I have no idea what the football team from Washington D.C. is doing, and I'm not sure they do either.
It was an offseason of extremes for Washington, as they went out and spent big top of the market money in some places while penny pinching in others, with no real clear indication of what they are trying to build.
It starts with the quarterback, where there are more questions than answers right now. The overall depth of the position is pretty solid, especially considering that the guy they had just signed to a pretty big extension last offseason in Alex Smith might never play football again.
Right now the group includes rookie first round pick Dwayne Haskins and veterans Colt McCoy and Case Keenum. Haskins is obviously the guy they want to win this battle because he is the future of the franchise, but they have two solid options should Haskins fail to step up. McCoy knows the offense and played well last season after Smith went down. Keenum is some time removed from having one hell of a season in Minnesota and will look to bounce back after a down year in Denver. It's not a group you’re going to take to the Super Bowl, but they should win some games.
Running back for Washington is a position of strength. They get Derrius Guice back after he was injured during camp last season, and I expect him to win the starting job. Behind him they have the reliable pass catcher Chris Thompson, the vet Adrian Peterson, and one of the young guys of Samaje Perine, Bryce Love, or Byron Marshall. All three are NFL talents, a good problem to have if you’re Washington.
The receivers are a different story. This unit might be the worst in the league, seeing as the best option is their most recent 3rd round pick, Terry McLaurin. Josh Doctson can safely be labeled as a bust at this point, and Paul Richardson is simply unreliable. This was a position that the team really needed to make an investment in, especially as they’re bringing in a young QB, and they failed to do so.
The tight end group is headlined by the talented Jordan Reed. He has battled injury issues for his entire career, but when he plays, he's one of the game’s best pass-catching tight ends. They also have Vernon Davis, who is old, but still showed flashes of his elite play last season.
The O-line will be anchored by tackles Brandon Scherff and (maybe) Trent Williams. The interior is where it gets questionable. The team brought in Ereck Flowers in the hopes that he could win a spot along the line, but the reports from camp are that he has looked pretty bad. There's certainly some talent on the offensive side of the ball in Washington, but this group will be mediocre overall.
The defense is a bit of a different story. The team drafted edge rusher Montez Sweat with the 26th pick and will pair him with Ryan Kerrigan to form a pretty solid pass rushing duo. Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis will play inside along the line.
The linebacking group took a hit when Reuben Foster tore his ACL in spring practices. They were counting on him to be an impact starter, and after cutting Mason Foster, the team looks particularly weak at linebacker. They brought in Jon Bostic, who is a better contributor on special teams but will be expected to step up and make plays for the defense. Shaun Dion Hamilton is the team’s best hope at the position, as they look for him to become a reliable starter in year two, especially with the absence of Reuben Foster.
The secondary should be a solid group for Washington, but they are a bit top-heavy at both positions. At corner, Quinton Dunbar and Josh Norman can be penciled in as the starters, barring injury. Might Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie force his way into some playing time? Or will they be reliant on Greg Stroman and/or Jimmy Moreland to contribute? Either way, they should get solid play from the corner position.
At safety, the team went out and spent BIG money on free agent Landon Collins. He is worth every penny, but I don’t really understand what Washington is going for here.
They had just let Pro Bowl safety D.J. Swearinger go the season prior and they let trade deadline acquisition Ha Ha Clinton-Dix walk in the offseason. Keeping both would have cost them less than what they spent on Collins, and they would have had both safety positions secured. Montae Nicholson is the best bet to start to start the season, but it really could also be Deshazor Everett or Troy Apke.
Either way, Collins will be the best safety on this roster by a wide margin. They had to get someone at safety, I just don't think they needed to pay top of market money for one, especially since they likely won't be competing for much this year.
Offseason Grade: C+ | Predicted NFC East Finish: 3
Washington gets a C+ because they had a very solid draft. Haskins at number 15 and Sweat at 26 alone is enough. Getting the explosive Bryce Love in the fourth was another very solid move. And bringing in Keenum to challenge Haskins and McCoy was yet another good move.
But they failed to bring in any true receiving talent to help aid their young QB while they let a lot of talent walk out the door. Outside of safety, they didn't do a whole lot to replace those players. They will be better than the Giants, but won't be in the hunt for much come playoff time.
Graduate of Loyola Maryland and die hard Boston sports fan. "I rub it in pretty good when I win" - Tom Brady