Projection time and not just about the Redskins' 53-man roster. This new series on Breaking Burgundy tackles the question of the best and worst units. So far we've ranked...
Unit #2: The wide receivers
What to watch for: It has to be what’s taking place in the slot. On the outside, you know what you’ll get out of DeSean Jackson (a lot of speed and a lot of deep balls) and Garçon (a lot of yards after the catch and a lot of tough, contested grabs). But who will play in the slot is still a bit of a mystery: Roberts is the starter as of now, but early reports out of training camp say that Crowder looks exceptional. Crowder looks like he’s already taken one of Roberts’ jobs (at punt returner), and if he posts a strong preseason, he may end up taking another spot from #12 as well.
Why the wide receivers land at #2: This is a really sweet group of pass catchers, and I think people tend to lose sight of that fact because of all the attention paid to the quarterback position. Jackson is still the premier deep threat in football, and Garçon is about as good as it gets for a No. 2 receiver. After that, there’s Crowder and Grant, two young wideouts who are desperate for a chance to prove what they can do on the gridiron, and Spencer, who will help improve Washington’s special teams. If – and it’s obviously a big if – but if the situation under center is stabilized, these receivers have the potential to really give opposing secondaries a lot of problems.
Unit #1: The defensive line
What to watch for: It won’t be hard to keep an eye on this one: Terrance Knighton’s impact. It may not be felt on the stat sheet, but the space eater’s presence should not only help his fellow lineman, but the linebackers behind him as well. The Redskins haven’t had a player of Knighton’s caliber in the middle of their defense for a long time, and the defensive ends, edge linebackers and inside linebackers will all benefit from the attention he gets.
Why the defensive line lands at #1:They’re absolutely stacked. Scot McCloughan made upgrading the D-line a priority in his first offseason, and he certainly succeeded. Paea is fresh off a career year, Jean Francois is a solid rotational player, and Knighton is an absolute bargain. Jason Hatcher, last season’s big free agent signee, is still on the line, too, as is Chris Baker, who should fit in much better in Joe Barry’s scheme than he did under “he who shall not be named.” The group is deep, and they are skilled. Good luck to the offensive lines tasked with stopping them.