Scot McCloughan was quite effusive in his praise of Matt Jones on Thursday, comparing his third-round draft pick to Marshawn Lynch. I don’t know about that, but the high praise does hint at a big role for Jones, at least in relation to the very light role that tailbacks not named Alfred Morris have had in the last three years. I’ll put the top end at 115 carries, 500 yards. If Morris’ production returns to what it was in 2013 (276 carries/1275 yards) the Redskins would have quite the potent running attack.
The first six are relatively easy. After signing Hatcher to a four-year, $27.5 million deal last offseason, the team is counting Big Hatch to bounce back from an injury-plagued first year in Washington. General Manager Scot McCloughan has praised Baker’s potential, saying, "I was really impressed with him off of tape." Paea, Knighton and Jean-Francois were handpicked by McCloughan and were the first players signed this offseason. Kearse enjoyed a breakout season in 2014, recording three sacks in limited playing time, and coaches are eager to see more.
And that's why McCloughan said it was worth picking up Griffin's fifth-year option, made official earlier this week. It comes with risk, but McCloughan viewed the risk in different terms. If they had declined the option and Griffin ends up starring again, then the Redskins would face a more expensive situation. By picking it up, they also send Griffin a message that they believe in him. One opposing coach said when he watched Griffin last season, he did not see the same confident player he had two years prior.
His quickness. Crowder is not a big guy (5-foot-8, 185 pounds) and he’s quicker than he is fast (4.56 seconds in the 40 at the combine; 4.48 seconds at his pro day), his quickness matters more. It’s what creates separation in the return game and when running after the catch. On punt returns, he knows how to set up defenders -- he returned a punt for a touchdown versus Syracuse, but lulled the coverage unit into thinking he was running to the left. But Crowder was not going full speed, then cut on a dime and accelerated through a hole, created by defenders leaning the other way.