so, Kerrigan and Sweat figure to be a dominant pair as far as rushing the passer is concerned.

The Redskins’ pass-rushing prowess figures to greatly aid the secondary. Top cornerback Josh Norman didn’t play up to his ability last year, but should be able to rebound under the circumstances. He figures to start across from Quinton Dunbar, who was limited to seven games last year because of injuries. Washington also signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who retired midway through the 2018 campaign. Rodgers-Cromartie has obviously changed his mind, but at 33, he may not have anything remaining in the tank.

While Rodgers-Cromartie is a big name because of his previous success, the most prominent player the Redskins added in free agency is Landon Collins. The dynamic play-maker will provide a huge upgrade in the secondary. He’ll start next to Montae Nicholson, who will need to rebound from a down 2018 campaign.

Rounding out the defense, the Redskins received some terrible news in the offseason. They were set to enter the year with Reuben Foster as one of their top linebackers, but he suffered a season-ending injury in OTAs. With Foster out, the Redskins will have to use Jon Bostic, Josh Harvey-Clemons and Shaun Dion Hamilton in some sort of combination, which is not ideal.

2019 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Redskins have an awesome fan base, which makes it strange that they are just 35-47 as hosts the past nine years.

Punter Tress Way ranked 28th in net average in 2017, but improved to ninth last year. He did a great job of pinning teams inside the 20.

Dustin Hopkins was 26-of-29 on field goals last year, which includes 4-of-5 from 50-plus.

Washington’s special teams were otherwise poor in 2018, as it got beaten on both punt and kickoff returns.

Washington has a tough start to its schedule, with games against the Eagles, Bears and Patriots in the first five weeks of the season. Things get much easier after that.

2019 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.

2019 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2019 Washington Redskins Analysis: The Redskins’ 2019 outlook depends heavily on Dwayne Haskins’ development and Trent Williams’ decision. If Haskins plays well for a rookie right away, and if Williams ends his holdout, Washington will be able to compete for a playoff spot because of its outstanding offensive line, running game and defense. However, Haskins could struggle because of his inexperience and Williams’ absence. If so, the Redskins could finish with five or fewer wins.

Projection: 4-12 (4th in NFC East)

2018 Projection: 10-6. 2018 Actual Result: 7-9.
2017 Projection: 8-8. 2017 Actual Result: 7-9.
2016 Projection: 9-7. 2016 Actual Result: 8-7-1.

NFL Draft Team Grade: A Grade

Goals Entering the 2019 NFL Draft: The Redskins are in a very difficult position because they have such a big need for a quarterback, yet this is the wrong time to have a huge void at the position, given how bad those prospects are in the 2019 NFL Draft class. They would be better off tanking for Tua Tagovailoa, Jake Fromm or Justin Herbert in the 2020 NFL Draft. As for this draft, they need to find some new receivers, interior offensive linemen and cornerbacks.

2019 NFL Draft Accomplishments: As I wrote in the goals section, the Redskins would’ve been better off waiting for a quarterback in the 2020 class, but they at least obtained some good value with Dwayne Haskins at No. 15 overall. There were reports suggesting that Washington would trade up for Haskins, which would’ve been disastrous. I don’t really have an issue with the Redskins taking Haskins at No. 15, as he was once viewed as the top quarterback in this class before Kyler Murray measured in at 5-10 instead of the speculated 5-8.

Washington’s best move was trading up into the end of the first round for Montez Sweat. The dynamic edge rusher probably would’ve been a top-10 pick if he weren’t misdiagnosed with a heart condition. Sweat was reportedly cleared the day of the draft, so I thought it was possible that he would be chosen much earlier than No. 26. He wasn’t, and the Redskins snatched a major steal as a result.

The rest of Washington’s haul was impressive, as the team filled needs with good values. The two picks I questioned were Bryce Love (adding an injury-prone running back to a roster with an injured running back didn’t make much sense) and Wes Martin (a complete unknown), but they weren’t enough to spoil what happened to be one of the best draft classes in the NFL this year.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

15. Dwayne Haskins, QB, Ohio State A- Grade
I’ve said all along that the Redskins trading up for Dwayne Haskins would be insanely stupid because there would be a good chance that he’d fall to the Redskins at No. 15 overall. Unlike the Giants, who needlessly reached for Daniel Jones, Washington smartly stood pat at its pick and landed Haskins after all. I’m not a huge fan of Haskins as a prospect, but I think he could end up being a solid quarterback in the NFL. At the very least, the Redskins had to make this move because they didn’t have anything at quarterback beyond the pedestrian Case Keenum. Credit them for not panicking as all of the bogus rumors surfaced.

