Earlier on this week, the guys over at Ball Hogs Radio asked a few Redskins bloggers to rank their top 10 current Redskins. Kevin and I were asked, along with some of the best Redskins guys on twitter. They averaged out the results of our lists and came up with an overall top 10 ranking. It's an interesting list, and its definitely worth checking out everyone's list as well as the combined one. But I thought I'd give an explanation for my list and open up the conversation to you guys.
Well, duh... This one is as obvious as it gets.
Another no-brainer. Williams has established himself as one of the top left tackles in the league. He's athletic, can run block, pass protect and get out in space to block screens and misdirection plays. He's protecting RGIII's blindside and is only going to get better.
This one was where the debate started. The Ball Hogs guys suggested on their podcast that maybe this was a little high for Morris because of how much he was helped by Griffin and the scheme. But when you look at just his running ability, he deserves this spot. He has incredible vision, lower body strength and balance that make him a perfect back in a zone scheme. In the one game without RGIII, the Browns focused on purely stopping the run, not respecting Kirk Cousins ability as a passer. Even with the focus purely on Morris, he still managed 87 yards and two touchdowns. If you look at his performance against the Seahawks, when Griffin was clearly hurting. Morris took 16 carries for 80 yards at five yards a carry. Did the scheme help him? Sure. But he definitely deserves every bit of credit for his success.
All you have to do is look at the win-loss record with him in the line up to see just how important he is to this team. The Redskins were 9-1 with him in the line up and 1-5 without him. That's much too one-sided to be a coincidence. Having Garcon on the field opens up the defense and forces them to respect the pass as well as the run. He's a guy that is equally adept at catching a pass 20 yards down the field as he his to catching a screen and taking it 20 yards. His speed combined with his yards after the catch ability force defenses to account for him on every play, which again, takes attention away from the run game.
I was the only guy to have Bowen on my top 10 list, let alone this high. When I studied film on Barry Cofield recently, Bowen was always catching my eye and grabbing my attention. He sometimes takes the double teams on to allow Cofield a one on one match up. Those two work extremely well together, but I think Bowen is more stout against the run. He's also versatile enough to move inside and play 3-technique in nickle situations or line up on the outside as traditional 4-3 defensive end and take on tackles. I like his overall game and think he was one of Mike Shanahan's best free agent acquisitions.
It was a toss up between Kerrigan, Orakpo and Cofield here. Overall I personally felt Kerrigan has a more well-rounded game than the other two. He's steadily improving year on year despite missing his rushing partner Orakpo for most of the season. He plays is gap assignment well in the run game, does a good job rushing the passer and never gives up on a play. He'd quite often chase down runners from behind or flush quarterbacks out of the pocket due to his pressure. He's also improving at dropping into coverage and is always looking to bat down passes at the line of scrimmage. I think all these little things add up to make him a better overall player than Orakpo and Cofield.
7. Brian Orakpo
Orakpo is in this position because of the potential he has. The injuries have held him back significantly, but if he's able to fulfill his potential, he could be the best player on this defense. His run defense has improved, but still has room to go. While his sack numbers have gone down since his rookie year, the amount of pressure he's put on quarterbacks alongside Ryan Kerrigan has gone up. He forces quarterbacks to rush their throws or scramble out of the pocket. He's still the best pass rusher on this team, and if he combined his athleticism with a little more variety of moves, he'll see his sack numbers in double digits this season.
8. Barry Cofield
I posted my film review of Cofield last week, so I'll keep this one short. He's very underrated as a player and a leader on the Redskins defense. He makes his presence felt most in passing situations, but is a solid run defender at the nose tackle position. 3-4 defenses are built around the nose tackle, so to have a guy you can trust to get solid production out of is very valuable.
His play finally started to drop somewhat last year. He struggled in coverage at times (although sometimes he couldn't do much to stop very accurate throws to bigger tight ends) and missed more tackles than you'd ever expect from London. But his leadership is second to none, and that is extremely important on this Redskins team. They lack another linebacker or safety that has the ability to read the whole field and call out adjustments based on what they see. While Cofield and Bowen provide veteran leadership up front, they can't see the whole field. Fletcher can. Combine that with the knowledge he's gained over the years and its like having your defensive coordinator out on the field. This defense would struggle without him, even if his play declined slightly last season.
10. Chris Chester
Chester is the Redskins second most consistent offensive lineman behind Williams. He runs the scheme perfectly and is able to get to the second level when the play calls for it. On a team that runs the ball as much as the Redskins do, offensive lineman become an important component of the offense. We talk a lot about how RGIII and the read-option has helped the offense, but it would be nothing without the offensive line picking up their blocks. As the second best offensive lineman, I feel he merits a place in the top 10.
So that's my top 10. Who would you guys pick in your top 10? Is there anyone willing to dethrone Griffin and Williams from their top two rankings?