Here's an excerpt of my review of the Redskins' offensive players:
1. Robert Griffin III (23 years old/6'2" tall/220 lbs.) College at Baylor, drafted 2nd overall in 2012 [2 years, $12.5 million remaining on his contract after this season]: He's the starter, he will be the starter, and any "reporters" bleating to the contrary are just regurgitating each other's inaccurate information or trying to get attention. He's a transcendent talent and one of the best players on the team in his second year, and, honestly, has played pretty well this year. Not great, but well enough that everyone would be perfectly happyChris with this notch in a sophomore quarterback's development coming out of a Big 12 spread offense if it weren't following up the greatest season a rookie QB has ever had, an ORotY award, a pro bowl berth, and the attention that comes with being DC's franchise QB and savior.
Griffin has things to work on: he's one of the worst pre-snap quarterbacks in the league, his mechanics sometimes falter as he tries to let his outstanding arm strength do the job that should be done by his footwork, and his mechanics on the run this season have been much worse than last season (whether that's a result of the injury, the knee brace, or just bad habits coming out as he's often running for his life, I don't know). Griffin is inconsistent on when he tries to trust his receivers' timing coming out of breaks and throw to where they should be be and when he tries to look around and find an open player, and is sometimes punished for both by drops, bad routes, or sacks. He's not unable to read a defense, but isn't as fast or sure of it as a great pocket quarterback, and has trouble picking up on pre-snap clues to what the D will do on the play à la Peyton Manning. He also, of course, needs to learn when to give up on a play and lay down for a sack or toss the ball away instead of trying to force things. These problems are all fixable, however, and not uncommon for a young player, and being as good as he is this early is still impressive. He's smart, incredibly hard-working, and unbelievably talented: there's no reason to think he won't improve. He is in his second year, coming off a major injury, and had no off-season to develop chemistry and work on timing. This entry should be longer than anyone else on the team's will be, for obvious reasons.
2. Kirk Cousins (25/6'3/209 lbs.) Michigan State, 3rd:24 in 2012 [2 years, $1.5m]: Cousins is hard-working, smart, and has college experience that is more applicable to the NFL level than Griffin. But he has his own problems and certainly isn't the talent that Griffin is. He is more of a Matt Flynn/Matt Cassel type. If he gets really lucky, his upside may be Matt Schaub. Any Matt, really. Adequate-but-unimpressive arm strength and athleticism, he is a good backup and I could see him being a solid game manager, but I would be surprised if he's ever a franchise QB for anyone (would be happy to be wrong here though, I like the guy). He will probably be back as the Redskins second string QB next year, but it will depend on how much interest teams have in the off-season. There are a lot of interesting prospects in this draft at the position, but if a team decides they want someone a little more veteran, the Redskins will certainly listen to offers. His value and trajectory will likely depend on the end to this season with Cousins supposedly getting the start this week and perhaps for the final two games of the season as well. Some people may be looking at how well he does to see if he might oust Griffin, but in actuality, the better he does, the more likely he is to be on another team next season.
3. Rex Grossman (33/6'1/225 lbs.) Florida, 2003 [Free agent]: Doesn't really matter. If Shanahan is still here, Grossman probably will be too. If he's fired, Grossman will be gone. He's here because the Shanahans like him and he's familiar with their scheme.
1. Alfred Morris (25/5'10/218 lbs.) FAU, 2012 [2 years, $1.3m]: Alfred Morris is overrated, and the Shanahan zone blocking scheme makes him look better than he is. That said, he's still a very good running back, and by all accounts one of the nicest people in existence. It's impossible not to root for the driver of the world's cheapest "Bentley". He sadly lacks the speed to make him a home run threat and isn't noteworthy as a receiver, but he is one of the most reliably powerful runners I've seen. He can be counted on to turn what should be a 1 or 2 yard loss into a 2 yard gain by fighting and always falling forward, which is incredibly valuable to a team and really changes the landscape of what the defense has to account for and what the offense has in its arsenal on following downs. It is also to that borderline-guarantee of positive yardage that Morris owes his 4.7 yards per carry, which just recently dropped from a league-leading 5.2. Despite his better production last year, I firmly believe that he has improved significantly this year, and has impressed me more as a runner with his decision-making and explosion. His ability, despite his size, to identify and slip into cracks in a zone is outstanding and he plants hard and makes powerful cuts. He will never be an elite runningback who can thrive in any scheme, but for what the Redskins run he is perfect (see: Arian Foster) and he could also do well in a power running scheme, though that would be a big change for the team and I have a hard time imagining it would be smart to try to make that transition after building the roster they have been for the past few years. Morris is the epitome of durable, reliable consistency and fits the scheme. Morris was named a pro bowl alternate (despite being more deserving than Frank Gore, who got a bid).
2. Roy Helu (25/5'11/215 lbs.) Nebraska [1 year, $760k]: Helu is a great compliment to Morris. He also has good vision befitting a back in this scheme, but his speed (4.40 40-yard dash at the 2011 combine, which was second amongst all runningbacks, and is faster than Griffin's was at his combine) and elusiveness are much better and he is a good receiver out of the backfield to boot. Though Redskins fans have been spoiled by Clinton Portis' incredible blocking, Helu is also a fairly capable pass protector, and at a surprising 215 lbs has more power behind his runs than people tend to expect. That said, he's more prone to losing yardage than Morris because he can't muster that same consistent forward-progressing power on every single play that Alf can (to be fair, I'm not sure anyone but Morris and Marshawn Lynch can) and, above all, Helu has had lots of trouble staying healthy.
3. Evan Royster (26/6'1/ 216 lbs.) Penn State [1 year, $670k]: A bit of a mix between Morris and Helu, Royster doesn't have the impressive strengths of either one, but is more of a balance and can play on any down in a pinch. Unfortunately, he has Helu's difficulty staying healthy. He's a perfectly fine third runningback, but nothing to write home about; his talent won't wow anyone, and it wouldn't be surprising or a big blow to see him lose his roster spot next season (particularly if speedy rookie Chris Thompson improves). Speaking of which:
4. Chris Thompson (23/5'7/192 lbs.) FSU, 2013 [3 years, $1.5m]: Despite making the initial 53-man roster, the diminutive back out of Florida State didn't contribute much as a runner and displayed shaky hands as a return man before being placed on Injured Reserve mid-season. Still, everyone knew he was a project coming off a big injury and he has the outstanding speed and agility to be a contributor if he can improve and stay healthy.
5. Jawan Jamison (22/5'7/203 lbs.) Rutgers, 2013 [1 year, 500k]: I have no idea why the plodding Jamison was picked out of Rutgers in the 7th round of this past draft except to fulfill the terms of whatever demonic pact Shanahan made early in his career to ensure an effective running game in exchange for a constant influx of random backs. In the wake of Royster's injury and IR placement, Jamison was just promoted to the active roster, but I don't expect anything of note.
Filling out the Redskins backs are recent practice squad additions Davin Meggett (23/5'8/219 lbs.) (2nd year, Maryland) and Miguel Maysonet (24/5'10/209 lbs.) (rookie, Stony Brook), both of whom have bounced around to a few teams' practice squads. Mysonet was somewhat heralded as a priority UDFA this past year, but hasn't stuck anywhere, so smart money wouldn't expect anything from either.
Update: Since this initial posting, Meggett was signed to a reserve/futures contract, while Maysonet signed one with Pittsburgh.
To see the rest of the offense, click here