26. Montez Sweat, DE/OLB, Mississippi State A+ Grade
I thought the Redskins would trade two second-round picks to move up to this spot for a receiver. They just drafted a quarterback, yet have nothing at wideout. That would’ve made more sense as far as the position is concerned. However, Montez Sweat is a far better player than any receiver on the board. The Redskins lost Preston Smith in free agency, so they needed a potent edge rusher. Sweat is even more than that. Had it not been for a potentially misdiagnosed heart condition, Sweat would’ve been a top-10 selection in this class. Given the misdiagnosis, there doesn’t appear to be any concern with Sweat, making this an absolute steal. Despite the Redskins trading a 2020 second-round choice, this is one of the best picks of the 2019 NFL Draft thus far.

76. Terry McLaurin, WR, Ohio State A- Grade
The Redskins were absolutely desperate for receiving help, so this pick makes a ton of sense from a needs perspective, and also as far as the range is concerned; Terry McLaurin was expected to be a third-round pick. McLaurin, who had a great Senior Bowl performance, has great character traits and will be able to be a big-time contributor on special teams at the very least.

111. Bryce Love, RB, Stanford B- Grade
Let this be a cautionary tale for any possible first-round prospect who decides to return to school. Bryce Love could’ve snuck into the opening frame last year. Now, he dropped to the fourth round because of his massive injury concerns. Love is a terrific talent, but I’m not convinced he can stay healthy. The upside is definitely there, but he has an extremely low floor as well.

131. Wes Martin, G, Indiana D- Grade
Cue the meme, “Who the fook is that guy?” I don’t have Wes Martin listed in my top 500, and he’s never appeared in a single mock draft of mine. I guess he potentially addresses a need, but this is a major reach for sure.

153. Ross Pierschbacher, C/G, Alabama B- Grade
Ross Pierschbacher isn’t athletic, and he needs to get stronger, but he’s a smart offensive lineman who played guard and center very well at Alabama. He figures to be a solid, versatile backup blocker in the NFL.

173. Cole Holcomb, LB, North Carolina B+ Grade
Cole Holcomb has immense upside, so I like this pick. Holcomb tested extremely well in pre-draft workouts, putting himself on the map. He needs to be developed, as his instincts and tackling aren’t ideal, but he certainly has potential.

206. Kevin Harmon, WR, N.C. State A+ Grade
The Redskins have a huge need at receiver, so picking Kelvin Harmon makes sense – in the second round! Harmon was a second-round prospect, and I had him mocked No. 61 overall. He’s not an explosive player, but he’s a big, productive receiver who has the potential to become a solid No. 2 possession receiver in the NFL. Harmon is an absolute steal here.

227. Jimmy Moreland, CB, James Madison A Grade
This is another steal in the seventh round, as I thought Jimmy Moreland would be chosen very early on Day 3. Moreland is shorter than 5-10, but projects as a tough slot receiver with his terrific ball skills. I love the value Washington is getting with Moreland at this juncture.

253. Jordan Brailford, DE/OLB, Oklahoma State A Grade
I mocked Jordan Brailford in the fourth round, but he slipped to the very end of the draft because of injury concerns. Brailford has a very lengthy injury history, so I can’t say I’m surprised he fell so far. However, Brailford was productive in 2018 and tested very well at the combine, so there’s definitely some good upside. This is the sort of pick teams should make in the seventh round.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

Season Summary:
The Redskins were widely criticized for not giving Kirk Cousins the money he was asking for. It turns out that team president Bruce Allen knew exactly what he was doing. The Redskins were sitting at 6-2 at one point. However, their season was derailed once Alex Smith was lost for the year with a gruesome injury.

Offseason Moves:
  • Redskins sign OT Ereck Flowers
  • Redskins sign CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie
  • Redskins cut LB Zach Brown
  • Redskins cut DE/DT Stacy McGee
  • Redskins sign S Landon Collins
  • Redskins acquire QB Case Keenum from Broncos

    Team Needs:
    1. Quarterback: Alex Smith’s career might be over. Even if he’ll be able to play again, it’s unlikely he’ll be ready for the beginning of the 2019 season. The Redskins need to come up with a new plan at quarterback. Maybe they’ll target Teddy Bridgewater. Traded for Case Keenum

    2. Wide Receiver: The Redskins haven’t possessed a potent No. 1 receiver for quite some time. Perhaps that’ll finally change this year. They could select one early in the 2019 NFL Draft.

