The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.
Free agency and trading begins: March 14, 4pm ET
Every year, the Hogs Haven writers (not me) put in a ton of effort to analyze potential draft prospects and discuss how they can fit with the Redskins franchise. Last year, the site posted 117 draft profiles -- a veritable gold mine of information.
But long before the Draft (this year, 26-28 April in Arlington, Texas), the league has its very important free agency period. While the Redskins used to be known as “offseason champs” for the habit of throwing big dollars at big-name-but-aging-players in failed attempts to find a quick fix winning formula, more recently, the team has used free agency in a more appropriate way — filling roster holes ahead of the draft.
With that in mind, I thought it would be good to take a look at some potential free agents over the next few weeks. Obviously, not every potential free agent will be available when the 14th of March rolls around. A lot of them will be re-signed by their 2017 team before they ever hit the open market. Still, with the Redskins not in the playoffs, it’s time to look forward, and free agency is the next big thing in the NFL Calendar after the Scouting Combine (Indianapolis, 27 Feb - 5 Mar).
Today, let’s look at the Wide Receiver position.
Finding gold in the Fanposts
Chris in Manassas recently wrote a really solid Fanpost titled 10 Potential (and realistic) Free Agents that discussed... well... 10 potential free agents that the Redskins could target.
I liked his list.
He put the target on Sammy Watkins for the wide receiver position. I agree that Watkins is the kind of guy that the Redskins should be aiming to add to the team. Here’s what Chris in Manassas had to say:
We undoubtedly had some of the worst skill position players in the NFC this year and wide receiver was especially bad. Crowder is great; Ryan Grant is a hard worker but limited, and Josh Doctson is still trying to find himself. This is a spot where the team really does need to invest some money. It might be crazy to think Watkins would leave LA for DC, but he has actually been under-utilized in LA and clearly not the number 1. He would get all of the catches here.
Watkins has just finished the final year of his rookie contract. He was often seen as a disappointment in Buffalo, and in 15 regular season games for the Rams this season, he made 39 catches for 593 yards — so his yardage was similar to Ryan Grant, though on fewer receptions — with a 15.2 y/p/c average.
Draft profiles for Sammy Watkins when he was coming out of Clemson were glowing. Here’s an example from NFL.com:
Exceptional football playing speed -- can flat out fly and take the top off a defense. Has world-class track speed. Extends outside his frame and plucks the ball. Outstanding body control and agility. Tracks the ball well over his shoulder and is a natural hands-catcher who can make an average quarterback look good. Consistently turns 2-yard gains into 15-yard chunks -- possesses big-time playmaking ability and is very effective creating in the open field on bubble screens and quick-hitting short/lateral tosses. Superb run-after-the-catch ability. Good burst out of his cuts to separate. Has game-breaking return ability and is a threat to score every time he touches the ball.
Draft Projection Round 1 (top 10)
A legitimate No. 1-caliber receiver who stepped onto the field as a true freshman and made an immediate, game-changing impact. Was slowed by injuries as a sophomore, but responded with a strong junior season and capped his career as one of the most impactful receivers in school history. Has rare speed, soft hands and the big-play ability to challenge NFL defensive backs as a rookie.
In addition, after a year in Sean McVay’s offense, Watkins should be a quick study for Gruden’s Redskins.
Sammy Watkins is a talented receiver who has never really lived up to expectations of draft analysts.
The Rams have fallen in love with rookie Cooper Kupp; in addition, they have Tavon Austin (who has a clear and important role in their offensive scheme), Robert Woods (who has out-produced Watkins with 56 receptions and 781 yards) and Pharoh Cooper, who fills a role as the Rams pro-bowl return man.
In LA, Watkins is the odd man out, and there’s really no reason for the Rams to pay him. He should be willing to sign for a moderate market-rate contract that the team can afford.
To me, he looks like the perfect free agent wide receiver target for the Redskins.
Grade Sammy Watkins as a free agent wide receiver target for the Redskins
This poll is closed
Going into Sunday’s Divisional Round games, 5 o’clock club readers who responded to the polls to pick playoff game results were 2-4 (collectively).
63% of respondents did well on the early game, saying that Pittsburgh would not cover the point spread. Not only did they not cover -- they didn’t win!
You guys improved to 3-4 overall.
The NFC Championship poll was as close as the game was, but with opposite results.
The readers narrowly picked New Orleans to win, by a 51/49 margin.
Of course, the Vikings prevailed in a finish that will go down as one of the most memorable of all time.
So your record stands at 3-5 with three playoff games remaining.
We won’t worry about point spreads today; just pick the winners.
Who wins the AFC Championship?
This poll is closed
The defending World Champion New England Patriots
The Jacksonville Jaguars
Who wins the NFC Championship?
This poll is closed
Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles
Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings