An NFL roster can be measured in many ways, but many analysts look at key positions on a teams roster - mainly playmakers, to determine the talent on that roster.
Things can certainly change between now and September, as free agency and the NFL draft loom, but as of right now, the Redskins roster is severely lacking the playmaking talent to compete with the better teams in the league.
It all starts and ends with the quarterback position
When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith last offseason, they thought they found leadership and stability at the most important position on the field.
...boy how times have changed!
Fast-forward almost a year, and now the most important position on the team has also become the biggest question mark.
Alex Smith’s career is in jeopardy following a horrific injury in week 11 against the Texans, where Smith suffered a compound spiral fracture of his lower leg, requiring numerous surgeries to correct. It was reported that Alex also had infections at the surgery site further complicating issues.
His NFL future is absolutely in jeopardy.
If Smith never plays another down for the Redskins, his contract guarantees him a hefty sum, and he’ll be set for the rest of his life. The soon-to-be 35 year old would be wise to walk away from the game with pockets full of Dan Synder’s money (just as Dan Synder has done to his own fan base for years), and focus on the rest of his young life with his family. He owes nothing to anybody, and he needs to put himself and his family first.
Assuming Alex does indeed hang em’ up, the Redskins are stuck, yet again, at the quarterback position.
Colt McCoy is a career back-up, who can’t be counted on to lead a team. The Redskins have no other quarterbacks on the roster (both Sanchez and Johnson are free agents), and the future is not looking especially promising anytime soon.
The front-office brass could decide to try their hand again on a veteran quarterback in free agency, or turn to a weak quarterback draft class to maybe target the third or fourth best passer. Regardless of the outcome, the situation at the moment is not good.
The Redskins lack playmakers all over their roster. I’ve already highlighted the quarterback position, but it can easily be argued that the team has VERY few impact players at key positions on both sides of the football.
RB: Running back remains a big question mark this offseason. The team could be set up nicely IF Derrius Guice can return from a knee injury that took away his rookie season, and Chris Thompson can get healthy and play healthy throughout the 2019 season. The problem is, these are both big IF’s.
The team’s best running back in 2019, Adrian Peterson, is set to become a free agent in March, and may have many suitors on the open market. He also wants a ring, and he’s not likely to get one with the Redskins.
WR: You can easily make a case that the Redskins have the worst wide receiving corps in the entire league. The Skins best receiver, Jamison Crowder, is set to hit free agency in March, and although the team has expressed a desire to keep him, he’s likely to demand far more on the open market than the Redskins can afford.
Paul Richardson was a key free agent signing last spring, but his injury history is a major concern. He played in just seven games with the Redskins this past year before going on IR with a shoulder injury.
The Redskins have very little behind Richardson. Josh Doctson is a first round bust, who will likely be in his last season with the team in 2019. Robert Davis, Trey Quinn and Cam Sims all have potential, but injuries have severely hampered their development. To count on any of them as major contributors in 2019 would be a huge gamble.
TE: Jordan Reed has all the ability in the world, except the most important one - availability. His inability to stay on the field has severely limited the Redskins offense the past three seasons, and his salary cap hit is limiting the Redskins ability to upgrade at the position.
Vernon Davis has seemed to defy time over his career, but it was clear in 2018 that Father Time took a huge bit bite out of his backside. He’s not the same player he was even a year ago, and his cap hit makes him a logical cut this offseason.
The Redskins have very little behind these two.
EDGE: The team has been trying to turn converted 4-3 defensive ends into 3-4 OLB’s, and aside from Ryan Kerrigan, the experiment has not worked. The Skins severely lacks speed and athleticism on the edge, and is likely to lose Preston Smith this offseason to free agency. Ryan Anderson is not an NFL starter, and would be best served as a rotational piece on the outside, special teamer and as a fullback in short-yardage situations.
ILB: The Redskins inside linebackers were horrible in 2018. Zach Brown was playing injured and it showed throughout the season. Mason Foster is just too slow to makes plays anywhere outside of the box. The Skins do have some hope with newly acquired Reuben Foster, and second year pro Shaun Dion Hamilton. That combination inside could drastically change the positional group for 2019 and beyond.
DB: The Redskins lack playmakers on the back-end of the defense. At this point in his career, Josh Norman is best suited in a heavy zone scheme, as he’s just not fast enough to shadow a top-flight receiver in man coverage.
Quinton Dunbar is an excellent athlete and playmaker, but a nerve injury to his lower leg ended his 2018 season prematurely. These injuries can be very tricky, so the team must proceed with caution. If Dunbar can make a full return, he greatly improves this position group.
The reserves behind Norman and Dunbar are all young and un-proven.
At safety the Redskins lost their best playmaker when they decided to part ways with veteran D.J. Swearinger during the season. His loss leaves a huge void on the back end. Montae Nicholson has the ability to be a playmaker, but inconsistency has plagued him during his first two seasons, and a recent run-in with the law puts his future in jeopardy.
HaHa Clinton-Dix was obtained in a mid-season trade from Green Bay. The talented safety took some time getting acclimated to the new scheme in D.C., but he played better down the stretch. He is, however, a pending free agent, and his future with the team is up in the air.
The question marks on the starting roster are just as bad...
Potential 2019 starting roster:
QB - Colt McCoy (?)
RB - Derrius Guice (?)
RB (3rd down) - Chris Thompson
WR (X) - Josh Doctson (?)
WR (Z) - Paul Richardson
WR (Slot) - ?
TE - Jordan Reed (?)
LT - Trent Williams
LG - ?
C - Chase Roullier
RG - Brandon Scherff
RT - Morgan Moses
OLB - Ryan Kerrigan
DE - Matt Ioannidis
NT - Daron Payne
DE - Jonathan Allen
OLB - ?
ILB - Shaun Dion Hamilton/Zach Brown
ILB - Reuben Foster (?)
CB - Quinton Dunbar
SS - ?
FS - ?
CB - Josh Norman
Overall, this Redskins team is severely lacking playmakers on both sides of the football, and with limited cap space, and only so many draft picks that could be expected to make an immediate impact, 2019 is shaping up to be a very challenging year.
Things may get worse before they get better in our Nation’s Capitol.
Is there light at the end of the tunnel?...Well, as long as Bruce Allen is running the show, Skins fans may be in for a very long hibernation.