    3. Center: Washington will have to give its new quarterback a better center to take snaps from. This has been a problem area for the team for quite some time.

    4. Guard: The Redskins also have a big weakness up front at left guard. That position sorely needs to be addressed as well for the new quarterback.

    5. Two Safeties: The greatest need the Redskins have on defense is at safety. They cut D.J. Swearinger for locker room issues, but they now have a hole at position. There will be two holes if Ha Ha Clinton-Dix departs via free agency. Signed Landon Collins

    6. Cornerback: It’ll be interesting to see if the Redskins move on from Josh Norman in the wake of his comments about the organization and fans this year. If so, the front office will be searching for a new cornerback. Signed Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie

    7. Offensive Tackle Depth: A new backup swing tackle will be needed if Ty Nsekhe leaves via free agency.

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2019 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Landon Collins, S, Giants. Age: 25.
      Signed with Redskins (6 years, $84 million; $45 million guaranteed)

      Landon Collins is a terrific play-making safety. The Giants will desperately want to retain him, as he’s just 25 and can still make improvements to his game. Collins missed December because of a shoulder injury that required surgery, but he should be 100 percent by September.

    2. Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, CB, None. Age: 33. — Signed with Redskins

    Washington Redskins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, S, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Bears (1 year)

      Ha Ha Clinton-Dix was inexplicably traded from the Packers to the Redskins during the season. Clinton-Dix improved Washington’s secondary. He’s an excellent cover safety. He might miss some tackles, but he’s a defensive play-maker.

    2. Preston Smith, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Packers (4 years, $52 million)

      Jay Gruden sung Preston Smith’s praises in training camp, and Smith delivered. He accumulated half the sacks from 2017, seeing the number drop from eight to four, but he generated lots of pressures and stopped the run very well. Just 26, Smith should continue to improve.

    3. Zach Brown, ILB, Redskins. Age: 29.
      Signed with Eagles

      Zach Brown is coming off a fantastic 2018 campaign, so it’s shocking that the Redskins cut him to save $5.75 million in cap space. Brown should continue to play on a high level in the near future, but the one downside with him is that he’ll turn 30 soon.

    4. Adrian Peterson, RB, Redskins. Age: 34.
      Re-signed with Redskins (2 years)

      Adrian Peterson defied the skeptics last season and rushed for 1,000 yards in 2018 despite running behind an injury-ravaged offensive line. I imagine Peterson will skip training camp and sign with a team whose starting running back suffers an injury.

    5. Jamison Crowder, WR, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Jets

      Jamison Crowder has been Washington’s best receiver for some time, which isn’t really saying much. Unfortunately, Crowder has had trouble staying healthy over the past couple of years.

    6. Ty Nsekhe, OT, Redskins. Age: 33.
      Signed with Bills (2 years, $14.5 million; $7.7 million guaranteed

      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 34 in October.

    7. Rob Kelley (RFA), RB, Redskins. Age: 26.
    8. Maurice Harris (RFA), WR, Redskins. Age: 26. — Signed with Patriots
    9. Josh Johnson, QB, Redskins. Age: 33.
    10. Jonathan Cooper, G, Redskins. Age: 29.
    11. Tony Bergstrom, G/C, Redskins. Age: 33.
    12. Stacy McGee, DT, Redskins. Age: 29.
    13. Marquis Flowers, ILB, Redskins. Age: 27.
    14. Zac Kerin, C, Redskins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Redskins
    15. Byron Marshall (RFA), RB, Redskins. Age: 25.
    16. Tyler Catalina (RFA), OT, Redskins. Age: 26.
    17. Arie Kouandjio, OT, Redskins. Age: 27.
    18. Zach Vigil, ILB, Redskins. Age: 28.
    19. Marcus Smith, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 27.
    20. Harlan Miller (RFA), CB, Redskins. Age: 26.
    21. Austin Howard, OT, Redskins. Age: 32.
    22. Mark Sanchez, QB, Redskins. Age: 32.

    NFL Free Agent Tracker:
    QB | RB | FB | WR | TE | OT | G | C | DE | DT | OLB | ILB | CB | S | K/P | FA Grades | FA Rumors

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