From the guys in the trenches to those of skill positions, every NFL team is composed of multiple positional groups. If one begins to struggles, the rest of the franchise can falter. Breaking Burgundy is ready to take you through each unit battle analyzing those expected to make the team and those fighting for a starting role. Moving to the latter part of Scot McCloughan's inside-out theory, we now look at the wide outs and tight ends Kirk Cousins will be throwing to this season.
With Jackson and Garcon both entering contract years, some considered one could be an early cap casualty after drafting Doctson but that is clearly not the case by the way Jay Gruden has spoken highly of both veteran wide outs. Crowder and Doctson, despite his Achilles injury, are safe because they are McCloughan's own picks. Coming off of a franchise record breaking performance and five-year contract extension, Reed is the biggest lock of all. Washington made a sizable investment in Davis and even though Paul is coming off a season-ending injury, he is the team's only fullback option from those expected to make the team.
Grant and Ross are likely to make the roster, but it would not be the biggest surprise in the world if they missed out because they contribute sparsely on offense. Unless roster spots are desperately needed elsewhere, Grant and Ross' special teams effort should keep them over the hump. Paulsen is a constant force in the running game as a lumberjack blocker, but Washington probably will need an extra roster spot on the defensive side of the ball. Carrier is in a similar position as Paulsen, but his release could be delayed as he is a PUP list candidate after suffering an ACL injury last December.
Work to do: Maurice Harris, Reggie Diggs, Valdez Showers, Jarvis Turner, Dez Stewart, Kendal Thompson, T.J. Thorpe, Marcel Jensen
Harris is the most likely candidate to push Grant or Ross off the roster, but it is more likely that the Redskins will try and stash him on the practice squad. Diggs through Thorpe are fighting to make it past the first round of cuts and possibly audition for other team's practice squads. Jensen is a big body tight end that has history with Jay Gruden, which should get him a practice squad offer from Washington.
Biggest concern: Redskins receivers need to stay healthy to keep pressure on defenses.
Between Jackson missing half the year and Paul failing to get on the field last season as well as Crowder and Doctson currently missing practice time, there are question around half of Washington's receiving threats. Additionally, before last season there were major concerns about Reed's ability to stay on the field. Injury history is probably one of the main reasons the Redskins targeted Davis in free agency. The former Maryland Terrapins has played in every game except for three over the past eight years.
The Redskins biggest threat against defenses is when they line up five wide with Jackson, Garcon, Crowder, Doctson, and Reed or some other impressive lineup. Defenses can chose to double Jackson and Reed but the rest are good enough to beat one-on-one coverage. Of course the effectiveness dwindles when one or more of the receivers are unavailable due to injury. Best case scenario, the Redskins have six or seven receiving threats that are capable of winning in man coverage which will help Kirk Cousins shred opposing defenses.
Breaking Burgundy's Week 1 Projection: Jackson, Garcon, Crowder, and Reed; Doctson, Grant, Ross, Davis, and Paul.
Washington will be returning many of their receiving threats from a year ago with improvements from previous weak links. Doctson replaces a disappointing Andre Roberts, Davis provides explosive depth, and Paul returns healthy after big expectations prior to last season. Unless the Redskins can only afford to carry five wide receivers, possibly if they wish to keep Paulsen on the roster, it is probable that the above projection will be the group of pass catchers you see teeing off against a weak Steelers secondary on September 12.
Additional Unit Battles
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