Washington Redskins Season Preview
NFC East - Washington Redskins
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Round 1a – Quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, Ohio State
Round 1b – Defensive end, Montez Sweat, Mississippi State
Round 3 – Wide receiver, Terry McLaurin, Ohio State
Top pick Dwayne Haskins may yet prove to be the best quarterback of the 2019 draft class and his selection at No.15 was a no-brainer for a team desperate for a long-term answer under center. The fact that the New York Giants opted for Daniel Jones over Haskins at No.6 should give the young quarterback who grew up a Giants fan all the motivation he needs when the two sides face each other.
Having left Ohio State after just one season as a starter there can be little question that Haskins still has a lot to learn, but there is a lot to like about the player who led his team to a Rose Bowl victory and shattered the school’s single season passing records for yards and touchdowns. Blessed with a strong arm and a quick release, Haskins has many of the qualities NFL teams look for in a franchise quarterback, but perhaps lack some of the athleticism of some of the younger options around the league. Deep ball accuracy, an ability to effectively progress through his reads and issues handling pressure are skills that Haskins still needs to develop, but this is hardly a surprise for such an inexperienced quarterback.
In the right offense that is tailored to his strengths as a short to mid-range passer, the former Ohio State passer should thrive as he learns the nuances of the position. Haskins would be best served sitting behind Case Keenum and learning from the veteran as a rookie.
Washington sent their second-round picks in 2019 and 2020 to the Indianapolis Colts to be able to move back into round one to selected Montez Sweat with the 26th overall pick and the former Mississippi State product should see significant paying time as a rookie on passing downs. Questions about a potential heart issue that were later dismissed as a misdiagnosis caused Sweat to drop on draft day, with many experts initially projecting him as a top 10 pick.
Measuring 6-foot-6 and weight around 260 pounds, Sweat has amazing speed and quickness for a man his size and should prove to be a physical mismatch for a lot of offensive tackles once he has adjusted to life in the NFL. Effective as both a run defender and a pass rusher, Sweat will need to add more power to his ample frame, but appears to have enough of the traits required to suggest he could become a dominant edge rusher over time.
Terry McLaurin reunites with his college quarterback in Washington and the move should help the transition of both players. A 4.35 40-yard dash at the combine is backed up by an average of 20-yards a catch during his Senior season at Ohio State and the young prospect should prove to be a viable deep threat in the NFL. While scouts praise his route running, separation skills and strong hands, there are concerns about ability to make contested catches and high-point the ball. More of a body catcher than a hands catcher. McLaurin should see extensive playing time on special teams as a rookie as well as on situational passing downs.
It was a busy offseason for Washington with a number of notable changes on both sides of the ball. Former New York Giants safety Landon Collins was the most significant addition on defense and he should instantly held improve a secondary that struggled in 2018. He will replace the departed Ha Ha Clinton-Dix who signed the Green Bay Packers.
Former Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum should prove to be a valuable mentor for Haskins and is expected to start until the rookie is ready to play or the Redskins are mathematically eliminated from the playoffs. Adrian Peterson returns to provide insurance for second-year running back Derrius Guice, while Brian Quick will do his best to make up for the loss of promising slot receiver Jamison Crowder who signed with the New York Jets. Offensive linemen Donald Penn and Erik Flowers arrive from the Oakland Raiders and Giants respectively to help strengthen a unit that lost Jonathan Cooper and Ty Nsekhe.
Losing edge rusher Preston Smith to the Packers was a big blow that was not help by the departure of Pernell McPhee to the Baltimore Ravens. The signing of linebacker Jon Bostic after he was released by the Pittsburgh Steelers was an underrated acquisition and he should help compensate for the loss of Zach Brown to the Philadelphia Eagles. Washington also seems to believe cornerback Dominique Rogers-Cromartie still has something left to offer at 33-years-old, coming over from the Raiders on a one-year deal.
On a team with few offensive stars, tackle Trent Williams is one if the league’s elites at his position and is ably supported by guard Brandon Scherff. Collins instantly becomes one of the team’s best players on defense, with vocal cornerback Josh Norman perhaps living more on his reputation of the past than his most recent efforts when discussing the top cover corners in the NFL.
A young defense line led by Jon Allen has the potential to become one of the more highly rated groups that includes impressive 2018 top pick Da’Ron Payne. If tight end Jordan Reed could stay healthy, he would be a perennial Pro Bowl nominee, but that is a big if for a player who has been beset by injures since arriving in the NFL.
It would be fair to say that expectations are extremely low for the Redskins in 2019, with the team predicted to finish last in the division with less than six victories. Their wins total could well end up being even lower than that if the experts projecting Washington to finish with the worst record in the NFL are to be believed.
Behind a strong defensive line and an improved secondary, the Redskins should be able to keep their games close, but a lack of weapons on offense might mean the team struggles to capitalize on the efforts of their defense. Should Guice be fully recovered from an ACL injury suffered last year, Washington should be able to run the ball effectively behind a good offensive line, but the talent at wide receiver and at quarterback will not scare many teams.
Anther poor season should finally end the reign of Jay Gruden, a move that is long overdue. The Redskins have not made the playoffs since 2015 or won a post-season game since 2005. Fans should expect more of the same in 2019.
Oddschecker spokesperson Pete Watt: “After the Alex Smith injury, Washington have gone hell-for-leather to acquire signal-callers, with Case Keenum arriving from Denver and Dwayne Haskins from the draft.
“It looks set to be another unpredictable year for the Redskins, who have rarely had their starting offensive line fit. If they can remain healthy, then there’s every chance this team could exceed the win line.”
Based on the 2018 record of their opponents, Washington will theoretically have the easiest schedule in the league heading into 2019. They will face teams that accumulated a combined record of 119-135-2 last season for a winning percentage of .469.
Despite having the softest schedule in the NFL, the Redskins still face plenty teams who have made improvements since 2018 and there are few games that fans can earmark as obvious wins for Washington. Weeks 9 through 13 might represent a group of opponents the Redskins should be able to compete with on paper, but even then, teams like the Carolina Panthers and the Buffalo Bills on the road will be challenging.