In the lead up to the 2020 season, there’s a tremendous amount of excitement about how Chase Young and the new look defensive line will play. There’s also a great deal of anticipation about how Dwayne Haskins will look in his first full year as as a starter, and how rising star Terry McLaurin will continue to develop. This piece focuses on five less prominent players who, if successful, could help the team contend for the playoffs, or if unsuccessful, could be washed out of the league within a couple of years.
I believe, strongly, that all the young men below are destined for a break-out year in 2020, and that the Redskins will be a far better team than they were in 2019 as a result.
Logan Thomas (TE)
Converted from the top high school tight end prospect in the nation into Virginia Tech’s all-time passing leader, Thomas was converted back to tight end in the NFL a couple of years ago after unsuccessfully trying his hand at pro QB. At tight end, he comps athletically to Rob Gronkowski and Austin Hooper, and is both a punishing blocker and runner, actively seeking out contact and rolling unfortunate defenders in his path.
Thomas is my 2020 “Ereck Flowers,” a player who had languished in the league, playing the wrong position for years, before he finally found the right spot. Many folks have low expectations for Thomas, and thought that TE remained a significant priority going into the 2020 draft. The front office disagreed, waiting until after the draft to add Thad Moss as depth to the TE room. Thomas could very easily end up as TE1 to start the 2020 season.
Derrius Guice (RB)
Taken in the second round of the 2018 draft, Guice may be the most clearly talented of the players on this list, and when he’s been healthy, he’s been a beast. For instance, last year against the Panthers, he collected 129 yards and 2 TDs on 10 carries. The problem, of course, has been that he has not been reliably healthy. He’s injured his knees several times in the NFL on top of the knee injury he sustained at LSU.
If he’s healthy in 2020 and can stay healthy, and that is admittedly a huge “if,” Guice has the capacity to be one of the best running backs in the NFL. He’s fast, he runs angry, and he’s elusive. This year is a make or break one for Guice, and I’m expecting he’ll make it a breakout one. If he stays healthy, he’s the Redskins’ Comeback Player of 2020.
Wes Martin (G)
A break out season from a guard? Yep. After breathing new life into Ereck Flowers last year with a shift from tackle to guard, the Redskins were content to let him move on to the Dolphins for a top ten salary at the position. I believe one reason that was the case was because they had 2019 4th round draft pick Wes Martin waiting in the wings. Martin is strong as a bull, with a bench press (38) that would have been the second highest at the 2019 Combine. He was also a great pass blocker in college, duplicating a feat - zero sacks allowed in 569 pass blocking snaps - matched only by two time All Pro Quenton Nelson, during the 2017 season.
Martin started 5 games at RG in 2019, when Brandon Scherff went down, and played fairly well, giving up only one accepted penalty. With Scherff back, Martin should be slotted in at LG, which was the position he played in college, and where he’s - presumably - more comfortable. Yes, he has some added competition in 2020 5th rounder Keith Ismael and free agent Wes Schweitzer, but I expect Martin to win out and impress in 2020, bookending Chase Roullier with our other beefy, bearded, BIG 10 big-nasty, Brandon Scherff.
this is why you don’t pay flowers 10m/yr. don’t forget about wes martin. pic.twitter.com/hmZlXn1nFz— Steve (@SteveNFL_) April 30, 2020
Cole Holcomb (LB)
Holcomb, the Redskins’ 5th round draft pick out of UNC in the 2019 draft, had a very respectable rookie season, starting 15 games and amassing 105 tackles, 6 TFLs, and 3 forced fumbles. His actions on the field didn’t escape his new coach’s notice. During his Combine presser, when asked about a player on the current team who best exemplifies the sort of versatility that LB Shaq Thompson provided Rivera’s defense in Carolina, the coach offered:
“I think we have some guys that do have it at different positions. I think the closest guy that we have, that this guy that I find very intriguing is Cole Holcomb.”
Holcomb is blazing fast, with athletic comps to some of the best LBs taken in recent memory, like Devin White and Luke Kuechly. He still needs to improve his coverage, but as the WILL linebacker in a new 4-3 look, the hope is that the Redskins’ supercharged defensive line will keep him a bit cleaner so that can focus his energy on pass coverage.
Fabian Moreau (CB)
Drafted in the third round in 2017, Moreau was hailed as a first or second round pick before tearing his pec at his pro day. He’s a physical freak who comps most closely to pro bowlers Marshon Lattimore and Aqib Talib, with blazing 4.35 speed. Despite those skills, he’s failed to live up to the hype in his first three years with the team.
Late in the 2019 season, with a shift from the slot to the outside, Moreau showed more promise than he had in his previous two and a half years with the team, collecting 3 interceptions, 4 passes defended, and 12 tackles in four games in his new role. As Moreau enters the final year of his rookie contract, 2020 will be a make or break season for his career.
There are an enormous number of moving parts that will be impacting the Redskins’ 2020 season, from the NFL response to COVID-19, to the maturation of Dwayne Haskins, and the installation of new offenses and defenses by the incoming coaching staff. The reality is that any of those factors - should they go awry - could easily overwhelm the influence of this group of players. However, if those key elements go relatively well, the collective performance of this group of players could certainly be the deciding factor in whether the Redskins make the playoffs or not in 2020.
This group is emblematic of the young talent currently embedded throughout the Redskins’ roster, largely a product of very solid drafting over the course of the past 4 years. Some of these players may get another year beyond 2020 to make their mark, while others (Moreau and Guice, in particular) have a tremendous amount riding on their performance this year. I can’t wait for them to get out on the field this year to actualize their potential.
Which of these players do you most expect to break out in 2020?
This poll is closed
None of them